Anime News

INTERVIEW: INU-OH Composer Otomo Yoshihide on Using Classical Instruments For Modern Music

INU-OH, the surreal and musically-inspired new anime movie by Masaaki Yuasa, mixes a historical setting with sometimes-modern music. After speaking with singer and lead voice-over actor Avu-chan, Otaku USA was able to speak with the film’s composer, Otomo Yoshihide. Yoshihide talked about using classical instruments, working with Yuasa, and what he’d like Western fans to know about him.

Otaku USA: How did you blend both old and modern styles of music for INU-OH?

Otomo Yoshihide: For this project, I used classical instruments, but I think I essentially created contemporary music. Initially, I was going to include a little more classical stuff, but the director had a classical rock opera in mind, so ultimately I went in that direction.

You have been involved in various projects. For movies titles in particular, how do you approach writing music for each project you work on?

It’s all about thoroughly listening to what the director wants to do.

What was it like working with director Masaaki Yuasa?

Both myself and director Masaaki Yuasa are rather shy individuals, so at first it felt like we weren’t able to get a good consensus on things, like we didn’t have a common language. At the beginning, I also did not fully understand why there was break dancing incorporated with more classical ballet-like dancing given the film’s time period. It was only when I realized this was not necessarily about recreating something from that classical period but rather making the larger story in the director’s head come to life, that I think things finally came together for me.

INU-OH is an homage to the power of music and the arts. How has music helped you in your life?

I think that the power of art is a very modern idea. What I feel is important is to express that the act of combining words, stories, songs and dances, before being bound by words like “art” or “music,” always appears to people as a mass of noise. I think the director wanted to express the dynamic range of those things, and how that mass of noise is always something those in power will hate… And I think that what I’m doing may also be like that.

Is there anything else you’d like Western fans to know about you?

I hope fans can forget any stereotypes about what Japanese classics “should be” and instead look at INU-OH as a modern story. I think that will allow us to see the era of INU-OH in a new light. And I hope you forget I made the music when you watch the movie, and that you enjoy the movie itself instead.

Photo Credit: Peter Gannushkin


Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, plus its sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at