CD: The Combined Fleet - Original Soundtrack


The Combined Fleet - Original Soundtrack

Japanese CD Title

連合艦隊 オリジナル・サウンドトラック
[Rengo Kantai Orijinaru Saundotorakku]

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Katsuhisa Hattori
February 2019
CINK-65/CINK-66 (2 Discs)

Based On:

The Imperial Navy



By: Anthony Romero

Containing a runtime of around 137 minutes, there is a lot of content here. The score, done by Katsuhisa Hattori with the New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, has never really gotten a grand release before. It was given a 1981 LP with 11 tracks while five themes were included on Toho's 2005 War History of Men (P-0001/P-0002) release. However, a full soundtrack has eluded us… until now. This is somewhat surprising, given the movie was both a box office hit and featured a larger than normal orchestra. At least Cinema-kan is making up for lost time, though, with this stellar release that includes both mono and stereo material for the film.

First off I want to start talking about the music before the presentation here, much of which hasn't been released before. Now I will attest I'm not as familiar with Katsuhisa Hattori's work in contrast to the other composers associated with Toho's war films, or his son Takayuki Hattori's work for that matter who would score several Godzilla productions. I would say Katsuhisa, and I will refer to him by first name to differentiate from his son, approaches war films with a more traditional outlook at times. In fact, it feels more American to me with the use of trumpets and drums that hark back to military bands. At times it tries too hard to convey the military sense.

...when it's not, though, the soundtrack does shine. The larger than usual orchestra that Katsuhia had for this production makes some of those themes great too. "Battleship Yamato" is a good example of this, feeling somewhat awe invoking as the giant warship is intended to convey and was wisely used for the "Main Title" as well. His love theme, heard in tracks like "Whereabouts of Love / Shinji and Yoko's Connection", is fantastic too with great sweeping orchestration that makes it feel epic. It's also worth talking about his destruction theme, heard in tracks like "Mobile Task Force Destroyed" and "Attack on Pearl Harbor". This motif is very drum heavy, giving a sense of scale, but it's simply okay and used a bit too much throughout the score. As a whole, the soundtrack doesn't feel very contemporary to the 1980's with the exception of "Motegi's Friendship". This track features electric guitar work and other aspects that make it feel more modern for the times. It's a little cheesy, but it stands out as well.

In terms of vocal songs, there is one called "Gunjo" that closes out the movie. Sung by Shinji Tanimura, the song is pretty nice and supported by a robust orchestra. It's a long song, over seven minutes, but is varied so it doesn't outstay its welcome. The piano work and other aspects make it feel a bit more timeless as well, not at all a product of its time… at least from the background music point of view. In contrast, Tanimura's vocal work does feel more like a contemporary song in his delivery, although that's not to say it isn't pleasant. As nice as the song is, though, I found the two instrumental variants that were included, featured near the end of disc two, to be even better and really the best tracks off the set.

Since we have talked about the score's merits, I want to shift and talk about the presentation by Cinema-kan. Starting off, we will begin with the first disc which is devoted to the mono material. This disc offers the complete score as heard in the movie. This means tracks are edited to match film representation and repeated when themes are reused in later moments in the movie. Reading the booklet, the attention to detail here and time spent was likely mammoth. The end of the disc, the bonus material, is a testament to this. It's also a pet peeve as Cinema-kan gave up on the titles here. Tracks 43-55 are just referred to as "Full Performance Song & Unused Song". Reading the booklet, they mention that tracks 43, 45, 50, 51, 54 and 55 are full versions versus the edits that they created from them to match their movie presentation. They also mention the cue numbers for tracks 51 and 54, but not the others for some reason. Luckily, I lined them up with the stereo versions on the second disc and gave them titles. What I couldn't give titles to was the unused themes. I assume Cinema-kan was in a similar position where it just wasn't known what they could be. The film is 146 minutes long, so there are a lot of moments these might have lined up with. Still, if you are like me and really want to name them, I gave them these generic names based on their approximate location in relation to the stereo score and how they sounded:

  • Track 44: Unused Theme (US Aircraft Carrier)
  • Track 46: Unused Theme (Perseverance)
  • Track 47: Unused Theme (War)
  • Track 48: Unused Theme (Conflict)
  • Track 49: Unused Theme (Stealth)
  • Track 52: Unused Theme (Incoming - M18)
  • Track 53: Unused Theme (Waiting)

Moving on to the second disc we get the stereo soundtrack for the movie. In contrast to the mono version, this is not edited to match how it was presented in the movie. So you get to hear the "full performance" versions inserted roughly where they would fit. It also uses the original main title, which from reading the booklet was scrapped for something that was heavily edited so it could feature the Battleship Yamato motif. Two other unused cues are also here, M18 and M28. M28 isn't actually completely unused though as part of this was edited into the movie as "Takeshi's Regret", so I'm not sure why they didn't just use that title. Anyway, sadly the stereo isn't complete even from the perspective of missing movie edits. Cues M4, M9, M10, M12, M13 and M20 are missing, which did appear on the mono release here.

Following the stereo movie themes, the disc presents six tracks that are almost five minutes total and dubbed as just "sound effects". I thought these might be sound effects related to the warships and planes, so was quite interested. ...sadly, it's just trumpets playing. As a result, I edited the titles in the track listing below just so there isn't any confusion.

After this we get 20 minutes of music for four tracks that are all called "Gunjo Material Song"... seriously feels like their normal title creator gave up at times. As before, I attempted to give them some unique names. Reading the booklet, the first two tracks here are from the LP and are without vocals. Sadly I don't have that LP, but I do know that there are two versions contained there called "Gunjo Requiem" and "Gunjo Masato". I took a leap of faith that they were presented here in the same order, but note that I might be mistaken. After this is a short 50 second version that is drum heavy. Not sure on the backstory to this track, but just referred to it as "Gunjo Drums". Finally we get a repeat of the song sung by Shinji Tanimura, which I used the "Material Source" name for. Listening to this, and doing comparisons… It sounds the same as the ending versions included here other than the fact that this one has an abrupt end at 7:06 versus the more gradual fade ending of the "movie" versions. I don't think that was reason enough to include it, but reading the booklet the staff wanted to end the set with this song so it was likely included just to meet that desire.

In terms of the sound quality here, it's pretty impeccable across the themes. In doing a direct comparison with the limited selection from the War History of Men (P-0001/P-0002), the clarity in Cinema-kan's material is notably better.

Overall, this was a longer review than I planned… and took hours to do with research and translating the booklet factored in. That said, it feels merited given the huge amount of content here and the amount of work Cinema-kan placed into this release. While the soundtrack isn't amazing, there are enough stand out themes here to merit a recommendation of this release for soundtrack fans.

Rating: Star Rating


    Disc 1 - Mono
  1. Main Title (M Top Title)
  2. Reunion (M2)
  3. Tense World Situation (M3)
  4. Mobile Task Force (M4)
  5. Opening Fire for War (M5)
  6. Attack on Pearl Harbor (M6 First Half)
  7. "It's a Surprise Attack!" (M6 Second Half)
  8. Battleship Yamato (M7 with Synth)
  9. MI Operation Activated (M8)
  10. US Aircraft Carrier Found (M9 Edit)
  11. Mobile Task Force Destroyed (M6 Edit)
  12. Battle of the South Pacific (M10)
  13. Unexpected Enemy Encounter (M11)
  14. The Price of Inversion (M12)
  15. Eiichi's Determination (M13)
  16. Yoko's Thoughts (M14)
  17. From Eiichi to Shinji (M14A)
  18. Base on Buin (M15 Edit)
  19. Motegi's Friendship (M16)
  20. The Direction of the War (M17)
  21. The Death of Isoroku Yamamoto (M17 Edit)
  22. Shinji's Youth (M17A)
  23. Defeat at the Battle of Mariana (M24B Repeat)
  24. US Army Lands on Leyte Island (M19)
  25. Kurita's Fleet (M20)
  26. Ozawa's Fleet to Strike (M21)
  27. Enemy Submarine Appears (M22 Edit)
  28. The Road to Leyte (M23)
  29. Eiichi's Death (M24)
  30. Unreachable Communication (M24A)
  31. Kurita's Fleet Reverses (M24B)
  32. Everyone Move Out (M25)
  33. Zuikaku, Disappearing on the Ocean (M26)
  34. Whereabouts of Love / Shinji and Yoko's Connection (M27)
  35. Takeshi's Regret (M28 Edit)
  36. Lord of the Yamato / US Forces Advance on Okinawa (M29)
  37. Determination to Strike at Sea / Commander Ito's Wish (M30)
  38. The Night Before the Sortie (M31)
  39. Escort Aircraft Flying (M32)
  40. Water on the Third Turret Storage Fire (M33)
  41. Commander Ito's Last Days (M30 Repeat)
  42. Gunjo (Ending Mono Version)
    By: Shinji Tanimura

    Bonus Tracks
  43. Main Title Full Performance
  44. Unused Theme (US Aircraft Carrier)
  45. Mobile Task Force Destroyed Full Performance
  46. Unused Theme (Perseverance)
  47. Unused Theme (War)
  48. Unused Theme (Conflict)
  49. Unused Theme (Stealth)
  50. Base on Buin Full Performance
  51. The Direction of the War Full Performance (M30 + M17)
  52. Unused Theme (M18) (Incoming)
  53. Unused Theme (Waiting)
  54. Enemy Submarine Appears Full Performance (M18 + M22)
  55. Takeshi's Regret Full Performance

    Disc 2 - Stereo
  1. Main Title (Unused)
  2. Reunion (M2)
  3. Tense World Situation (M3)
  4. Opening Fire for War (M5)
  5. Mobile Task Force Destroyed (M6)
  6. Battleship Yamato (M7)
  7. MI Operation Activated (M8)
  8. Unexpected Enemy Encounter (M11)
  9. Yoko's Thoughts (M14)
  10. From Eiichi to Shinji (M14A)
  11. Base on Buin (M15)
  12. Motegi's Friendship (M16)
  13. The Direction of the War (M17)
  14. Shinji's Youth (M17A)
  15. Unused (M18)
  16. US Army Lands on Leyte Island (M19)
  17. Ozawa's Fleet to Strike (M21)
  18. The Road to Leyte (M23)
  19. Eiichi's Death (M24)
  20. Everyone Move Out (M25)
  21. Zuikaku, Disappearing on the Ocean (M26)
  22. Whereabouts of Love / Shinji and Yoko's Connection (M27)
  23. Unused (M28)
  24. Lord of the Yamato / US Forces Advance on Okinawa (M29)
  25. Determination to Strike at Sea / Commander Ito's Wish (M30)
  26. The Night Before the Sortie (M31)
  27. Escort Aircraft Flying (M32)
  28. Water on the Third Turret Storage Fire (M33)
  29. Gunjo (Ending Stereo Version)
    By: Shinji Tanimura
  30. Trumpet Sound Effect
  31. Trumpet Sound Effect
  32. Trumpet Sound Effect
  33. Trumpet Sound Effect
  34. Trumpet Sound Effect
  35. Trumpet Sound Effect
  36. Gunjo (Requiem)
  37. Gunjo (Masato)
  38. Gunjo (Drums)
  39. Gunjo (Material Source)
    By: Shinji Tanimura