Saturday, September 17, 2016

Soundtrack September: Revenge of Shinobi

Game: Revenge of Shinobi / The Super Shinobi (1989)
Platform: Sega Genesis / Mega Drive
Composer: Koshiro Yūzō

If the title screen of this game looks awfully realistic, it's because it's essentially a doctored still of Chiba Shin'ichi, AKA "Sonny" Chiba, as famed ninja Hattori Hanzo in the Japanese TV series Kage no Gundan (1980-85).

I bring that up because the music in this game, despite being the product of a Japanese composer (again we are honoring the ultra-prolific Koshiro Yūzō), sounds like the kind of bastardized impersonation of Japanese music you might hear in a 1980s American TV series, or maybe a in movie like American Ninja. It's a beautiful mashing together of Eastern-sounding elements (like parallel fifths, koto ostinati and Akebono scales) and American music tropes (like hip hop drum beats, slap bass and cheesy brass hits).

I already drew an analogy to the Lee Van Cleef miniseries The Master earlier this month, but I'll do it again. The 80s were a great time to be a ninja.

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