Title
 Undersea Battleship
International Title
 Atragon
Music By: Akira Ifukube
Record Label: Toshiba EMI (Futureland)
 
Running Time: 50:22 Discs: 1
Release: November 1996 CD Number: TYCY-5502
Comments
Anthony Romero
Although not as popular overseas, Atragon is revered as one of Toho's crowning science fiction productions on the domestic front. Combining elements typically found in the company's large library of war films with that of an invasion plot by an undersea civilization, the movie struck it big at the box office, ensuring its continual re-release in the decade that followed.

To match this fusing of genres, maestro Akira Ifukube delivers a score that perfectly fits the different aspects of the production, while standing out as a hallmark entry in the composer's expansive portfolio of work. As expected from Ifukube, the score excels when it comes to its military marches. The real standout inclusion here, and the best theme off the disc, is "The Undersea Battleship Attacks", specifically the 2nd half (M30). The cue is on the short side, clocking in at only 50 seconds in length, but it's such a breath taking piece of work that it's hard to resist the urge to not loop it for a bit. It's also fairly extraordinary that the composer didn't heavily reuse it later in his career, as many of his better themes had a habit of returning to the screen. As a side note, though, the cue would return, in stock form, some 42 years later for Super Fleet Sazer-X the Movie (2005).

As for the other marches, such as the "Main Title" and "The Undersea Battleship's Test Run", they also fare well. The general theme appears several times throughout the score, although the tempo is changed enough to keep it fresh and interesting. The disc has a nice branching flavor to it, though, as it also includes some more exotic themes to match with the Mu empire. This of course includes the movie's song, known as the "The Prayer of the Mu Empire", and a "Warning from Mu", which is a nice vocal-less version of the dynasty's chant. There are a couple of menacing cues to fit the race's actions as well, in particular the "Cargo Ship Blaze" and "Tokyo Bay Conflagration". Another stand out theme from the disc, despite it's incredibly short duration, is the "The Delivered Film". It's a very atmospheric track, mixing violin and percussion work to give the theme an almost alien quality. Many will probably recognize it as well for its later use in Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972), as it played when the girl dropped the tape before Gengo picked it up.

Overall, it's a fairly solid collection of music, although I was slightly disappointed with the "The Undersea Battleship vs. Manda" theme. It's a fairly sinister piece of music, sifting into the background to give an ominous feeling. However, it definitely seems to undercut the action onscreen, particularly during the moments where the sub was shocking the giant serpent. Like most Ifukube scores, the soundtrack also suffers from a fair bit of repetition as well between themes. The combination of the different approaches to scoring do help to minimize this compared to other soundtracks from the maestro, although it's still there. Bottom line, though, is that this is a good soundtrack that comes highly recommended to anyone who enjoys Ifukube's work, regardless of if they happened to enjoy the movie itself either.
Rating: Star Rating
Tracks
  1. Toho Logo (M1)
  2. Appearance of the Steam Person (M2)
  3. Main Title (M3)
  4. The Submarine Rises to the Surface (M4)
  5. The Delivered Film (M5)
  6. Warning from Mu (M6)
  7. The Outcry of Mu
  8. Emergency U.N. Conference Convenes (M7)
  9. Cargo Ship Blaze (M8)
  10. Worldwide Terror (M9)
  11. The Red Satan (M10)
  12. The Submarine Returns to Port (M11)
  13. Communication Ball (M12)
  14. Gotengo Defense Force (M13)
  15. Makoto's Theme 1 (M14)
  16. The Undersea Battleship's Test Run 1 (M15)
  17. The Undersea Battleship's Test Run 2 (M16)
  18. The Undersea Battleship's Test Run 3 (M17)
  19. Makoto's Theme 2 (M18)
  20. Unno's True Colors (M19)
  21. The Prayer of the Mu Empire (PS117-T3)
  22. Guardian Dragon Manda (M20)
  23. The Mu People on Mount Mihara (M21)
  24. The Declaration of Mu (M22)
  25. The Undersea Battleship Attacks 1 (M23)
  26. The Undersea Battleship Attacks 2 (M24)
  27. Marunochi Collapses (M25)
  28. Tokyo Bay Conflagration (M26)
  29. Tokyo Bay and the Undersea Battleship (M27)
  30. Rescue (M28)
  31. The Undersea Battleship vs. Manda (M29)
  32. The Volunteer Corps Moves Out (M30)
  33. Ending (M31)

    Alternate Takes
  34. Zero Cannon (M30 Cymbal)
  35. The Prayer of the Mu Empire (PS117-T2)

    Sound Effects
  36. Gotengo Active Sonar
  37. Gotengo Ascending
  38. Gotengo in Flight
  39. Gotengo Underwater Alarm
  40. Zero Cannon Discharge
  41. Mu Submarine Beam Discharge
  42. "Undersea Battleship" Trailer