Review: Akira Ifukube Recording Archives

Title: Akira Ifukube Recording Archives
Length: 62 Minutes
Company: Toho Music
Region: 2
Release: 2010
Video: Full Screen 1.33:1
Audio: Japanese 2.0
Subtitles: None
By: G-Matt
This is the bonus DVD that was given as a free extra with the sixth and final 50th Anniversary Godzilla Soundtrack Perfect Collection box to all the lucky ones who had bought all five boxes before. The DVD contains four features, each a different recording of Akira Ifukube’s music.
The first feature, which runs approximately 19 minutes, is a recording of the very first performance of Ifukube’s Symphonic Fantasia, which consists of three suites made from his kaiju/tokusatsu music. The feature starts out quite interestingly. We see the late Akihito Hirata, who acts like the host of the show, reenacting some of his famous lines as Dr. Serizawa from the original GODZILLA. He even wears a lab coat and an eye patch. After taking them off, Hirata basically introduced the event. Then Tomoyuki Tanaka, who produced all the Godzilla films till GODZILLA VS. DESTROYAH, shows up and gives a speech, apparently talking about his experiences of working with Ifukube. Then Ifukube himself comes up to the stage briefly to get flowers from Tanaka. Next, Ishiro Honda, the director of many of the classic Toho kaiju and tokusatsu films, appears and gives a speech about Ifukube as well. After that we finally get the orchestra playing. Unfortunately, since the speeches already fun for over half of the feature’s runtime, we only get to hear the beginning of the first suite (Godzilla’s theme and the Faro Island prayer). Since this recording is the oldest of the bunch, dating back to 1983, the video and audio quality are, not too surprisingly, poor. The transfer looks very soft and the audio sounds quite muffled, so this recording was probably taken from an old generation VHS or something.
The second feature is the recording of the Ostinato album, and it runs for about 25 minutes. Durring this feature we get to seer (or hear) the performances of many of the tracks from the album, including the "Main Title" from the original GODZILLA, the "Get Rodan" theme from RODAN, "Earth Defense Conference" from THE MYSTERIANS, the military march from DOGORA, the "Main Title" from LATITUDE ZERO, and the battle march from BATTLE IF OUTER SPACE. For the most if the time we are shown the studio with the conductor and the orchestra, but sometimes we get to see the recording booth where Ifukube oversees the process. Now about the condition of this feature: it’s actually the sharpest looking and sounding of the bunch, even though it’s the second oldest (1986).
Next we have a 16-minute recording of the score of GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA (1992). During this one we see the orchestra playing the cues while the movie scenes are played on a screen for the conductor to see. A couple of the cues we get to hear weren’t actually used in the final movie, especially the organ heavy track composed for the discussion between Mothra and Battra. The movie scenes are obviously not in their final editing stage, as things like Godzilla’s heat ray haven’t been added in yet. At the end of the feature, Ifukube is shown briefly. While the audio in this feature isn’t bad, the video keeps going out of focus, becoming blurry quite often.
Finally, we have a two and a half minute recording of the score for GODZILLA VS. DESTROYAH (1995). Unfortunately though, we only get to see one cue being performed, which is a slow tempo version of the Godzilla march. This time Ifukube is actually conducting (at least I think so). Again, the video and audio quality are a big shabby. The audio is especially is in a bad condition, as it sounds incredibly scratchy.
All in all, while this DVD is a nice bonus to get with the sixth soundtrack box set, I’m still a bit disappointed with it. Like I said, the quality on some of the recordings is a bit lacking. But the biggest problem is the lack of footage on some occasions. It would’ve been nice to se more footage from the Symphonic Fantasia performance and the GODZILLA VS. DESTROYAH score recording. Also, I know that footage from the recording of the GODZILLA VS. MEMCHAGODZILLA (1993) does exist, because it was included as an extra on the old German DVD of the movie. So I wonder why it wasn’t included here. Apart from these issues, most fans of Godzilla and Akira Ifukube should be pleased enough with this DVD.