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Great Composers You Ought To Know: Reijiro Koroku Pt. 2

Pictured: Japanese composer, Reijiro Koroku.

I didn’t plan on dividing this post over 2 days, but as fate would have it, I just had too damn much to say!

That being said, today we’ll be continuing our look at some of my favorite works of composer Reijiro Koroku.

After Godzilla 1984, the next big soundtrack I can remember hearing from Koroku, was his work on the Kyoshoku Soko Guyver OVA series.

Guyver: The Man-Boobs That Kill.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog, my cousin back in Hawaii turned me on to the Guyver manga way back in the day, and ever since it’s served as a huge influence on my creativity.

Something about the incredibly detailed, yet purposely hoaky character designs, combined with the darkness and severity of the storyline resonated with me in a way that makes me hopeful the manga will eventually reach a logical conclusion.

On that note, when I first found out that a Guyver anime existed way back in the day, you can sure as hell bet I went out of my way to track it down as soon as I could.

Unfortunately, as it turns out the 12 part OVA series was actually kind of ho-hum, even by the standards of an impressionable grade-schooler.

The voice cast was pretty good, and the animation was decent if not inconsistent, however the plot was an absolutely horrid distillation of the source material, cutting short many memorable sequences, and outright ignoring a number of important story beats.

Oh yeah, and unless you want to see some of the most hideous animation ever put to film this side of a budget hentai, then you’ll probably want to avoid even looking at a single frame of episodes 7 and beyond.

Aw, come on! Drawing gray bubbles on someone to symbolize melting DOES NOT count as legitimate animation!

Seriously, I loves me some Guyver, but that was some ugly shit.

That ugliness aside, much like the not-always-so-fondly-remembered Godzilla 1984, the Guyver OVA just happened to benefit from an incredible soundtrack courtesy of Reijiro Koroku.

Though the music is stylistically very similar to his work in Godzilla 1984 just a few years earlier, Koroku’s Guyver soundtrack incorporates synthesizer and electric guitar in many of the tracks.

What can I say, it was the late 80’s and synthesizers were very much “in” at the time.

That’s not to say Koroku’s more electronic approach to the Guyver soundtrack was at all a poor choice.

Heavily inspired by tokusatsu heroes like Kamen Rider and Kikaida, Guyver’s inherently tragic character and brutally violent atmosphere made the property a perfect match for Reijiro Koroku’s potent melodramatic style.

Just give a listen to probably my favorite track in the series, included in the first third of this video, to see what I mean:

Once again brooding and downright creepy at times, Koroku’s score for Guyver shows a great deal of restraint for what basically amounts to a superhero story, however in many ways I feel this is it’s strength.

Like chanbara films of old, the style of action present in Guyver is largely efficient, with each movement and attack being distinct as opposed to the more repetitive style found in Dragonball Z among other things:

I sincerely apologize if you were dumb enough to watch all of that.

Because of this, the music actually benefits from keeping it’s crescendos in check, as otherwise the music would overpower the intensely violent, but relatively low energy nature of the onscreen action.

This track, once again featured in the first third of this clip, serves as perhaps one of the better examples of how Koroku’s powerful, but relatively lax music could effectively supply the series with solid action beats:

Despite how much I love the soundtrack for Guyver, the one downside to it is that the score is very limited in terms of breadth.

Composed largely in suites intended to be recycled throughout the series, the music is quite beautiful by itself, but loses some of it’s luster when heard in the OVA, as the tracks become repetitive after a time, and as such, lose their distinction and sense of place.

Even so, the Guyver OVA soundtrack was once of the first import CDs I ever purchased, and to this day I’m glad I picked it up.

Moving on, the last time I can recall hearing Reijiro Koroku’s music, was from his work on the early PS2 title, Kessen and it’s sequels.

That's a pimp-ass mustache.

An RTS set in the Japanese warring states period, Kessen was a big hit that enjoyed several sequels, however it’s not one that I ever really got caught up in.

Chances are I was to busy playing garbage like Street Fighter EX 3 to give a shit about Kessen.

Despite my lack of appreciation for it, Kessen’s music was a whole ‘nother story altogether.

Truth be told, much like was the case with Noozles, I wasn’t aware that Koroku had done the soundtrack for Kessen, however when I did learn of this, I was not at all surprised given his track record.

Booming and proud, the soundtrack for Kessen brings to mind Koroku’s military marches for Godzilla 1984:

Lacking the brooding tone of Koroku’s previous works mentioned earlier, the Kessen series had an appropriately colorful sound to it, though one that was quite dignified despite it’s epic scale and over-the-top design aesthetics.

It’s funny, hearing this music again kind of makes me want to go back and actually give Kessen a try.

Based on what I remember hearing of it, I doubt I’d be disappointed if I did.

Anyway, that’s about everything I could think of to say about Reijiro Koroku.

Hopefully you learned something over these past 2 days, and if not, at least you got to hear to some nice music!

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

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!

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

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