Best known for his output with animation studio Gainax — home to the Neon Genesis Evangelion anime series — award-winning Japanese producer and composer Shiro Sagisu bridges the gap between the worlds of sight and sound. In addition to his beloved Evangelion compositions, he has contributed to such notable television and film franchises as Bleach, Berserk, Ultraman/Gridman, and Godzilla. Sagisu also issues his own solo work, mainly in the form of his Shiro’s Songbook series.
Born in the Setagaya special ward of Tokyo, Sagisu grew up surrounded by music and film. While he learned piano and violin from Catholic nuns, he was exposed to the world of movies by his father, a famous manga artist and animator who had a studio next door to their home. Weaned on this combination of influences, Sagisu decided to pursue music. His earliest works included keyboard arrangements for jazz fusion band Square’s 1978 effort Lucky Summer Lady and his 1979 debut with his band Somethin’ Special for their funky jazz album EYES. Later he would produce for Japanese pop star Misia, R&B singer Ken Hirai, and even electronic house producer Satoshi Tomiie. However, it was in the world of anime that Sagisu would find the most success.
Starting in the mid-’80s, Sagisu honed his style with early contributions to the Attacker You! series and the film adaptation of the Ai City manga series. Arrangements for Ranma ½ carried Sagisu into the ’90s, during which time he also worked on Final Fantasy VI, Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, and Neon Genesis Evangelion. His relationship with the latter franchise would span decades, eventually landing Sagisu a Tokyo Anime Award for Best Music in 2010. Additional notable works in the 2000s included compositions for television and film series like Berserk and Bleach. In 2015, Sagisu wrote the “metal-opera” score for the two-part film Attack on Titan. Recorded with the London Studio Orchestra, Titan incorporated distorted metal guitars, industrial synths, and drumbeats into his already epic style. The following year, Sagisu added another Japanese cultural icon to his résumé: Godzilla. On 2016′s Shin Godzilla (aka “Godzilla Resurgence”), Sagisu integrated the compositions of original Godzilla composer Akira Ifukube with that of his own, creating a modern vision for the famous monster. Rounding out the decade, he released his own Shiro’s Songbook: The Hidden Wonder of Music and Shiro’s Ani-Songbook.
Sagisu kicked off the 2020s with additional Songbook volumes (2022′s 11 and Bleach Bankai!), as well as further work for the Gridman, Berserk, Evangelion, Ultraman, and Bleach universes. ~ Neil Z. Yeung