Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000)

Composed by: Michiru Oshima

Godzilla Millennium established a new series. Oddly, though, most of the movies in the Shinsei series would follow their own individual continuities. Thus Godzilla vs. Megaguirus was set in a different timeline than its predecessor and none of the following films continued where it left off. This film is often seen as okay to bad. I actually like it myself, but understand the criticism that not much new is done in the story. The plot sees a reimagining of giant bugs from the 1956 Rodan. This time the insects, giant dragonflies with stingers, go through several forms, feeding on energy which they ultimately transfer to their queen, the titanic Megaguirus. At the same time Japan’s Self-Defense Force is trying to use an artificial black hole to remove Godzilla from earth. One of the film’s strongest points is its score by Michiru Oshima, the first female composer for the franchise.

Oshima wastes no time making a good impression with her new Godzilla theme. It’s a ponderous piece that conveys Godzilla’s size and terror without being too villainous. The first track, “Fateful Confrontation,” presents the general long-form arrangement of Oshima’s theme. The first part is the actual theme which crops up in shorter iterations. Semi-militaristic drums with growling brass lead into a heroic fanfare which in turn leads into sinister strings. This theme encompasses all the facets of Godzilla: his size, unstoppable drive,  unwitting heroism, and terror. If I can offer one criticism of Oshima’s score, it’s that she doesn’t utilize the other motifs separately for specific instances. They only appear in full-fledged arrangements like “Godzilla vs. Griffon” and “Ending Theme.” This is a small criticism, as the primary theme is good enough on its own and provides a uniting identity.

The humans and their anti-monster efforts are represented by two themes. One is a simple motif for Dimension Tide, the artificial black hole plan (“Dimension Tide Maneuver”). The other more central one is a heroic theme introduced calmly in “Operation Area.” This theme is often associated with Kiriko, the female lead, and Griffon, a super-jet. After its peaceful introduction, the theme reappears as a bold fanfare at the start of “Griffon Sallies Forth.” After the fanfare it plays as a faster heroic march. The theme is strongest in “Kiriko’s Decision,” where Oshima introduces an extra fanfare around the two minute mark for extra dramatic effect.

The dangerous insects, Meganula and Megaguirus, do not share a theme. Oshima instead chooses to use different motifs, with some similarities, for the different stages of the insects. The egg and initial crawling form are represented by a foreboding motif. In “Revived Ancient Insect” it leads into a simple, harsh, and effective motif at 1:12, the only motif to tie together the different identities for the antagonist. In “Ominous Gigantic Egg” and “The Street Becomes a Lake” it leads into wavy motif for the dispersal of the eggs. When the bugs become a winged swarm, they are given a high-pitched repeating motif over a fuller theme. This is a great theme, but only appears twice. Is second appearance in “The Ferocious Lifeform” is a highlight. The theme escalates further and further as the bugs relentlessly swarm and attack Godzilla. The Big G’s theme finally emerges at the end when the insects finally leave him alone.

The main tune in “Hyperflight Dragon – Birth,” from the final metamorphosis scene, seems to be a halfway tune between the initial ominous motif and the final form theme. The final form theme, which doubles as the final battle theme, is introduced in “The Ultimate Battle Appearance.” It has a distinctly oriental motif alongside a militaristic percussion line and shrieking notes. One complaint about this section of the score is the repetitious use of the battle theme. While it’s great, it can get bothersome to hear the same music repeated over and over with the occasional short appearance of other music. A non-chronological arrangement could see these cues broken up somewhat. The best of the final battle cues is “Earth’s Greatest Deathmatch,” which ends on a triumphant note for Godzilla with his theme winning out.

In addition to Oshima’s score, the album concludes with a couple Ifukube cues and sound effects. Michiru Oshima’s music was deservedly well received and thankfully the director of this film, Masaaki Tezuka, brought her along for his two later Godzilla films. While Ifukube tends to get the label of greatest Godzilla composer, I confess that I actually enjoy Oshima’s material more. I guess it appeals more to my specific sensibilities. This score is actually fairly available in the States since GNP Crescendo provided an American release.

Rating: 9/10

Tracklisting

1. Fateful Confrontation
2. Main Title
3. To the G Countermeasure HQ
4. Operation Area
5. The G Annihilation Strategy Commences
6. The Ominous Gigantic Egg
7. Tragedy / The Revived Ancient Insect
8. Kiriko and the Little Boy
9. Griffon Sallies Forth
10. G-Proximity
11. The Street Becomes a Lake
12. Godzilla vs. Griffon
13. Meganula – Great Plague
14. The Dimension Tide Maneuver
15. The Ferocious Lifeform
16. Painful Life’s Work
17. Hyperflight Dragon – Birth
18. The Ultimate Battle Appearance
19. Godzilla vs. Megaguirus
20. Suicidal Counterattack
21. Earth’s Greatest Deathmatch
22. Dimension Tide’s Limit
23. Kiriko’s Decision
24. Black Hole Cannon, Explosion
25. It’s All Over
26. Ending Theme
Bonus 1: (Alternative Ending Themes)
27. The Fury of Godzilla –  (Akira Ifukube)
28. The Decision of Godzilla – (Akira Ifukube)
Bonus 2: Godzilla Sound Effects
29. Godzilla (2 Roars)
30. Godzilla (Footsteps)
31. Godzilla (Heat Beam)
32. Megaguirus (2 Roars)
33. Megaguirus (Wings Humming)
34. Megaguirus (High Frequency Wave)

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