It is a dark day for Dragon Ball fans as the series’ famed composer, Shunsuke Kikuchi, passed away on April 24. He was 89 years old.
According to a news report from Japanese news site Oricon, Kikuchi was undergoing medical treatment for his aspiration pneumonia when he passed away. His family held a private funeral for the famed composer.
Kikuchi was a legendary music composer in his own right. He enjoyed a long composing career, having started back in 1961 on the film Hachi-nin me no Teki. Over the course of his career, he created music for some of Japan’s most iconic series.
In addition to Dragon Ball, he also composed the theme song for the first Kamen Rider series, “Let’s Go!! Rider Kick”, and the Doraemon theme song, “Doraemon no Uta“– a song considered to be one of the most iconic anime openings of all time.
His list of amazing music tracks continues into the world of live-action film with his 1972 song, “Urami Bushi“, appearing on the soundtrack for Kill Bill: Vol 2.
Unsurprisingly, Kikuchi won tons of music awards.
Back in 2015, he won a lifetime achievement award at the 57th Japan Record Awards for his contributions. Kikuchi also won several awards from the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers, and Publishers (JASRAC) who gives out awards based on royalties earned.
Shunsuke Kikuchi is the Japanese composer who wrote the background music for Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z. He also wrote for Kamen Rider, Doraemon, and many samurai films and TV shows. He has won several awards for the international royalties of his Dragon Ball music. pic.twitter.com/0oMSSpPZFi
— Derek Padula (@derekpadula) September 25, 2020
Dragon Ball is very popular overseas so, as you can imagine, Kikuchi has won several awards from the JASRAC. In fact, he won the International Award for the work titled Dragon Ball Z Background Music (TV) during the 33rd JASRAC Awards in 2015.
His work for the Dragon Ball franchise is some of his most beloved. So much so that a concert series was commissioned to play Kikuchi’s Dragon Ball music with live vocals and a 60-piece orchestra.
It was known as the Dragon Ball Symphonic Adventure and it toured Europe in 2017-2018. There was a 2019-2020 tour in progress but it had to be canceled early due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an interview with Dragon Ball fansite Kanzenshuu, Norihito Sumitomo, who is the composer for Dragon Ball Super: Broly, commented on Kikuchi’s music style. Sumitomo stated that Kikuchi “expertly utilized brass instruments, creating a unique world that could be classified as neither classical nor pop.”
Social Media Response
The reaction from social media has been touching, to say the least. Fans from all over the Internet have come together to mourn the passing of Shunsuke Kikuchi and celebrate his work.
Numerous fans are posting tributes on Twitter and talking about just how much Kikuchi’s work meant to them in their childhoods.
It's with a heavy heart we see the legendary Kikuchi Shunsuke leave this world almost 90 years after he entered it. From Doraemon to Dragon Ball, he's composed countless iconic compositions for countless iconic works, and to say the world will miss him is an understatement. RIP. pic.twitter.com/IjpRjcYcjW
— FemboyFilms (@FemboyFilms) April 28, 2021
You also have Christoper Sabat- the voice actor for several Dragon Ball characters- most notably Vegeta and Piccolo, mourning the loss of Kikuchi.
Personally, I’m a huge Dragon Ball fan. I grew up watching Dragon Ball Z with my older brother every day after school, so this sad news definitely hit me hard.
If I can speak for everyone at this moment, I’d like to thank Shunsuke Kikuchi for his work and for being an essential part of our childhoods. Rest in Peace.