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Tom Smith on the legendary composer Kohei Tanaka

On Saturday 7th February 2015, London will play host to a very special two-hour event in celebration of one of Japan’s most popular anime franchises: One Piece.

The Luffy-based multimedia extravaganza has already wowed thousands of fans in Paris and Hong Kong, (attracting nearly 4,000 at one show in France!) where audiences were given the opportunity to relive some of One Piece’s thrilling moments on-screen, accompanied by live symphonic music.  Next year it’s the turn of Chelsea’s swanky Cadogan Hall to don the straw hat and impress with their resident orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic.

Joining the show in London will be top anime composer Kohei Tanaka, whom VIP ticket holders will have the rare opportunity to meet, greet and get a photo with. Tanaka has composed, arranged and even sang for a huge range of anime, films, video games and Japanese TV series. He’s had music featured in such anime staples as Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, Sakura Wars and Ah! My Goddess, as well as having a major role in shaping the score for One Piece. However, his first break into the world of anime music came unexpectedly.

Tanaka had always had a keen interest in music. He was a regular piano tinkerer as a youngster, and as he matured he went on to attend the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, where he was fortunate enough to study under the late poet and teacher Tomojiro Ikenouchi. He also managed to take a two-year stint at the Berkley College of Music in Boston after leaving his job in marketing at Victor Music.

Following from his adventures in music education at home and abroad, Tanaka moonlighted as a pianist in a fancy hotel lounge to pay the bills until his big break. His skills on the ivory impressed someone working on Leiji Matsumoto’s space opera sequel Arcadia of My Youth: Endless Orbit SSX, who hired him to arrange a song – Tanaka would later return to work on Matsumoto classic Galaxy Express 999.

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The work that really put Tanaka on the map with the anime community was his background music for Hideaki Anno’s Gunbuster series, with its toe-tapping martial marches, its Mozart pastiches and its fully orchestrated battle scenes. Then again, many fans argue that his most important work (besides One Piece, of course) can be found in The King of Braves GaoGaiGar, where it captured the very essence of classic mecha drama.

Whether you’re an existing fan of Tanaka’s compositions, a lover of Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates, or just enjoy nothing more than a piece of beautiful classical music, the One Piece Music Symphony boasts it all. Prices start from £25.

Tickets for the One Piece Music Symphony at Cadogan Hall are on sale now, and Manga UK readers can use this link to book today! VIP tickets are the front three rows @ £75 each.

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