Nanase Ohkawa x Hayato Matsuo talk – Magic Knight Rayearth Scenario Collection vol. 3 (December/1995)

© CLAMP/ 講談社

Ohkawa: Hello. This is the third time we’ve met, isn’t it?

Matsuo: Yes, the first time was at the preview event of Rayearth.

Ohkawa: I’m pleased to meet you, today.

Matsuo: It is my pleasure to be with you.

Ohkawa: I’m kind of nervous (laughs).

Matsuo: (laughs).

Ohkawa: Matsuo-san, you have been in charge of the music for the TV anime of Rayearth for both the first and second seasons, but now that the anime is finished, can you tell us about your overall impressions?

Matsuo: At first, I heard it was a girl’s anime, but when I actually saw it, it was like science fiction (laughs), so it was worthwhile. I’m originally from the generation of Space Battleship Yamato (laughs); thus, I had a lot of fun working on Rayearth.

Ohkawa: That’s (laughs) almost the same generation as me… (laughs).

Matsuo: I didn’t know that (laughs).

Ohkawa: I didn’t know that either (laughs). By the way, could you tell us the titles of other anime and game works that you were in charge of composing music?

Matsuo: My first original composition was for Rayearth.[1] As for arrangements, I’ve done three or four, including Dai’s Adventure.[2] My very first work was for a game called Master of Monsters.[3]

Ohkawa: Yamanouchi-san, the editor of Nakayoshi, who is in charge of CLAMP, loved the music for Master of Monsters.

Matsuo: I didn’t know that.

Ohkawa: Yes. That’s why he was very happy when Matsuo-san was chosen to compose the music of Rayearth (laughs).

Matsuo: That’s an honor (laughs).

Ohkawa: By the way, what happened after Rayearth?

Matsuo: I’m in charge of Mysterious Thief Saint Tail [4] on TV.

Ohkawa: Is that also an orchestra?

Matsuo: It is orchestral, plus a rhythm.

Ohkawa: Do you conduct the orchestra yourself?

Matsuo: Not at all! I’m not good at conducting (laughs).

Ohkawa: Eh? Is that so?

Matsuo: I don’t really like standing in front of people (laughs), so I leave it to professionals.

Ohkawa: That’s too bad (laughs). I would have liked to see it once. By the way, how many people are in the Rayearth orchestra?

Matsuo: About thirty or forty people.


Ohkawa: Can you tell us about the most difficult part of writing the music for Rayearth?

Matsuo: The theme songs for the Mashin were a bit tricky. I had a hard time creating a sense of difference between them because there are five Mashin instead of just one.

Ohkawa: Is there anything that has changed in terms of music composition between the first and second season?

Matsuo: For the first season, I wrote songs that would fit any scene. As for the second season, I heard that the story was going to be rather dark, so I tried to make the music feel a little sad.

Ohkawa: There are many emotional songs in the second season.

Matsuo: That’s right.

Ohkawa: Among them, Primera’s song[5] is cute, and I like it very much.

Matsuo: Thank you (laughs). 

Ohkawa: Among CLAMP members, Autozam’s song[6] was very popular (laughs). It plays when the space battleship is flying… (laughs).

Ohkawa: By the way, are Fahren’s strings violins?[7]

Matsuo: Yes, I made them play the violin giving the feeling of a kokyu.[8]

Ohkawa: You have CD albums for the first and second seasons. I like the second season ones[9], which contain themes from each country. Do you have a favorite song yourself?

Matsuo: That’s correct. It’s not that I don’t like the CD albums, but a live orchestra is better to listen to, so in that respect, I think the third album[10] with live music is good.


Ohkawa: When did you first decide to work as a composer?

Matsuo: I realized that I wanted to compose music when I was in the first grade of elementary school.

Ohkawa: Eh!? From such a young age.

Matsuo: Yes (laughs).

Ohkawa: Did you go to a school to study music composition?

Matsuo: Yes. But the school didn’t teach me anything in particular (laughs). Well, I guess to study music was just a habit I’ve always had.

Ohkawa: Did you learn to play the piano?

Matsuo: I’ve been playing the Electone [11] since I was a child.

Ohkawa: Oh, that’s kind of nice (laughs).

Matsuo: (laughs). Most of them are synthesizers now.

Ohkawa: Do you use computers and synths to compose music now?

Matsuo: It depends on the situation. Sometimes, I write from the score, and other times I do it while typing.

Ohkawa: For example, how long does it take you to write a full orchestral piece like the main theme of Rayearth?

Matsuo: It depends on the song, but it definitely takes a few days.

Ohkawa: By the way, is Matsuo-san a fast music composer?

Matsuo: No, how is it? (laughs).

Ohkawa: The BGM best album of Rayearth [12] is going to be released. Who will select the songs?

Matsuo: That’s PolyGram‘s doing[13] (laughs).

Ohkawa: Oh, I didn’t know that (laughs). Are there any songs that you re-recorded this time?

Matsuo: Yes. Two songs, new synth versions of the opening and ending.[14]

Ohkawa: I see. I’m looking forward to it.


Ohkawa: What is your favorite genre of music?

Matsuo: I like jazz fusion music. Originally, I was into progressive rock music. I’ve never really listened to much classical music (laughs).

Ohkawa: That’s surprising (laughs). In the progressive rock music genre, I’d say Keith Emerson

Matsuo: Oh, that’s right. I like Emerson (laughs).

Ohkawa: We both agree on that (laughs). I used to like EL&P.

Matsuo: It’s the same for me (laughs). When I was in elementary school, Tarkus came out, and I thought I was a goner (laughs), so I spent about three months copying it, and I played it at my Electone recital.

Ohkawa: That’s amazing! I just listen to it in the bath (laughs). But we are of the same generation, isn’t it? Speaking of Keith Emerson, he wrote the music for the movie version of Genma Taisen.

Matsuo: That’s right.

Ohkawa: Then, we really are of the same generation (laughs). By the way, didn’t you get into YMO? (laughs).

Matsuo: I was addicted to it (laughs).

Ohkawa: I went to the YMO breakup concert (laughs). That was when you were in junior high school or high school, wasn’t it?

Matsuo: That’s right. I think, I was in high school.

Ohkawa: We’re totally of the same generation (laughs).


Ohkawa: For Mysterious Thief Saint Tail have you finished working on the music composition for the album?[15]

Matsuo: I’ve finished everything. Rayearth had a lot of songs, but Mysterious Thief Saint Tail is about the size of an album.

Ohkawa: I’m looking forward to your album. By the way, how did you order this album?

Matsuo: It’s a sequence (laughs). It is like “A monster appears 1, A monster appears 2, A monster appears 3, A monster appears 4, A monster appears 5, A monster appears 6” (laughs).[16]

Ohkawa: I, I can’t believe you put numbers on it (laughs).[17]

Matsuo: It means, you have six different patterns of songs to be used when a monster appears (laughs).

Ohkawa: D-do they have a title?

Matsuo: Some of them do. Some of them have detailed situations written on them. However, it’s not the only place to use them, so to some extent you have to understand them in an abstract sense, otherwise you may not have a use for them later.

Ohkawa: I see. Is there a character list of when to use those songs?

Matsuo: Yes. I stick with that. Generally, there is a guide to look at it.

Ohkawa: Is there a length limitation for songs?

Matsuo: It seems that it’s up to you (laughs).

Ohkawa: Is there a specification of how long or short a song should be?

Matsuo: There isn’t (laughs).

Ohkawa: That’s amazing! How many songs do you make in how many days?

Matsuo: It’s probably about 60 to 70 songs. Some of them are recorded and some are live, so it’s hard to say, but it takes about a month.

Ohkawa: I see. Do you have any meetings after it’s completed?

Matsuo: There is one at the beginning, but nothing after that (laughs). There was no guide for Rayearth 2.[18]

Ohkawa: Eh? (laughs). Then how about the planning?

Matsuo: They asked me to find something appropriate (laughs).

Ohkawa: That’s wonderful (laughs). How did you divide the songs?

Matsuo: I knew there would be funny scenes, sad scenes, character scenes, and battles, so I knew what I had to do. In Rayearth 2, the number of characters had increased a lot, so the number of songs had also increased (laughs).

Ohkawa: How was Nova’s song?[19]

Matsuo: Director Hirano asked me to add a whistle and Western style (laughs).

Ohkawa: I see (laughs). What about the pipe organ-like feel of Debonair’s song?[20]

Matsuo: I guess being from the generation of Space Battleship Yamato had something to do with it, I wonder if that is the case (laughs).

Ohkawa: That’s wonderful (laughs). Thank you very much for this fun talk today. Thank you very much for all your help with Rayearth.

Matsuo: It was a fun job for me.

Ohkawa: But next time, I definitely want to listen to Matsuo-san’s original album.

Matsuo: Thank you (laughs).

Ohkawa: Thank you very much for today.

Matsuo: Thank you very much to you too.


[1] Rayearth was the first time Matsuo composed music for a TV anime series by himself.

[2] Matsuo is talking about the anime of Dai no Daibouken of 1991.

[3] For the video game of Master of Monsters, Matsuo did the music composition.

[4] For Saint Tail, Matsuo did the music composition.

[5] Ohkawa is talking about the song titled “Primera”. It is the third track contained inside the album Magic Knight Rayearth Original Soundtrack 5 ~ Hikaru, Umi, Fuu ~.

[6] Ohkawa is talking about the song titled “Autozam”. It is the second track contained inside the album Magic Knight Rayearth Original Soundtrack 4 ~ Atarashii Kizuna. Don’t confuse this song with the Sangoku Shinkou – Autozam~Chizeta~Fahren (Three Invader Countries – Autozam, Chizeta, Fahren) song.

[7] Ohkawa is talking about the song titled “Fahren”. It is the fifth track contained inside the album Magic Knight Rayearth Original Soundtrack 4 ~ Atarashii Kizuna. Don’t confuse this song with the Sangoku Shinkou – Autozam~Chizeta~Fahren – (Three Invader Countries – Autozam, Chizeta, Fahren) song.

[8] A kokyu is a 3 or 4-stringed Japanese musical instrument played with a bow.

[9] This means that Ohkawa likes the albums of Magic Knight Rayearth Original Soundtrack 4 ~ Atarashii Kizuna and Magic Knight Rayearth Original Soundtrack 5 ~ Hikaru, Umi, Fuu ~

[10] Matsuo is talking about the album Magic Knight Rayearth Original Soundtrack 3 ~ Yuzurenai Negai. It includes songs such as the Main Theme and the orchestra version of Yuzurenai Negai. Those are such extraordinary songs and listen to them live would be so amazing!

[11] An electone is an electronic organ produced by Yamaha.

[12] Ohkawa is talking about the album Magic Knight Rayearth Original Soundtrack 6 BEST ~ Itsuka Kagayaku ~.

[13] PolyGram was a music record label. Now it is part of Universal Music as Universal Sigma.

[14] Rayearth Original Soundtrack 6 BEST has two exclusive songs: Hikari to Kage wo Dakishimeta mama and Itsuka Kagayaku in their instrumental versions.

[15] Ohkawa is talking about the first OST of Saint Tail released on November 25th of 1995.

[16] “A monster appears” is actually part of the title of some Rayearth songs.

[17] Believe it or not, the titles of the songs for the first OST of Saint Tail are almost the same and are only differentiated by numbers.

[18] Rayearth 2 = Second season of the anime.

[19] Ohkawa is talking about the song titled Nova ~ Rival Toujou! (Nova ~ Rival Entrance!). It is the second track contained inside the album Magic Knight Rayearth Original Soundtrack 5 ~ Hikaru, Umi, Fuu ~.

[20] Ohkawa is talking about the song titled Debonair ~ Hametsu no Yokan(Debonair ~ Premonition of Ruin). It is the 13th track contained inside the album Magic Knight Rayearth Original Soundtrack 5 ~ Hikaru, Umi, Fuu ~.

Translated from Japanese by shidouhikaru15.


Interview originally published in Magic Knight Rayearth Scenario Collection 3 (Kodansha), released on December 18, 1995. Original text available upon request.

If you found mistakes in this translation or would like to contribute with translating other interviews, please contact me.