ANS Exclusive Interview: Berserk Soundtrack Composer Susumu Hirasawa
By: Jonah Morgan
Susumu Hirasawa’s ethereal melodies first reached these ears in 1998. The work was the TV series adaptation of Kentaro Miura’s low fantasy horror epic manga, Berserk. Clearly, his name and creations, in my mind and the minds of many anime fans, ranks at absolute top of highly esteemed composers and musicians working in this genre. Before the anime was even officially licensed in America, still others will know his soundtrack work in 1999’s Dreamcast title, “Sword Of The Berserk: Guts’ Rage”. 7 years after his work on the original TV series, a new Sammy PS2 Berserk videogame has just been released. At Miura’s request, the title once again carries the musical accompaniments of Mr. Hirasawa. ANS recently interviewed this master musician and probed him on a range of questions ranging from to the future of the Berserk anime to his personal working habits as an artist:
MP3 files of 2 tracks that Hirasawa composed for Berserk video game will be on sale in his online shop on December 20. You can enter the online shop from his official site. http://www.s-hirasawa.com/e/
Anime News Service: Just recently the latest Berserk video game title hit the Japanese market. Can you tell us how your tracks for this volume came together?
Susumu Hirasawa: It is the nomination from Mr. Miura, the author of Berserk. He has nominated me every time for the products which need sound track such as TV anime and games, etc.
ANS: You’ve now collaborated on the score for Kentaro Miura’s Berserk in it’s various media incarnations for 7 years. How did your collaboration originate, where has it taken you and where does it currently stand?
SH: Before the Berserk anime series start in Japan, Mr. Miura eagerly asked me to compose the sound track. Because he had been a listener of my music so that he thought there was commonness in the nuance of his work and my music, and I thought so, too. Not only TV anime but generally big projects are involved in various rights, therefore, it would be rare that original writer’s intention is accepted 100%. This time, however, Mr. Miura and the staff who understood him well solved various difficulties, and finally they could contract with me. Since then, the Berserk project and fans came to have an idea that my music is essential for Mr. Miura’s works.
As for anime in Japan, I was ignorant until taking charge of the sound track of Berserk. I came to take charge of the music of the work of Satoshi Kon who made the awarded anime from all over the world now. Then I realised that Japanese anime ware so diversified from awful ones to works with very deep interior, and also I realised that they were deserved attention by all over the world.
ANS: As for the continuation of the animation, are there definitive plans to continue the Berserk story in anime adaptation? Have you signed on to score any of the future animaton?
SH: I have no idea whether the new Berserk anime is produced. Also I have no plan to join new anime project at the moment. But I have a vague prediction that one project will start next year. However, I do not always accept all offer to compose music.
ANS: Outside of Berserk, what have you been doing with your music lately?
SH: I released my new CD, and held the concerts very recently. I make two different types of music. One is uptempo and noisy music based on Japanese techno in 80’s. Another is a symphonic and electronic music such as used for anime sound track. The CD I released this time is a former type.
ANS: Do you travel outside of Japan often? Would you like to?
SH: I often go to Thailand. I have many transgender friends there. I can learn many things from them and they’ve been giving me big inspiration.
ANS: Superimposing some ideas from Berserk on your view of reality, what are your thoughts on fate, destiny and divine intervention?
SH: In my view, I read the story of Berserk is a collective unconscious rebellion suppressed to the civilization. I am Jung’s fan so that I read the episodes and the characters of Berserk in Jung style.
ANS: Miura-sensei is known as doing most his work late into the night. Do you also work well in the nocturnal hours?
SH: I used to work in the nocturnal hours. But since I started a project in 2000, which was covered all electricity for making music by only solar power, my life style greatly changed. It made me work from the morning to the evening. However, sometimes I have to work until midnight when I have a lot of work.