2017/10/16

Toy Story: Jiban's Denshi Police Techou & The Local Toy Scene


I'm back again with another Toy Story. I really haven't done too many of these lately, so I felt it was time to take another trip down memory lane and tell a tale about a toy acquisition. This one is going to be a little bit different as it really doesn't involve much more than me walking into a store and buying something. It's the time, place, and item is what makes it worthwhile. Think of it as a little snapshot of what it was like to buy stuff in my area.

I should probably start by saying that I live in the state of New Jersey in the United States. It's proximity to New York City and Philadelphia means that there is some interesting over spill of international goods. For example, if I were to take a trip to one of the local malls I wouldn't have that difficult of a time finding Gundam models or Figuarts. You know, Bluefin stuff. There are some exceptions like the comic book store in Philadelphia that had a DX Goggle Robo as recently as four years ago (I would love to tell you more about the condition, but it was way out of reach and the lazy owner said "you can't afford it" when I inquired--joke's on him, his shitty store is gone) but for the most part things have become a little mainstream. 

Things were a little more interesting in the past...

I'll start with a story that I only know through second-hand information since I really wasn't around at the time. It's entirely plausible, so maybe someone can verify this. During the height of the Power Rangers craze there were apparently pop-up Power Rangers stores in some malls. These weren't official in any capacity, just stores that sold nothing but or close to nothing but Power Rangers toys. Since the line-up wasn't fully fleshed out in 1993/1994 this meant.....imports! 

The anecdote comes from a friend who sold me my second Dino Buckler. If you look closely at photos of my Dino Bucklers, you'll see an impossible-to-remove price sticker in the bottom right corner of either one of them. My first Dino Buckler has a sticker from a Japanese retailer. The one I bought from a friend looks a little something like this...

I gave my friend $20 for this...

Weird, right? Whenever someone asks me when I get my toys from, do I tell them complicated stories like this...or should I just stay the course and tell them "Japan"? 

One thing I can verify is the over-abundance of imported Dairanger toys in my area that seemed to linger until about 2000. There is a possibility you have seen some of these imported toys since they all carried these enormous orange stickers that are only kinda accurate.


I remember these Dairanger toys ending up in a lot of local comic book stores in the late 1990s. It seemed to be the same certain handful of Dairanger toys in these store. A bunch of Yutaka stuff, DX Dairenrod, DX Dairinkin, and DX Won Tiger. DX Won Tiger in particular seemed to be imported by the pallets as these were EVERYWHERE and for a long time. I remember going to the beach and seeing them as prizes in Skee Ball arcades. 

Which brings me to my main topic...how I found my DX Denshi Police Techou from Kidou Keiji Jiban. 

There was one store in particular that was a literal gold mine. It was located within a since-razed flea market. In the late 90s and early 2000s I had a pretty regular routine: go to White Castle (also since-razed) and then go to the flea market (which I should mention was demolished over a decade ago for a skating rink or some such shit that still hasn't materialized). This flea market was awesome...fake clothes, great food screw the board of health, some used electronics stores (which had copies of Metalder on VHS for sale of all things), and...the toy store.

The toy store, which I can't name for various reasons, carried almost exclusively Japanese imported toys. This place wasn't as high-end as the much more famous Outer Limits in Clifton, NJ (who frequently advertised in hobby magazines and books--they sold a lot of Medicom stuff) but it was fairly well known for it's staggering range of more-used-than-new stuff. How this store got it's stock was always a bit of a mystery to me, but it had some quality goods. It was pretty easy to make a trip there with one of my buddies because they had a solid selection of Transformers. The Tokusatsu stuff though...my word...

He did have a pyramid...a literal pyramid of the aforementioned orange-stickered Won Tigers along with some other Dairanger stuff, but beyond that there were tons of reasonably priced Sentai, Metal Hero, and Rider stuff of various vintage. Boxed and loose stuff from the 70s until 1994. Yeah, no matter when I visited this store he never had anything newer than Kakuranger and Blue SWAT. From what I recall hearing of the time, Saban was putting a squeeze on imports at a certain point. Maybe in response to those pop-up stores and orange-stickered imports...? This seemed to be more in response to West Coast imports of things like laserdiscs of Ohranger vs Kakuranger rather than toys, though. Regardless, no matter how many times I visited this crammed little store I found something great for under $20.


My favorite find was easily Jiban's Denshi Police Techou. I want to say it was around 2000 when I found it. I'd been visiting this place for a couple of years and only found it after convincing the owner to let me behind the counter so I could rummage through his stuff a little more thoroughly. Way in the back of one of the cubbies I found it...the complete in box Denshi Police Techou. Holy crap...THIS is the kind of thing I was dying to find in his store. It was 100% complete, in very good condition, from an odd show, AND was only *drumroll* $8. 

The owner had this kinda "What are you all excited about?" look on his face when I handed over the cash for it--as did my friend who thought I went over the deep end. They were both used to my normal Sentai/Rider finds...but what the hell was this one? It's kinda sad to say, but unless you're in Brazil or France...what even is Jiban? I knew, though, and I found something awesome.


When my friend and I got back to his house he was curious about what the hell I bought. "What is it?" "A police badge." "What does it do?" "Makes sound" "Does it talk?" "Nope. Makes sound and lights." "That's stupid." It wasn't until I put some new batteries in it that we were able to see what it does. "Oh...it has a game!" 

Sure it makes some shrill sounds, but we got some good mileage out of playing the game...and I love playing the Jiban theme song from it. It's a solid little toy that was only enhanced by the fact that I was able to find it in New Jersey, dig it out from the depths of the shelf it resided on, and pay for it in paper currency rather than my usual auction bidding. Fond memories...


Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this latest toy story. Be sure to check out my previous stories below. I'll have to try to do this more often as there are plenty of things in my collection worth writing about.

Bye now!

-CC

2017/10/02

Maybe Tsubasamaru's Theme Isn't a Problem After All--A CCLemon99 Follow-up


There is nothing more irritating than getting ripped off. On a smaller scale, you get some asshole re-uploading a video of yours for small profit. Sometimes, however, a career can ascend through somewhat murky circumstances.

I used to do a video series on my back-up channel called "Blue SWAT To The Future". It all stemmed from a piece of music from the Blue SWAT Music Collection that has an uncanny resemblance to the memorable tune from Back To The Future. You can still check out the video here. I did a few more videos based on whatever sound-a-likes that I had come across...and who knows, I might revisit the series someday.

By the second episode of the series I had covered a more subtle copy, but a pretty blatant one nonetheless. Tsubasamaru's theme music, from Ninja Sentai Kakuranger, has an eerie resemblance to the equally eerie Blade Runner end title music by Vangelis. I slapped the video together, posted it to Youtube, and called it a day. It turned out to be the least popular video in the series, but no matter...it was out there.

I probably should have been a little more thorough, however. For starters, I actually have a theory as to why this happened when it did.

You see...the timing is almost too perfect. Tsubasamaru's first appearance was in episode twenty-three of Kakuranger, which aired on the 22nd of July, 1994. The new theme music was used and was the first piece in the second wave of music to be used in the series. The Blade Runner soundtrack was having a bit of a renaissance at the time as it remained unreleased in any official capacity. In early 1994 your only options to hear the acclaimed soundtrack was A) Watch the movie B) Listen to 1982 Disco-cover soundtrack no thanks C) Get your hands on the 1993 bootleg. Option C is really what forced an official release to come into fruition. On the 25th of July, 1994, the first official Blade Runner soundtrack was released in Japan with other countries having similar release dates.

Doesn't the timing seem...a little more than coincidental? How is it that Tsubasamaru hid an Easter Egg like this? I mean, I remember preordering CDs in the 90s, so it's entirely possible that Kakuranger's composer, Eiji Kawamura, was aware of the Blade Runner's soundtrack months in advance and somehow managed to show his support through his wink/nod facsimile days ahead of it's release.

OR. It's a coincidence. The timing, the music itself, the fact that Blade Runner also feature origami. All of it. Well, the last one definitely...

Origami...Tsubasamaru...Blade Runner???

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So why am I revisiting this topic? Well, there is a new Blade Runner movie coming out this month and I'm pretty stoked about it. I spent a lot of time on the road recently, so I found myself listening to, naturally, Vangelis' Blade Runner soundtrack. I'll be perfectly honest, outside of Blade Runner I only know of two other Vangelis songs. The first being a track called Horizon that I heard through this really creepy car commercial. The second being one the one that everyone has heard...Chariots Of Fire.

Chariots Of Fire is, honestly, pretty irritating in retrospect. Cliché blah blah slow motion blah blah cliché. Whatever. It was an odd electronic tune from the 1981 movie of the same name set in the 1924 Olympic games. It also launched Vangelis' career to a mainstream level and likely got him the gig working on the Blade Runner soundtrack.

I ended up getting bored one night and started reading about the several different versions of the Blade Runner soundtrack when an interesting tidbit snuck out and bit me. Vangelis was once sued for copyright infringement over his most memorable work...Chariots Of Fire.

The story goes like this... Fellow Greek composer Stavros Logaridis released a song in 1977 called City Of Violets. And well...just have a listen. And now Chariots Of Fire again.

After years of this case being kicked around court in Europe, Vangelis...actually won. ......how?

Whether the Judge just wasn't hearing the similarity or Logaridis had a horrible legal team representing him, in the eyes of the law these two songs are merely a coincidence.

So this is where I feel the need to step in.

All that hooey about the Tsubasamaru theme song being a copy of the Blade Runner end title music? Coincidence. How are we even sure Eiji Kawamura has seen Blade Runner...or even heard of it for that matter? The fact that he is a Sci-Fi composer with electronic tendencies? Coincidence. I mean, sure the Tsubasamaru music sounds nothing like any of the other Kakuranger music...but maybe the man just wanted to try something new. As far as I know, there is no court case against Kawamura and Toei by Vangelis. No need to make a fuss since they're nothing alike.

I almost feel the need to retract the video I made. I mean, sure, all the other videos in the series are carbon copies, but this one...I don't think it belongs there any more.


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I obviously had a little bit too much free time on my hands while I was on the road. When I heard about the court case the very first thing I thought of, well, the second thing I thought of was the Tsubasamaru music. The first thing was how much I don't really care for Chariots Of Fire. Vangelis is a very talented musician, but I don't know about this one. Legally it's his own creation...we can't argue with that.

Thanks for stopping by and reading this unusual post. If you want some more music topics, check out my CD Collection page for some related articles.

See ya!

-CC

2017/09/15

The CD Collection--Kikaider The Animation & Zebraman


Welcome back to a lighter entry into my CD Collection. This time around I talk about four CDs from two completely random franchises. I will be covering the soundtracks from both Kikaider The Animation and Kikaider 01 The Animation as well as the soundtrack from the 2004 film Zebraman plus it's theme song single. I guess the theme of this post is "things I have on DVD but haven't seen in like a decade".

Sorry in advance for the lighter post. I have been absurdly busy lately with a few 16hr+ pulls at work. Things should slow back down again in October, which should allow for me to get back to reviewing like a dozen CDs in a sitting. If you want some more, please check out my previous post on the Ultraman Great/USA and Ultraman Powered sets.


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Kikaider The Animation Original Soundtrack
SVWC-1310
2000.12.06

Kikaider The Animation is one of those things that actually managed to get a foothold for a minute in the US. I remember it airing quite a bit on Cartoon Network in the early-mid 2000s. Hell, Bandai even released it's own Region 1 DVD set. The more I think about it, the more I feel I should go back and watch it. The series was beautifully animated and did a wonderful job of bringing Shotaro Ishinomori's unique style to life right before the genre turned to crap. As one of the handful of posthumous works based on Ishinomori's creations, I always admired this one for really making an effort to bring his vision to life.

So the music. As this was only a twelve-episode series, there really wasn't a whole lot of music created for it. Composing the music for the series is Akira Mitake, who I guarantee I will never be writing about again as this is as close to Tokusatsu as he gets with his few credits as a composer. That said, I feel the need to draw attention to this. You know...for funsies.


The soundtrack is kinda minimalist. There isn't a whole lot of depth, and it reminds me a lot of the game music soundtracks (Kamen Rider Agito, Ryuki, and 555 all had them) of the era. In fact, after looking at the liner notes it appears that this entire soundtrack was a solo effort by Mitake (with an assist on electric guitar by Kazuo Osato). That would explain it. It would have been cool to hear some more action tracks, but this CD is actually a pretty good listen. I enjoy the music from the series.

Oh yes, I suppose I should talk theme songs. Good news--they're both here. The instrumental opening theme song Theme of Gemini and the ending song Destiny by Yui Horie both have their places at their respective ends of the disc. Destiny is actually is very catchy tune. Given that I don't have the greatest recollection of the series, the fact that it's ending song is as clear as a bell in my memory is a little confusing.

Yeah, I need to review the DVD set one of these days. Or at the very minimum just throw it on just to rewatch it.


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Kikaider 01 The Animation Original Soundtrack
SVWC-1318
2002.03.06

I don't remember watching the Kikaider 01 The Animation OVA, but it was included in the aforementioned DVD set. Released in 2001, the four part OVA actually ended up getting it's own soundtrack. While Akira Mitake's music from the previous series was used (for example, Theme of Gemini was used as the ending track for 01) a new score by Kaoru Wada was created.

Much like Mitake, I don't anticipate ever having to write about Wada in the future. His credits include several anime series, but nothing of the Tokusatsu persuasion. Upon further examination, yes, this man does seem to be legit into his classical tunes.


This is probably the most serious soundtrack I've ever heard. Not a wink or even hint of a smile throughout. While the soundtrack to the previous series wasn't all that chipper, it at least had some range. This one is all business. However, it sounds fantastic and makes use of a decent-sized orchestra. It's just a little bit strange to listen to this on it's own.

I also have to give this CD a shout out for having one of the craziest booklets I've ever seen. It's like a booklet is an animation cel with a transparent overlay.

You see, folks...THIS is why CD Collecting is a thing. What an awesome extra...


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Zebraman Original Soundtrack
UMCK-1176
2004.02.11

Yeah, so this is another one I have to watch again. Zebraman was the bizarre Takashi Miike film that Toei released in 2004. The film centers around a middle-aged man whose escape from his disfunctional family basically involves cosplaying as his favorite childhood hero--Zebraman. Things become complicated, however, and he ends up getting powers and a more intimidating version of the Zebraman suit to go with it. One of the more notable scenes in the movie involves the faux-70s Zebraman opening credits being shown with Hiroshi Watari (Sharivan, Spielban) as Zebraman and a theme song sung by Ichiro Mizuki.

Hmmm...maybe the real theme of this post is "One-Off Composers". The music from this movie was composed by Koji Endo. Looking at his resume I can only assume that Koji Endo isn't a person, but rather a music-producing program on a laptop somewhere. In 2004 alone he had fourteen credits to his name. Fourteen! How is that remotely possible?


As this was a legit film, it featured an appropriate soundtrack. All points are covered and there is even an awesome Henshin track. I will say, however, that it does suffer a little bit from a lack of musicians working on it. It relies a little too heavily on the synthesizers.

To answer the question you're probably asking if you've seen the film, yes, Ichiro Mizuki's Zebraman no uta is included in it's entirety. Also included is the song Z sung by Hiroaki Takeuchi. On the flipside of that, no, the ending song Nichiyobi yori no shisha by The High-Lows is not included.

Ze-Bu-Ra! Ze-Bu-Ra!


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The High-Lows Nichiyobi yori no shisha c/w Shippaiman
UMCK-5112
2004.02.11

This single is a little bit unusual...

The band, The High-Lows, is more or less the reincarnation of The Blue Hearts. Their big hit was the 1987 song Linda Linda. There is a very good chance you've heard the song before. Hell, I definitely remember playing it in Taiko no Tatsujin. The Blue Hearts broke up in 1995 and The High-Lows immediately took shape.

The band's self-titled debut album was released in 1995 and contained the song Nichiyobi yori no shisha. It's an infinitely catchy tune that managed to at the very least capture the attention of someone at Honda as they used the song for their ad campaign featuring ASIMO (and a certain CCLemon99 for using it in the 2009 version of his since-deleted ASIMO video). Nine years later, it would get new life as the ending song for Zebraman. It's kinda funny how that worked out, isn't it? I have to say, it's the perfect fit. It isn't as fast as Linda Linda, but it sure is structured similarly...and did I mention how catchy it was??


The coupling song from this single is also non-original. Shippaiman was originally released on their 2001 album HOTEL TIKI-POTO. This one I'm not too keen on. It isn't all that slick compared to it's partner track. It is an important addition, however, as the song was featured in the movie as well. It wasn't a theme or anything, it was just kinda there. Yeah...I don't like this one all that much. It's a little too herky-jerky and features a kazoo of all things. I don't care what kind of comedic effect you're going for, a kazoo has no place in recorded music.

Sadly this single is just the two tracks--no Karaoke versions. Basically the High-Lows got a payday and didn't have to lift a finger. Nice...


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Recommended Pick: It's a tough call since these CDs are all very different from each other. I'm going to have to give it to Kikaider The Animation Original Soundtrack. It is easily the most well-rounded of the bunch and Destiny is a good song. As good as Nichiyobi yori no shisha? No, but still a memorable track.

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There you have it. This has been a CCLemon99 quickie CD post of some unusual CDs. Where are the CDs from the second Zebraman movie? They'll probably be bundled in with CD reviews from Kamen Rider The First and Kamen Rider The Next whenever that happens. Do I really want to talk about Platinum Smile? Ehhh, at least it isn't as bad as that song that ISSA did. That one doesn't sound dated at all.............................

Catch you later.

-CC

BONUS: Photos of the sweet Kikaider 01 The Animation cover.




2017/09/01

The CD Collection--Ultraman Great, USA & Ultraman Powered Box Sets


Welcome back to the never-ending documentation of my never-ending CD Collection. I am making good on the promise I made in my previous post about giving these a review...so here it goes...

This has been an exciting year for fans of obscure Ultraman series. Ultraman Great AND Ultraman Powered have finally made it to Bluray. You know, the two Ultra series that held in such high regard that for awhile they weren't considered canon at all. Either way, in a brilliant bit of cross-promotion we also got brand-spanking new CD Box Sets to cover the audio side of both of these series.

To make things a little more interesting, these sets were released by different record labels. As the Ultra series isn't as consistent as say...Sentai or Metal Hero with it's music rights, some of the Ultraman series CDs managed to completely escape Columbia's grasp during the 90s. Ultraman Great was a Columbia series, but much like Kamen Rider ZO and Kamen Rider J the music from Ultraman Powered was initially released by Apollon Records. You might be thinking "Who?", but if I told you their later name you'd probably understand. Apollon changed it's name over to Bandai Music Entertainment in 1996 and was basically defunct by the end of the decade. In 2005, Columbia released both of the Ultraman Powered soundtracks in the ANIMEX1200 line. From there...the music rights seem to have fallen off once again...

So really, this post is going to be the tale of two brothers separated at birth. Ultraman Great (and Ultraman USA) remained at Columbia and Ultraman Powered now lives at Cinema-Kan, which is an excellent subsidiary label of diskunion that provides CD releases of incredibly niche and obscure titles. Going through their catalog, there is pretty much a twenty year gap between Ultraman Powered and the next newest title. Regardless...let's see who did their sets justice.


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Ultraman Powered Original Soundtrack
CINK-24→26
2017.04.19

DISC ONE


Ultraman Powered features a soundtrack composed by then-Tokusatsu newcomer Toshihiko Sahashi. If the name rings a bell, congrats--you've been paying attention. Sahashi has been responsible for composing Super Sentai series (Carranger, Gingaman, Kyoryuger, and Kyoryuger Brave), Kamen Rider series (Kuuga, Agito, Hibiki, and Den-O), and even a few other Ultra series (Gaia and Mebius). That's a pretty impressive AND eclectic resume. I mean, I love Eiji Kawamura...but his work follows a pattern and existed within a ten-year time frame. While the DNA exists in his music, Sahashi has quite a bit of range. There is one thing I really need to say about Sahashi, but I'll get to that in a little bit.

Inside of the obi. Normally the backside is blank.

Disc One loosely covers the Ultraman Powered Ongakushuu CD (APCM-26) that was released in late 1993. The tracklist isn't exact, and it isn't in order, but it's mostly there. The biggest difference is the addition of Hitomi Sudo's Starlight Fantasy (which is the 1995 TV Broadcast Ending song) along with a short version of the coupling image song Chikyu kara no Message.

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DISC TWO


This disc focuses partly on the BGM portion of Ultraman Powered Sound Ohyakka (APCM-27) from early 1994 and includes a lot of alternate takes of music from the previous disc. That said, this disc absolutely doesn't feel like leftovers. It's a necessary companion to the music from the previous disc. It's kinda strange how comprehensive the Music Collection for Ultraman Powered is when the series was only thirteen episodes long and basically thrown away. Well, not that the last part of that could have been predicted.

I should probably talk about the music itself at this point. Sahashi's sound is unlike anything I've ever heard from an Ultra series at this point. It's fresh, energetic, loud, and yet very heroic. All things that can be said about the music from Gekisou Sentai Carranger. Earlier this year I wrote a three part series on Carranger and briefly touched on Sahashi's soundtrack. In it I said...

"I have read that he kinda felt like he was very ill-prepared for Carranger (maybe that is why there was no music playing during their roll call in the first episode), but the fact that there are three music collections for the series kinda says otherwise."

Having just listened to the Ultraman Powered CD set, I completely understand what he meant. The Carranger music collection is basically note-for-note the Ultraman Powered Music Collection. The only real new music he came up with for Carranger was the Zonette theme and all of it's variations. Who knows if Toei said "We want that music you did in Ultraman Powered" or if he turned in the thinly-veiled new Powered music on his own. Regardless...it's blatant self-theft. I guess that sort of thing is in a grey area of ethics, but when you're crossing franchises and studios (Tsuburaya and Toei) it can be a legal tangle.


That said, the Ultraman Powered music is excellent. In every way. It is incredibly lively and just a lot of fun to listen to. I've seen a few episodes of Ultraman Powered, and the music is easily the best part about it. Alright maybe Powered's suit is pretty rad too...but the action is so slow. Which kinda makes me wonder if the music was just a tad bit of an overshoot. Who cares, though. You don't need to watch the series to listen to the music. It exists on it's own.

In a very packed field of excellent Tokusatsu music of the 1990s, the Ultraman Powered music collection has a hard time sticking out with it's younger brother (Carranger) getting all of the attention, but this one might be the real W.I.N.R.

I'm as disappointed as you are with that joke...

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DISC THREE


The final disc contains all of the drama portions of the Ultraman Powered Sound Ohyakka CD and just about every conceivable version of four vocal songs from this series (Karaoke, Short, Short Karaoke, etc). There really isn't too much to say about the oodles of versions of the songs...but the drama stuff at the beginning...


OK, so the CD that the drama was sourced from was released in early 1994. It's...so cheesy. On one hand, there are a lot of clean Ultraman sound effects that can certainly be harvested from it. On the other...wow. It's entertaining, I'll give it that. We're given the usual statistics and whatnot about W.I.N.R. and everything else in the Ultraman Powered-verse. It unceremoniously ends with a bizarre quiz. Having never heard this CD prior to owning the box set, yeah, it's a trip.

I usually really enjoy the disc-of-leftovers that some series have. This is no exception...

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Set Overall: Cinema-Kan did an awesome job putting this together. For a smaller label, you can definitely tell a lot of time and care went into putting this set together...and for a very reasonable price! A three-disc set of uncommon music from a niche label only set me back $45. I mean, the only thing I can think of that's missing is Shinichi Ishihara's Columbia versions of the original theme songs. Who cares, though? Those are far more common than the content of this disc, and omitted for obvious reasons.

This is some great stuff, Cinema-Kan. Is it wishful thinking that they somehow go back and get their hands on the Apollon Kamen Rider ZO and J stuff?

Back Cover. Usually I don't need to specify that, but yeah...

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Ultraman G Ultraman USA Special Box
COCX-39977→80
2017.06.21

DISC ONE


Getting right in to it, this first disc manages to turn the six Ultraman Great vocal songs into twenty-eight tracks. Twenty-eight! There are versions-upon-versions of every song. It's nice to have options, but hot damn. Having them all upfront in one solid block of cheese is a bit absurd.


At the risk of repeating myself more than I already have in this post, I shall direct you to this post...where I discuss these songs as much as I dare to during their appearance on Disc Four of that set. Who knows, though. I might talk about these at greater length in the future.


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DISC TWO


Getting into what should have been the first disc of this set, this is the Ultraman Great Symphonic Suite. Conductor Shinuke Kazato made the trek to Australia and was given the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra to bring his vision of what a thirteen-episode Ultraman series should sound like...

...and not a single person there said "...Superman much, mate?"

I suppose I should back track a little bit. You see, this set might seem like a random collection of two unloved Ultra soundtracks. The one thing that Ultraman Great and Ultraman USA have in common is the composer of their soundtracks is composer Shinsuke Kazato, whose Tokusatsu credits include...Ultraman Great. Oh, and the Ultraman Kids and Ultraman USA soundtracks.


At the risk of spoiling some of the contents of Disc Four, yeah...the Ultraman USA soundtrack ripped off the infamous John Williams Superman theme...HARD. I mean, note for note. It isn't even trying. Why Tsuburaya asked him back to score Ultraman Great is beyond me, because it happened once again. I've given a lot of other composers shit for mimicking popular western soundtracks in the past, but those were amusing and usually featured a decent amount of variety. The boner that Kazato had for the Superman music is just embarrassing. What it boils down to is trust. I recognize some of the music on this disc as Superman, but what if I'm not recognizing some of it? How much of this did Kazato actually write? For sure he wrote the excellent renditions of the two image songs that sneak into the final tracks, but nothing else is recognizable as an original.

I will say this... At the very minimum, it sounds great and is a pretty good listen. For all the wrong reasons, though. I guess it's kinda funny...

I should also mention that tracks 1-9 are the Symphonic Suite. Tracks 10-13 are full size instrumental versions of the themes and the English versions of the two image songs.


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DISC THREE

There isn't a ton to say about this Disc. It is the live recording of the Ultraman Symphonic Suite. Well, not all of it. It's seven out of the nine tracks. The only disappointment here is that the of the contents from the CD that this is sourced from are absent. This originally appeared on the very rare Ultraman Symphony Concert set from 1993.


It's a worthy addition, but I think having the entire disc would have been even better.


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DISC FOUR


As I previously mentioned, Shinsuke Kazato composed the soundtrack to both Ultraman Great and it's video predecessor Ultraman USA. While I lambasted it for it outright being the Superman score, maybe there is a reason for that this time around. We're talking Ultraman USA after all.

For the uninitiated, Ultraman USA is the unholy lovechild between Tsuburaya and Hanna-Barbera. I kinda feel weird ending this post covering Ultraman USA as this is where Tsuburaya began it's three-part failure to invade the west through business partnerships. USA was 1987/1989, Great was 1990, and Powered was 1993. I admire their spirit, but yeah...starting with Hanna-Barbera in the late 1980s was probably what doomed their expansion. I'm not even saying an animated Ultraman would have been a bad thing...there was 1979's THE ULTRAMAN, and that was a success.


Yes, yes. This soundtrack does rip off the Superman score as frivolously as I mentioned above, but it is so much meatier than the Great soundtrack. There are lashing of the two vocals songs woven into the music. Plus, this has the most Ultraman sound out of the three soundtracks covered in this post. Ultraman Great Symphonic Suite's plagiarism was annoying, but this one seems a little more innocent since there is plenty of bespoke music smashed in.

The remainder of the disc is many, many, versions of the two songs recorded by a young Shinichi Ishihara in some of his earliest Tokusatsu work. Oh, and a live orchestra rendition of the ending song, Toki no naka o Hashirinukete, appears at the very end to close it out. Again, it would be nice to have the rest of it in his set...


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Set Overall: I'm not entirely crazy about the layout of this set. As a physical set, this absolutely excels. I mean, the glossy box, individual jewel cases (with photos of the source discs), and the big booklet is excellent and full of photos and information. I really would have been happier if Discs One and Two were swapped...maybe even leading off with the Ultraman USA stuff on the first disc would have been better. At least it would have been chronological.


Content wise, of course this is packed with completionist treasure. I did air my grievances with the ripped off music, but that was beyond the control of anyone who worked on this set. It gets a thumbs up from me, but be prepared to pay a premium for this beauty of a set. $80. Yes. Four discs for $80. If you jumped when I mentioned the 3-Disc Ultraman Powered set being a bargain at $45, how do you feel now?

Back of the box. If this set was sealed, the obi would have been covering this up.

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Recommended Pick: I have to give it to Cinema-Kan's Ultraman Powered set. Both sets have great content and a lot of previously unheard valuables, but the Powered set is just put together so much more coherently...even if the packaging is pretty basic (convenient) in comparison. Seriously, props to the small guy this time around. Cinema-Kan definitely did wonderful work to make this release the best it can be. It gets the job done for a very reasonable price. Not to mention, if you're a fan of the Carranger music you *really* have to check Powered's music out.

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I can't say I've gotten too much in the way of exciting releases of retro Tokusatsu CDs this year, but these two have definitely left me satisfied. One more than the other obviously. For more of my CD Collection, be sure to check it out here.

The CD Collection will return again later in the month with just a brief look at only four CDs. Yeah, it's going to be a light post, I know. I'll be way too busy the last two weeks of the month to do a more involved post. Hopefully I'll have a little bit more time in October for content.

Thanks for swinging by!

-CC

P.S. I'm probably going to review the 8cm CDs that would have been covered here separately. Hence why I didn't really have too much to say about the vocals songs.

BONUS: Some additional photos I couldn't manage to sneak in...