Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla (1974)

Composed by: Masaru Satoh

The Godzilla series experienced an uptick at the box office with Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (or vs. the Bionic Monster or vs. the Cosmic Monster). The idea of a giant mechanical doppelganger of the famed monster obviously had strong appeal. The film also avoided the use of stock footage, though, with remaining budget constraints, at the expense of having a long stretch of time without any monsters. The movie once again has aliens masterminding the plot. Their new weapon MechaGodzilla is pretty awesome and the film is great when he’s in action. Otherwise it’s a bit weak, focused more on humans evading alien agents in order to bring a mystic statue to Okinawa Island. The statue is supposed to revive King Seesar, a giant protector dog. One of the aspects that probably helped the film gain popularity despite its flaws is Masaru Satoh’s final return with a jazzy yet powerful score. Continue reading

Son of Godzilla (1967)

Son of Godzilla (Soundtrack) | Gojipedia | Fandom

Composed by: Masaru Satoh

The Godzilla series was continued in another island adventure. This time humans are trying to find a way to control the weather. Their experiments have the side effects of enlarging some of the wildlife to create Gimantises and the monster spider Spiga (Kumonga in some versions). It just so happens that a baby Godzilla, named Minya, hatches on the same island, and Godzilla finds himself having to defend the infant from the giant bugs (while also frustratedly trying to get his son to breathe fire). Minya is a divisive character. Some think him a cute character who contributed to Godzilla’s character development, but plenty of others find him obnoxious and insufferable. I find myself in the middle of the debate. I’m not a massive fan of his, but I don’t cringe from his mere presence. Son of Godzilla overall is a very fun romp, and Satoh’s score is a large contributor.

Satoh is much stronger on his themes here. The theme for the titular character is a pretty cutesy piece that may not be pleasant for the character’s detractors. This theme open up “Main Title,” which switches over to an adventure theme. A popular tune is that for the Gimantises, which has a mischievous jazzy beat. There are menacing strings interwoven to remind listeners these creatures do pose a threat, though they are no match for Godzilla. One theme that is all menace is a simple eerie rhythm for Spiga. This is probably one of the creepiest themes I’ve ever heard and really sets the monster up as a true threat. Ironically Godzilla has the weakest theme. Satoh was probably attempting to create a theme that was not too villainous or too heroic. Godzilla is by no means a protector of humanity in this film, but his protection of Minya puts him in a protagonist role. The theme works better as an action motif in cues like “Parent Godzilla Comes to Shore” and “Godzilla vs. Kumonga,” where it plays at a faster pace. Satoh does do some theme mixing where the rhythm of Godzilla’s theme merges with Minya’s cutesy theme in “Godzilla and Minya II”.

The humans have a couple motifs of their own. “Visitor from the Sky” has a goofy light-hearted motif with similarities to Minya’s theme. The motif for island girl Psycho, a brief romantic melody, is stronger. I would hesitate to categorize it as a love theme, as like most entries in the Godzilla franchise there is no strong love story. “The Island’s Misery” introduces a suspenseful motif for the island itself, appropriately negative due to its sweltering heat and abundance of mutated wildlife. The music between the themes is more on the level of Sea Monster, with tropical and jazzy bits. The strongest non-thematic highlight is “Ending.” Its first part is a forlorn and subdued motif, with a lonely horn driving the mood home at 1:08. The mood changes at 1:25, where the music crescendos in a heartfelt manner. The rest of the track is highly emotional, one of the best concluding pieces ever composed for a Godzilla film.

Masaru Satoh finally produced a real quality score with this one. He created a much more identifiable and for the most part catchy set of themes. The only issue is that Godzilla’s majesty isn’t evident, but much of the blame can be put on the nature of the film itself. Satoh’s music in this period was certainly fitting for the lower-budget island Godzilla films. Seeing as how he hit his stride here, it’s unfortunate he was not called back for some of the future goofball entries like Godzilla’s Revenge and Godzilla vs. Megalon.

Rating: 8/10

Tracklisting

  1. Opening
  2. Main Title
  3. The Sherbet Plan
  4. Visitor from the Sky
  5. The Uninvited Guest
  6. The Giant Praying Mantis
  7. The Young Girl From Zorugeru Island
  8. Preparing for the Experiment
  9. The Frozen Sonde I
  10. The Synthetic Radioactive Sonde I
  11. The Island’s Misery
  12. Gimantis
  13. The Appearance of the Egg
  14. The Silhouette on the Tree
  15. The Birth of Minya
  16. Parent Godzilla Comes Ashore
  17. Psycho and Minya
  18. Shinjo and Psycho
  19. Godzilla and Minya I
  20. Godzilla and Minya II
  21. Night on Zorugeru Island
  22. The Hot Red Marsh
  23. The Research Team’s Impatience
  24. Psycho’s Crisis
  25. Minya vs. Gimantis
  26. The Appearance of Spiga
  27. Preparing to Escape
  28. Minya vs. Spiga
  29. Preparing for the Final Experiment
  30. The Frozen Sonde II
  31. The Synthetic Radioactive Sonde II
  32. Godzilla vs. Spiga
  33. Snow Falls on the Tropical Island
  34. Ending

Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster

Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (Soundtrack) | Gojipedia | Fandom

Composed by: Masaru Satoh

Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster is odd in that it was originally supposed to be a King Kong vehicle. Rankin-Bass, which was planning a King Kong cartoon, decided they wanted something different to promote their upcoming work (resulting in King Kong Escapes), and Godzilla was quickly inserted into the big ape’s place. This is why Godzilla’s foes seem underwhelming in terms of power levels and also why he gets a sudden fixation on an island beauty (thankfully this oddball moment is contained to one scene). The plot concerns a group of friends searching for a lost brother. They end up on an island where an expy of Communist China is using slave labor to manufacture heavy water as well as a yellow substance that keeps the giant shrimp Ebirah away. It’s a fun film that’s definitely less ambitious than its predecessors.

Masaru Satoh returned for his second film. His material is widely different from his score for Godzilla Raids Again. It’s more jazzy, exotic, and upbeat, fitting the tone of an island romp. The music is thus more entertaining, though bereft of outstanding tunes that stick in your head. The strongest thematic addition is “Mothra Song.” This piece graces the main title after some island percussion. It thereafter gets turned into another fairy song for the giant butterfly. It’s not as powerful as her more well-known songs, but it’s pretty nice. On the subject of Mothra there is a neat short cue towards the end called “Arrival of Mothra” with a sparkling heroic rhythm.

The music in general would fit a 60s spy show with all the percussion and some very jazzy moments. Ebirah’s theme is basically a guitar riff that is only slightly sinister. “Endurance Dance Rally” is a groovy source cue that could fit in the Adam West Batman show. In addition to the themes there are some pleasant travel and island cues. Standouts include “Transportation by Yahlen II” and “Departure of Boat to Lech Island,” the latter another instrumental of “Mothra Song.” Ironically one of the weakest aspects is Godzilla’s material. There is sinister motif that appears in “Sleeping Godzilla” and another rolling motif introduced in “Rebirth of Godzilla.” Oddly his fight with the villains’ planes is literally scored like a beach party. Satoh just does not convey the presence and majesty required for the character.

Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster is a very different score. Given the nature of the film, it’s not wrong for Satoh to have ditched the more ponderous and sinister tone of Ifukube’s work. However, he might have gone too far. There is some good music here, but outside of “Mothra Song” it lacks a strong thematic base. Satoh himself may have realized this judging by how his next two scores went.

Rating: 4/10

Tracklisting

  1. Main Title
  2. Young Go Go
  3. Appearance Of Yoshimura
  4. Transportation By Yaren I
  5. Transportation By Yaren II
  6. Yacht And Hurricane And Monster
  7. Lech Island
  8. Red Bamboo
  9. Fierce Ebirah
  10. No Way To Survive
  11. Wish Of Dayo I
  12. Mothra Song
  13. Sleeping Godzilla
  14. Infiltration Of The Enemy Base I
  15. Infiltration Of The Enemy Base II
  16. Escape
  17. Fly Away Balloon – Southern Sea Horizon
  18. Wish Of Dayo II
  19. Mothra Song II
  20. Crisis In The Pasture
  21. Sleeping Godzilla
  22. Godzilla’s Wakening
  23. Departure Of Boat To Lech Island
  24. Rebirth Of Godzilla
  25. Godzilla vs. Ebirah
  26. Red Bamboo Base
  27. Retreat from Base
  28. Godzilla vs. Big Condor
  29. The Demolition Of Red Bamboo Base
  30. Godzilla vs. Ebirah II
  31. Godzilla vs. Ebirah III
  32. The Wish Of The People On Infant Island
  33. Mothra’s Song
  34. Godzilla vs. Ebirah IV
  35. The Arrival Of Mothra
  36. Before Nuclear Explosion
  37. Ending

Godzilla Raids Again

Godzilla Raids Again (Soundtrack) | Gojipedia | Fandom

Composed by: Masaru Satoh

Following the smash critical and financial success of the first Godzilla film, Toho quickly threw out a sequel to capitalize on moviegoers’ fresh memory. The result was a far inferior film absent of its predecessor’s depth and emotional impact. I don’t consider Godzilla Raids Again to be the worst Godzilla film, but it is the most boring. The plot kicks off when pilots for a fishing company stumble upon two giant monsters. They and their friends and co-workers thereafter find their lives interrupted by monster attacks. This film introduced Godzilla’s first monster opponent, fellow mutant dinosaur Anguirus, but (spoiler) he dies before the last act. The rest of the movie is a bunch of daily drama involving the human characters, until Godzilla appears for a slow-paced fight with planes. I fault the rushed production for the lackluster nature of the film, as the focus on giant monsters disrupting the lives and careers of ordinary workingmen is a neat concept. Continue reading