Legendary ‘Dragon Ball Z’ composer Shunsuke Kikuchi has died at 89

Shunsuke Kikuchi, whose music will forever mark the anime world thanks to his contributions to Doraemon, Kamen Rider, and Dragon ball z, died at the age of 89.

Shunsuke Kikuchi, beloved composer of Dragon ball z among many other anime productions, movies and TV shows, has died at the age of 89.

According to Japanese publisher Oricon, the musician died of aspiration pneumonia on April 24 at a medical facility in Tokyo. He was reportedly undergoing medical treatment at the time, with close family members meeting to remember him at a private funeral.

Image: Shunsuke Kikuchi / Kanzenshuu

Kikuchi was born in Aomori Prefecture in 1931 and immersed himself in the world of composing anime soundtracks at the age of 30.

He has composed music for various iconic shows, creating the themes for Kamen Rider and Doraemon. His component work Doraemon no Uta (Doraemon Song) will go down in history as one of the most famous anime themes of all time.

Shunsuke Kikuchi has also written songs for shows such as Tiger mask, Dr Slump and, more particularly, the Dragon ball franchise. He composed 23 music packages through the original Dragon ball series, as well as Dragon Ball Z, resulting in over 400 pieces of original music created for the franchise between 1986 and 1995.

The prolific composer has received numerous honors for his work throughout his life, including a nomination for the Academy Award of Japan for his work on The door of youth and To trap a kidnapper in 1983, and an award of merit at the 2013 Tokyo Anime Awards.

Kikuchi’s many years of composing legendary sheet music were recognized by the industry in 2015, when he received his most prestigious honor. The musician became the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 57th Japan Record Awards, further strengthening his place in the history of Japanese music and cinema.

Soon after, in 2017, Kikuchi walked away from the industry and retired, claiming he was taking a hiatus to deal with chronic illness.

The spirit of Shunsuke Kikuchi’s music will inevitably live on through anime fans, who have remembered the number of iconic contributions this legend has made to the industry over five decades. While anime themes can come and go as shows evolve over time and engage new collaborators, the heart of the original music is never forgotten.

May he rest in peace.

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