Ayumi Hamasaki Sings 1st Anime Film Theme in 12 Years for Buddha 2
Singer Ayumi Hamasaki wrote and sang the theme song "Pray" for Buddha 2: Tezuka Osamu no Buddha ~Owarinaki Tabi~, the second film in the planned trilogy based on the late Osamu Tezuka's Buddha manga. It will be Hamasaki's first theme song for an anime film since her "No More Words" song for Inuyasha the Movie: Affections Touching Across Time in 2001, and only her seventh theme song for any film, live-action or anime.
Hamasaki acknowledged that she had not read the original manga before, but she took the opportunity to read the entire manga and the script and drew inspiration from them to write the lyrics. She added that she was completely immersed into the unique world view and read the entire 14-volume manga in one sitting. The film's general producer Kozo Morishita commented that he cannot help but feel the link to Siddhartha's hope for people's happiness in Hamasaki's lyrics, which pray for the happiness of loved ones.
In the original 1972-1983 manga, Tezuka (Mighty Atom/Astro Boy, Black Jack, Jungle Emperor/Kimba the White Lion) recounts the life of the young prince Siddhartha, the founder of Buddhism. Vertical released the entire manga (reorganized into eight volumes) in North America in hardcover and paperback, and the story won Harvey Awards in 2004 and 2005. Hideaki Maniwa designed the characters in the first film, and Toei Animation produced the project in association with Tezuka Productions. X Japan contributed the song "Scarlet Love Song" for the first film.
Toshiaki Komura is directing the second film off a screenplay by Reiko Yoshida. The film stars Sayuri Yoshinaga as Queen Māyādevī, Hidetaka Yoshioka as Siddhārtha, Ken'ichi Matsuyama as older Tatta, Kiyokazu Kanze as King Śuddhodana, Nana Mizuki as the thief Migaila, and Tetsuo of the comedy duo Waraimeshi as Brahman.
Hamasaki also contributed theme songs to the Inuyasha television anime series, the live-action film SHINOBI - Heart Under Blade, and the live-action Dragonball: Evolution film. She played Yuri Sakazaki in the original anime video Art of Fighting (Battle Spirits Ryuko no Ken), and her "Connected" song inspired an animated music video.