© 2013 Lawrence Tuczynski

Title: The Last War
Original Japanese Title: Sekai daisens├┤
CD Label: Toho Music Corporation
CD Number: TSFCD-16-1/16-2
Music by: Ikuma Dan
Number of tracks: Disc 1 - 42
Disc 2 - 46
Running time: Disc 1 - 67:08
Disc 2 - 72:19
Number of discs: 2
Year of release/manufacture: February 22, 2013
Year Movie Released in Japan: October 08, 1961 (110 minutes)
Year Movie released in the US: January 08, 1967 (79 minutes, English dubbed)

REVIEW

March 25, 2013

This Toho Music Corporation 2 disc set gives us the Ikuma Dan soundtrack to "The Last War in STEREO on Disc 1 and MONO on Disc 2.

A review can be seen at Toho Kingdom at: http://www.tohokingdom.com/news/2013/02-10_toho_music_last_war.html

UPDATE - May 10, 2013

Review by Matti Keskiivari

Toho Music continues their line of soundtrack releases with the disaster movie The Last War (Sekai Daisenso, 1961), composed by Ikuma Dan. As expected, this 2-disc release presents the most complete version of the score, triumphing over the previous CD from Victor (VICL-5082).

First off, I have to say that this is one of my favorite movie scores of all time. To this day, I haven't seen the movie itself. However, some years ago I downloaded the Victor soundtrack on my computer, and after listening to it a few times I fell in love with it. So when I first found out that Toho Music is re-releasing it, I was overjoyed. Finally I could have this score on a physical CD. To make a long story short, Dan's music here is absolutely beautiful, with a lot of great tracks to name. The "Overture" is one of the best opening cues I've ever heard, and it gets things started off right by introducing the title theme and the main theme (called "Saeko's theme" in the booklet). The title theme gets a more vicious treatment in the following "Main Title". Then the score starts to calm down for a while with tracks like "Japan's Reconstruction", "The Peaceful Tamura Family" and "Takano and Saeko"; the last of the three gives us the full rendition of the movie's gorgeous love theme. Throughout the rest of the score the mood constantly alternates between peaceful and ominous, with the latter only increasing towards the end. The best somber cues include "Tulip", "Tense World Affairs" and "Outcry for Peace". Dan also shows his range as a composer with tracks like "The Federalists Missile Base", "Cancel the Detonator" and "Fight Over the Bering Sea", which are more oriented to the disaster/war genre.

As far as this CD release goes, Toho Music have done a good job. The primary difference between this and the Victor CD is the fact that the score is presented in both stereo and mono, similar to King Kong vs. Godzilla (G-003) and Mothra (TSFCD-15). While the Victor CD did already have the score in stereo, this is the first time the mono version is released. All the cues are the same in both versions, although the mono version of "Radio Music" is slightly longer than the stereo one. When comparing the music in mono and stereo, the main difference, naturally, is the mixing. Some instruments are heard more clearly in the stereo score, and others in the mono score. For example, the percussion in tracks like "Main Title", "The Peaceful Tamura Family" and "The Allies Missile Base", and the organ in "The Couple in Hibiya Park" and "Fight Over the Bering Sea" work better in stereo. On the other hand, the woodwind instruments in such tracks as "The Peaceful Tamura Family" and "Outcry for Peace" are more distinct in the mono version. Both versions of the score have their own merits, so people can choose which to prefer. Personally, I think the stereo version adds a bit more depth and flavor to the music.

Of course the extra content must be acknowledged. Both discs have bonus tracks, many of which were included on the Victor release. Starting with disc 1, first we have two alternate takes of the "Ending", and they are both released for the first time in stereo. Both of these takes are quite different from the movie version, especially M34, which uses the title theme instead of Saeko's theme. Unfortunately, the quality of these takes leaves a bit to be desired. The stereo feel in them doesn't work as well as in the main score, and especially the M34A version has some notable damage on the audio. The mono versions of these tracks on disc 2 sound better, but it's still interesting to hear them in stereo. We also get the film version of "Ending", which is a combination of the "New Year's Day" choral piece and M34B. Then there's five different versions of "New Year's Day", and since they're heard back-to-back, it can get tiring for some people. Finally we get perhaps the most peculiar new bonus track. It's basically a compilation of cues that are edited the way they're heard in the movie's trailer. Again, the audio quality isn't the best, but the track is another welcome addition. I'd be more than happy if Toho Music did more tracks like this in the future. Moving on to the second disc, first we have alternate takes of "Overture", "Main Title" and "Ending", and an unused cue called "Attack Target", which was basically extended to create the track "Missile Launch Preparation". Again, we also get the film version of "Ending" and different versions of "New Year's Day". Then we have two new tracks: "Shichi-Go-San" and "Athletic Meet". The first one appears to be a stock cue from another movie called Wedding Night, and it's just very traditional Japanese music, nothing special. The latter is a bit more lively, but not too memorable either. The last track is just a drum solo, which was also on the Victor CD, called "The Closing Prayer". The booklet meets the usual Toho Music standards. The front cover has the main cast in front of a red-tinted mushroom cloud and on the back cover there's a photo of Saeko played by Yuriko Hoshi. Inside are the track listings, info about the movie, notes for the tracks, the cast and crew list, and several pictures in both color and black-and-white.

The Last War is a great gem of a score from Toho's golden era, and it's presented magnificently on this new CD release. If you enjoy music from people like Akira Ifukube and Masaru Sato, you will most certainly like Ikuma Dan's work here. I give it my highest recommendation.

May 12, 2013 - Additional thoughts by Robert Storch

Track 42 on the stereo disc is the isolated audio from the movie's international theatrical trailer. This trailer was of course comprised of film clips, edited music and a narrator who begins speaking at roughly the 1:36 mark. However, when the visuals and narration are removed, the quick cuts and edits in the music become more noticeable and somewhat jarring to listen to. Also, Toho Music has a mixed track record when it comes to the overall sound quality on their "Perfect CDs", and this track is yet another example of that. I am not sure what the actual source is, but for whatever reason, it has been mastered at a lower volume than the other tracks, and sounds a bit muffled and unclear. It's still a great bonus track to have though, and the only way to get the isolated audio from the trailer on CD.

Track Titles courtesy of Toho Kingdom at:
http://www.tohokingdom.com/news/2013/02-10_toho_music_last_war.html

    Disc 1: Stereo

  1. Overture (M1-T2)
  2. Main Title (M2-T2)
  3. Japan's Reconstruction (M3)
  4. Radio Music (M4)
  5. Coordination Exercise (M5)
  6. The Peaceful Tamura Family (M6)
  7. Flash in the Night Sky (M7)
  8. Takano Returns Home (M8)
  9. Takano and Saeko (M9)
  10. The Federalists Missile Base (M10)
  11. The Allies Missile Base (M11)
  12. The Tamura Family Rejoices (M12)
  13. The Couple in Hibiya Park (M13)
  14. Two Second Countdown to Launch (M14)
  15. Launch Avoided (M15)
  16. Tulip (M16)
  17. Tragedy at the Thirty-Eighth Parallel (M17)
  18. Dispute Crawls Elsewhere (M18)
  19. Oharu and Suzue (M19)
  20. Cancel the Detonator (M20)
  21. Peace Restored (M21)
  22. Bering Sea Serenity (M22)
  23. Fight Over the Bering Sea (M23)
  24. Evening in Yokohama (M24)
  25. Tense World Affairs (M25 + M26)
  26. Town in Chaos (M27)
  27. Missile Launch Preparation (M28A)
  28. The Two Goats (M29)
  29. Last Communication (M30)
  30. Outcry for Peace (M31)
  31. The Destruction Begins (M32)
  32. Exploding End to the World (M33)
  33. Ending (M34B)
  34. Bonus Tracks

  35. Ending (M34)
  36. Ending (M34A)
  37. Ending (M34 Final Product)
  38. New Year's Day (PS90)
  39. New Year's Day (PS90)
  40. New Year's Day (PS90)
  41. New Year's Day (M34 Chorus)
  42. New Year's Day (M34A-T2 Chorus)
  43. Preview Music

Disc 2: MONO

  1. Overture (M1-T2)
  2. Main Title (M2-T2)
  3. Japan's Reconstruction (M3)
  4. Radio Music (M4)
  5. Coordination Exercise (M5)
  6. The Peaceful Tamura Family (M6)
  7. Flash in the Night Sky (M7)
  8. Takano Returns Home (M8)
  9. Takano and Saeko (M9)
  10. The Federalists Missile Base (M10)
  11. The Allies Missile Base (M11)
  12. The Tamura Family Rejoices (M12)
  13. The Couple in Hibiya Park (M13)
  14. Two Second Countdown to Launch (M14)
  15. Launch Avoided (M15)
  16. Tulip (M16)
  17. Tragedy at the Thirty-Eighth Parallel (M17)
  18. Dispute Crawls Elsewhere (M18)
  19. Oharu and Suzue (M19)
  20. Cancel the Detonator (M20)
  21. Peace Restored (M21)
  22. Bering Sea Serenity (M22)
  23. Fight Over the Bering Sea (M23)
  24. Evening in Yokohama (M24)
  25. Tense World Affairs (M25 + M26)
  26. Town in Chaos (M27)
  27. Missile Launch Preparation (M28A)
  28. The Two Goats (M29)
  29. Last Communication (M30)
  30. Outcry for Peace (M31)
  31. The Destruction Begins (M32)
  32. Exploding End to the World (M33)
  33. Ending (M34B)
  34. Bonus Tracks

  35. Overture (M1-T1)
  36. Main Title (M2-T1)
  37. Attack Target (M28)
  38. Ending (M34)
  39. Ending (M34A)
  40. Ending (M34 Final Product)
  41. New Year's Day (PS90)
  42. New Year's Day (M34 Chorus)
  43. New Year's Day (M34A-T1 Chorus)
  44. New Year's Day (M34A-T2 Chorus)
  45. Shichi-Go-San (Wedding Night PS-57)
  46. Athletic Meet (Record)
  47. Tyco (From Cinetape Source)