K-20: The Fiend with Twenty Faces - Original Soundtrack
International Title
 K-20: Legend of the Mask
Music By: Naoki Sato
Record Label: VAP
Running Time: 56:37 Discs: 1
Release: December 2008 CD Number: VPCD-81621
Anthony Romero
Once I first heard the soundtrack for Always: Sunset on Third Street 2 (2007), I knew Naoki Sato was a composer worth looking out for and have had that feeling reaffirmed several times now. Sato's excellent score for K-20: Legend of the Mask is yet another of those occasions, as he gives the period/science fiction hybrid a great action soundtrack with a lively beat that sometimes harks back to old serials and fits the material like a glove.

Like Sato's score for Space Battleship Yamato (2010), the entire soundtrack here feels like a "highlight" to the point it's hard to decide which tracks to single out for merit. The music has a bit of range to it, but tends to be more action oriented and pulpy in it's tempos. For the best example of the later, the track "K-20" feels wonderfully dated yet very energetic, taking on a march-like quality. A longer, more majestic version is also seen in "I am K-20", adding a bit more orchestration to the cue and both excel for different reasons. Speaking of marches, the disc also contains the more menacing but none the same well paced "Military March" that features a lot of drum work to convey that military might type of vibe. For the more action oriented pieces, there are several to choose from, such as "The Battle" which is a great climatic cue. For the more somber themes, the track "Despair" fits the bill for it's violin work that conveys a feeling of sorrow quite well.

Despite a solid score overall, everything isn't roses. A couple of the weaker cues include "Unmask", an opera-like sorrowful cue that is simply too long at six minutes, and "Fly High Up in the Sky", which has a slightly cheesy take on the "K-20" theme done with vocals.

In terms of packaging, the overall layout is very similar to VAP's release of the sequel to Always: Sunset on Third Street (VPCD-81580). The entire jewel case is covered in a thin, glossy cardboard sleeve, which is pictured above. The CD's true case has a different design, which is actually rather plain and dull, seen here. Because of the packaging, a few locations will sometimes try to charge more for the release. For example, I got my copy on "clearance" for $20 from the New People store, which has the Baby the Stars Shine Bright outlet from Kamikaze Girls (2004).

Overall, if you aren't on the look out for Sato's scores, it's time to start. The composer has vetted himself at this stage as someone who is probably one of the most consistently engaging composers in Japanese cinema today.
Rating: Star Rating
  1. 1949
  2. K-20
  3. Trap and Misunderstanding
  4. Youko
  5. Enigma
  6. Despair
  7. Night with Glittering Stars
  8. Determination
  9. Mr. Who?
  10. Escape from Pursuers
  11. Genji and Heikichi
  12. Covert Operations
  13. Sneak into the Room
  14. Terrible Pinch
  15. Negotiation
  16. Military March
  17. Military Technology
  18. I am K-20
  19. Puzzle
  20. Tesla Tower
  21. The Battle
  22. Unmask
  23. Trick
  24. Fly High Up in the Sky
  25. One's Way
  26. New World