From the hero worship days gone by till the J-Pop extravaganza of the present, Tokusatsu songs have never failed to turn fans into bathroom divas, who tend to subconsciously belt out tune after tune of their favourite Tokusatsu shows. Turn on the show, the song begins. When the hero (or heroes) transforms and takes on the bad guys, the same songs play over and over again. You know the tune and the lyrics by heart, but you never get sick of it. The power of music in television has never been so evident.
For those of you expecting Rider Chips, Psychic Lover or Project DMM, you’ve come to the wrong place! This is an article celebrating the best of the best of Tokusatsu singers and the artistes listed above don’t even come close to these legends.
Of course there are others we’d like to list down below, like the ever youthful Horie Mitsuko, Shimon Masato (also known as Fuji Kyouichi) and classic ‘tag-a-longs’ like MoJo and Koorogi ’73, who have performed on countless songs, but the ones taking our spotlight are arguably the most recognisable voices in the history of Tokusatsu songs. If you have a directory of Tokusatsu songs in your portable music players, you probably have heard all six we are about to mention. Here we go!
Honourable mention: Kushida Akira
It’s difficult not to mention Kushida despite him not making it into my Top 5. His gruff vocal style kicked off not one, but FIVE series in the Metal Hero genre, featuring on almost all the songs in the albums of the Uchuu Keiji saga. No one can deny that the theme song to Gavan is his greatest genre contribution yet, while Taiyou Sentai Sun Vulcan comes in a close second for just being plain catchy, though I still don’t understand Dragon Road. Try to sing like him and you’ll get a sore throat. Trust me, I tried.
5. Kageyama Hironobu
Could have been higher on the list but Kageyama is more well-known for being an anime singer rather than a Tokusatsu one. While involved with the wildly popular JAM Project and LAZY, his solo involvement in Tokusatsu songs has been limited to Sentai, performing the opening themes for Dengeki Sentai Changeman (credited as KAGE), Hikari Sentai Maskman and Chojin Sentai Jetman, and a number of robot-themed insert songs. Still iconic for his amazing lung prowess.
4. Ishihara Shinichi
One hell of a singer, one hell of a performer. Just check out his live performances at Super Sentai Spirits and Kamen Rider Live 2004. Ishihara has one of the most dramatic voices in the industry and puts his gift to good use with Kyuukyuu Sentai GoGoV, Kamen Rider Agito and Juukou B-Fighter. That’s three out of the four main genres covered. Ishihara also had some involvement with the Ultraman series, but was limited to Columbia cover versions of Ultraman Powered, TAKE ME HIGHER and an unspectacular Ultraman Dyna insert song.
3. Miyauchi Takayuki
A legend whose first foray into the world of Tokusatsu music came in 1984 with Choudenshi Bioman. His next opening theme entry, Kamen Rider Black RX, is still his most well-remembered song today, particularly due to the influx of Kamen Rider fans in the last decade. Miyauchi also did 90% of the songs for Black RX and took on near-entire soundtracks for the Rescue Hero trilogy of Winspector, Solbrain and Exceedraft.
2. Sasaki Isao
Easily identified by his deep, baritone voice, Sasaki kickstarted Himitsu Sentai Gorenger along with Mitsuko Horie, continuing to helm the vocals for the follow-up JAKQ Dengekitai. He is also the only singer in this list to have performed an opening theme song for each one of the four main Tokusatsu genres: Sentai, Ultraman, Metal Hero and Kamen Rider. Sasaki has also appeared as a guest star on Kyoujuu Tokusou Juspion and Kamen Rider ZO, though he did not sing on either soundtrack.
1. Mizuki Ichirou
A testament to Mizuki’s standing in the industry is his nickname “Aniki”, given affectionately by fans and peers of the anime music fraternity. Arguably the most popular voice during the ‘Golden Age’ of Tokusatsu in the 70s, tackling a wide range of Toei projects from Kamen Rider to non-genre specifics such as Barom-1 and Akumaizer 3. Mizuki, however, preferred to focus on anime songs in the 80s and 90s, which only served to further increase his popularity. Mizuki is the only Tokusatsu singer thus far to be given a lead role, as Voicelugger Gold in Ishinomori Shotarou’s Voicelugger.