Ryuichi Sakamoto


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The old Japanese folk tale of Momotaro gets a fresh coat of paint, though perhaps a bit on the glossy side. The story is of a boy born from within the center of a peach who grows to young adulthood at an accelerated pace. He learns through his adoptive parents of a group of ogres on a faraway island who have taken the riches of humans for centuries. In a wholesome and righteous gesture, Momotaro sets out to train in the art of combat, build a boat, and travel to the ogres' island to reclaim what has been taken. Along the way, the young hero meets a dog, a pheasant, and a monkey, all cunning in some capacity and all proving themselves useful to the Peachboy in the conflict that lies ahead. Themes of trust, risk, cooperation, and respect are spread throughout the story, and Sigourney Weaver's narration strikes the appropriate balance between strength and tenderness. Ryuichi Sakamoto provides the accompanying score and, although his orchestrations are quite rich, the production value stays modestly on a few high-end keyboards. His past work for The Last Emperor soundtrack is evident, if simplified, ranging from tense staccato passages to sweeping lullabies. "The Ballad of Momotaro," the second track on the CD, incorporates most of the instrumental themes that tracks three through nine have in isolation. This gives Sakamoto lots of legroom to try different arrangements, so if you like the melodies he wrote for this score, you'll get to hear them repeatedly. "Eric Metaxas"'s translation makes the script sound like it's geared toward a young audience, and the music's sketchy quality further hinders it from taking flight. Overall, Peachboy is a good story plucked for market before it was ripe.

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