Takayoshi Tanimoto is a famous Japanese singer who is well known for his anisongs and tokusatsu (hero show) theme songs. He sang ‘Dragon Soul’ and ‘Kuu-Zen-Zetsu-Go’, which are both opening themes to the anime Dragon Ball Kai. He is also famous for singing ‘One vision’, the insert song for Digimon Tamers; ‘Mienai Tsubasa’, the opening theme for Zatch Bell! (Konjiki no Gash Bell!!); and ‘Juken Sentai Gekiranger’, the theme song of the tokusatsu show with the same title.
In recent years, he has been actively holding concerts all over the world, after being invited to anime conventions in various countries. MANGA.TOKYO got the chance to conduct an interview with Tanimoto and asked him why he is so passionate about singing overseas.
2017 marks 15 years since his debut, and the album Time for Life was released in commemoration of this on 2 August. The album is released on CD in Japan and distributed via iTunes throughout the world! I hope every anime fan will listen to his songs. Moreover, I hope for everyone to go and see his concert the next time he comes to your country!
Let’s start the interview!
I’ve been to every continent, except for Australia and Africa.
When did you start holding concerts overseas?
‘My first concert outside of Japan was in 2008. I was invited to an anime convention in Washington. From that time, I’ve gotten many other opportunities to go overseas. Now, I join quite a few overseas anime conventions every year.’
From looking at your Facebook page and blog, it seems like you’re always traveling somewhere.
‘When my schedule is very tight, I sometimes go to different countries in a row. For example, last year, I participated in an anime festival in Russia. I then came back to Japan, but only stayed for one day. On the next day, I was already off to Brazil to join another anime event. I came back to Japan again, and after a few days, I had to go to another country. There are times when I’m spending more days overseas than in Japan.’
So, you’ve been to many regions.
‘Yes. I’ve been to North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. Of course, in terms of countries, there are still many places I haven’t visited. I’ve basically been to every continent other than Australia and Africa.’
Are there any differences among the countries regarding what anime they love?
‘Last year was the 30-year-anniversary of the broadcast of Dragon Ball and Saint Seiya in Europe. In commemoration, [Japanese singer] NoB and I toured around many European countries to perform. In every country we visited, Dragon Ball and Saint Seiya were very popular. There were many Naruto fans too. In recent years, One-Punch Man has also been gaining extreme popularity. One thing I was very surprised about was the popularity of Slam Dunk in China. When I was invited to an anime festival in China, I was requested to cover a Slam Dunk theme song because there were so many fans of the series. So, I actually covered it. What was surprising was that not only were the fans singing with me, but even the security guards were singing along. I have also sung many tokusatsu theme songs, but in general, these songs are not so famous overseas. However, South America was an exception. The Sentai Series is extremely popular there.’
I have been invited to many events by organizers of fan clubs
So, you’ve joined many anime events in various countries. In your opinion, why do you think you have been invited to so many events held overseas?
‘Well, one reason is that I have sung theme songs of many anime and TV programs which are popular worldwide, such as Dragon Ball, Digimon Tamers, Zatch Bell!, and many tokusatsu. However, I believe that the strongest reason is that I have been in direct contact with many anime festival organizers living in various countries via Facebook, and negotiate with them about joining the event.’
I see. You yourself are the CEO of artist management company TENTENCOMPANY (http://www.tenten-net.jp/), so you play an important role as the point of contact when negotiating with other companies.
‘Yes, that’s right. Of course, there are occasions in which the planning of the events is done among companies, but actually, many of the events are planned in different ways. For example, many huge overseas anime festivals originally started out as small events planned by anime fan circles. It is similar to how Comiket in Japan started. The organizers of these events found out about me, and offered me to join the event via Facebook and my official website. Whenever I get these types of offers, I negotiate with the organizers, and then sign contracts. When everything is settled, I just go to the event.
Of course, about half of the offers I receive are from companies that hold anime festivals and conventions. However, the other half are from fans who organize anime events themselves. Sometimes one of the organizers introduces me to a different organizer of a festival held in other regions or countries. Then, my name gets known by other organizers too and they contact me directly. That is how I get offers from many people.’
So, in your case, thanks to the various means of communication, you have managed to achieve many opportunities to actively perform overseas.
‘The company I manage is not that big and there aren’t many staff members, so whenever I make contact with the organizers, it’s like two individuals communicating, rather than two companies. We can communicate in a good tempo, and I think that is the good thing. We not only negotiate the budget and the fee, but also the actual process during the event. I like how we can talk about these specific details in a fast tempo too. If this were between two companies, I think the contact person would say, “We need to confirm first, so please wait” and I would have to wait for a few days. They may also say, “We’re sorry that we could not get the confirmation from our boss” and the negotiation ends there. Either way, it takes time to decide everything. However, if the communication is done directly between me and the organizer, we can make speedy negotiations.’
Have you ever faced any problems at the actual event, such as misunderstandings about the details that you’ve negotiated on?
‘Actually, no. We sign a contract with specific details written beforehand, so there are no misunderstandings. In fact, the reason why I take up the offers to join the event is that we are completely prepared in advance and we understand everything clearly. Therefore, there have been no troubles so far.
However, I do sometimes face culture shock. Although I research about the country before I go, I sometimes do get surprised at the differences in culture, customs, and facilities. But anyway, everyone welcomes me with great hospitality, so I enjoy their cultures. The fans in those countries are kind enough to welcome me at the airport when I arrive. They also come to send me off. They even introduce their culture to me. They treat me like their friend, and I am always touched by their kindness. I don’t experience these things in Japan, so it’s very special to me.’
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