Japan’s Best Singing Sega Employee Belts Out During a Company Dinner! Our Full Report of the Takenobu Mitsuyoshi Dinner Show!
By Umanami Rei
There are a lot more photos from the event available in the original article!
Takenobu Mitsuyoshi Dinner Show @ A Company Cafeteria
A lot of people probably went crazy when this was tweeted out on Sega’s official Twitter account on 10/28/2019. Sega Interactive sound creator Takenobu Mitsuyoshi is known worldwide as “Japan’s best singing salary man”, and is a point of pride at Sega. Be that as it may, it turned into a big deal online with people asking “An employee is singing at a company dinner?” and “Why a dinner show?” about this never before attempted experiment. But it’s out of fashion for the media to let such an interesting…no…ground-breaking first of an event to be left uncovered! Famitsu.com hurriedly got the scoop, and now we bring you the results of me sneaking into this Sega Sammy Group employees-only event!
The setting for this dinner show was Journey’s Canteen, an employee cafe in Sega Group’s own offices in Tokyo’s Osaki. A group of around 40 lottery-selected employees were sitting around tables in the bar area, waiting for Mitsuyoshi’s entrance. With that entrance counted down by the host, Mitsuyoshi came out dressed in a flashy costume that was reminiscent of a Shouwa-era star! When he began belting out the hit song from Daytona USA that he’d re-arranged, “Let’s Go Away 2016”, the show started off with a bang as everyone began clapping and cheering.
Mitsuyoshi’s conversation was also in top form, engaging the crowd with things like “Are you all wondering what’s going on here? I am too! I’ve actually never been to a dinner show before.” He then went into a version of “Moonlight Densetsu” that was featured in the Sega rhythm game Chunithm, as well as a cover of “Friends” by Rebecca (also featured in the same game). Everyone sang along with the choruses since these were numbers that everyone knew, so things heated up even further. Before I knew it, the audience was standing up and cheering, giving the place more of a club vibe.
Then he went into a segment where he answered previously submitted questions called “Tell us, Mr. Mitsuyoshi!” He was only able to address some of the large amount of questions that were submitted, but he sincerely answered everything that came up.
What is your job normally like?
I’m a Sega salary man the same as all of you. I’ve been working on sound for arcade and home console games for around 30 years now.
Which one of your songs do you like best?
The opening song to “WCCF” (World Club Champion Football), which is the first orchestral song that I wrote.
Tell us an anecdote about your voice performances.
I have a job that’s involved voice work even from before I was singing: I do the voices for Akira and Kage and Virtual Fighter, as well as Sgt. Hatter in Virtual-On. They’re very small parts, but I also did the voices for when you get hit in the Mega Drive Mini-featured Rent A Hero, and the count-down voice in Tant-R.
The next song going into the middle section of the show was Virtual-On Force’s “Conquista Ciela”. Mitsuyoshi sung this hot-blooded and heroic song with everything he had, moving this writer quite a bit.
Saying that since this was a dinner show he’d like to sing a ballad, next was “Night IN H.A.P” from his greatest hits album From Loud 2 Low. As you would expect from a song that was written thinking about the light of Haneda Airport from Sega’s second arcade building in Ootorii, the gentle mood created from the combination of Mitsuyoshi’s sweet voice and the tone quality of the sexy flugelhorn seemed to wrap the entire venue in a veil.
The last song for the middle section of the show was “Owarinaki Monogatari” from Phantasy Star Online 2. There are several arrangements of this song with different vocals, but the version here featured Mitsuyoshi singing solo. When Mitsuyoshi found out that Hideaki Kobayashi (who worked on a lot of the music for the series) was there, he went over for a handshake. This was a very warm scene that encompassed the entire room. At this point Mitsuyoshi took a break for a costume change.
For the final part of the show, Mitsuyoshi came out in a tuxedo. In formal wear, he then broke out into a cover of “EVE ~PIano Version~”. A song originally sung by Serani Poji, a group produced by the former Sega sound creator Tomoko Sasaki, he noted that he loved the song because of the sad lyrics. Singing those mellow words to just the piano accompaniment made for a very emotional moment.
Going from a down-beat song to an up-beat one, Mitsuyoshi announced that the next song was “Mirai e to Tsuzuku Sora”, the opening theme from the soccer game Victory Goal ’96. He introduced the song by saying that fellow Sega composer Jun Senoue wrote it as the first song for him to sing after he’d started doing vocal work. The sports game-like driving melody and Mitsuyoshi’s care-free vocals overlapped in perfect harmony.
Keeping the energy up, the last song was appropriately “Burning Hearts ~Honoo no Angel~”. The groovy up-tempo arrangement and Mitsuyoshi’s high vocals naturally got the audience in high spirits. They all excitedly shouted out “Burning Rangers!” together during the chorus.
Then the dinner show came to an end…or did it?! There were some final announcements: A big cheer came from the audience when it was announced there was going to be another dinner show on 03/22/2020 at Ginza Kento’s live music restaurant. And what’s more, it was going to be open to the public.
But there was one more announcement: A new CD for Mitsuyoshi’s 30th anniversary! Details are yet to be determined, but expectations will certainly be high for his first solo album in awhile!
The crowd reacted with disappointment when the host announced that the dinner show was over. And in response was an encore song: The theme song to the TV anime for Virtua Fighter, “Ai ga Tarinai ze”. Mitsuyoshi may have chosen this song to end the show because apparently for a period of time it used to be played as the JAEPO and AOU shows were ending. As an outro Mitsuyoshi said “Thanks for coming out on a Monday night everyone. Remember tomorrow’s still a work day!”. This unheard of experiment of a dinner show for Sega employees in a company cafeteria was absolutely unforgettable.
1. Let’s Go Away 2016 (Daytona 3 Championship USA)
2. Moonlight Densetsu (Chunithm)
3. Friends (Chunithm)
4. Conquista Ciela (Virtual-On Force)
5. Night In H.A.P
6. Owarinaki Monogatari (Phantasy Star Online 2)
7. EVE ~Piano Version~ (Serani Poji)
8. Mirai e to Tsuzuku Sora (Victory Goal ’96)
9. Burning Herats ~Honoo no Angel~ (Burning Rangers)
10. Ai ga Tarinai Ze (Virtua Fighter TV Anime)
Interview With Performer Mitsuyoshi and Planner/Manager Kinoshita
After the show was over I had an exclusive interview with Mitsuyoshi and dinner show host Ryo Kinoshita of Sega Sammy Holdings (who’s main job is being in charge of music licensing) about their thoughts on the event and…hopes for the future!?
First of all, please tell us your thoughts on how the show went.
(Mitsuyoshi) Well…I was a different kind of nervous than usual! Being in front of a group of fellow employees was performing for a pretty small crowd, even though I’ve done events like singing the final song for the official Sega Twitter account’s fan meeting event before. I was a bit worried about it being a live performance where there would be faces I recognized since this was a company event, and I’d never experienced that before. But ultimately the crowd got excited when they were supposed to, just like usual. I’m also relieved that my voice held out for all ten songs.
It was a wonderful performance. By the way, how did you end up doing this dinner show in the first place?
(Kinoshita) Mitsuyoshi has said several times before that he wants to do a dinner show, but I was just recently able to connect with a company that manages live music restaurants through my job in dealing with licensing for the company. And when I did that I thought maybe…and took that opportunity to talk to them about it. This company dinner show is the rehearsal for the one coming up in Ginza. It would be more fun for the customers if we’d had experience with this before doing that show, so we decided to make our dry-run the company-only event you saw here today.
The organization and production of the show were very well handled, which surprised me in a good way.
(Kinoshita) We really tried to make it as interesting as possible. We arranged all the visuals and costumes ahead of time and photographed them at the studio.
(Mitsuyoshi) It was a dry-run for the public dinner show, so it’s great that the staff all worked together on finalizing it. Kinoshita really worked hard on this behind the scenes, and he’ll also be hosting the event in March.
Did the preparations for all of this go alright?
(Kinoshita) Mitsuyoshi has done live performances at company events before. But this was the first company dinner show, and I didn’t have any experience being involved in managing live performances…So it was my first time for just about all of it, and I was running around up until the last minute to verify everything. I’d confirmed with the appropriate management that we were clear to have loud music going in the company cafeteria, but the person I asked about that was very perplexed at the idea that it was a dinner show (Laughs)
How did you decide to organize the show?
(Kinoshita) Mitsuyoshi, myself, and all of the staff involved had no experienced with dinner shows going into this. So we just ranit like we imagined a dinner show should be (Laughs) That’s why his costume had a very Shouwa-era flair to it.
There was a huge reaction as soon as this dinner show was announced on the Sega official Twitter account.
(Kinoshita) Did it get retweeted like 3000 times? (As of 11/2019 when this is being written, it’s been retweeted over 4000 times) We put out notifications and applications internally about two weeks in advance, but I’m really glad it got that kind of a reaction.
(Mitsuyoshi) I was thinking to myself that Sega has to be the one to do this before anyone else does, so I was very glad that we got such a good response, particularly from sound creators at other game companies. I’ve accomplished my mission! (Laughs)
Please tell us about the public dinner show that will be taking place on 3/22.
(Kinoshita) It will be at a live music restaurant called Ginza Kento’s, which has a maximum capacity of 200. We’re just about to start preparation, so we’re not sure how it’s going to turn out. We have plans to begin that very soon.
(Mitsuyoshi) I felt a good response from today’s show, so now we just need the people coming to the next one to have fun as well. Personally, I’d love to use this as a chance to make dinner shows as an entertainment package more of a thing for us. My dreams just keep expanding: “Oh that’s right, our company has a resort in Miyazaki”, “Also we have a resort in Paradise City in Incheon Korea”, “But when you think of amusement centers, Las Vegas comes to mind”. And even if that’s partially a joke, game orchestra concerts have really been growing in number these past years, so this is sort of a different approach to that same thing. A new way of doing things with food, drink, and Sega game music…hopefully we’ll keep on thinking of more moving experiences.
(Kinoshita) It combines all of the business facets of the Sega Sammy Group (Laughs) As someone who works on licensing, my job is typically working with people like Mitsuyoshi to license out their music to be released on CD. It would be great if this helped his intellectual property to be even more successful.
(Mitsuyoshi) It’s very “Sega” to connect all that to the dinner show (Laughs) Sega is well known for “being ten years too early” or “doing weird things again”, but I feel like there hasn’t been as much of that in the past several years. Maybe now that spirits are high with the release of the Mega Drive Mini, this will all gather attention in a more Sega-like way.
(Kinoshita) We plan to announce ticket sales as soon as possible, so please keep an eye on the official Sega twitter account.
Can you give us any details on the other announcement, your 30th anniversary CD?
(Kinoshita) More details will be available in the future, but we really want to make this a compilation of his 30 years in the industry. We’re in the process of planning things out with Wave-Master.
(Mitsuyoshi) It’s a question of making it a greatest hits album or a complete collection of everything so far. I can’t give any details yet, but we’d really like for it to be something that fans will all like. It’s been a long time since my last album, “From Loud To Low Sun”, so I’d personally like for it to encompass everything I’ve done since then.
I see. We’ll be looking forward to the dinner show in March and further announcements on your CD!