The H-Man
International Title
Music By: Masaru Sato
Record Label: SLC
Running Time: 42:11 Discs: 1
Release: June 1995 CD Number: SLCS-5063
Anthony Romero
First, thanks goes to Robert Storch for sending this in for review!

Work from Masaru Sato in the 1950's, in general, tends to be lacking. The composer was still finding his footing and trying to come up with a style that fit his talents. With the passing of his mentor, Fumio Hayasaka, Sato began to come into his own in the decade that followed. This particular score is important as, while not a highlight of the composer's long career, it does start to show his skills at big band style music thanks to the club setting of this particular horror movie.

The soundtrack as a whole is a slightly bipolar experience, as it drifts from the club music to the more unnerving themes dedicated to the horror aspect. The music also has an outliner in the form of the "Main Title", which is a riveting march theme that feels totally out of place in this movie... but is also the most energetic and memorable cue from the whole film. It appears as the first track, and also later as the theme "H-Man Incineration Strategy". It draws too much attention to itself for the sequence its intended for in H-Man, but is an excellent stand alone piece on this CD. As for the club music, the Homura Club themes, seen in a couple of tracks, aptly conveys the environment its meant to embody. The first two cues in particular are good, although the third iteration tends to overstay its welcome.

This leads to the horror music aspect of the disc, which is the hit and miss portion. There are a few cues on this disc that don't work very well at all, such as "Chikako and the H-Man" which has a long blaring part of its runtime that feels almost like an audio distortion. "The Ghost Standing on Deck" is another great example of this, a type of music that in the context of the film feels unearthly but as a stand alone experience is hard to endure. It uses about every trick in the book, including the ever "popular" musical saw, but in the end this translates into a lot of themes that just miss their mark when removed from the film.

As for the songs, the disc features two of them by Martha Miyake. Both are dated for their period, but for fans of 1950's music their inclusion here should be a treat. The vocal work will certainly have its fans and detractors, as being in English most will probably be a little more critical, but the material is handled very well. Good enough that the music was reused for the club scenes in High and Low (1963), in fact.

In regards to the bonus content, the CD features three themes that it dubs "Music Material". I would almost say they classify more as sound effects than music, but given the odd musical choices of some of the other horror themes they feel almost like isolated instruments during a few of these pieces. Suffice to say, none of the three bonus tracks are enjoyable.

Bottom line, the score has its ups and downs. It works best as part of compilations where the stronger cues stand out, as a few of them drag down the overall experience quite a bit. Fans of Sato, though, will probably enjoy this particular soundtrack for showing the composer's gradual shift in style that was starting to occur around this time.
Rating: Star Rating
  1. Toho Logo ~ Main Title (M1-T1)
  2. The Man Who Vanished in the Rain (M2)
  3. Homura Club BGM1 (PS1-T4)
  4. The Magic Begins (PS2)
    By: Martha Miyake
  5. Homura Club BGM2 (M3)
  6. Incident Eyewitnesses (M4)
  7. Mysterious Ghost Ship (M5)
  8. The Wall-crawling Liquid (M6)
  9. The Crew is Attacked (M6A)
  10. The Ghost Standing on Deck (M7)
  11. Chikako Arai's Testimony (M8-T2)
  12. So Deep is My Love (PS3-T5)
    By: Martha Miyake
  13. Homura Club BGM3 (PS4-T3)
  14. The Deadly H-Man Emerges (M9)
  15. The Living Liquid (M10)
  16. Homura Club BGM4 (M11)
  17. The Death of Detective Sakata (M12)
  18. In Pursuit of the Criminal Uchida (M13-T2)
  19. Toad Liquefaction Experiment (M14-T2)
  20. Newspaper Report (M15)
  21. Pursuit (M16)
  22. Chikako and the H-Man (M18-T2)
  23. H-Man Incineration Strategy (M19)
  24. H-Man's Demise (M20)
  25. Ending (M21-T2)
  26. ME (Music Material) 1: Dissolving (M22)
  27. ME (Music Material) 2: Radioactive Rain (M23-T2)
  28. ME (Music Material) 3: H-Man (M24-T4)