Radio Time
International Title
 Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald
Music By: Takayuki Hattori
Record Label: Warner Music Japan
Running Time: 41:12 Discs: 1
Release: November 1997 CD Number: WPC6-8400
Anthony Romero
First off, huge thanks goes out to Robert Storch for sending me this rare disc to review!

Now, this CD contains the soundtrack to Koki Mitani's debut film, which garnished the maverick director a name in Japan and abroad with international critics. To compose Mitani's oddball production, Toho regular Takayuki Hattori was assigned to the case. The pairing of Mitani and Hattori might seem like an odd one, but it works, surprisingly. Hattori adds a sense of seriousness to some of his themes, which add to the hilarity given the movie's subject matter, while other cues are over the top in their pacing, such as "Kudo and Otaguro Take Flight", which again amps up the comedy on screen.

What's shocking about this disc, though, is that, despite my earlier impressions from watching the movie, the score actually works well as a standalone experience. This is made more apparent on the soundtrack as many of these themes were played at a very low volume in their given scenes, adding a sense of ambience, but as heard here many were fairly remarkable in their own right. The best part about this release is the varied styles used through out, from the overly sinister "There's No Sea in Chicago" to the rather whimsical "Guten Morgen" (German for Good Morning). "Kudo's Theme" is also a another winner, adding a sense of urgency to the long sequence in the movie which translates over as a fairly enjoyable piece. My favorite cue off this disc, though, would have to be the ending theme, simply titled "No Problem", that was done by Akira Fuse. The track, which clocks it at around five minutes, has that great "old timey" feel to it, as it's slowly paced while also featuring a wide variety of instruments that give the track a "big band" type of flavor. The fusion is perfectly matched to the subject matter about a radio drama, and was definitely a memorable cue from the film itself as it played during the credits.

Still, despite its better qualities, there are some qualms to be had. First is that the runtime here is a little on the short side, clocking in at a little over forty minutes. On the plus side, the disc does deserve credit for including several tracks that are hardly heard during the movie itself, particularly the wonderfully cheesy song "Never Refuse a Good Offer", which is supposed to be from diva actress Nokko Senbon. On a less cheerful note, the other downside is that the disc attempts to add a slight "live radio" quality to the mix, including peeps and static at the start and the fictional radio station's slightly evasive "jingle". This is really only two tracks, though, and a very minor complaint in the grande scheme of things.

Now, finally, it's worth mentioning that this disc is quite a collector's item today. When it does rarely appear on auction sites, it tends to garnish quite an asking price. As to why this might be, it's likely a combination of a limited initial run of the CD and the fact that director Mitani has built up quite a following in Japan, which became apparent in 2006 with the immense box office success of his Suite Dreams film.

Overall, this disc is pretty enjoyable, and it's a shame that, due to its rarity, very few will probably get to experience it. It's certainly one of Hattori's more memorable CDs, to say the least, as the usually uneven composer really hits one out of the park for Mitani's debut movie production.
Rating: Star Rating
  1. Radio Beng Teng Jingle (Short Version)
  2. Radio Time - Main Theme
  3. No Problem - It's Your Cherished Work for Sure, Although...
  4. Dumpsville
  5. It's OK! - Love Theme
  6. On Standby Soon
  7. Iori's Theme - What's Your Desire?
  8. Dai-Sunda Air CM
  9. Never Refuse a Good Offer
    By: Keiko Toda
  10. Guten Morgen - What's Really the Problem?
  11. There's No Sea in Chicago
  12. Kudo and Otaguro Take Flight
  13. Who Helped Me?
  14. Radio Beng Teng Jingle (Long Version)
  15. Uncertain News of the Hawaiian Skies
  16. A Certain Hand...
  17. Ushijima's Persuasion
  18. Kudo's Theme - We're Bringing Donald Back
  19. Donald McDonald Returns
  20. The Return Home - Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald
  21. I'm Not Mary Jane
  22. No Problem - Fatigue
  23. No Problem
    By: Akira Fuse
  24. Radio Time - Woman of Destiny Theme