Space Brothers
International Title
 Space Brothers
Music By: Takayuki Hattori
Record Label: EMI Music
Running Time: 46:47 Discs: 1
Release: April 2012 CD Number: TOCT-28076
Anthony Romero
First, thanks goes to Jessica Stan for sending this in for review!

This space oriented soundtrack from composer Takayuki Hattori is an interesting, at times riveting body of work... that ultimately falls a little short due to a combination of what sounds like a very limited orchestra, sometimes simplistic scoring methods and basic repetition.

Love him or hate him, and I'm certainly mixed on his scores to date, Hattori has a reputation for crafting soundtracks that feel small in scope. Ever since he burst on the scene with his big break on Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994), and yes I wanted to write this film out as SpaceBrothers several times out of habit, Hattori has received so-so marks. While he does have a distinct style, the way that style revolves around smaller scale work doesn't quite give the grandeur one tends to look for in theatrical scores. On the rare occasion, he does break from the mold, such as Japan's Wildlife: The Untold Story (2012) which had a more full scope orchestra. Space Brothers, however, is not one of those occasions. Either the film has a small orchestra or Hattori simply doesn't use it, but either way the themes sound on a smaller scale.

Regardless of this limitation, the soundtrack is a middle of the road affair with some decent highlights. "An Absolute Promise" and "So Boring, Mu-Chan" are an interesting mix of drums, guitar, and what almost sounds like a harmonica for something that is uniquely Hattori. This same motif is reused, to better effect without the guitar, for "The Power of the Rocket" and falls back on majestic violins to create a nice composition. "Astronaut's Tradition" is another standout, using a horn to convey a sense of solemn grandeur that fits the title nicely. Even tracks that start off kind of questionable, like "Space... I Had to Come", turn the corner and in the case of that theme hark back to some of his more over-the-top work on films like Nin X Nin: The Ninja Star Hattori (2004). The longer track "At the Bottom of the Giant Crater" is also a stand out, especially given the sense of adrenaline it conveys being the movie's only action-oriented track.

On the experimental side, there is the guitar and synth heavy track "JAXA Secondary Exam Screening", which at times sounds like video game music if not for being backed up by the guitar work. In terms of bad tracks, the closest the disc comes to this are "Big Leap", "Moon Base Extra-vehicular Activity", "Damien, Stop!" and "Hibito Doesn't Move", and mostly because they are pretty forgettable, use the same motif and don't make for the best of stand alone experiences. On that note, the CD contains three unused cues. These are "Big Leap", "Damien, Stop!" and "Hibito Doesn't Move", which not too surprisingly made the list of weaker themes. As a final scorning, the track "Older Brother's Resolution" is also fairly ho-hum, which is a redux of the movie's main title done over piano at a painfully slow pace.

Overall, the disc starts off fairly strong, but a combo of repetition and some of the weaker cues toward the end cause for a more middling experience by the time the CD ends. Not bad, not great, like a lot of Hattori's work this disc smacks right in the middle.
Rating: Star Rating
  1. "An Absolute Promise"
  2. Mutta Unemployed
  3. Older Brother Reminisces on the Dream
  4. JAXA Secondary Exam Screening
  5. From Now on Why Not Come to NASA?
  6. So Boring, Mu-Chan
  7. Astronaut's Tradition
  8. Samurai Boy
  9. APO Escape
  10. The Power of the Rocket
  11. Lift Off!!!
  12. Space... I Had to Come
  13. Big Leap (Unused Music)
  14. Moonwalk Fomerly a Moon Jump
  15. Moon Base Extra-vehicular Activity
  16. Damien, Stop! (Unused Music)
  17. Hibito Doesn't Move (Unused Music)
  18. Older Brother's Resolution
  19. Let's Talk of the Universe
  20. At the Bottom of the Giant Crater
  21. Not All Staying Away on the Moon
  22. Earth Rising - Only One, the Bond of Brotherhood