Thursday, March 27, 2008

Composers week: Susumu Hirasawa

Bit of a mini-series starting today. I've just been tracking down some of my fave animation scores and themes, and it occurred to me that animation composers are some of the unsung heroes of the biz. Good music and sound design enhances animation, and great sound work becomes iconic.

Take for our first example the wonderfully bizarre and catchy tunes of Susumu Hirasawa. At once surreal and approachable, his work fits perfectly with the hallucinogenic art and animation of Satoshi Kon, he of 'Paranoia Agent' and 'Paprika' fame. The opening to PA, seen here, is of particular note...the music seems uplifting and triumphant while having just an edge of oddness and mania. Coupled with Kohn's imagery...his characters laughing at the audience while underwater, in midair or standing on a radio tower with a mushroom cloud in the distance. There's no visible derision here, it's like they've all just gotten that one big "meaning of life" joke.
The series itself is very Lynchian...I hesitate to use the phrase "Anime Twin Peaks", but that's the only way I can quickly describe it. Rent or buy, you won't be disappointed.

Here's the opening to Satoshi Kon's latest, "Paprika" about a straight-laced researcher who dives into dreams as a perky j-poppy red-headed alter-ego (hence the name). The whole movie is about dream, reality, perception and how we present ourselves to the waking world as opposed to our private selves...once again, Hirasawa's composition deftly blends an odd technical sensibility with a nice poppy beat. These two make a great team. Here's his official site...he's got some of his mp3's available for free legal download, so go get 'em! More music magic tomorrow.

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