Nihon Retto Ikimonotachino Monogatari - Soundtrack
International Title
 Japan's Wildlife: The Untold Story
Music By: Takayuki Hattori
Record Label: Universal
Running Time: 61:21 Discs: 1
Release: February 2012 CD Number: UPCH-1865
Anthony Romero
First off, huge thanks goes to Jessica Stan for sending this disc for review!

I have never been a huge fan of Takayuki Hattori's work. Like most, I was first introduced to the composer with Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994) and have had indifferent experiences with his scores since. That said, Hattori turns in a pretty good performance for the documentary Japan's Wildlife: The Untold Story. In fact, it's probably features some of the composer's best work and is engaging enough to make for a great stand alone experience, totally removed from the subject matter.

For a nature documentary soundtrack, Hattori infuses the score with far more variety than one would expect. The CD does excel at having more soothing and quite themes, such as the violin heavy "Medaka Alone" which is a great track. It also features the comedic and whimsical, with the aptly named "I'm a Clownfish", and also a few cues that hark back to the composer's Godzilla days, such as the drum based theme "Boss' Seat". Like a lot of nature documentaries, it also has a pretty effective tear jerker tracks in the form of "Child Separation", this one lead by piano work, and the more traditional violin heavy "Medaka, Severe Winter". In fact, most of the themes related to Medaka are the better ones on this CD.

Although the soundtrack is a pretty good experience as a whole, there are a few cues that miss the mark. One such example of this is "Ichiro, the Wild Boar Piglet", which sounds more like a poor man's theme for racing music from the Mario Kart series. "Playing with an Octopus" is also an odd track, intentionally so with a cheesy and over-the-top science fiction-like vibe that feels very out of place with the other material here. "The Law of Nature" is also a little bland, harking back unfavorably to some of the composer's work on Nin X Nin: The Ninja Star Hattori (2004). "Season of Love" is also a miss, being distinctly unique but never really coming together well.

Overall, the disc has a few cues that miss the mark, but has enough great themes in the end to net the CD a solid recommendation overall. The score didn't really click with me the first time I heard it, but I found myself really warming up to it after a few more listens and would recommend it to anyone interested in soundtracks.
Rating: Star Rating
  1. The Japanese Islands
  2. The Law of Nature
  3. Spring, the Birth of Life
  4. Polo and Pong, the Brown Bear Cub
  5. Pong is Thrown
  6. Captured
  7. Hunting Practice
  8. Apricot and Medaka
  9. Ichiro, the Wild Boar Piglet
  10. Ocean Creatures
  11. Close Call
  12. Forest of Mystery
  13. Like Old Folk Stories
  14. I'm a Clownfish
  15. Strange Creatures of the Night
  16. Polo and Pong: Hunting
  17. Playing with an Octopus
  18. Child Separation
  19. Tour of Life
  20. Season of Love
  21. Boss' Seat
  22. Getting Ready for a Journey
  23. Mother Brown Bear Protects Her Child
  24. Medaka Alone
  25. Not Prepared to Retreat
  26. Medaka, Severe Winter
  27. Season Reunion
  28. Polo and Pong: The Journey