International Title
Music By: Joe Hisaishi
Record Label: Tokuma Japan
Running Time: 42:51 Discs: 1
Release: March 1986 CD Number: 32ATC-111
Anthony Romero
First, thanks goes to Jessica Stan for sending this in for review!

Released under their Animage Records label, this very old CD is one of many, many soundtrack releases for the 1986 animated film Arion. Composed by maestro Joe Hisaishi, who would later become one of Japan's most beloved composers thanks to his work with Studio Ghibli, this mid-1980's score is a slightly uneven effort in a couple of places, but one that rises to the occasion and certainly shows an early glimpse of the composer's greatness.

The disc starts off on a strong foot with "Hades, Underworld Ruler ~ Main Theme", crafting a slightly sinister tune for the lord of the underworld before building up to the very majestic main theme that plays half way through, led with some great wind work. Hisaishi shows some nice range here as well, creating the more energetic tracks "Arion: Main Theme", which sweeps into a breath-taking build toward the end using a full orchestra, and the deliciously over-the-top "Battle", which sounds reminiscent to arcade music of the era. That sweeping, epic feel captured in Arion's theme is also present in a couple others here, such as "To Olympus" and "Resphoina and Arion" as well, and always to great effect.

Despite some incredible work in a few themes, there are others here that miss the mark... at least in portions. "Athena and Apollon ~ Seneca", while not particularly bad, is an example as a slightly puzzling choice. The track sounds like it would fit right at home in a scene taking place in India, rather than one infused with Greek mythology like the story of Arion, and comes complete with what sounds like the sitar instrument lead start. The sitar portion is actually pleasant to hear, but the second half, called Seneca, is awful with an awkward melody of synthesized music that never really comes together. Another odd track is the overdone "Prometheus ~ Sea Cave", that features some rather lackluster vocal work that brings down what is otherwise another sweeping and great track from the disc.

In terms of the song, the CD closes with one called "Pegasus Girl" by Kyoko Goto. The vocal track is incredibly dated, sounding very distinct for the pop songs coming out of Japan in 1980. It's not bad if someone prefers that brand of music, although Kyoko Goto is certainly no Yuki Saito or Yumi Matsutoya and the song measures up as simply okay with not being particularly memorable.

Overall, while dwarfed by some of the composer's later work, Arion is an early gem from Hisaishi that is worth tracking down. Despite some minor pitfalls in portions of a few track, and even taking into consideration the short running time, this is one of the more enjoyable soundtracks from this period.
Rating: Star Rating
  1. Hades, Underworld Ruler ~ Main Theme
  2. Athena and Apollon ~ Seneca
  3. Arion: Main Theme
  4. Battle
  5. Resphoina ~ Memories
    By: Miki Takahashi
  6. Prometheus ~ Sea Cave
  7. Poseidon
  8. First Battle
  9. Destiny and Hades ~ Poseidon's Death
  10. To Olympus
  11. Typhon
  12. Gaia, Mother of the Gods ~ Apollon
  13. Resphoina and Arion
  14. Pegasus Girl
    By: Kyoko Goto