© 2011 Lawrence Tuczynski

Title: GOUKAI Na The Little Prince And The Eight-Headed Dragon
CD Label: BKM
CD Number: G.R.F.028
Music Performed by: Bukimisha Weird Secret Society
Takeo Yahiro & Friends
Music Composed by: Various
Number of tracks: 2 (1 hidden, track #2)
Running time: 73:57
Number of discs: 1
Year of release/manufacture: December 29, 2010

REVIEW

September 24, 2012 (Review courtesy of Sam Scali)

Bukimisha presents yet another fine a cappella foray into the music of Akira Ifukube, with an ambitious reading of the maestro's score for the 1963 animated film, THE LITTLE PRINCE AND THE EIGHT-HEADED DRAGON. The soundtrack from this film is one of the most epic and varied in the maestro's canon, and is perhaps most notable for its lively main theme.

In an unusual twist, the CD consists of only two tracks, the first one clocking in at over 68 minutes. Rather than dividing it into individual parts, our vocal heroes opt for the decidedly perverse approach of presenting the complete score (all 65 cues!) as one continuous piece of music. While this encourages the listener to enjoy the work in its entirety, it does make it difficult for those who prefer to access specific themes. Helpfully, a breakdown of each cue is printed in Japanese (along with the timings where each appears) on the inner back insert - which, in true Bukimisha style, is secretly hidden beneath the opaque white tray (see translation below).

Aside from the familiar main theme, this is the first time Bukimisha has presented THE LITTLE PRINCE's opulent music, and it gives the group quite a workout. Their vocal technique has become more sophisticated and intricate with each recording, and the various orchestral sounds, mood swings and tempo shifts are rendered with masterful skill and subtlety. Nevertheless, Bukimisha's sense of fun remains undiminished - the music was probably as enjoyable for them to record, as it is to listen to.

Needless to say, the "Main Title" is tackled with Bukimisha's usual flair and exuberance, beginning with gentle, melodic "loo-loos" which give way to a sharp, percussive attack that ably mimics the theme's marching tempo. This motif is later revisited with ramped up intensity in "Fire God Vs. Susano II". The brief "Akahana & Taro" is even more ominous and frenetic, while the meditative "Lullaby of Naiko's Mother" includes an effective falsetto rendering of the original cue's female vocal, which is subsequently reprised in "Izanami's Illusion".

Other highlights include the jaunty flute melody of "Sumo", which is convincingly emulated in a rich tenor voice with percussive baritone backing. This theme sets the stage for the heavenly choral readings of "Izanami's Ascension" and "Izanagi & Susano". "Akahana's Worry" features the unmistakable melodic strains of KING KONG VS. GODZILLA's "Seahawk" theme, while "Journey" and "Road to the Fire Kingdom" invoke a spirited march that Ifukube previously used in 1958's VARAN THE UNBELIEVABLE. "Yoru-no-osukuni", "Tsukuyomi's Sword" and "Ice Ball" offer kinder, gentler renderings of another familiar theme, later developed into an iconic motif for King Ghidorah, while "Blood River", "Boss" and "Princess Kushinada's Crisis" utilize a dark, guttural dirge that reappeared in Ifukube's 1966 MAJIN scores.

Bukimisha unleashes a relentless vocal barrage in "Akuru vs. Susano", and the two "Susano's Anger" cues aptly sustain the excitement with a fierce staccato approach. "Fire God vs. Susano I", which also reprises music from VARAN, is equally robust, and the regal "Fireball Power" further benefits from an imaginative vocal arrangement. The bracing strings of "Wild Horse ~ Shrine" are thrillingly mimed with cascading "daba-daba's" and hissed percussive sounds - an approach that is repeated even more frenetically in "Flood ~ Shrine". The exotic "Ame-no-uzume's Dance" cues blend richly layered percussive and melodic vocals to striking effect.

The dragon's introduction is powerfully presented in "Yamata-no-Orochi Appears", and "Susano Sets Off" is sung so dynamically that it arguably surpasses the brass-driven arrangement on the movie's original soundtrack. "Prince Wanpaku Slays the Great Serpent" offers another spirited reading of the title theme, and "Kama 1 Vs. Susano" and "Kama 2 Chase" up the ante with an exciting version of Ifukube's immortal march from 1957's THE MYSTERIANS, which Bukimisha has performed many times in the past. The final "Fight" cues bring the battle to a resounding conclusion, and a hopeful future is assured in "Victorious New Day". The falsetto "Lullaby of Naiko's Mother" motif makes a final glorious appearance in Ifukube's distinctive "Ending" theme.

The CD's unlisted second track is relatively brief, at less than 6 minutes. It summarizes the score's musical highlights, interspersed with spoken Japanese commentary and dialogue - which are delivered in a mock-serious tone by an amusing variety of voices.

Bukimisha continues to harness an incredible range of vocal tricks, drawing from an impossibly varied repertoire of yodels, yelps, percussive clicks, gallops, hisses, whistles, growls, "dum-dums", "la-la's", "bop-bops" and every other nonsense syllable ever to appear in song form - as well as many that haven't. Nothing is beyond their grasp, whether it's heavenly harmonies, guttural shouts or plaintive wails, and their talented voices evoke a wide range of moods from beautiful to ominous to sad. If a musician composed it, Bukimisha can "sing" it.

The LITTLE PRINCE soundtrack itself is currently out of print, having only appeared on CD twice before (LD25-5065~6/TYCY-5213~14 and COCC-13504) as well as on an earlier vinyl LP. Unsurprisingly, Bukimisha's interpretation is a treat for Ifukube fans, and should not be missed. Regardless of the source material, the group's vocal performance is impressive in its own right, and newcomers to the work of this talented ensemble will be pleasantly surprised. Just don't forget your sense of humor!

As with previous CDs in the series, this disc can be ordered directly from the artists. Visit their English web page at: http://www.bukimi.com/maal/hanpu_english.html, or email Takeo Yahiro (yah@bukimi.com) for more information.

GOUKAI Na The Little Prince And The Eight-Headed Dragon
(Original cue translations courtesy of Jolyon Yates)

Track 1 (68:10)
00:00 (M1)    Prologue ~ Main Title
02:13 (M2)    Butterfly ~ Akahana & Taro
03:28 (M3)    Susano Entrance
04:17 (M4)    Izanami
04:48 (M5)    Lullaby of Naiko's Mother
06:05 (M6)    Sumo ~ Izanami's Ascension
07:45 (M7)    Izanagi & Susano
08:30 (M8)    Weeping Susano
08:46 (M9)    Izanami's Illusion
11:38 (M10)   Decision to go on a journey
12:11 (M11)   Akahana's Worry
13:14 (M12)   Journey ~ Moonlit Night Sea
14:44 (M13)   Strange Fish Akuru
15:38 (M14)   Akuru vs Susano
16:21 (M15)   Yume-no-hirasaka
16:49 (M16)   Yoru-no-osukuni
18:16 (M17)   Tsukuyomi
18:35 (ME134) title unknown
19:22 (M18)   Ice Mirror
19:30 (M19)   Susano's Anger I ~ Freeze
20:45 (ME137) Kaito
20:50 (M20)   Susano's Anger II
21:35 (M21)   Tsukuyomi's Sword
21:48 (M21B)  Ice Ball
22:09 (M22)   Road to the Fire Kingdom
22:59 (M23)   Titanbo
23:35 (M24)   Fire God
23:41 (M25)   Fire God vs Susano I
24:46 (M26)   Fire God vs Susano II
27:14 (M27)   Fireball Power
28:02 (M28)   Titanbo joins Otomo
28:38 (M29)   Ame-no-torifune ~ Takamagahara
30:10 (M30)   Amaterasu O-omikami
31:03 (M31)   Fieldwork
31:29 (M32)   Wild Horse ~ Shrine
32:39 (M33)   Field Path ~ Shrine
33:14 (M34)   Susano's Making of a Rice Field
33:44 (M35)   Flood ~ Shrine
34:27 (M36)   Shrine Melee ~ Rock Door Shuts
35:52 (M37)   Omoikane's Trick
36:18 (M38)   Taper to a God
36:27 (M39)   Ame-no-uzume's Dance I
39:50 (M40)   Ame-no-uzume's Dance II
41:43 (M41)   Rock Door Opens
42:07 (M42)   Shrine
42:25 (M43)   Takamagahara Departs
43:55 (M44)   Road to Izumo's Kingdom
44:28 (M45)   Princess Kushinada
45:24 (M46)   Blood River ~ Yamata-no-Orochi's Speech
46:34 (M47)   Ame-no-hayakoma
47:54 (M48)   Princess Kushinada and Susano
49:32 (M49)   Preparation for Fighting
50:04 (M50)   Before the Storm
50:43 (M51)   Yamata-no-Orochi Appears
51:34 (M52)   BOSS
52:24 (M53)   Sake-drinking Yamata-no-Orochi
52:55 (M54)   Susano Sets Off
54:41 (M55)   Prince Wanpaku Slays the Great Serpent
56:07 (M56)   KAMA 1 vs Susano
57:47 (M57)   Akahana and YAGI
58:17 (M58)   Princess Kushinada's Crisis
59:35 (M59)   KAMA 2 Chase
60:35 (M60)   Fight
61:04 (M61)   Last Fight ~ After the Fight
63:03 (M62)   Victorious New Day
63:58 (M63)   Ending

Track 2 (5:47)
Uncredited hidden track