Title
 Earth Defense Force / Great War in Space
International Title
 The Mysterians / Battle in Outer Space
Music By: Akira Ifukube
Record Label: Toho Music
   
Running Time: 63:58/75:49 Discs: 2
Release: August 2009 CD Number: TSFCD-05/06
Comments
Anthony Romero
Following Toho Music's release of Latitude Zero (TSFCD-22), this double CD set marks the second release in Toho Music's Sci-fi series. For this entry, the company combined the scores for their two "space operas": The Mysterians and Battle in Outer Space (the booklet can be flipped for the Battle in Outer Space cover, seen here). The end result is a nice "budget", and the term is used loosely given this will still cost around $40, release that gives newer collectors a chance to pick up the two long out of print soundtracks.

To start off with comes the disc for The Mysterians. To give a rundown of the music, the score happens to fall into that brief window when maestro Akira Ifukube seemed to be in love with the tuba. Rodan (1956) features a lot of this as well, but this 1957 soundtrack feels much more dominated by the instrument. Dominated being the keyword, as it often overpowers the other instruments and is fairly over-the-top in the way it is utilized. "Moguera Emerges", "Kidnapping", and of course the "Main Title" are all examples of this. Consequently, the score as a whole tends to suffer a bit. However, there are a few gems here. Chief among these is the wonderful, if not brief, "The Earth Defense Council", which is a magnificent march from Ifukube. The other truly noteworthy theme from this score is the "Markalite FAHP", which is a great, rousing march and one of Ifukube's better themes from this decade. That said, the cue was presented with a lot more power and to better effect when it closed out the composer's Symphonic Fantasia (KICS-775, although it has been issued on CD many times), but the original is still with its charm. Overall, this is not one of Ifukube's finer hours, but all the same not a bad score or anything.

In terms of the bonus content for The Mysterians, the disc covers a large number of outtakes. Like many of the composer's alternate takes, these cues are often extremely close to the ones used and because of that are not all that interesting. This disc marks the first time M6-T2 has been released, but it's so close to the other two that it's hard to get excited about it. Sadly, the sound effects and trailer were removed from this release compared to the earlier one (TYCY-5499). The sound effects are available on the recent Sound EFX CD from Victor (VICG-60591), so not too much of a loss for those who want them. However, the trailer is harder to come by in audio format, and the loss of the isolated trailer music, which was a nice edit of some music from Rodan (1956) and this film, is very unfortunate since it was unique to the Toshiba EMI release. On the plus side, the disc does have three tracks previously unreleased with this score. The first two are classic themes from famous composers Hector Berlioz and Edvard Grieg. Sadly, the two themes aren't in the best condition, but they are great additions, especially the Berlioz piece which was actually featured prominently in the movie. Finally, the last unique cue is the full song for the "Bon Festival Dance". To my surprise, the cue actually works better as a stand alone experience, and I was somewhat shocked Toho even had the song isolated since it has never been released before to my knowledge and is such a front and center part of the movie.

Now, the second disc includes the full score to Battle in Outer Space. This soundtrack is classic Ifukube. A wonderful mixture of rousing marches with the more sinister music for the Natarl. The score as a whole just has a wonderful level of energy to it, and is a real gem from the composer. The star attraction of this soundtrack is easily the amazing "Main Title", which is such a rousing theme that it's hard not to really get into the cue, which is well known outside of the film as well for its use in Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972). "Battle on the Moon" is also another great cue and fantastic battle music, which worked great within the film and as part of the trailer for Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965). The composer does shake it up a bit too with the wonderfully soothing "Starry Sky" theme, which would be reworked countless times into later cues. "The Magnificence of the Base" is another cue like this, with a great majestic melody behind it. Overall, this is one of the composers best soundtracks from this decade and a real treat for fans of his work.

In regards to the bonus content, the disc contains only one outtake and one edited cue, which is to combine the "Opening" and "Main Title" themes to represent how they appeared in the film. The rest of the bonus content is more of the parade music from classic composer Yosaku Suma. I personally love this type of band music, having a nostalgic attachment to fairs and theme parks of my youth, and the music successfully conveys this type of emotion. There are a couple of these that are unique to this release versus the earlier one from Toshiba (TYCY-5501), but these are alternate takes to the ones that were previously included and not all that special. The disc closes with an odd sound effect track that is literally of people clapping. Odd that this would make the cut when Toho Music has been removing the sound effects from their other releases.

As for the audio quality, this set is mixed. The Mysterians selection was well restored and sounds stellar for its age. The same could not be said for Battle in Outer Space, especially compared with the earlier Toshiba (TYCY-5501) release. As per usual, the tracks are all recorded here at a lower volume level, as Toho Music almost prides themselves at having softer CD music than just about any other record label. Regardless, this is just preference. The problem here is that there is a slight hiss to the tracks, which is brought out when the volume is raised to a comparable level to the Toshiba disc. Its very minor, and hard to hear, but once one catches it... sadly they will always notice it. This is particularly lethal on the already soothing tracks on this release, especially the very quiet and majestic "Starry Sky" theme for which the hiss becomes the most apparent.

Bottom line, this package doesn't offer much to those who happen to have the earlier Toshiba EMI releases from 1996, but does offer a great chance for those who missed out on them to get both at the same time. At around $40, the set still sells at a premium, but given the elevated prices of the Toshiba EMI discs and that Japanese soundtracks are rarely cheap anyway this two disc set does come off as a nice deal for collectors. As a side note, it also comes with a postcard showing two production stills from the films. Nothing too special, but resllers will probably want to hang on to it. It should a be mentioned that this set is sold exclusively online at Toho Music's site or Arksquare.com.
Rating: Star Rating
Tracks
    Disc 1
    The Mysterians (1957)

  1. Main Title (M1-T2 + M1-T3)
  2. Disaster (M2-T2)
  3. The Large Cave-ins (M3)
  4. Moguera Emerges (M4)
  5. Moguera Advances (M5-T2)
  6. Scientific Phenomenon at the Moon (M6-T3)
  7. The Research Team Goes to Fuji (M7-T4)
  8. Mysterian Dome (M8)
  9. The First Battle (M10)
  10. Demand for an International Conference (M11)
  11. The Earth Defense Council (M12)
  12. Alpha and Beta (M13)
  13. Attack Preparations (M14-T2)
  14. Kidnapping (M15-T4)
  15. 120km Shelter (M16)
  16. Markalite FAHP (M17)
  17. The Mysterians Retaliate (M19-T2)
  18. Electron Gun (M20-T2)
  19. The Mysterians Retreat (M20A-T2)
  20. Ending (M21-T3)

    Bonus Tracks
  21. Main Title (M1-T1)
  22. Main Title (M1-T2)
  23. Main Title (M1-T3)
  24. Disaster (M2-T1)
  25. Moguera Advances (M5-T1)
  26. Scientific Phenomenon at the Moon (M6-T1)
  27. Scientific Phenomenon at the Moon (M6-T2)
  28. The Research Team Goes to Fuji (M7-T2)
  29. The Research Team Goes to Fuji (M7-T3)
  30. Kidnapping (M15-T2)
  31. Kidnapping (M15-T3)
  32. Attack of the Markalite FAHP (M18)
  33. The Mysterians Retaliate (M19-T1)
  34. Electron Gun (M20-T1)
  35. The Mysterians Retreat (M20A-T1)
  36. Ending (M21-T1)
  37. News Bulletin Music (M9A)
    By: Hector Berlioz
  38. Television Music (M9B)
    By: Edvard Grieg
  39. Bon Festival Dance
    Disc 2
    Battle in Outer Space (1959)
  1. Opening (M1)
  2. Main Title (M2)
  3. The Tokaido Line Accident (M3)
  4. A Series of Mysterious Occurrences (M4)
  5. Crisis-Response Meeting (M5-T1)
  6. Professor Achmed (M6)
  7. Achmed's Escape (M7)
  8. Starry Sky (M8)
  9. Car Radio (M9)
  10. Brainwashing (M10)
  11. The Magnificence of the Base (M11)
  12. Parade Music I (PS-Salute of Honor T2)
    By: Yosaku Suma
  13. Parade Music II (PS-Rallying Cry T3)
    By: Yosaku Suma
  14. SPIP Launch (M12)
  15. The Debris (M13)
  16. Heat Ray Gun (M14)
  17. Moon Landing (M15)
  18. The Surface of the Moon (M16)
  19. Activating the Exploration Vehicles (M18)
  20. Air Cushion (M19)
  21. Iwomura and the SPIP (M20)
  22. Advance (M21)
  23. Cave (M22)
  24. Natarl Base (M23)
  25. The Natarl People (M24)
  26. Battle on the Moon I (M26)
  27. Battle on the Moon II (M27)
  28. The SPIP Goes Home (M28)
  29. The News Spreads Worldwide (M29)
  30. Ambush Preparations (M30)
  31. Space Fighters Launched (M31)
  32. Great War in Space (M32)
  33. Fury of the Cooling Ray (M33)
  34. The Destruction of the Huge Mother Ship (M34)
  35. No Sign of the Enemy (M34A)
  36. Ending (M35)

    Bonus Tracks
  37. Opening · Main Title (M1 + M2)
  38. Crisis-Response Meeting (M5-T2)
  39. Parade Music (PS-Salute of Honor T1)
    By: Yosaku Suma
  40. Parade Music (PS-Salute of Honor T2)
    By: Yosaku Suma
  41. Parade Music (PS52-T1-Battle Cry)
    By: Yosaku Suma
  42. Parade Music (PS-Rallying Cry T1)
    By: Yosaku Suma
  43. Parade Music (PS-Rallying Cry T2)
    By: Yosaku Suma
  44. Parade Music (PS-The Big Blue Sky)
    By: Yosaku Suma
  45. Applause