How did Shunsuke Kikuchi die? Fans mourn Dragon Ball, Kill Bill composer's death

Late Japanese composer Shunsuke Kikuchi (Image via Last FM)
Late Japanese composer Shunsuke Kikuchi (Image via Last FM)
Neetha Kurup

Shunsuke Kikuchi, the famed Japanese composer, known for composing music for anime such as Dragon Ball and Doraemon, has passed away. Kikuchi had also contributed to the soundtracks of Hollywood films such as Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill: Vol 1 and Kill Bill: Vol 2. He was 89 years old.

Born in Hirosaki, Japan, in 1931, Kikuchi specialized in incidental music for television and film. He was one of Japan's most in-demand music composers and had worked on anime productions for children as well as violent active films.

Kikuchi had been inactive since 2017 as he was taking a break to get treatment for an unspecified illness.

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How did Shunsuke Kikuchi die?

Japanese media company Oricon was the first to report Shunsuke Kikuchi's death. According to the company, his death was announced by the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers today. However, the artist had passed away earlier, on April 24th.

Oricon also noted that Kikuchi had passed away at a medical facility in Tokyo at 89 due to aspiration pneumonia. It is a type of lung infection caused by a large amount of external material from the mouth or stomach entering the lungs.

Kikuchi was undergoing medical treatment when he passed away.

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Shunsuke Kikuchi's legacy

The composer had been working in Japanese film and television media since the early 1960s, with his first work being for the 1961 film, Hachininme no Teki. His composition's characteristic features included 16-beat blues and pentatonic bases.

However, Shunsuke Kikuchi became more famous for his compositions for anime and tokusatsu productions. He composed the theme song for Doraemon in 1979 and then for Kamen Rider, Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, and more.


His song, Urami Bushi, which he composed for Female Prisoner, a Japanese film series from the 1970s, was included in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill soundtrack.

He composed music for other Japanese television shows such as Dr Slump Arare-chan, Kiteretsu Daihyakka, Getta Robo, Highschool Kimengumi, Ninja Hatori-kun, Obake No Q-Taro, Toushou Daimos, and UFO Robo Grandizer, among many more.

For his work in anime and film music, Shunsuke Kikuchi received the Award of Merit at the 2013 Tokyo Anime Awards and was awarded the lifetime achievement award at the 57th Japan Record Awards in 2015.

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Fans mourn the loss of Shunsuke Kikuchi

Fans of the legend took to social media to express their condolences and grief over his death. Many credited the composer for the impact of his iconic music for Dragon Ball and "inspiring a generation."

Kikuchi's family held a private funeral, and Oricon reported that the farewell party is "undecided."

Edited by Ravi Iyer
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