The opening of the November 5th PRIDE Bushido 13 was met with loud cheers at the venue. As the text "Narrator Fumihiko Tachiki" appeared on the screen, the unique intro video was clearly the handiwork of Director Daisuke Sato. While Tachiki and Sato don't appear in the spotlight, they have gained an unusually strong following among PRIDE fans. Both men sat down with PRIDE FC to discuss the past and the future.




Pride Fighting Championships: There has been a lot of talk among fans about the return of Daisuke Sato as Director and Fumihiko Tachiki as Narrator. So, I would like to welcome both of you and give the fans an opportunity to hear directly from you. First, please explain how you came to be affiliated with PRIDE and from when did you begin working together as a team?
Daisuke Sato: I came in when FUJI TV became seriously involved with PRIDE pay-per-view broadcasts from PRIDE 5 (Nagoya Rainbow Hall, April 29, 1999). I also asked Tachiki to do the narration from that event.
Fumihiko Tachiki: I have been doing the narration for a TV (sports) program called SRS for more than 10 years. Sato asked me to become the narrator because of that and suddenly, I made my PRIDE debut.
Sato: Actually, when I was appointed as the PRIDE Director, I had only been in FUJI TV for 2~3 years and was still an Assistant Director. FUJI TV's Chief Director suddenly put me at the forefront.
Tachiki: That's right. Surprisingly, you were an Assistant Director at the time.
Sato: Yeah. I wonder why they left the video up to an Assistant Director.
Tachiki: I think that was a big thing. That kind of thing is unheard of in the television industry.
PRIDE: How did you feel when you were put in charge of the PRIDE broadcast?
Sato: I thought it was strange but then again, I also naturally accepted that I would be the one to do it.
Tachiki: In one sense, the Assistant Director Sato of that time and the Director Sato now are the same. You're still in the same place.
Sato: I was really full of myself at that time. (laughing)
Tachiki: I didn't mean it like that. Your position and your way of thinking haven't changed.
Sato: You haven't changed since that time, either. You haven't changed your stance. Of course, your voice hasn't changed either.
Tachiki: I was just trying to do my best in the beginning. I was screaming my lungs out. I've finally become aware of my voice as PRIDE's voice and over the past 3 years, tried to bring my voice out from a deeper place. I was doing it recklessly in the beginning, stretching my voice as far as possible. That was actually a good experience, though, because it's better for (my narration) to have some direction and flavor as the voice of PRIDE.
Sato: We were totally committed early on.
Pride: When you look back at the early videos, was your voice different?
Tachiki: It's different. It was more like the early SRS shows.
Pride: How did you feel about PRIDE at that time?
Tachiki: I had seen many different martial arts before that but it was something really new. When I saw mixed martial arts, I knew that this was exactly what I wanted to watch. It was exactly what I was looking for. I had always wanted to see high-caliber fights. I also love ground fighting, so there are moments that I can enjoy the fight even if it stalls. (laughing) I just stare at them.
Sato: I don't really like it when it stalls. (laughing) Tachiki does, though.
Pride: So both of you liked martial arts before you joined PRIDE?
Tachiki: I love pro-wrestling and martial arts.
Sato: I love it. I liked Tiger Mask in the beginning, then Antonio Inoki, Akira Maeda and Nobuhiko Takada. Then K-1 appeared. When PRIDE came out though, I knew right away that mixed martial arts is much more exciting that standing alone.
Pride: So, there something that makes it worthwhile for you as the Director?
Sato: It's different than standing fights. It's not so much like a game. Fighters in MMA stand for something when they fight. It's a sport that requires some background.
Tachiki: I think I just simply took in the energy that PRIDE has and brought it out in my voice.
Pride: So, you began doing the pre-fight intro videos from PRIDE 5?
Sato: Apparently, there was someone from outside of FUJI TV that did it before I was put in charge. The idea of showing a video before the actual fight had been around for little before that, though. I think FUJI may have started it during the K-1 broadcasts.
Pride: Was there anything that you looked to for inspiration when you made the videos? Like the WWE in America, for example.
Sato: Nothing like that. I probably looked at what they had done before in K-1.
Pride: They don't use that kind of video in other pro sports, do they?
Sato: Sports that require that kind of video aren't broadcast in the first place. (laughing)
Tachiki: This guy changed history, though. In the beginning, all they did was introduce the fighters in a normal, serious way. Sato changed it from PRIDE 5 but it became clear at the first SHOCKWAVE (December 31, 2003) that this would change history for the entire industry. I'm sure of it.
Sato: We did a lot of trial-and-error until that point. When the event was broadcast a week later, we would edit the videos that were broadcast at the venue, changing the contents, etc.
Tachiki: It was a very rough time then.
Sato: There were problems like, we really wanted to do something a certain way but it was just too much, so we would make it a shorter and more easily understood intro video (for the free TV broadcast). It was a difficult time. We put a lot of thought into who our viewers were. From the SHOCKWAVE broadcast in 2003 though, we used the videos exactly as we did at the venue.
Pride: So SHOCKWAVE (2003) was the turning point?
Sato: Tachiki would say so but I wasn't really aware of it at the time.
Tachiki: Sato stood out from the beginning, when he was still an Assistant Director. In the beginning, the intros were softer. They would generally show what the particular fighter was fighting for and try to get the viewers a little interested. From SHOCKWAVE 2003, though, a lot of attention was being paid. It was at that time that the Sato-brand of intro videos really made their debut in the world. There were a lot of people that saw them there for the first time. He brought out things that could have previously only been felt if you were actually at the venue.
Sato: Our roots are really at the venue. I always get to watch Tachiki in real-time.
Tachiki: That's exactly right. Even when I watch PRIDE on SKY PERFECT!, my heart is still at the venue.
Pride: Where did that Tachiki-style come from?
Sato: You really experimented with it every time, didn't you?
Tachiki: Of course, I like pro-wrestling and martial arts and that's why I was doing it but after I met Sato, I realized how flimsy I was. He loves martial arts completely. I feel that he doesn't try to push that on people directly, though, but his stance is more about creating a video that will impress that upon people in a more roundabout way. That's very impressive and makes it worthwhile for me, as a narrator.
Sato: Even so, isn't it difficult?
Tachiki: There are some difficult videos, depending on the fighter.
Sato: Looking at the overall process in PRIDE, the time between the narration and the actual fight is the most fun. (laughing) I feel relieved that it's over.
Tachiki: We have a lot of fun in our own way but it was difficult depending the fighter, though. It's not so bad now but, for example, it became difficult when the video for Sakuraba changed to "PRIDE's Fantasista".
Sato: It changes, so it must be difficult.
Tachiki: PRIDE fans are still willing to watch and accept those new things. I think they enjoy the different world-views. Of course, the fights are the real show but they enjoy everything, including the videos.(To be continued)
Fumihiko Tachiki: Born: 1961, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan Tachiki is the king of narration and voice-overs in Japan, including TV narrations, foreign movies and anime. After being appointed to narrate the intro videos for PRIDE fighters in 1999, he was able to perfectly express PRIDE's strength and world-view. He is widely supported by fans and is invaluable as the voice of PRIDE.
Daisuke Sato: Born: 1974, Tokyo, Japan After graduating from university, Sato joined FUJI TV in 1997. Employed in FUJI TV's sports department, Sato was in charge of PRIDE broadcasts, creating the intro videos from PRIDE 5 in 1999. Sato resigned from FUJI TV in October 31, 2006 and is now creating a new company (name to be decided).