P R O F I L E . . .

name: 藥q OKAZAKI Ritsuko
other nicknames: X Morino Ritsu, Ritz
birthdate: 1959 December 29 ~ 2004 May 05
birthplace: Hashima, Nagasaki Prefecture
bloodtype: B
work: singer / lyricist / composer / chorus arranger

Okazaki Ritsuko is a singer and songwriter, reknown for her unique soft whispery vocals. Her major debut as an artist was in 1993, although long before her singing career took off she had been involved in the music industry, composing music for other artists, anime, voice actresses and such. She contributed a lot of music for anime. Her most popular work is For fruits basket, the theme song for the hit anime series "Fruits Basket". In 2002, Okazaki emerged as part of the duo unit MELOCURE with Hinata Megumi. Shortly after the release of their first album, Okazaki passed away on May 5 2004 due to septic shock caused by blood infection.

Okazaki Ritsuko started composing music ever since her school days. The first song she composed by herself was Ame ga kureta mono (Gift of the rain), a medium-slow piece in F key. In her first year of high school, Okazaki joined (or rather, got dragged into joining) an amateur three-persons band called, Eleanor (named after the Beatles' song Eleanor Rigby). As part of the band, Okazaki played the keyboard as well as helped write songs and sing the chorus. I do not know much about Eleanor other than they had participated in the 31st Popular Song Contest (POPCON) in 1986 but didn't win. Although they had hopes to go pro, their dreams never came to be.

After graduating from school, Okazaki got on with life and had a regular office job. It wasn't until about two years later, when she was around 23, did she decide that she wanted to make music. It wasn't a serious ambition, however, merely to give it a try and see how things worked out. She started out composing music for commercials and eventually wrote and composed songs for artists, such as Ayukawa Mami, Itou Toshihiro and BaBe. She even composed children songs for Yamaha Music.

In 1991, upon the recommendation of a fellow mixer, Okazaki got assigned to sing the theme song for the OVA "Ichigatsu ni wa Christmas". It was the first time anything sung by Okazaki was recorded on CD. This marked the start of Okazaki's career in the anime music scene.

Here Okazaki met voice actress Hayashibara Megumi who was playing the lead role of the anime. While thanks to the OVA Hayashibara landed the role of Ayanami Rei in "Evangalion", Okazaki was offered to compose the theme song for the new version of the TV anime "Minky Momo" with King Records under their StarChild label, where she continued to compose music for anime and for voice actresses like Hayashibara, Komori Manami and most recent before her death, Horie Yui. Her early works for anime are collected in her Ritzberry Fields album, which includes self-covers of the songs she wrote.

Okazaki impressed her staff one day when they heard the demo tape of her singing the song she was composing for another artist. They felt that her voice suited the song best and urged that she sing instead. Okazaki was already in her thirties at the time, but she gave it a shot anyway.

March 1993 saw Okazaki Ritsuko's major debut in Japan with the release of her first single Kanashii jiyuu under Taurus Records, and within the same month her first album Sincerely yours,. Her whispery style of singing may not have been everyone's cup of tea, but her heart-warming songs managed to captivate a sizeable audience. In 1996, her own fanclub "Ritzberry Fields" was established, and later in the year, she even set up her little own private website. Under Taurus Records, Okazaki recorded a total of 6 singles, 3 albums and a best album.

The latter years of Okazaki's career saw a shift of focus to anime. She showed off her fun side with her works for the 2000 anime "Love Hina". The catchy and fast-paced theme song Sakura saku, sung by Hayashibara Megumi, was refreshing from her usual slow ballads. Okazaki made a guest apperance at the final Love Hina Concert in Tokyo where she performed two of the number of songs she wrote Kimi sae ireba and Hajimari wa koko kara. Not long after, she released Love Hina OKAZAKI SELECTION, a self-cover album where she recorded her own versions for all her Love Hina songs.

Okazaki's big break came was when she was hired to compose and sing the theme song for the 2001 anime "Fruits Basket". Director Daichi Akitarou asked her to come up with "an anime theme song no one has ever heard," and the end product: For fruits basket, which claimed an award for the Anime Theme Song category in the 7th Animation Kobe in 2002. The Fruits Basket image album -Shiki- contains five songs penned and sung by her, including the opening and ending themes. Okazaki's songs for "Fruits Basket" was a huge contrast to her previous works in "Love Hina". Featuring her soft and gentle vocals whispering positive words to the accompaniment of beautiful orchestration, Okazaki did a wonderful job at depicting the world of Fruits Basket.

Following her success with "Fruits Basket", Okazaki maintained the same singing style when she recorded the theme song for the ballet-themed anime "Princess Tutu" and soon after, the 12 ending themes for the Character Parts of "Sister Princess Re Pure". The latter was recorded in London and two albums were released: an anime version and Okazaki Ritsuko's version (life is lovely.) that includes two songs from "Fruits Basket".

In 2002, Okazaki Ritsuko formed the singing and chorus unit MELOCURE with Hinata Megumi. Here, Okazaki proves that she too can take on pop songs. More information about this duo is covered in the MELOCURE section.

Among the very last works Okazaki Ritsuko worked on is the game "symphonic rain" by Kogado Studio, released in spring 2004. She is responsible for all the songs and music played throughout this musical adventure game, and performs the opening and ending themes herself. It may not have been the most amazing game anyone has ever played, but one must admit the true charms lies within the message in the songs.

Okazaki's 9th album was slated for a June release the same year, which she promised would include some new songs along with her self-cover versions of the symphonic rain songs. However she didn't live long enough to complete the recording. Her fellow staff put together what was left of the recording and the following December, For RITZ was released, coinciding her birthday.