I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Makoto Fujiwara -- Runner (ランナー)

I wonder if I should just create a category labeled "Macross". But it would still be pretty limited, since I've only seen the original series and movie, and not the various sequels (December 20 2016...and yet, I've gone ahead and done it). In any case, Mari Iijima(飯島真理)never had a total monopoly on the music of this landmark anime which was one of the, if not the earliest, examples to tie up the genre with pop music.

Makoto Fujiwara(藤原誠) was responsible for the opening and ending themes of the original series when it debuted in October 1982. The opening theme, "Macross" was this spirited steed of an anison which combined some of the old stomp-and-march vocals with a bit of a new pop orchestral sweep. It's probably the more famous of the two songs, but personally if I had to choose, I would prefer the ending theme, "Runner". Like a lot of ending themes for anime, "Runner"is the ballad counterpoint to the more frenetic "Macross". But I've always enjoyed the languid guitar and the strings which frame "Runner". Another anison vet by the name of Isao Taira(たいらいさお) had actually recorded it, but I guess at the last minute, the producers decided to go with Fujiwara again and his version is the one up there for posterity.

"Runner" was composed by Kentaro Haneda(羽田健太郎)and written by Akane Asa(阿佐茜), the same duo behind the opening. I have no idea how Taira's version sounded but I know I like Fujiwara's take on it. It sounds like a tune that should be heard no earlier than dusk, and ideally, somewhere in the western, less populated states of America. It has that kind of Lone Wolf vibe to it....after the hero takes care of the bad guys, he just heads off into the sunset alone while the rescued damsel or kid screams something like "SHANE!" However, the lyrics hint at not so much of the John Wayne cowboy but at the proverbial runner always striving for that goal, never quitting, although the words are vague enough so that they can refer to anyone....say, a transformable Valkyrie ace pilot.

The above video is of the ending credits of the show showing Hikaru's flyer against an appropriately setting sky while the song is being played....this time with Mari Iijima dueting with Fujiwara. Not perfectly harmonized but hey, the song survives it pretty well.

(Apologies but the powers-that-be have taken down the video for Fujiwara.)

The Tokyo-born Fujiwara actually started out playing the flute during his teen years and was in the school band which was done up in a Big Band style. However, he became a singer at the age of 24 and released his first single, "Nagai Tabi no Owari"長い旅の終わり...Long Journey's End) in May 1972, which got as high as No. 57 on the Oricon charts. I'm not sure if it had been his idea or that of his handlers, but he was styled as "the Japanese Englebert Humperdinck", and looking at the above video and hearing his big voice, I could see why.

The video, by the way, is of "Sayonara no Riyu"さよならの理由...The Reason for Goodbye), one of the tracks on his debut album, "Ai to Jiyu no Yoake"愛と自由の夜明け...Sunset of Love and Freedom), also released in 1972. That and one other album, also released in 1972, would be the only ones of his career, although he would continue to release singles into 1980. Fujiwara would enter the world of anime songs and commercial jingles later on. Sadly, he would pass away from cancer in 2002 at the age of 55 (according to the Yahoo Japan search page for the man).


  1. Thanks J-Canuck for this great post on 藤原誠's 「ランナー」. Fujiwara definitely has a great booming voice. While many consider his 「超時空要塞マクロス」 theme to be his best Anime song, I actually really like his somewhat more upbeat theme 「いつか黒船」 for the obscure Anime 『テクノポリス21C』 -

    His song 「カムヒア! ダイターン3」 for the Super Robot show 『無敵鋼人ダイターン3』 is another memorable theme if only because of Fujiwara's opening call out of " One - Two - Three -- Daitarn 3" -

    1. I'm gonna have to listen to those other anime songs by him you've just mentioned.

      I took another listen to "Sayonara no Riyu" just now and find it quite pleasant. Definitely more on the New Music/City Pop side of things; I'll have to check out some more of his non-anime songs as well.


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