Akira Itō, the lyricist for many popular commercial jingles and the first opening theme song for the Urusei Yatsura anime as well as other anime classics, passed away on May 15 at a Yokohama hospital due to acute renal failure. He was 80. His immediate family held a private service.
Itō was born in Chiba prefecture. He began writing lyrics for commercials and plotted out television programs at Jōdan Kōbō (Joke Studio) — a creator collective overseen by writer and composer Toriro Miki (Tetsujin 28-go, New Jungle Emperor, Go Ahead Leo!) — before going independent. His commercial jingle “Hitachi no Ki” (Hitachi Tree) for the electronics maker Hitachi became well-known throughout Japan. His other familiar compositions include the songs “Isojin” (Iodine) for Meiji Iodine, “Kinoko no Yama” (Mushroom Mountain) for Meiji’s chocolate biscuits of the same name, “Kappa Ebisen” for Calbee‘s shrimp-flavored snacks, and “Seiun” for Nippon Kodo’s incense sticks. He also collaborated on the jingle for Mitsuya Cider with Eiichi Ōtaki.
Itō is arguably best known outside commercial jingles for penning the lyrics for the first opening theme song “Lum no Love Song” (Lum’s Love Song) for the Urusei Yatsura anime. He also wrote theme songs for Tetsujin 28-go (Gigantor), Cutey Honey, Muteki Robo Trider G7, Barefoot Gen 2, Mashin Hero Wataru, Nanako SOS, Stop! Hibari-kun, and more popular anime.