On the 7th of February at London’s Cadogan Hall fans across the UK had the pleasure of experiencing a live composition of One Piece’s famous and much-loved songs. Hosting the event was none other than Kohei Tanaka, known for his musical scores on numerous anime and movies including JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Sakura Taisen, Gunbuster and of course One Piece.
One Piece is one of the biggest series in Japan and across the world; starting as a manga it has spawned anime and games. The manga is currently the worlds biggest in terms of sales, with cumulative sales of more than 320 million volumes in Japan, and 60 million in the rest of the world. It focuses on Monkey D. Luffy and his pirate crew, with Luffy wanting to become king of the pirates by finding the legendary treasure of Gol D. Roger called One Piece.
The event started with a video projection recounting the famous opening from One Piece about Gol D. Roger’s execution and his final moments stating that he left his treasure for someone to find. The following scene shows a barrel floating in the water, every One Piece fan should know what’s in the barrel! Kohei Tanaka then took the stage and with the help of a translator spoke about the history of One Piece and his excitement of being in London. Kohei then introduced the first set of songs to be played, starting with “Kaizoku-o ni naraunda”. During the performances the audience was treated to various famous scenes from the anime via the video projection, essentially re-living One Piece accompanied by the orchestra was a magical experience.
Kohei returned to the stage at set intervals throughout the evening talking about various scenes and even asked whether the audience knew who he was, to which the audience responded with a huge “Yes”. Early in the evening, he explained that the animation being shown was all original Toei Animation footage and that some of the footage we saw was not shown at the symphony in Paris. Giving his translator a break it would seem Kohei returns to stage and says “Shanks scene was good!” in full English. Kohei then talks about how One Piece has grown over the years has released a total of 47 character CDs! The symphony had been amazing so far, a rare experience but it was only just getting started as Kohei sat at the piano.
One of the most emotional moments during the event was of the Going Merry and its final moments; everyone in the audience could feel the emotion here and loved the re-telling! I could see people crying and smiling that’s how powerful it was. Things took on a lighter note when Kohei stood up and announced the next song “Song of Brook!” (Binks no sake), Kohei then asked the whole audience to sing with him and he began playing the song and singing. The singing didn’t end there as Kohei invited the audience to sing the famous One Piece song “We Are!”
With the announcement from Kohei “Let’s go into the new World!” the finale was in full swing, taking the projection right up to the current arc of One Piece in Dressrosa. When Kohei left the stage the audience expressed their desire for an encore, they were answered in the form of the song Kaido from the movie World Z and another sing-along of We Are! In which Kohei took on the role of chief conductor.
With the symphony finished a lucky few had the opportunity to meet both Kohei and Jean Thorel (Conductor of the symphony), I managed to ask Kohei who his favourite character was to which he stated he couldn’t pick one but his favourite song is We Are!
The One Piece symphony was truly a magical and amazing experience, the chance to re-live One Piece accompanied by a live orchestra is certainly a once in a lifetime event. Hopes a definitely high that future symphony will take place as this is a must-see for One Piece fans.