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Composer Yasuharu Takanashi Drew Major Real-Life Inspiration For Naruto's Japanese-Rock Style Music

"Naruto" is an all-timer anime and manga franchise, retaining an active fanbase through its sequel series "Boruto: Naruto Next Generations" to this day, well over two decades since its first chapter deputed in Weekly Shonen Jump in 1999. While the reasons for its success are numerous, one perhaps underappreciated element of the enduring "Naruto" formula is how it draws from a wide range of outside influences.

For instance, among various facts about "Naruto Shippuden The Movie: Bonds" is that its opening scene, which depicts ninjas from the Land of the Sky bombing the Village Hidden in the Leaves from above, takes direct influence from Michael Bay's quasi-historical action film "Pearl Harbor." Meanwhile, protagonist Naruto's foil Sasuke Uchiha is based on a historical ninja character named Sasuke Sarutobi popular across various media beginning in the 1800s and lasting into the early-to-mid 1900s. Becoming a parent even influenced "Naruto" author Masashi Kishimoto, who consequently decided to deepen the relationship between Naruto and his father in the hit series.

One way the "Naruto" anime in particular asserts a unique identity is the style of music that oftentimes heightens pivotal scenes, combining contemporary rock with traditional Japanese instruments and melodies. As it turns out, composer Yasuharu Takanashi drew from his own childhood when formulating the style of his "Naruto" anime score.

Yasuharu Takanashi grew up around geisha, which endeared him to traditional music

In commemoration of music from throughout "Naruto" history hitting streaming services for the first time internationally, Anime News Network interviewed composer Yasuharu Takanashi about just what went into soundtracking one of the most iconic series in the history of the anime medium. Partway through their discussion, interviewer Jacki Jing asked Takanashi what influenced him to mash up rock 'n' roll with traditional styles of Japanese music.

"First of all, my parents' house was a Geisha House, and I was surrounded by many geisha in my childhood," Takanashi replied. "So I grew up listening to the sound of shamisen and other Japanese instruments." He then went on to cite the use of classic Japanese instruments by a hard rock band he was in called Musashi as another big factor in leading him to attempt something similar in his solo work.

Takanashi elaborated further on his time in Musashi in an interview with Crunchyroll. "Joining Musashi, the band I was playing in during 'Naruto' which used Japanese instruments, was the catalyst that awakened the Japanese instinct that was dormant in me," Takanashi said.

So, like other key elements that have contributed to "Naruto" becoming such a gargantuan hit, the signature style of music Takanashi developed to soundtrack "Naruto" is significantly influenced by its creator's real-life experience.