2016/04/15

The CD Collection--Metal Hero Music Collections


It's that time again! I usually dedicate the second entry of the month to a new chapter in my never-ending series of CD Collection posts. Today's topic is one that has been requested a number of times and promised by me just as much. I am *finally* getting around to finishing up the remaining Metal Hero music collections!

If you're a fan of reading things chronologically you may want to open the following links in new tabs...

CD Reviews--Uchuu Keiji CDs (Gavan, Sharivan, Shaider)
CD Reviews--Rescue Hero Music Collections (Winspector, Solbrain, Exceedraft, Lady Battle Cop)

Let's finish this off...!


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Kyojuu Tokusou Juspion Ongakushuu
COCC-72048
2004.03.17

I suppose I need to pick up where I left off. The "Space Sheriff" title had been officially dropped from Metal Hero shows, but it kinda was more of the same. Juspion was a man from space in a shiny suit that had all the same gadgets as his genre predecessors. Most pertinent to this blog is composer Chumei/Michiaki Watanabe, who provided music for this series.

I wouldn't call the music collection a complete carry-over from the Space Sheriff music, however. I would actually say that outside of the new version of the Laser Blade Theme (yeah!!) this is actually a fairly new sound. The music is very much Watanabe in style, but there is a very heavy use of synths here that almost sound slightly Vangelis in nature. The highlights of action tracks are the bass and some killer guitar work. This kinda gives anything that isn't an action track an undeserved dreariness.


If I had one gripe with this music collection it's probably the percussion. It's just flat out bad through most of this. I'm also not crazy about the usage of the full-sized English versions of the theme songs. I would have preferred TV size versions of the Japanese theme songs. Meh.

I'm not sure if I'm completely sold on this music collection. It's good, but it isn't much more than a refreshed take on music we've pretty much heard during the previous three shows.

I should also note that this is the ANIMEX1200 release of the Juspion CD because, well, it's the only CD release of the Juspion Music Collection. Columbia didn't get into the CD game until 1987 for Tokusatsu. The only time Juspion music was released on CD prior to this was in sets lumped in with other shows.


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Now THAT is an album cover!

Jikuu Senshi Spielban Ongakushuu
COCC-72049
2004.03.17

Watanabe back again for...more of the same. This is almost a carbon copy of the Juspion music collection. He found his new sound and really stuck with it. The only way you can really tell it apart from Juspion is by the theme songs and the obvious Spielban theme song-flavored action pieces.

Listening to this disc you might pick up on something that is pretty obvious in hindsight. I think I may have pointed this out before, but here it goes again. The first Spielban ending song and Shaider's ending song, Hello Shaider, are virtually identical. This is way more obvious when you listen to BGM versions of the Spielban ending song here. It's blatent!


I honestly prefer the Juspion music collection over this one. This collection just isn't as good in all it's similarities. That said, it does share a lot of the same strengths and weaknesses. If I could name the biggest strength, it would have to be the Twin Blade track. It's all action and I love it.

Again, this ANIMEX1200 release is the first dedicated CD release of the Spielban music collection. I love ANIMEX1200...


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Chojinki Metalder Original Soundtrack
COCX-34173-4
2007.02.21

Rather than review the original version of the Metalder music collection, I decided to go with the 2-Disc version from 2007. It's much more thorough (119 tracks, 150+ minutes) and is the set that you must get if you're a fan of Metalder. As there is no clear division among the discs and tracks, I don't feel the need to review each disc separately. There really isn't a need to.


1987 in general was a huge year for Tokusatsu. When your least inventive new show is Maskman, you know things are on the up and up. At the same time...was it really? Kamen Rider BLACK was basically the first full reboot of Kamen Rider (remember, Kamen Rider BLACK was never the 11th Rider...that poorly tacked on plot point didn't happen until the ass-end of RX) and Metalder was an updated high-tech retelling of Kikaider. It is, essentially, the year that Toei (and Tokusatsu in general) was able to go retro. It's crazy to think that it's been almost 30 years now...


When it comes to the music of Metalder, boy were we in for a treat. Watanabe was finally relieved of his composing duties for Metal Hero. In his place, they brought in Seiji Yokoyama who is also known for his Winspector, Solbrain, and Exceedraft music collections. Outside of Metal Hero, you definitely know his work from the very popular Ohranger music collection. Particularly with Metalder and Ohranger he makes use of a full orchestra for a truly grand sounding score. I'm not entirely sure if it was the case with any of the Metalder music, but the entire Ohranger Symphonic Suite was recorded in France.


There really isn't too much in the way of action music, as the series relied a little more heavily on the song collection to cover that. You won't here a single synth on any of the music here. It's full-on orchestra. On it's own, this might not be the best thing since it would make this set devoid of any real personality. However, this set is broken up nicely with variations of some songs from the song collection.


This set is absolutely stuffed with content. I really don't think they could have fit another piece of music if they wanted to. The Rescue Hero sets that I previously reviewed had Instrumental versions of every single song included. This set barely has any. I'm sure they spent an absolute fortune producing music for Metalder. It isn't too often we get quality AND quantity on these sets. It's also really helpful that each piece of music is given it's own track rather than being three pieces daisy-chained together to make one track.

Expect to hear a lot of the same music in Ohranger...just slightly different.


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Sekai Ninja Sen Jiraiya Ongakushuu
COCC-72051
2004.03.17

Another new Metal Hero concept...and another new composer. This year we are introduced to the absolutely wonderful Megumi Wakakusa. Don't let the name fool you (like it has on quite a few sites on the internet). Wakakusa is, in fact, Male. His real name is Toru Saito. Regardless of that, by the end of this post you will learn why Wakakusa is my second favorite Tokusatsu composer behind Eiji Kawamura.

To recap Metal Hero music so far: 5 years of innovation-turned-hackery and 1 year of opulence. It's high time we had some fun, no? The Jiraiya music collection is definitely one of those hidden gems that doesn't really get it's fair shake outside of Brazil.

There is an overall balance on this disc that is very impressive when you consider that this is the soundtrack for a 50-episode television series. This is basically a perfect mixture of jazz, synthesizer, orchestra, and a slight smattering of Japanese elements. If anything, I think Eiji Kawamura might have copied this formula to fit his own style for Kakuranger--though if this soundtrack has a Sentai sound-a-like, it would have to be Jetman.


Overall this is an excellent and fun music collection that I totally recommend checking out. Despite it's upbeat nature, there is a certain underlying moodiness to this score. It's almost as if...there is a horror soundtrack in Wakakusa's future...

Once again I have the ANIMEX1200 release because ANIMEX1200 is awesome. This did get an original CD release in 1988, but I would avoid pre-1990 Columbia CDs. They just don't sound very good.


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Kidou Keiji Jiban Ongakushuu
COCC-72052
2004.03.17

How about that? A Metal Hero series where the main character is a full-blown cop. That's right--our new hero in 1989 is a Robotic Cop...a Robocop, if you will. I guess that's better than some imaginary thing like a Space Sheriff...oh god. Does that mean...? Yep. Chumei Watanabe is back to compose the Jiban soundtrack after a two year absence from Metal Hero.

Immediately...I mean, the very first track after the TV size version of the Jiban theme song is a Fushigi Song sounding track. This guy wasted no time at all ripping off his own work. In fact, I'll just go out there and say that the majority of this disc sounds like it could be placed in just about any other series he worked on. Even really good music like the Reson theme track sounds like it came right out of the Juspion score.


I've always found this one to be a bit of a chore to get through. It's alright, but it's just so boring. At least things like percussion have been improved upon. It's a nicely produced music collection--it's just bland.

There is one...MASSIVE exception, however. The first half of the track title Mukaeutsu Jiban is possibly one of the absolute badass pieces of Tokusatsu music I've ever heard. It doesn't really come across in that Youtube video, but that is some of the most phenominal bass I've ever heard. Really, you need to listen to this direct from the CD with some headphones on. The bass is present throughout the entire piece. It's just there...waiting...like a swarm of angry bees. Combine that with the horn and kinda lousy beat and it all just sounds so perfect.

So this one isn't that good... It has one amazing moment that doesn't quite make up for the rest of the sins.


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Tokusou Robo Janperson Music Collections
FMCC-5003
1993.07.21

Forte!!!!!!!! *shakes fist*

Megumi Wakakusa is back! I enjoyed his work on the Jiraiya music collection very much. It was a lot of fun without being goofy or forced, but it totally had a dark side lurking beneath the surface. Wakakusa may have missed his chance to do the music for Jiban, but he certainly didn't miss out on the next robotic cop series.


Right off the bat I want to state something that I and several other have pointed out. The early 90s was absolutely dripping with blatent high-profile ripoffs. The intro to the Zyuranger OP lifts the end credit music from the Schwarzenegger film Total Recall. Obvious things like that are everywhere in the early 90s...and a lot of it has been attributed to composer Kenji Yamamoto. While he certainly did a lot of lifting over time, Wakakusa did an impressive amount of musical thievery just on this one disc. I recognize tracks from Star Wars, Star Trek: The Next Generation and even the theme music from Halloween. Sheesh.

There is a definitely heavier emphasis on orchestra over the jazzier sound of the Jiraiya score. Despite this, there is still some solid balance between band and orchestra tracks. Where the Jiraiya music collection was more on the light-hearted side, Janperson is extremely serious and very creepy. The moodiness that was kinda hiding in the background of the Jiraiya music is slowly oozing out here without it being full on horror.

The best photo of Janperson I've ever seen...

When this disc isn't stealing music or being creepy it does have some excellent action music. There are also some horrible instrumental versions of the opening and ending theme songs to round it all out.

I really like this one, but I think it's fair to say that it's my least favorite of Wakakusa's Tokusatsu work. While I usually get a good kick out of stolen music, it's just really distracting here.


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Blue SWAT Music Collection
FMCC-5034
1994.07.01

This makes two in a row for Megumi Wakakusa. Have I mentioned that I like when composers are given two or three years in a row for a franchise? Not only is there a little bit of consistency between shows, but it's also a good indicator of their creative range.

From the beginning we are given the tone of the entire disc. Spooky. Very, very spooky. The track From Beyond is really one hell of a way to kick things off after the TV size version of the OP ends. We're immediately given this dystopian nightmare of a track after the airy groove called True Dream of all things... From there it only seems to get moodier.


That being said, there is a bit of levity woven in throughout--possibly more than Janperson even. The dark cloud kinda hangs around through the entire thing. Action track? Serious. Fun track? Serious? Character track? Serious. This really could have been a total disaster of a score, but it was pulled off so expertly with that balance that Wakakusa has been known for.

One of the things I very much recommend with this CD is a decent set of headphones. For a TV show that aired with MONO sound this has one of the richest sounding scores I ever heard. I wouldn't even say they were a must with Janperson which, while good, was a little bit flat sounding.

I would have to say that the only true weakness of any of the content on the disc is the instrumental themes. Again, piano is a bad choice. The Janperson ones weren't awful, but piano being laid over the Blue SWAT themes is just terrible. Mercifully both Janperson and Blue SWAT both have loaded discs of content, so it's not like they are a huge portion of the real estate. If there was another weakness of this disc, it'd probably be the music missing from it. If, like me, you have Metal Hero Battle Music Collection Vol.1 this isn't an issue.


For those two minor complaints, there is so much more in it's favor. The arrangement, for example, is exquisite. This is easily the most balanced Tokusatsu CD I've ever heard. I mean, this isn't a huge issue these days with playlists becoming something you can put together easily and to your exact tastes in minutes. Everything just fits into place perfectly. It even pretty much ends with the infamous BTTF theme ripoff.

This isn't just a music collection--it's an experience. Megumi Wakakusa finally got to make the horror soundtrack he clearly had chambered since Jiraiya.


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Jukou B-Fighter Music Collection
FMCC-5066
1995.07.21

While I am sad to see Wakakusa's streak come to an end, I am thrilled to finally have a Metal Hero music collection for the wonderful Eiji Kawamura. I think at this point I've reviewed every Tokusatsu music collection of his. Kawamura's music collection include Kamen Rider BLACK, BLACK RX, Lady Battle Cop, Kamen Rider ZO, Kamen Rider J, Dairanger, and Kakuranger. So this is the last one to review...and the end of his 90s TV trilogy.


As Kawamura is just coming off of composing two Sentai series, the B-Fighter score definitely has the sound of one. It's kinda funny how his Rider works has a different sound. There is a bit more despair and darkness in the Rider works. His Sentai work is a bit more paint-by-numbers. This is the action music. This is the villain theme music. This is the goofing around music. This is the "we've got a serious decision to make" music. Etc.

Despite it's obviousness, I will say that all of the music is done extremely well. Kawamura has a certain speed in his uptempo work that hasn't ever been matched. The beauty of this disc is that there is an absolute ton of uptempo stuff. All of the action stuff is fast, the Beet Machine music brings the stock footage of tanks driving around slowly alive. Then there is the Stinger Blade theme, which is some of the coolest finisher music ever. B-Fighter would be a much drearier series than it already is without Kawamura's excellent touch.

Fuck you, Forte Art Department...

Overall, this one is a bit on the diverse side thanks to the clear division of music ownership. I would almost call this one a hybrid of Kakuranger and Blue SWAT weirdly thanks to the moody Jamahl music. Long live the master of bass! Seriously, this music collection has the best action music since Gavan.


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B-Fighter Kabuto Music Collection
COCC-13483
1996.06.21

While Eiji Kawamura did give a hand composing the theme songs to this series, a new composer was brought in to bring BF Kabuto to life. Meet Katsunori Ishida. The name probably doesn't ring a bell as it didn't really for me either. Ishida didn't have any experience as a composer for Tokusatsu prior to this, but did do some work on a few Transformers anime series. Ishida did, however, arrange quite a few songs for Metalder, BLACK RX, Kakuranger, and all of the Jukou B-Fighter songs. The Kawamura connection is there, but does that come across in the music?


I honestly don't have a lot to say about this one. I know a few people who really like this disc, so maybe it just isn't my thing. I would say this is a bit on the synth-heavy side. Used properly, a synthesizer can give a rich sound that can be bent to suit whatever mood you wish to convey. If the mood Ishida was going for was "hollow" or "lifeless" then he nailed it.

I'm usually a fan of some well-placed bass lines, but the smattering that we get here just is very wooden sounding. I don't know how you would use an instrument that smooths everything out and end with such a stiff sound. It kinda baffles me how upright and messy everything is. It's just kinda all over the place.


On top of this, there isn't a whole lot in the way of action tracks. Most of the action has been replaced by instrumental versions of some of the more upbeat songs.

I wouldn't call this a bad music collection by any means...it's just extremely lacking. There was so much better music in 1996. Why bother with this one when you could get music from Carranger, Changerion, or Guyferd? CDs aren't cheap!


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B-Fighter Kabuto Music Collection 2
COCC-13659
1996.08.21

Columbia deemed it necessary to give BF Kabuto a second music collection. Ehhh sure! Why not? Maybe it'll somehow include all of the good and innovative pieces that are missing from the previous disc? The only way to find out is to dig in and see what happens...


I can give this CD credit for something that I don't think I've heard in the past. Now we all know that there was some blatent music theft in the past. While it wasn't exactly lifting the music and calling it their own, it was kinda comical is how close those sound-alikes were. Ishida kinda went whole hog and lifted an easily recognizable sample and dropped it into his music. You know that song It Takes Two by Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock? It acts as the beat in one of the pieces.

I know, I'm waffling a bit. Having listened to this disc twice trying to get an opinion, I was only able to come up with four total bullet points. This one is somehow messier than the first collection. I'm pretty convinced that they loaded this one up with leftovers from the previous disc and called it a day. A good number of the pieces just sound like random noises.


I had high hopes for Ishida since he had a pretty good track record as an arranger. BF Kabuto music overall just might be as lifeless as the Jiban music was. Even that had that one excellent piece of music. This one is just kinda...blah.


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B-Robo Kabutack Music Collection 1
COCC-14152
1997.04.19

Remember when I said I like when they give composers two consecutive chances? Katsunori Ishida returns this year to give us more of that signature sound we loved so much in BF Kabuto. Or does he? Did he turn things around for Kabutack?


Right off the bat things are a little bit different. Rather than diving into the TV size version of the opening theme song, we're given a prologue of sorts. I kinda like this change in format even if it was so late in the Metal Hero game (or after the Metal Hero game...as some would say). This is something that the Sentai Complete Song Collections did a lot of the time, and it really gets you in the mood to listen to a score better than a blaring opening theme song does.

Naturally this disc is going to be a bit more light-hearted than your average Metal Hero music collection. That doesn't mean it isn't good, however. I did find this one to be very catchy when I gave it a listen.


There are a few instances where these instances of "abusive percussion" just let loose and get out of hand. This was something that was a little more common in Kabuto, but a little bit of that carried over to Kabutack. Not only that, I think It Takes Two gets sampled yet again. This time it's a little more subtle though.

Like I was saying, though, this one isn't bad at all. The slight change in format works in it's favor and the music is pretty enjoyable.


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B-Robo Kabutack Music Collection 2
COCC-14365
1997.07.19

As with any other "Music Collection 2", this one picks up where the last one left off. This time around there is much more in the way of slow music which saves it from those drum hell tracks. That said, it's almost entirely devoid of any action tracks, which is kind of a bummer.


I wouldn't say this is as charming as the first disc. It's a bit on the sleepy side after all. I would liken this one a lot to Zyuranger's music. In fact, there are a few tracks that sound eerily similar to Zyuranger music. The Zyuranger Complete Music Collection was released very early in 1997.....coincidence...?

The most 1997 thing I've ever seen...

All told, I would say that the B-Robo Kabutack Music Collections are much more enjoyable than the BF Kabuto ones. I wouldn't exactly rank them among my favorites, but they're definitely great for putting on in the background while gettting some work done. Give these a shot before BF Kabuto.


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Tetsuwan Tantei Robotack Music Collection
COCC-15084
1998.05.21

So this is the last Metal Hero series...time to call in an all-star. Megumi Wakakusa returns for the final Metal Hero music collection! There was a noticeable change in sound between his Jiraiya and Janperson scores, so I'm curious to see what he came up with for Robotack.


Like Kabutack, the Robotack disc begins with a prologue track prior to the TV size OP. Right off the bat we know we're in good hands. The third part of the prologue is this fantastic hardboiled-cop send-up with this amazing retro sound. I featured it in my review of the Robotack Jishakku Change figure. It sounds like it could be the intro to any cop show of the 1970s.

As I'm sure it was dictated by the bosses at Toei, the Robotack music collection is a somewhat lighthearted affair. I don't mind this at all. What makes this all kinda funny is that this is the same person who put together the Blue SWAT music collection. Who listened to that CD and said "Yes, I want this individual to do the music to our cop show with a robotic cartoon dog."? You know what? He totally pulls this sound off.


There are careful little touches throughout that make this CD worthwhile. I love the cute little dog-barking effects in a couple of the tracks. The somewhat retro feel is also a lot of fun. Which leads me to my final point... This was too good for Robotack. It might not be my favorite Wakakusa collection, but it is easily the most accessible. It's only 55 minutes long for one, which is handy when I need an hour of music to fill some space in my ears.

Good stuff! It was a nice send-off for both Metal Hero and Wakakusa. Sadly we never got a second disc for Robotack, but if the previous two series are any indication it would've just been full of leftovers.


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Recommended Pick: Easy! Blue SWAT Music Collection. This isn't a difficult choice at all...


This is easily my favorite Metal Hero music collection and is one of my favorite overall Tokusatsu CDs. I listen to it quite often and you should too. It was finally re-released in 2015 as part of the ANIMEX1200 line. Make sure you get yours! I have recommended this one to people in the past and heard back from a few people loved it. You'll love it.


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There it is! I finally got around to reviewing the final fourteen Metal Hero discs. I've reviewed virtually every other Metal Hero CD I own in the past...so this is a pretty big moment! I think the only thing left for me to do is to review the 8cm CD Singles. Maybe next time? Let me know what you want to see! Check out my newly updated but still woefully incomplete CD collection page for ideas. I'll be sure to link to my previous Metal Hero articles below.

Thanks for stopping by..!

-CC

Related Links:

CD Reviews--Uchuu Keiji CDs
CD Reviews--Rescue Hero Music Collections
CD Reviews--Superhero Chronicles Metal Hero I-IV
CD Reviews--Toei Metal Hero Battle Music Vol. 1-4, Karaoke Vol. 1-2

Bonus! Some extra photos...

Almost identical!!!






2 comments:

  1. Nice way to finish Metal Hero music collections.

    The cover art for Metalder Original Soundtrack is pretty bland and standouts compared to other Original Soundtracks (Juspion, Spielban). It’s simplistic, but at least it could have used more detail.
    I have only seen handful of Metalder episodes and haven’t seen Kikaider yet; may be at some time.

    Nice info on Megumi Wakakusa. I don’t keep track or pay too much attention on composer.
    Looking at the wiki, he did composed music of some of my favorite TV shows and anime.
    I really like the cover art of Jiraiya Ongakushuu, even though the background has somewhat funky design. lol
    Jiban has very cool cover art, where it’s written in English AND has explosion on background. Now, that’s EPIC!

    Heh. Nice to see you cover Forte. lol
    Well, at least you’re not covering avex Kamen Rider music.
    Nice cover art and booklet for Janperson.

    I didn’t notice that Blue SWAT was aired in MONO, despite airing in 90’s (1994).
    I would have sworn show that period was airing in stereo.
    Consider the fact Zyuranger seemed to air on stereo, I would have assumed ever show from that era was in stereo.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CydgQ9WTdjA

    Eiji Kawamura is also my favorite composer for toku music.
    The series you’ve mentioned are finest example for awesome music.
    It was nice he ended on high note with B-Fighter; glad he’s not working for avex for Heisei Kamen Rider.
    B-Fighter is the series that I’m familiar with most for Metal Series and I really enjoyed the music.
    This and Ohranger (which came out same year; 1995) had pretty good score and songs.
    Forte Art Department is lazy indeed. lol
    Seriously, it looks like it was done by some generic intern who lacks creativity.

    While I did enjoy BF Kabuto (it was OK), there were lot of elements that felt step backward… including music. I liked the OP/ED, but overall music felt short. It’s not terrible but generic.
    At least the cover art is somewhat decent; it matches well with Vol. 2 Collection.

    Kabutack and Robotack music felt REALLY weird compared to any previous series of franchise, due to completely different tone and atmosphere. It sounded waaaay too energetic and cookey, but at the same time, it does have its charm and enjoy ability.
    It’s nice that Metal Hero music ended on high note with Wakakusa.
    I’ve mentioned before that Metal Hero music tends to be my favorite among Toei toku franchise and I like how it start and ended well; not sure if I could say the same with Sentai and Kamen Rider series whenever they ends, where the music has been very lackluster in last couple of years.

    LONG LIVE METAL HERO!

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    Replies
    1. Funny you say that. The first Super Sentai to air in stereo was either GoGo Five or Timeranger. Can't remember which off the top of my head. The only way to watch the shows in stereo were limited to the movies. Outside of that stupid Dino Video, there is no stereo Zyuranger out there. Hahaa

      The 80s version of the Metalder music collection has a different cover featuring the same photo of Metalder. I kinda dig what they did for the 2-disc. It's basic, but it stands out over the other 2-disc Metal Hero sets.

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