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A Dragon Ball Z composer was elected to the Texas State Legislature

A bizarre coincidence took Nathan Johnson from a law student to an anime composer

Dragon Ball Z Funimation
Austen Goslin (he/him) is an entertainment editor. He writes about the latest TV shows and movies, and particularly loves all things horror.

U.S. politicians often have similar backgrounds. Whether it be in sciences or law or economics, there are quite a few predictable paths to politics. Nathan Johnson isn’t an exception. He got his law degree in 1993 from the University of Texas School of Law. But, there’s a little more to Johnson’s background. He also composed scores for one of the most popular anime series of all time: Dragon Ball Z.

The newly elected Democrat for Senate District 16 — which includes the city of Garland, Texas — flipped the state senate seat with just over 54 percent of the vote over incumbent Republican Donald Huffines. While he’s spent most of his life practicing law, and now is diving into politics, Johnson did in fact have a brief detour into composing music for Dragon Ball Z, which happened mostly through pure coincidence.

According to an interview Johnson did with Dao of Dragon Ball back in 2012, his passion for music started early on in life, but things really got started when he was at law school, where the law building was right next to the music building. Johnson said he spent hours in the music building practicing piano and composing music, so when he graduated, he decided to make a go of music before settling down into law.

As it turned out this wasn’t the easiest thing to do, and eventually Johnson decided to start his own law office. When he went in search of space to rent, he told his future landlord — Robert Cocanaugher, co-founder of anime distribution network Funimation — that he enjoyed music and might even put a keyboard in the office. Cocanaugher was looking for a composer for the new release of Dragon Ball Z Uncut. When Johnson showed Cocanaugher some of his music, the impressed executive passed his work to Funimation producer Barry Watson. Shortly, Johnson went from starting a law office to writing music for one of the most popular anime series of all time.

This situation couldn’t have been more unexpected for Johnson who said, “I had never seen Dragon Ball, never heard of Dragon Ball Z in my life. Never seen an episode of anime in my life. I had never scored anything commercial in my life. But Barry and Robert apparently liked my music.”

Johnson composed all 67 episodes of Dragon Ball Z Uncut, that Funimation broadcast in the U.S., as well as working on the English versions of five movies. After his time spent composing for the show, Johnson went back to practicing law, and much later beginning his successful run for a Texas senate seat.