Even those unfamiliar with the name Tomoyasu Hotei would most likely know at least one song of his: “Battle Without Honor or Humanity”.
First featured in the 2000 yakuza film “New Battles Without Honor and Humanity” (a.k.a. “Another Battle”) directed by Junji Sakamoto, this song originally titled “New Battles Without Honor and Humanity Theme” gained international recognition when Quentin Tarantino used it three years later for one of the most badass scenes in Volume 1 of one of the most badass movies ever made, “Kill Bill”.
Arrival of O-Ren Ishii
The acclaimed Japanese guitarist, songwriter, composer, performer and record producer HOTEI not only wrote the soundtrack for “New Battles Without Honor and Humanity”, but also starred as one of the actors.
“KIll Bill Volume 1” is arguably Tarantino’s most rewatchable film, and the awesome soundtrack really helps elevate this movie.
“While the film’s soundtrack has zero original songs, Tarantino citing his sourcing of the music from his personal collection, the music complements some scenes in more powerful ways than in other Tarantino films.
“’The Green Hornet’, followed immediately by ‘Battle Without Honor or Humanity’, is such a fantastic combination. These are played during O-Ren’s and The Bride’s travel to the House of Blue Leaves, and creates an immense buildup of excitement as both of these world class assassins are nearing their confrontation. It would be very hard to find someone not excited for the upcoming sequence, especially if they have seen it before.”
After “Kill Bill Volume 1” made it famous, HOTEI’s iconic song has been extensively used in film, TV and sports programming ever since, as well as in advertisements.
Here’s HOTEI performing “Battle Without Honor or Humanity” at Japan’s Saitama Super Arena on February 1, 2012.
Celebrating 40 years in music
This year, HOTEI is celebrating his 40th anniversary in music.
“HOTEI began his career in 1981, as co-founder, guitarist and principal songwriter of legendary Japanese rock band BOOWY, (‘boy’), who enjoyed phenomenal success as one of Japan’s most popular and revered bands.
“HOTEI established himself as a solo artist in the late 80s, after the break up of BOOWY. His debut solo album ‘GUITARHYTHM’ (1989) was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London and its huge success was followed by a string of multi-million selling albums, each one musically different to the last.”
Interestingly, HOTEI’s first acting role was in the 1998 comedy-samurai film “Samurai Fiction” directed by Hiroyuki Nakano. He also composed the soundtrack. “Samurai Fiction”, which paid homage and had inside jokes about older samurai films, such as the works of Akira Kurosawa, in turn influenced Tarantino’s “Kill Bill”.
Here’s an article on why “Samurai Fiction” was the original “Kill Bill”.
“Samurai Fiction’s opening titles, in which samurai performing kata are silhouetted against a red background, were in turn satirized in blue & black in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol. 1. Also, Tarantino used Hotei’s famous instrumental track ‘Shin Jingi Naki Tatakai’ (“Battle Without Honor or Humanity” – the title of a classic yakuza movie by Kinji Fukasaku, a major influence on Tarantino) as background music for Kill Bill Vol. 1. Hotei played Kazamatsuri in Samurai Fiction and composed its soundtrack.”
HOTEI also wrote and performed “Trick Attack”, the theme song of one of Japan’s biggest movies in 2015, the “Lupin The Third” live action film.
In 2015, HOTEI released his debut international album, “Strangers”, which included collaborations with Iggy Pop and Richard Kruspe from German rock superstars Rammstein.
Happy 40th anniversary, HOTEI!