Toho Composer Riichiro Manabe Has Died

Manabe Obit Image Strip

The scified.com web site has reported the death of Japanese composer Riichiro Manabe.  “Composer Riichiro Manabe passed away January 29th, 2015. Cause of death is currently unknown and information will be updated as it comes,” the posting read.  “He studied music with Akira Ifukube and, like Ifukube, was inaugurated into the tokusatsu genre [live-action special effects film or TV] early on. Manabe would score two of the SUPER GIANT serials, before moving to horror and science fiction fare.

Toho’s THE MILITARISTS is often considered his best work. In 1971 the film’s theme was retooled for Manabe’s Godzilla motif in GODZILLA VS. HEDORAH [GODZILLA VS. THE SMOG MONSTER]. He would reprise this theme yet again in 1973’s GODZILLA VS. MEGALON.

By the 1980s he fazed out of film composing and went into teaching music composition. His health deteriorated in recent years and he spent his last days at a retirement home in Yugawara, Kanagawa. He was 90 years old.”

Read scified.com’s full report, and listen to Manabe’s Godzilla theme and Smog Monster theme, here .

Another obit, posted at mst3kinfo.com, recalls Manabe’s GODZILLA VS. MEGALON score, remembering that in addition to the score, he also wrote the song “Godzilla and Jaguar, Punch Punch Punch!” or, as Joel and the Bots called it, “The Jet Jaguar Fight Song.”

“His Godzilla soundtracks have been alternately praised and criticized by fans for their offbeat, jazzy and sometimes psychedelic styles,” wrote Sampo in his post. “His work on THE MILITARISTS (1970) is more highly regarded. He also made the music for Toho’s Vampire Trilogy (THE VAMPIRE DOLL, LAKE OF DRACULA, and EVIL OF DRACULA) as well as films for prolific director Nagisa Oshima, such as NAKED YOUTH (1960).

Read the full report and comments at mst3kinfo.com here 

Watch their linked video of Manabe’s “Jet Jaguar Fight song here

Musique Fantastique covered Manabe’s work in Book 1, Chapter 10 (p. 340-341).  While not particularly impressed by his cartoonlike Godzilla music, I found his lesser-known work for Toho’s Dracula trilogy, The Vampire Doll (1970; aka Legacy of Dracula: The Bloodthirsty Doll), Lake of Dracula (1971), and Evil of Dracula (1974) far more effective and musically interesting.  These jangly and atonal compositions, while often noisy, developed an affecting level of unease and disorientation that aided these films in their treatment of Dracula.  “Most of Manabe’s work for these films is brusque, harsh, and inelegant,” I wrote, “although not without its effectual moments, and in a way his atonal, dissonant approach to the latter two films presages the sound-design-ish approach of Koji Endo and others in more modern Japanese horror films like One Missed Call.”   – rdl

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