CD: The Combined Fleet - Original Soundtrack

 

Miraculous Military Strategy in the Pacific Ocean: Kiska - Original Soundtrack


Japanese CD Title

太平洋奇跡の作戦: キスカ・サウンドトラック
[Taiheiyo Kiseki no Sakusen: Kiska Orijinaru Saundotorakku]

Music By:
Record Label:
CD Release:
Run Time:
CD Number:

Ikuma Dan
Cinema-Kan
May 2021
69:33
CINK-104

Based On:

The Retreat from Kiska

CD

Review

By: Anthony Romero

Possibly slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Cinema-kan hasn't been as involved with Toho music as they have in years past. That said, although slower they are still releasing full soundtracks that haven't been given proper releases before. That takes us to this CD, offering a very complete collection of music for the 1965 movie The Retreat from Kiska. While the score itself isn't overly memorable, the presentation here is nice and Cinema-kan deserves credit for fleshing out the release as the full score is only a little more than 30 minutes.

Done by composer Ikuma Dan, a veteran of the war genre but likely best known by Toho fans for his The Last War (1961) score, this soundtrack isn't overly memorable compared to his normal repertoire. It does have highlights, though. This includes the rousing "Main Title" theme, although it's bumpered by a slightly dull theme for the Toho logo segment before it. A better version is heard in the "Evacuate!" theme, which lets the march element really shine. The trumpet heavy "The Reinforcement Destroyer Arrives" is also a nice, mildly energetic theme. However, some of the material doesn't make much of an impact or work very well as a stand alone experience. A great example is the long "Unknown Waterway" track, which is very slow at four minutes in length and ends with 40 seconds of just slow drumming… which feels like it lasts forever.

In terms of the bonus material, there is about 39 minutes worth. So over half the disc is bonus material, which is nice since the main score isn't very long. Starting off are two short unused cues, although the audio quality is slightly lacking on these. Following this are three outtakes, and the quality rebounds to match what the main score sounds like. As is common for this era, the outtakes aren't much different from what made it into the final soundtrack.

Next we have stereo music created for the LP release. This includes an elongated version of the main title referred to as the "Kiska March". This is presented in both mono and stereo. There is also an original song called "Fog of Kiska" by the group Bonnie Jacks. The song is slow and somber, so an acquired taste. There are also stereo versions of the "Toho Logo / Main Title" and "Flight to Paramushir". Sadly, the audio quality on these could be better.

After this we have two edited tracks, 34 and 35. The audio quality is again not the best and they have obvious quick fades either out or in, making them not really great tracks in general. As a side note, I added the title "Omura" for 34 to the track listing so it wasn't blank, since that's the cue it's related to. After this we have a trumpet sound effect, which is ho-hum. Following this is… the best track off the disc. It's a modern orchestration of the Kiska March done by SDF Music Corps in 2005. That march in general is the highlight of the soundtrack so it's not surprising to see this modern version shine. My only complaint is that the trumpet work is a little restrained versus how it was in the original, although still benefits from the more modern recording techniques. Finally the disc closes with "March of Glory" by the musical group Johnny's. This song is sung over the Kiska March theme by the group and is very lively and upbeat, kind of reminding me of music Disney was producing around this period for their parks and live action movies.

In terms of audio quality, this release is generally on the better side for a score this age. As mentioned, some of the stereo material suffers a little in terms of quality. The mono version of the Kiska March is also a little rough at times. In contrast to the same material found on Toho's 2005 War History of Men (P-0001/P-0002) , generally the clarity in the sound and distinction in instruments is superior on this release. The exception is the stuff from the LP, which sound a little more similar in quality between them.

Overall, this isn't the best war soundtrack related to Toho's work by a long shot. If it weren't for the stellar Kiska March, which has in many ways outlived the film itself, it would likely be a passable but forgettable score. Thankfully, that cue really does elevate it and it's nice to have the full score. Furthermore, the amount of bonus material included here to produce a more well rounded CD release is also great from Cinema-kan.

Rating: Star Rating

Tracks

  1. Toho Logo / Main Title (M1)
  2. Flight to Paramushir (M3)
  3. Let the Fog Be Your Only Ally (M4)
  4. The Commander's Fluttering Flag (M5)
  5. "Pray for the Brave Fighters" (M6)
  6. The Reinforcement Destroyer Arrives (M7)
  7. I'll Come to Thank You One Day (M8)
  8. Chief Medical Officer's Order (M9)
  9. Omura's Fleet Departs (M10)
  10. B-7 Submarine Sinks (M11)
  11. To the Rendezvous Point (M12-T3)
  12. I'll Join You When I Come Back (M13-T2)
  13. Kunitomo's Disappointment (M14)
  14. Omura's Fleet Re-departs (M15)
  15. Collision in the Fog (M16)
  16. Please Send Out the Radio Signal (M17)
  17. Waiting Impatiently (M18)
  18. Unknown Waterway (M19)
  19. Joyous Gathering (M20)
  20. Miraculous Arrival (M20A)
  21. Evacuate! (M21)
  22. Ending (M23)

    Bonus Tracks
  23. Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff (M2 - Unused)
  24. The Medical Corps' Ship (M25 - Unused)
  25. To the Rendezvous Point (M12-T1)
  26. To the Rendezvous Point (M12-T2)
  27. I'll Join You When I Come Back (M13-T1)
  28. Kiska March (Full Version Stereo)
  29. Kiska March (Full Version Mono)
  30. Kiska March (Short Version Stereo)
  31. Fog of Kiska (Stereo)
    By: Bonnie Jacks
  32. Toho Logo / Main Title (M1 Stereo)
  33. Flight to Paramushir (M3 Stereo)
  34. Omura (M5 / M15 First Half)
  35. Ending (M23 Second Half)
  36. Departure Trumpet
  37. Kiska March (2005)
    By: SDF Music Corps
  38. March of Glory
    By: Johnny's