Azn Badger's Blog

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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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Gamera 3 FINALLY Coming To U.S. Blu-Ray


Well, color me surprised, I didn’t actually think this would happen.

Awhile back Mill Creek saw fit to release a confusing Blu-Ray 2 pack of 2 out of the 3 Heisei Gamera films.

My best guess as to why they would consciously omit the third (and best) film in the series, is that they were unable to obtain the licensing rights to it.

Me being me, I took it upon myself to support the daikaiju cause and shell out about $12 bucks to pick up a copy.

Holy shit.

That means I’ve bought the Gamera series 3 times across 3 mediums.

I first picked up the series on bootleg VHS when they were originally released, then again (from the same bootleggers) on subtitled DVD, and now I’ll have bought them on domestic Blu-Ray.

Let it be known, my passion for these movies is not to be questioned.

It’s funny though, when I picked up the Blu-Ray 2 pack, I did so grudgingly; as for whatever reason I take issue with the idea of collecting a 3 movie series across 2 boxes.

Seriously man, that’s fuckin’ weird.

You just don’t fuckin’ do that, it makes the shelf look all wonky…

Anyway, as I said before, when I first heard that the Gamera series was being released in the states on Blu-Ray in this manner, my gut reaction was to remain skeptical as to whether the 3rd film would ever get printed.

Well, as you can probably tell from the image above, a cover has been released, and while it kind of sucks, it at least confirms that the movie will in fact be coming out next month.

Why does the cover suck?

Well, because the image they chose to slap on the cover comes not from the film it represents, but from the first movie in the series.

This wouldn’t be all that big of a deal, had Gamera’s design not undergone some rather dramatic cosmetic changes over the 4 year span of the series.

Don't tell anyone, but I think Gamera was rockin' the 'roids by the 3rd movie.

The worst part is, as seems to be the case with lots of DVD releases, the European cover art is far better.

Don’t believe me?

Take a look:

A relevant and well-coordinated cover. Why the fuck can't we get more shit like this in the states!?

Oh well, a poor cover does not a bad film make.

Be a sport, make sure to pick this one up when it comes out next month.

You won’t be disappointed…

Filed under: Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , ,

Finally, A Godzilla Figure With Articulation

The King of the Monsters, in all his glory.

(Photos courtesy Infinitehollywood.com)

As anyone who’s read this blog before already knows, I’m a pretty huge Godzilla fan.

I grew up on his films, I played with his toys before I could even speak; and to date he remains one my biggest heroes in all of cinema.

That being said, in my youth I had the bright idea to try and do a stop-motion Godzilla movie of my own.

I was maybe 11 or 12 at the time, but even then; I had standards for my work in the medium.

… I was kind of a weird kid.

Simply put, I found that, given the resources at my disposal; a Godzilla stop-motion was out of my reach due to the inarticulate nature of virtually every figure of him I owned or knew of.

Pictured: My first Godzilla toy. Pretty sure most kids had one of these at some point.

Given that I’m not much of a craftsman, construction of my own custom figure is, and will likely forever be; an impossibility.

That being said, recently I discovered an article concerning the upcoming release of a brand new, super-articulated Godzilla figure from  Bandai’s superb S.H. Figurearts series.

While Kaiyodo’s much lauded Revoltech series of toys dipped into the Toho universe of characters, after several years of waiting on the release of an actual figure of  the Big G himself; I think it’s safe to say that the licensing rights may have been passed to Bandai.

Anyway, based on the photos I’ve seen, the S.H. Figurearts Godzilla figure, as well as it’s accompanying Heisei Mechagodzilla figure; looks as detailed and poseable as one could ever hope for.

The articulation in the neck and head alone strikes me as being more fully featured than the entirety of perhaps any other Godzilla toy I’ve ever owned.

As good as it gets...

Anyway, I realize this likely isn’t exciting news for all that many of you, but it means a lot to me.

Even though this 6″ beast is more than a little overpriced, the idea of finally being able to fulfill a childhood dream; no matter how childish and inconsequential, is something that I feel would more than justify the expenditure.

I hope…

BWAAAHHHHH!!!!

Filed under: Movies, Tokusatsu, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Best Boss Music #13: Super Godzilla

Super Godzilla was one of those games that I really wanted to like.

Oddly enough, that seems to be the case for me with pretty much every Godzilla videogame I’ve ever played.

You see, even though Godzilla and Godzilla 2: War of the Monsters on the NES were both shit, the fanboy kept finding stupid reasons for me to give ’em second chances.

“Sure the gameplay is sloppy and monotonous, but c’mon; it’s motherfuckin’ Godzilla!”

As a kid, (minus the profanity) these were the kinds of thoughts that would run through my head every time I’d stick a Godzilla game in my NES.

 

Nowadays it's more like: "GODDAMN MOTHERFUCKER, WHY AM I STILL PLAYTHING THIS PIECE OF ASS!!?"

Despite the Big G’s spotty track record up to that point, Super Godzilla, in my young mind; was supposed to be the game that made up for it all.

I remember reading preview articles in Game Players and GamePro that made Super Godzilla look like the shit.

The screenshots looked sharp, the gameplay sounded fresh and unique, and the roster of monsters, while quaint by some standards; was packed with fan favorites and a host of Heisei era kaiju that had yet to gain exposure in the U.S.

Not only that, the game promised a thrilling and campy Godzilla story involving aliens taking control of Earth’s monsters, with the Earthlings responding in kind by taking control o Godzilla and piloting him via remote from the cockpit of the Super X2!

It looked and sounded like a Godzilla fans dream.

I rented Super Godzilla as soon as it became available at my local videostore, and I can honestly say; I was disappointed.

 

The first thing that hit me right off the bat, was the game’s general lack of quality in both audio and visual terms.

I mentioned that Super Godzilla looked good in stills, and I wasn’t lying.

 

HOLY SHIT!!!

The game makes extensive use of extremely large and detailed character portraits for Godzilla and all of his Toho frat brothers, however therein lies the problem:

The character graphics consist almost exclusively of barely animated, or worse yet; “Ken Burns-ed” animation cycles.

You see, the core gameplay of Super Godzilla consisted of 2 basic functions:

Finding and then fighting the enemy monster of each level.

While one would think this would be an action-packed process, Toho made the decision to structure the “finding” aspect of the game as sort of a grid-based strategy game, and worse yet; made the “fighting” section a barely interactive mashup of repetitive cutscenes.

You remember the lengthy and unskippable summon cutscenes from Final Fantasy VII?

Well, imagine a fighting system where all you do watch 4-5 shitty looking summons over and over and over again, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what it’s like to play Super Godzilla.


Rest assured, one can take time to make many a sandwich while playing Super Godzilla…

Okay fine, the “fighting” in Super Godzilla has at least some level of interactivity to it, but believe when I say it; it’s not much.

Basically, when one enters into combat with an enemy monster, the screen morphs from the overhead map to a 2D sprite-based fighting game layout.

Pictured: The Thrilling Battle Screen...

From this screen, the player can make use of 3 buttons and maneuvers:

Punching, blocking, and using items.

While blocking is self-explanatory, landing a punch is required in order to initiate the aforementioned cutscene attacks, which are empowered by the player’s “fighting spirit” meter at the bottom of the player’s HUD.

As one would expect, given it’s massive place on the HUD, the “fighting spirit” meter is the crux of the Super Godzilla “fighting” system.

When one advances towards one’s opponent in Super Godzilla, the player’s “fighting spirit” increases, gradually falling when the player retreats.

Upon landing a punch on the enemy, the player’s “fighting spirit” will freeze in place, inviting the player to retreat and open up the attack command window at the center of the HUD.

Depending of the volume of the player’s “fighting spirit,” as well as the distance that they retreat, the player will be given more powerful attack commands to select from.

In all Godzilla has access to 4 attack commands: tail whip, body slam, fire breath, and hyper fire breath from weakest to strongest respectively.

Sadly, no tail slide though...

Items gathered from the “finding” phase of each level consist of instant use health power-ups, defense boosters, and a “fighting” spirit

Perhaps the worst part of the gameplay system, was the addition of enemy UFOs as random encounter enemies in most of the stages.

Taking only 1 hit to destroy, these UFOs absolutely shit ALL OVER what little enjoyment was to be derived from the “finding” portion of each level.

I don’t mind random encounters in RPGs, but when said encounters involve only 1 enemy type, and a pathetically weak one at that; I just don’t get it.

I suppose it doesn’t help that many of the levels in Super Godzilla have time limits, making these random encounters have zero possibility of doing damage to you, but still serving to potentially end your game through wasting your motherfucking time…

Make no mistake, finding and killing the Mothership hidden in each stage is deeply advised, as it is the only thing that will stop you from having to fight baby UFOs every 5 seconds.

 

KILL IT WITH FIRE.

Despite the bland and painfully slow-paced gameplay, Super Godzilla did have a few little things going for it.

For instance, during the “finding” portion of each level, the player was often free to choose their own path in maneuvering the map, making item gathering and avoidance of stationary enemy emplacements entirely up to the player.

In addition to this, there’s a great deal of variety in the tasks heaped on the player on their plodding march to finding the enemy monster.

For instance, in the 3rd stage, you are required to raid (read: step on) several enemy bases in order to free a captive scientist.

In the 4th stage, the player must do battle with a pair of Battra’s, however if one is quick enough in reaching the second while it is still in it’s chrysalis, it is in fact possible to destroy it before it hatches.

These variations in gameplay also extend to the “fighting” segments of the game in the form of each enemy monster having certain attacks in Godzilla’s repertoire that are ineffective against them.

Thankfully, most of these variations are fairly logical, with Biollante’s superior mass making her invulnerable to Godzilla’s body slam attack, and Battra’s speed making them unable to be hit by anything but Godzilla’s most powerful fire breath attack.

Yeah, somehow I don't think running into it would be an advisable course of action...

Toho can suck a dick though for making Mechagodzilla able to counter Godzilla’s basic fire breath.

I know he did in the movies, but for fuck’s sake; didja’ really have to make the fire breath one of the most common attacks to pop up in the attack window?

Anyway, the 1 huge plus Super Godzilla has going for it, (besides being a Godzilla product) is the inclusion of, well; Super Godzilla.

During the last few stages of the game, the player can go out of their way to obtain a series of power ups to transform plain ‘ole Godzilla into Super Godzilla.

What's this, Godzilla's evolving!? Godzilla evolved into SUPER Godzilla!

Bearing a truly awesome design, that was largely transplanted into the design for Space Godzilla the year after the game’s release, Super Godzilla granted the player access to a brand new set of attack commands, a Mega Buster like chargeable punch, and the ability to walk through buildings and obstacles on the map screen without taking damage.

Most of Super Godzilla was tough to slog through, but for what it’s worth, the final battle against the Super Godzilla exclusive, and exceedingly well-designed giant monster, Bagan; is a far better one than the game probably deserved.

Say what you will about the game, Bagan was pretty tight lookin'...

That being said, while Super Godzilla does in fact have a truly horrible soundtrack, with many tracks serving to utterly butcher some truly classic Godzilla themes; the boss music played during the Bagan fight is actually… good.

That’s right, I said something was “good” in Super Godzilla.

Seriously, give it a listen:

While it’s honestly not a great piece of Super NES music by any standards, it’s easily the best track in the game; and has a pretty serious sound to it that’s rarely heard in 16-bit game music.

I love the opening notes, and how bizarre and frankly, “alien” it feels, making it quite appropriate for the climax piece of a giant monster alien invasion story.

Perhaps the track’s biggest accomplishment though, is that it actually sounds like Godzilla music.

Godzilla movies have played host to some of Japan’s finest composers, and as such, have always bore a distinctive and powerful sound.

Many of the tracks in Super Godzilla feel generic and flat, but the final boss theme has a “big-ness” in it’s instrumentation that make it sound like a cross between the trumpet heavy orchestrations of Akira Ifukube and the synth-heavy work of Takayuki Hattori.

Anyway, Super Godzilla is one of those games that I want to like.

I know it sucks, but the Godzilla fan in me still tries to find ways to redeem it.

While most pro-Super Godzilla arguments are likely to be filled to the brim with bullshit, let it be known that any argument citing the final boss theme as a redeeming factor have at least that going for them.

"You WILL play Super Godzilla, and LIKE IT."

Filed under: Best Boss Music, Games, Movies, The Best Track in the Game, Tokusatsu, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Let’s Play Godzilla, Part VIII

Alright folks, we’ve finally reached the end of the 8-bit abortion that is Godzilla on the NES.

Sorry for the protracted nature of this post-subject, I didn’t realize how long and BORING the game was until I had already reached the point of no return

Oh well, live and learn I guess.

I think it goes without saying that you won’t be seeing a Let’s Play on the Azn Badger’s blog for quite some time…

I just finished reading DC’s Blackest Night and Marvel’s Siege, so hopefully I’ll be able to type up a little something about one or both of those major event comics!

Filed under: Comics, Games, Movies, Tokusatsu, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Let’s Play Godzilla, Part VII

Godzilla fatigue has officially settled in.

For real, I ran out of things to say on the subject more than a few days ago, but this game just WON’T FUCKING END.

*Ahem!* Anyway, after today we’ve only got one more stage to go.

I can’t begin to tell you how happy I’ll be to start writing about something else…

Filed under: Games, Movies, Tokusatsu, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Let’s Play Godzilla, Part VI

Yesterday we played through Uranus, and it was cake.

Today however, we’re movin’ on to Pluto, and believe me, it’s no cakewalk.

Seriously man, it’s long as fuck!

For real, it took me 3 videos this time man!

Anyway, plenty of rants about Mechagodzilla, Super X, and the various composers of the Godzilla series are featured below:


Filed under: Games, Movies, Tokusatsu, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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