Michiru Oshima is a top composer for anime, films, and kaiju movies. She has been awarded many top honors for composing in Japan, and with the help of translator Hiroko Saito I interviewed her at G-Fest, an annual Godzilla convention. Michiru Oshima has composed for Full Metal Alchemist, Little Witch Academia, and several Godzilla movies like my favorite, Godzilla Against Mechagodzillla. She’s also done other movies and video games as well. Being nominated ten times in the equivalent Japanese Academy Awards was an honor for her especially when she won once! Her favorite work was a film with Ken Watanabe called, “Memories of Tommorow.” You might wonder if she’s a fan of kaiju films or anime since she composes for them.
Michiru Oshima does around 1,500 compositions per year, which is ridiculous! She is so busy she doesn’t have time to watch the films or anime she composes for. Most real artists will understand that having a multitude of pieces you’re working on leads into more work. You just get things done and sometimes move on without time to reflect on your work. Concentrating on the music to complement the film or show is essential, and having her skills up to par in orchestration is vital. Oshima composes by doing both melody and orchestration simultaneously first as a digital rough draft then moving on from there. You might ask what influences her work since there’s such a diversity she works on.
Oshima was influenced by rock bands like Chicago who started and innovated brass rock. She was also into Chick Corea, which I love for drumming. Musicians like Emerson, Lake, and Palmer as well as Herbie Hancock were great influences on her. She’s lived in an era where jazz was appreciated, and jazz requires ability to improvise and adapt. This is obviously a part of her ability, and getting to a high level of musicianship takes dedication. To get to a high level of musicianship she went to the prestigious Kunitachi School of Music where she honed her music craft.
The advice she gives to artists like musicians is to just believe in your music. Make it about music first. She said many musicians go to dinners with producers, but a senior composer she asked for advise from on improving employability told her to focus on the music. Very soon with her quality music she got jobs or commercials then better jobs composing for TV dramas. That work wasn’t done in vain as she got works in film and animation because of it.
It was a great honor to speak with an accomplished composer like Michaud Oshima with translation by Hiroko Saito. It was thought provoking and insightful to learn from someone whose music we have heard and been influenced by. Focusing on your art can pay off as shown in Michiru Oshima’s story.