© 2011 Lawrence Tuczynski

Title Toho Special Effects Movie DVD Collection Soundtrack The Best 3
CD Label DeAgostini/Toho Music Corporation
CD Number 20004-005
Music by: Various
Number of tracks 22
Running time 69:02
Number of discs 1
Year of release/manufacture September ??, 2011


November 12, 2011
Review courtesy of Sam Scali

The third (and likely final) volume in DeAgostini's limited-edition CD series samples a wide range of Toho sci-fi soundtracks that were overlooked in the previous installments. It gives considerable attention to the studio's less acclaimed offerings such as the 70s GODZILLA series, the 90s MOTHRA trilogy and a modest assortment of lower-profile efforts - along with a few certified classics thrown in for good measure.

The first few tracks are devoted exclusively to Japan's second-most famous giant monster, Mothra, commencing with composer Yuji Koseki's stirring "Overture" from the silk-spinning deity's 1961 debut. It's hard to imagine a more fitting musical introduction for this legendary cinematic creature. The track is appropriately followed by Akira Ifukube's timeless ode, "The Sacred Fountain", enchantingly sung by The Peanuts in 1964's MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA. The Cosmos follow with a brief reading of another Ifukube composition, "Mahala Mothra" (from 1992's GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA), capably emulating the Peanuts' original harmonic arrangement, but without its transcendent power.

Next up is the considerably less engaging and more conventional "Song of Prayer", as vocalized by The Elias in 1996's REBIRTH OF MOTHRA. The mood is further dampened by a pair of generic and truly forgettable score pieces from the movie's two sequels. The Mothra tribute concludes with a mildly catchy, if pointless, synth-pop remake of Koseki's "Song of Mothra", taken from 2003's ponderously titled GODZILLA x MOTHRA x MECHAGODZILLA: TOKYO S.O.S.

The program takes a pleasantly abrupt turn with the dramatic opening theme from 1954's THE INVISIBLE MAN. This sci-fi gangster film, released just two months after the original GODZILLA, is considered by many fans to be a precursor to Toho's "mutant" trilogy (THE H-MAN, SECRET OF THE TELEGIAN and THE HUMAN VAPOR), which featured transformed humans as antagonists instead of giant monsters. The inclusion of this suitably noir-ish track is a welcome development, as it marks the first time any music from the rarely seen film has appeared on CD. However, the fact that the cue fades without a proper ending suggests that it was taken from a restored copy of the film itself; therefore the availability of other usable soundtrack elements is questionable.

The musical euphoria continues with awe-inspiring intro themes from two of Toho's most ambitious films - the sprawling mythical epic, THE THREE TREASURES (Akira Ifukube, 1959) and cautionary doomsday tale, THE LAST WAR (Ikuma Dan, 1961). These majestic motifs are followed by some of Ifukube's more haunting, iconic cues from DOGORA, THE SPACE MONSTER (1964), FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD (1965) and KING KONG ESCAPES (1967), as well as his deliciously bombastic main title from 1969's SPACE AMOEBA (aka, YOG, MONSTER FROM SPACE).

Less impressive is the trio of notoriously light-hearted ditties from Godzilla's regrettable "superhero" phase, starting with the decidedly un-rousing kids' march from 1969's GODZILLA'S REVENGE. Hot on its heels is the misguided, but earnestly crooned closing theme from GODZILLA vs. GIGAN (1972), followed by the infamous, child-friendly anthem celebrating the tag-team monster hijinks in GODZILLA VS. MEGALON (1973). It's worth noting that all of these tracks are the stereo 45-rpm single versions, which are more slickly recorded and arranged than their familiar soundtrack counterparts. DeAgostini has helpfully included photos of all three original illustrated record sleeves on the reverse side of the CD's obi strip.

ESPY (1974), a belated offering in Toho's mutant gene pool, provides more non-monstrous movie music in the form of a stealthily percussive and somewhat jazzy organ-driven cue, which quickly (and rather awkwardly) segues into the film's loungecore-by-numbers love theme - a veritable smorgasbord of harpsichord, piano, strings, woodwinds and wordless female vocals. This incongruous coupling makes way for the astoundingly overwrought stereo LP version of the main title from THE WAR IN SPACE (1977) and the far more serious (and far less exciting) title music from the 1994 sci-fi fantasy YAMATO TAKERU. The disc winds down with two bonus tracks, a generous (if non-musical) selection of vintage "name-that-monster" sound effects and a somewhat lackluster 2008 orchestral concert performance of key themes from the original GODZILLA.

As a coherent listening experience this CD is quite frankly a mess, because it jumps from era to era and style to style with no discernable logic. That said, it features a number of rarely collected tracks, not to mention THE INVISIBLE MAN's unexpected digital debut. The sound quality is superb throughout, and like previous volumes the disc is attractively packaged with a generous booklet (in Japanese) that features some nifty color photos. According to DeAgostini the CD is limited to only 500 copies, so collectors should grab it while they can. As of this writing it is still available at www.arksquare.net.

UPDATE: September 02, 2013

This CD as well as Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 are out of print now and hard to find..

Track listing courtesy Sam Scali

Toho Special Effects Movie DVD Collection Soundtrack The Best 3

  1. MOTHRA (1961) - Overture
  2. MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA - Sacred Fountain (The Peanuts)
  3. GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA - Mahala Mothra (Cosmos)
  4. MOTHRA (1996) - Song of Prayer (Elias)
  5. MOTHRA 2 - The Miraculous Transformation
  6. MOTHRA 3 - The Decision to Travel Through Space-Time
  7. GODZILLA X MOTHRA X MECHAGODZILLA TOKYO SOS - Song of Mothra (2003 Version - Masami Nagasawa & Chihiro Ootsuka)
  8. INVISIBLE MAN - Main Title
  10. THE LAST WAR - Overture / Main Title
  11. DOGORA, THE SPACE MONSTER - The Air Corps Launches an Offensive
  12. FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD - Frankenstein Vs. Baragon
  13. KING KONG ESCAPES - Element X
  14. YOG, MONSTER FROM SPACE - Main Title
  15. GODZILLA'S REVENGE - Monster March
  16. GODZILLA VS. GIGAN - Godzilla March
  17. GODZILLA VS. MEGALON - Godzilla & Jet Jaguar Punch-Punch-Punch
  18. ESPY - Discovery / Love is All (inst.)
  19. THE WAR IN SPACE - War in Space Theme
  20. YAMATO TAKERU - Main Title
  21. Bonus Tracks:

  23. GODZILLA 1954 Suite [Live] from Second Akira Ifukube Music Festival Main Concert