Fellow singers support ‘Aniki’ Mizuki so show goes on

© yellowbird
Ichiro Mizuki, center, Mitsuko Horie, right, and Akira Kushida smile during a concert at the Yomiuri Otemachi Hall in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on Nov. 27.

Singer Ichiro Mizuki, known as the “king of anime songs,” said, “I will never retire in my lifetime,” at the concert he gave just 9 days before he died. Mishio Suzuki, the emcee of the concert, describes his passion in her latest column.


A concert titled “Mizuki Ichiro and Horie Mitsuko Futari no Anison #19” was held at the Yomiuri Otemachi Hall on Nov. 27, and I had the pleasure of moderating.

It’s a popular show that the veteran anime song singers have been doing since 2003. In past shows, Mizuki and Horie chatted, requested the other sing their rare songs, and “swapped” singing each other’s songs. Mizuki and Horie are the show’s executive producers, too, and the appeal of the show is that they carefully discuss the songs they will perform.

It’s a show about the two of them, as the title suggests, but Mizuki was at that time undergoing treatment for lung cancer and was unable to perform as he would like. For this reason, this year’s show also included three fellow singers to support him.

The show started with wheelchair-bound Mizuki and Horie reminiscing about their debuts. Looking nervous, middle-career anison (anime song) singer Takayoshi Tanimoto stood next to Mizuki and sang Mizuki’s debut song “Kimi ni Sasageru Boku no Uta” (My song dedicated to you) and his anison debut, “Genshi Shonen Ryu ga Yuku,” (Cave boy Ryu goes). The latter is the theme song of TV anime “Genshi Shonen Ryu” (“Ryu, The Cave Boy”), which aired more than 50 years ago.

Mizuki hummed along with Tanimoto before giving him a thumbs-up. Tanimoto’s show of relief drew warm applause from the audience.

Meanwhile, Horie sang “Juni-sai no Shinwa” (Mythology of a 12-year-old), which Mizuki had taught her how to sing. She also sang her own song “Ran no Uta” (The song of Ran), the closing theme of “Ryu, The Cave Boy.”

Mizuki and Horie were the singers for the opening and closing songs of the same anime. Reminiscing about working together for so long across their careers, Horie shared a story about Mizuki, who is affectionally called Aniki (Big bro) by fans and colleagues.

“At the time of recording ‘The Cave Boy’ songs, my session went smoothly, but his took so long, and Aniki still holds a grudge about this,” Horie said, as Mizuki smiled wryly.

Next, singer Hideaki Takatori came on stage to sing Mizuki’s signature song “Mazinger Z” among other tunes. Takatori, dressed in a suit, was also nervous, prompting Horie to ask, “Are you here for a wedding or something?”

Takatori said that some of anison of the Showa era (1926-1989) are difficult to sing, even though they are shorter than modern ones and may appear easy. “Aniki is amazing,” he added.

In the second half, veteran Akira Kushida took the stage and sang two ballads: “Lupin Sansei Ai no Tema” (Love theme from Lupin the Third) and “Yusha no Ken o Teni” (Brave sword in hand). He sang at the request of Mizuki who said, “I’d love to ask Kushida to sing a ballad.” Mizuki looked very happy when Kushida sang them powerfully.

Horie also sang her big hits such as the theme song from the anime “Hana no Ko Lunlun” (Lulu, the Flower Angel) and “Voltes V no Uta” (Voltes V song).

She said the show was “just like anison.” What she meant was the show exemplified the world of anison, which is about “bonding with friends,” “joining forces and moving forward” and “never giving up in hard times.”

I agree. This anison-like concert was not pulled off by the performers onstage, but also by the audience who supported Mizuki and the other singers with big, warm applause. The performers and the audience were able to share a warm and relaxing time together, despite the unconventional show.

The entire cast sang the opening song of the anime “Babil II” together to close the concert.

After the song, Mizuki said, “I will never retire in my lifetime,” and Mizuki and Horie sent the appreciative audience home by saying “I love you all!” with his signature pose depicting “Z” from Mazinger Z.