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Great Composers You Ought To Know: Reijiro Koroku Pt. 1

Pictured: Japanese composer, Reijiro Koroku.

It’s funny, amidst all the bitching I’ve been doing lately about my lack of inspiration for writing new posts, it dawned on me recently that I’ve neglected to cover one of the most obvious topics available to me:

My music library.

Most of the music I collect and listen to comes from movie and videogame soundtracks.

I think my interest in soundtrack music spawned from my having spent my childhood watching lots of movies with heavily thematic scores from an early age.

In particular, I think the iconic, and almost overbearing style of background music found in all the Godzilla movies I used to watch was largely responsible for me having grown up a “hummer.”

Wrong kind of Hummer, dumbass.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always taken good care to open my ears when watching movies; taking stock not just of the movie itself, but of the music that accompanies each scene within it.

That being said, in comparing my music library to that of some of my friends, it dawned on me that; like seemingly everyone in the digital age, the music in my collection differed extensively from most of the people I knew.

Because of this, I figured it might be fun if every now and again I took a moment to root through my collection and do a post on a particular composer you might like to know about.

I don’t intend for these posts to be biographies, as I honestly don’t know even know what most of the composers in my collection even look like, let alone what they’ve done in their personal lives, but I do hope to at least highlight the works of theirs that I am familiar with.

On that note, for absolutely no reason other than the fact that I mentioned Godzilla earlier in this post, today we’ll be kicking off this new series of posts with a look at prolific Japanese composer: Rejiro Koroku.

It’s funny, the earliest instance I can recall hearing the works of Reijiro Koroku, was one that I honestly wasn’t aware of until just now.

Do you remember a Nickelodeon show called Noozles?:

All I remember about the show was the theme song, and the fact that it involved painfully cute stuffed animal koalas that would come to life if you rubbed your nose against theirs.

Well, for what it’s worth, a quick IMDb reveals that the composer of Noozles was Reijiro Koroku.

I don’t remember a single note of the show’s soundtrack outside of the catchy-ass English theme song; but according to history, Noozles was the first composition of his I ever heard, even if I didn’t know he did it until just now.

Cosmic…

Fun facts aside, the first, and easily most impactful instance in which I ever truly experienced Reijiro Koroku’s music, was in Godzilla 1984.

The Heisei Godzilla movies had some of the most badass poster art ever. Seriously, look 'em up.

Many look upon Godzilla 1984 as a plodding and largely unimpressive entry in the series, however my appreciation for it has grown over the years.

That’s not to say I always looked upon it in a positive light.

In my youth I can recall feeling Godzilla 1985 (that’s the version we got in the U.S.) was a little bit boring, however that was also back when I was young enough to have felt it was also kind of scary.

What can I say, I grew up with Godzilla as my hero, so my tiny 6 year old brain had some trouble wrapping itself around the concept of Godzilla being a nasty bad guy that maliciously stepped on security guards.

Looking at Godzilla 1984 as and adult though, it’s much easier for me to appreciate the unrivaled scale of the miniatures, the atypically topical/political nature of the story, and the oddly designed, but mechanically impressive Godzilla suit.

As you might have guessed, on top of all of this, Godzilla 1984 has an absolutely beautiful soundtrack.

In stark contrast to virtually every other Godzilla soundtrack in history, Godzilla 1984 has a hauntingly brooding and melancholy sound to it that is downright chilling at times.

Just give a listen to the opening theme/Godzilla’s theme:

As the first film in the Heisei series of Godzilla films, as well as the first Godzilla film produced following a near 10 year hiatus, Godzilla 1984 was a big-budget (by Japanese standards) film meant to formally usher the character into the modern era of sci-fi.

Like many other tokusatsu compositions, Koroku’s use of brasses is bold and almost outlandish by Western standards, however at the same time his music has an elegance to it that goes a long way towards legitimizing the inherent melodrama of it’s sound.

While rarely pulse-pounding, the music in Godzilla 1984 covers a great deal of the emotional spectrum, with many of the more peaceful tracks embodying an almost Gershwin-like romantic quality:

The military themes embodying a boldly triumphant quality of strength:

And Godzilla’s cues coming across as malevolent and downright demonic at times:

Curiously enough, though one of the highlights of the soundtrack is one track in particular that is actually quite successful in it’s capacity to tug at your heartstrings:

One of my favorite aspects of the soundtrack, and one that I can’t quite explain, is it’s “clarity.”

I don’t know if it was a result of a special recording process, but for whatever reason, Godzilla 1984’s orchestra comes across as bigger, louder, and “clearer” than what I’m used to hearing in films.

I have no idea how this incredible effect was achieved, but one thing’s for sure, I wholeheartedly approve.

That being said, I figure I should finish today’s post with a nod to my favorite tracks from Godzilla 1984.

Truth be told, the “Main Title” and “Self-Defense Force” tracks embedded above are actually some of my favorite tracks, however my all time favorite has to be the theme of Super X:

Like I’d imagine was the case with most kids, Super X’s scenes were easily my favorite part of the whole movie, and as such; I feel it’s only fitting that it was bestowed with one of the better compositions as it’s theme music.

Godzilla 1984 was the first Godzilla movie in 30 years to feature no other monsters besides the Big G, and as a result, I’m guessing the Super X was inserted into the film, not just because it was fucking awesome, but because Toho likely felt the movie needed something for Godzilla to fight that was plausible, yet wouldn’t crumble in a single blow.

Unfortunately, the Super X, as resilient as it was withstanding a whopping 2 doses of blue nuclear death breath, displayed a severe weakness in the form of being vulnerable to having skyscrapers dropped on it’s hull:

Check back tomorrow for Part 2!

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Filed under: Great Composers You Ought To Know, Movies, Tokusatsu, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Responses

  1. Frg says:

    What a coincidence! I saw the 1984 Godzilla film on TV today, just 2 days after this article was published. When I spotted this movie (at the moment when the Russian sub got sunk), I stopped switching channels and watched the rest. The reason at first was, that I just couldn’t help but laugh each time Godzilla made an appearance. I mean, its face expression is just hilarious! That alone was worth my time, but then I also noticed the beautiful soundtrack. It reminded me of some great music from anime made in that period, and perhaps that explains why it sounded so familiar.

    Godzilla’s score was filled with melodrama and nostalgia. The ending scene felt more like a farewell in a romantic drama than finally getting rid of a frightening monster. The only thing that bothered me was that too many nice cues were cut abruptly in the middle because the scene had just been switched back to the command room.

    • aznbadger says:

      Yeah, some of the tracks were indeed underutilized in the finished film. Curiously enough, though the American version of the movie has a few missing shots, (most notably the beautiful one of Godzilla’s reflection cast across a skyscraper) some of the re-editing they did for it actually turned out to be beneficial in my opinion. Say what you will about his totally unjustified presence in the film, I for one actually think the pan shot of Steve Martin’s reaction following Godzilla’s lightning induced awakening adds a lot, mostly because of the music played over it. At the end of the day, I honestly think neither Godzilla 1984 nor 1985 are as good as a hybrid of the 2 edits could be. Even so, I don’t think anything could fix Godzilla’s goofy-ass, bug-eyed face…

  2. Kitsune says:

    He also composed the music for Who’s Left Behind, at least according to some sources. http://celestialkitsune.wordpress.com/2008/05/02/ushiro-no-shomen-daare-whos-left-behind/

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