Sounds of Onimusha (Soundtrack) by Mamoru Samuragoch

 

 

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Sounds of Onimusha (Soundtrack) by Mamoru Samuragoch

"The Kurosawa That Could Have Been?"
Review by Steve Townsley

 

Sounds of Onimusha (Soundtrack) by Mamoru Samuragoch

Sounds of Onimusha
9/10

Sounds of Onimusha (Soundtrack) by Mamoru Samuragoch

 

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Category  |   Score

Originality 10
Music Selection 8
Composition 10
CD Length 10
Track Order 8
Performance 9
Final Score 9/10
 


 

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Composer 
Mamoru Samuragoch

 

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Composed by Mamoru Samuragoch
Performed by the New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra.
Mastering Engineers – Hiromichi Takiguchi & Kazuie Sugimotor; Executive Producer – Stuart Levy; Production Manager – Masami Tokunaga
Genma Onimuisha ™ is a trademark of CAPCOM CO. LTD.
Released by TokyoPop Records - January 29, 2002

Oddly enough, I did not find this CD in the “Soundtrack” shelves—it was obscurely and enigmatically placed into “Classical”. And to be honest, I’m not as much a video-game fan as I could be. I’ve never heard of--let alone played--the Capcom game Onimusha. But listening to this music makes me want to! And isn’t that a good thing?

On occasion, the composer who tackles the video game medium often rises above it. Michael Giacchino’s Medal of Honor series, for example, brings an epic and deeply emotional depth to…well…what is essentially a “first-person shooter”, to over-simplify. Mamoru Samuragoch’s score for Onimusha is, likewise, a thrillingly emotional and epic work. It does not even sound like it belongs in this decade, but more in a “Golden Age of Cinema” decade. Indeed, it is very much like a lost Kurosawa score, full of passion and adventure.

Most recently, scores like the Oscar-winning Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon have certainly proven that there is an audience for more Eastern compositions. On the whole, it is a relatively unexplored sub-genre within composition for medium-accompaniment. Beyond Tan-Dun’s magnificent composition, the audience for such is usually limited to Anime and the Final Fantasy game series, and thus, remains a kind of “cult” indulgence, rather than a widely-preferred approach. Samuragoch has created something quite amazing here—a seeming fusion of both Eastern and Western compositional styles. As close as I could compare it would be to suggest as if Bruce Broughton had composed Crouching Tiger. This is not to belie the nature of the score by suggesting that it a Western score arranged with Eastern “ethnicisms”. If you listen, you will distinctly hear two different styles mixed here, but if you are enjoying it, you probably won’t even notice--Which is really how it should be. It is plainly good music.

Accenting the Asian origins, the introductory symphony begins with a stark solo vocal—an evocation, of sorts, before moving into the powerful “Rising Sun” symphonic suite, classically structured in 3 movements. Midway into the first movement, the theme erupts into huge orchestral grandeur. Truly a magnificent work, the Rising Sun suite encompasses all of the major themes heard throughout the score. The 26 remaining tracks constitute shorter passages and themes which I assume are featured in the game itself.

“Samanosukesirabe”, (track 6)
Track 6 highlights the western “fusion” in styles—a passage that is reminiscent of Last of the Mohicans in its’ urgency. Many of the tracks, (averaging about 1 to 2 minutes in length) are fast, action-music. Some even shorter passages (Track 20, “Saki-III”) highlight the Eastern flavor of the score, with woodblock percussion, wind instrumentals, ethnic strings.

While short running times on an album are usually a distraction, the music on this CD is rather cohesive enough thematically as to facilitate the transition between tracks. If there is one strict criticism here (and—please take note—it is a fairly substantial criticism) it is that many of the 30 tracks (and I’ll just use track 13, “Hayate”, as one example) on this album do not attain a conclusion, but rather fade to silence. Given the fact that the music is composed for a game (and thus, looped to repeat), this feature can be understood and perhaps even accepted—however, it can prove to be a distraction. One thinks, “Wait—I wasn’t done listening to that!” before being rushed along to the next track. Overall, the payoffs in this score are inclined to outweigh these kinds of distractions.

An additional positive note to the album would be that the liner notes here are quite good, featuring a note by the game’s producer, a biography of the composer, and a brief history of the Rising Sun symphony. I will not focus on it here, but I will mention that the composer, Mamoru Samarugoch, does suffer a hearing impairment, but as a great artist, has proven that his handicap is not a barrier to his art. A remarkable achievement.

Enthusiasts of game music should certainly enjoy this CD, and so should Anime fans. It might be a little non-conventional for the average soundtrack fan to give this a try, but I think that many will find this a worthwhile investment. Recommended.


Track Listing and Ratings

 Track

Title Time

Rating

1 Rising Sun: Tensyo-Genbu 1:04  ****
2 Rising Sun: 1st Movment 4:52  *****
3 Rising Sun: 2nd Movement 9:28  *****
4 Rising Sun: 3rd Movement 8:06  *****
5 Samurai 1:03  ****
6 SamanosukesirabeTrack 2 - Across the Stars 3:05  *****
7 Ukage 1:25  ***
8 Saki-I 0:23  ***
9 Totu 1:39  ***
10 Homura 1:52  ***
11 KaedesirabeTrack 2 - Across the Stars 4:02  *****
12 Miyabi 1:58  **
13 Hayate 2:21  ****
14 Takisoba 1:41  ****
15 Hyorin 2:05  ***
16 Hitu 1:27  ***
17 Kaedesirabe II 3:21  ****
18 Suranochmata 1:42  ***
19 Yume 1:05  ***
20 Saki-III 0:53  ***
21 Nowakitatu 2:27  ****
22 Kijinsirabe 1:02  ***
23 Kizuna 0:30  ***
24 Ai 1:04  *****
25 Idetach 1:46  ****
26 OnimushaTrack 2 - Across the Stars 3:35  *****
27 Uga 1:51  ****
28 Tenmei 2:03  ***
29 Oninokizahasi 2:01  ***
30 Hibiki 1:16  ****
 

Total Running Time

71:00  

Sounds of Onimusha (Soundtrack) by Mamoru Samuragoch

*The Experience-O-Meter displays the track to track listening experience of this soundtrack based on the 5-Star rating given to each track.  It provides a visual depiction of the ebbs and flows of the CD's presentation of the soundtrack.

 

Referenced Reviews
Last of the Mohicans  |  Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

 

 


All artwork from Sounds of Onimushu  is exclusive property of TokyoPop Records (c) 2002. 
 Its appearance is for informational purposes only. Review format version 5.7

 

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