Does DBZ's OST Feel Lackluster at Times?

Discussion regarding any musical aspect of the franchise, from game soundtracks to BGM to remixes. Upcoming & classic CDs, reviews, where to find them, and more!

Moderators: Kanzenshuu Staff, General Help

User avatar
Rukawa11
Not-So-Newbie
Posts: 58
Joined: Fri Dec 30, 2016 3:33 am

Does DBZ's OST Feel Lackluster at Times?

Post by Rukawa11 » Sat Jan 14, 2017 2:53 pm

I've noticed many fans consider Shunsuke Kikuchi's score to be some kind of masterpiece. Being a fan of the original version, what I'm about to say might sound blasphemous. Now, I've throughly enjoyed Kikuchi's score during the Red Ribbon Army, Tenkaichi Budokai, and Piccolo Daimao arcs, and it was still rather good up until the Namek Arc. But once Goku turned ssj against Freeza and all fights from that point started going off the scale in terms of speed and explosions, I've felt Kikuchi's outdated instrumentation failed to keep up with this major increase (it doesn't help that he's so reluctant to use snares in his drum beats). Also, there are countless scenes where there isn't any background music at all for up to five minutes. The fighting might start and still there's nothing but the sound of the wind.

As many of you are aware, Kikuchi used the exact same style of compositions for late 1960s and early 70s shows like Tiger Mask, Kamen Rider, and Mazinger Z. This kind of bgm was still prevalent up until the mid 80s (Saint Seiya, Dancougar, Hokuto no Ken, Zetta Gundam), but by the late 80s very few Animes had that kind of music and DBZ was probably the only Anime to air in the 90s with such retro musical pieces. It's rather ironic given the fact that DBZ was the flashiest anime in the 90s with all the ssj power ups, ki blasts, and fast-paced action scenes. I'm not sure what sort of vision the producers had by keeping Kikuchi's music in the Cell and Majin Boo arcs which aired alongside Yuyu Hakusho, Cyber Formula, Slam Dunk, Slayers, and Evangelion (all of which had modern and upbeat soundtracks).

User avatar
ekrolo2
Kicks it Old-School
Posts: 7854
Joined: Thu Nov 20, 2014 8:27 am
Location: Split, Croatia

Re: Does DBZ's OST Feel Lackluster at Times?

Post by ekrolo2 » Sat Jan 14, 2017 3:24 pm

All of the composers on DB have their strengths and weakness' for me, none of them are perfect, not even Kikuchi. I think Kikuchi is the king of casual music meant for breather episodes where the cast is just hanging out and not fighting. He's also really good with setting an atmosphere, particularly a foreboding one and instilling a sense of dread in the audience. That being said, most of his fighting score is a big load of meh to whatever for me, really, the best action related moments usually had insert songs like Solid State Scouter for when Bardock fights Freeza's army.

Tokunaga's score has the same weakness shared by everyone not Kikuchi and that's its lack of good pieces for more relaxed moments and episodes but I'll be damned if his fighting scores and the various versions of the theme didn't pull at my heart strings (Goku going Golden Oozaru is a great example of this).

Yamamoto's got the best fighting score out of all of them (yes I know he's a plagiarist) and his pieces meant to instill a sense of adventure, foreboding and sadness were all pretty top notch.

Sumitomo's really, really awful with more laid back music, probably the worst of them all but if you need a score for a villain to send a chill down your spine (Beerus' Madness is seriously fucking unnerving) or a scene of godly proportions, he's the best of them all.
When someone tells you, "Don't present your opinion as fact," what they're actually saying is, "Don't present your opinion with any conviction. Because I don't like your opinion, and I want to be able to dismiss it as easily as possible." Don't fall for it.

How the Black Arc Should End (by Lightbing!):

Saikyo no Senshi
Advanced Regular
Posts: 1204
Joined: Sat Apr 23, 2016 9:08 am
Location: Earth
Contact:

Re: Does DBZ's OST Feel Lackluster at Times?

Post by Saikyo no Senshi » Sat Jan 14, 2017 3:37 pm

The Majin Boo arc had that heroic and triumph feel which was nothing like before and it felt pretty 80s, if you ask me. The early Cell arc had that horrific atmospheric music that was wonderfully placed and the arc required it. I'm not getting "the it felt outdated" complaint. It didn't feel lackluster to me.

The lack of background music in battle scenes worked. Unlike the torture, that was Team Faulconer and other musical scores like Yamamoto that wouldn't stop, silence made the necessary impact.

Dragon Ball, at the end of the day is immature and nobody understood that better than Kikuchi and he captured it perfectly through his music. You mentioned Eva which is as mature as a project can possibly get and it got mature music from the legend Sagisu Shirou. Something like that has no place in Dragon Ball. I don't think it would work.

User avatar
Rukawa11
Not-So-Newbie
Posts: 58
Joined: Fri Dec 30, 2016 3:33 am

Re: Does DBZ's OST Feel Lackluster at Times?

Post by Rukawa11 » Sat Jan 14, 2017 3:56 pm

ekrolo2 wrote:All of the composers on DB have their strengths and weakness' for me, none of them are perfect, not even Kikuchi. I think Kikuchi is the king of casual music meant for breather episodes where the cast is just hanging out and not fighting. He's also really good with setting an atmosphere, particularly a foreboding one and instilling a sense of dread in the audience. That being said, most of his fighting score is a big load of meh to whatever for me, really, the best action related moments usually had insert songs like Solid State Scouter for when Bardock fights Freeza's army
The "sinister" aspect in Kikuchi's music is definitely a plus. The fights are the real problem: very few were the instances where the music could match the flashiness and intensity of Cell and Majin Boo arc fights. DBZ needed more upbeat music a la "Solid State Scouter" once we started having so many Super Saiyan power ups. I still remember how underwhelmed Kikuchi's score made me feel when Goku and Future Trunks made back-to-back ssj transformations and squared off (sword vs. index finger). Playing "Battle Power Unlimited" when Trunks' kills Freeza should've signaled a shift in the musical style. Then again, BPU wasn't Kikuchi's piece.
Saikyo no Senshi wrote:Dragon Ball, at the end of the day is immature and nobody understood that better than Kikuchi and he captured it perfectly through his music. You mentioned Eva which is as mature as a project can possibly get and it got mature music from the legend Sagisu Shirou. Something like that has no place in Dragon Ball. I don't think it would work.
Perhaps Sagisu Shirou's Eva style wouldn't work, but he also scored Kimagure Orange Road and Bleach, both of which sounded nothing like Eva.
I can't possibly see how fight scenes as fast DBZ could go without any music in the background (nor do I believe for a second that this was a deliberate attempt to go against the norms - Kikuchi just wasn't good at battle music). I think music from other Shounen Animes at the time like Yuyu Hakusho and Slam Dunk made more sense in that the fast-paced scenes were accompanied with fast, upbeat music.

User avatar
SaiyanGod117
Advanced Regular
Posts: 1226
Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2015 2:31 am

Re: Does DBZ's OST Feel Lackluster at Times?

Post by SaiyanGod117 » Sun Jan 15, 2017 12:49 am

Definitely, I don't know why fans here consider him so amazing his tracks are too soft and laid back. However, I would say he's 50/50 when it comes to good action soundtracks some can be good, some can be utterly boring and mediocre .
Edit: He's certainly a good composer though, his action osts are just lacking a little.
Last edited by SaiyanGod117 on Sun Jan 15, 2017 1:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Bansho64
I Live Here
Posts: 2034
Joined: Fri Dec 25, 2015 12:59 am

Re: Does DBZ's OST Feel Lackluster at Times?

Post by Bansho64 » Sun Jan 15, 2017 12:54 am

Nah, I personally don't think so. I love all of his tracks, especially the battle ones. The set the mood perfectly in my opinion.

User avatar
Kojiro Sasaki
Banned
Posts: 543
Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2012 9:38 am
Location: Poland

Re: Does DBZ's OST Feel Lackluster at Times?

Post by Kojiro Sasaki » Sun Jan 15, 2017 1:42 am

Don't forget that only 2 out of 15 recording sessions for the Z portion of the show were composed for the TV series (M700 series for CHA-LA-HEAD-CHA-LA era and M1700 series for WE GOTTA POWER era). Other 13 were composed for the movies. If somebody wants to judge Kikuchi's work, it's best to use movies as the reference.

Speaking about the TV series - Shigeru Miyashita is the one who selected music for the specific scenes. Nobody knows how Kikuchi himself would handle them.

Dragon Ball Ireland
I'm pretty cozy, here...
Posts: 1839
Joined: Thu May 21, 2015 9:09 am
Location: Kildare, Ireland

Re: Does DBZ's OST Feel Lackluster at Times?

Post by Dragon Ball Ireland » Sun Jan 15, 2017 9:23 am

Um... no. Kikuchi is to Dragon Ball what John Williams is to Star Wars.

I have no problem with Faulconer, Yamamoto, Sumitomo, Johnson or other composers that worked on the Z portion of the series but none can top Kikuchi.
Selling
- Arrival DVD single
- Betrayal DVD single

Looking For
- Funimation Level 1.2 Replacement Cover
- Showdown DVD single

If interested PM with offers

User avatar
Lord Beerus
Namekian Warrior
Posts: 20962
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2014 5:20 pm
Location: A temple on a giant tree
Contact:

Re: Does DBZ's OST Feel Lackluster at Times?

Post by Lord Beerus » Sun Jan 15, 2017 12:48 pm

Absolutely not.

Kikuchi's musical contributions to Dragon Ball were immense and what made Dragon Ball such a interactive experience. It goes without saying he is a fantastic composer, that captures the true essence of Dragon Ball through every track he has composed. From the comedic moments, to the heartwarming moments, to the sad moments and the intense/awesome moments. His score provides that grand and epic wuxia nature that Dragon Ball encompasses as a whole. It's rich, diverse and even if you're not into Dragon Ball, it's just great music to listen to on its own. Nobody has been able to reach his level since he bowed out after Z ended. The only real fault I have with Kikuchi is that his track get a bit repetitive in the Majin Boo arc.

User avatar
TheGreatness25
I Live Here
Posts: 4259
Joined: Fri Oct 19, 2007 9:36 am

Re: Does DBZ's OST Feel Lackluster at Times?

Post by TheGreatness25 » Sun Jan 15, 2017 4:32 pm

I really like the Kikuchi score, but it's hard to say that I have my favorites. The reason is because a lot of it sounds similar. This is stark contrast from the Faulconer tracks, which were basically so radically different for everything. Everyone had his or her own theme; every fight had its own theme; every stupid, nonsensical in-between moment had its own theme (which are my least favorite ones, by the way). Kikuchi was very consistent in the score and even though I know that we had some new stuff in DBZ, it feels like I've been listening to most of it since Dragon Ball. That's fine, it fits. But it can get a bit much to listen to the same-sounding thing for over two hundred episodes.

I can hear a clear distinction in the music since episode 200, though. The music during the episode title cards were reworked in several different ways, but served as the main beat for them.

However, I sincerely enjoy the Kikuchi score. I especially love the more iconic music like "Alas, the Days of Training," "The Fearsome Ginyu Special Task Force," "The Monster Freeza vs The Super Saiyan of Legend," "Dragon Ball Z (Theatrical Dragon Ball Z Suites)," "The Artificial Humans Go to Town," and "All's Well Ends Well: One More Conclusion." I also liked the less "iconic," but great additions of "Believe in Tomorrow," "We Gotta Power," and "We Were Angels." All names were taken from the Kikuchi "Dragon Ball Z: BGM Collection." Those are like my favorites that he did.

User avatar
Captain-Sora
Regular
Posts: 527
Joined: Fri Sep 19, 2008 10:22 am
Location: Earth

Re: Does DBZ's OST Feel Lackluster at Times?

Post by Captain-Sora » Sun Jan 15, 2017 5:08 pm

TheGreatness25 wrote:This is stark contrast from the Faulconer tracks, which were basically so radically different for everything. Everyone had his or her own theme; every fight had its own theme; every stupid, nonsensical in-between moment had its own theme (which are my least favorite ones, by the way).
To be fair, it's a little hard to measure up in thematic density when most of the original score is comprised of cues taken directly from the movies whereas FUNi's score was composed specifically for the show. One score will obviously have the advantage of having a huge wealth of material to play with. To Kikuchi's credit, when you hear his scores how they were originally intended to be presented, you can notice a good deal of leitmotifs associated with particular characters and ideas throughout the movies. If he were to have worked more on the show, it's probable that he would have composed lots of reoccurring themes.

User avatar
TheGreatness25
I Live Here
Posts: 4259
Joined: Fri Oct 19, 2007 9:36 am

Re: Does DBZ's OST Feel Lackluster at Times?

Post by TheGreatness25 » Sun Jan 15, 2017 5:28 pm

I completely understand and Kikuchi did an amazing job, but regardless, that's how it is.

Dragon Ball Ireland
I'm pretty cozy, here...
Posts: 1839
Joined: Thu May 21, 2015 9:09 am
Location: Kildare, Ireland

Re: Does DBZ's OST Feel Lackluster at Times?

Post by Dragon Ball Ireland » Sun Jan 15, 2017 5:52 pm

TheGreatness25 wrote:This is stark contrast from the Faulconer tracks, which were basically so radically different for everything. Everyone had his or her own theme; every fight had its own theme; every stupid, nonsensical in-between moment had its own theme (which are my least favorite ones, by the way).
That could be attributed to the fact the Faulconer Productions score was composed by several different musicians.
Selling
- Arrival DVD single
- Betrayal DVD single

Looking For
- Funimation Level 1.2 Replacement Cover
- Showdown DVD single

If interested PM with offers

Thouser
Beyond Newbie
Posts: 149
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2012 6:18 pm
Location: Texas

Re: Does DBZ's OST Feel Lackluster at Times?

Post by Thouser » Sun Jan 15, 2017 7:22 pm

Rukawa11 wrote:As many of you are aware, Kikuchi used the exact same style of compositions for late 1960s and early 70s shows like Tiger Mask, Kamen Rider, and Mazinger Z
Kikuchi didn't score Mazinger Z. That was Michiaki Watanabe.
Captain-Sora wrote:To be fair, it's a little hard to measure up in thematic density when most of the original score is comprised of cues taken directly from the movies whereas FUNi's score was composed specifically for the show. One score will obviously have the advantage of having a huge wealth of material to play with. To Kikuchi's credit, when you hear his scores how they were originally intended to be presented, you can notice a good deal of leitmotifs associated with particular characters and ideas throughout the movies. If he were to have worked more on the show, it's probable that he would have composed lots of reoccurring themes.
This is true. Kikuchi did compose leitmotifs for the movies, and the cues were often used in totally unrelated scenes in the TV anime. For example, a BGM with Vegeta's motif being used in a scene featuring Boo.
"Like that bald punk? Killyin... You're talking about Killyin?!!" - Anime Labs

「他们並不是我孫兒... 是我弟弟。」 - 龜仙人

User avatar
NintendoBlaze53
Regular
Posts: 567
Joined: Tue Aug 28, 2012 1:24 am
Location: Australia
Contact:

Re: Does DBZ's OST Feel Lackluster at Times?

Post by NintendoBlaze53 » Mon Jan 16, 2017 12:24 am

Every Composer for Dragon Ball captures a era of anime and as such is gonna be a product of times. Kikuchi is 80's. Tokunaga is 90's. Yamamoto is modern anime and Sumitomo is the current era. Pick your poison really. I feel each did their own style for the show. Kikuchi captures whimsical adventure and menace. Tokunaga captures grandeur and somewhat sorrow and farewell. Yamamoto captures battle and action. Sumitomo captures slice of life and may be the best and bringing Dragon Ball the closest to a US Hollywood score.

Simply. Kikuchi and Tokunaga are John Williams and Danny Elfman. Yamamoto and Sumitomo are Hans Zimmer and James Horner. Kinda a weird comparison but ehh.
"You should enjoy the little detours. To the fullest. Because that's where you'll find the things more important than what you want." -Ging Freecss

If you care about opinionated/critical analysis and reviews of anime, manga and gaming products, feel free to check out my website. https://otakustance.wordpress.com/

User avatar
Captain-Sora
Regular
Posts: 527
Joined: Fri Sep 19, 2008 10:22 am
Location: Earth

Re: Does DBZ's OST Feel Lackluster at Times?

Post by Captain-Sora » Mon Jan 16, 2017 2:28 am

James Horner fits Tokunaga better. Romantic, melancholic and grandiose music was his forte, and he was already a major player in the film scoring world before Elfman and Zimmer's time.

User avatar
TheQuazz
Beyond Newbie
Posts: 138
Joined: Wed Apr 13, 2016 8:37 am
Contact:

Re: Does DBZ's OST Feel Lackluster at Times?

Post by TheQuazz » Mon Jan 16, 2017 4:52 am

I agree somewhat, Kikuchi didn't really compose any battle music that fit the types of fights the series settled towards the end of and after the Freeza arc. Not to say that it's outdated at all, Kikuchi's music doesn't sound old to me at all. I just don't think his scores, which really fit the fast-paced action of early DB could really meld with the slower battles which were filled with a lot more powering up and ki-blast firing. Since he composed music for the movies, which still consisted of a lot of the faster hand-to-hand combat fights, I think (I might be completely wrong here) that Toei didn't really have any idea on how to place this music in the new DBZ, hence why there was a lot silence at times.

User avatar
Rukawa11
Not-So-Newbie
Posts: 58
Joined: Fri Dec 30, 2016 3:33 am

Re: Does DBZ's OST Feel Lackluster at Times?

Post by Rukawa11 » Mon Jan 16, 2017 5:11 pm

Lord Beerus wrote:Kikuchi's musical contributions to Dragon Ball were immense and what made Dragon Ball such a interactive experience. It goes without saying he is a fantastic composer, that captures the true essence of Dragon Ball through every track he has composed. From the comedic moments, to the heartwarming moments, to the sad moments and the intense/awesome moments.
Kikuchi's score is the most lacking in sad moments, actually. No track was played during (nor was there one that suited) Vegeta's tearful confession to Goku and death on Namek, for instance. A few episodes later, when Vegeta's phantom encourages Goku along with Bardock and King Vegeta, we're once again denied the full impact that that scene could've achieved due to the mediocre, neutral bgm that simply cannot be classified as anything.

It gets even worse as far as intense/ awesome moments are concerned. Was there a single bgm that conveyed intensity during Gohan and Cell's episode-long Kamehameha clash? (Most of the time it was that track with the army-like drum beat - so out of place it was painful).
Was there even a track played when Vegeta went ssj for the first time?
Did we not hear "The Monster Freeza vs. The Legendary Super Saiya-jin" for at least the 20th time when Goku first went ssj against Freeza? Was Goku becoming ssj for the first time the kind of scene in which you'd reuse an already tired bgm (that has even appeared when Freeza's henchmen find Bulma and try getting the dragonballs from her?)
What about Vegeta going into a fit of rage and attacking Cell after Trunks was killed? Where was the "intense" music then?
What about episode 181, when Gohan rises from the rubble after Piccolo had screamed himself hoarse about how Cell had killed him? Would you believe that, as Gohan made his way toward Cell, the bgm music played at that moment was the one constantly used during Gohan's survival with dinosaurs during the Saiyan Arc?
Finally, an incredibly dull bgm was played when Vegeta's final flash flew off the earth after ripping through Cell.

DBZ is by the far the most Shounen Anime where there's an utter mismatch between the intensity of the scenes and the bgm choices. Kikuchi may not have been responsible for those choices, but I don't think any track from his entire score would've done the aforementioned scenes any justice (Thank god we've had "Mind Power," "Battle Power Unlimited," "Solid State Scouter" and "Spirit vs. Spirit" for other intense scenes/ sad scenes.)
Lord Beerus wrote:His score provides that grand and epic wuxia nature that Dragon Ball encompasses as a whole.
Definitely the original Dragonball, but there's no "wuxia" nature in post-Namek DBZ. The show becomes so radically different that you just can't have the same sort of music. You can't play the same track that was used when Goku fought Tao Pai Pai in the Red Ribbon Army Arc in DBZ where ssj Goku fights against Freeza. Again, it may not have been Kikuchi's choice to use that track for that specific scene, but it's not like there were better alternatives apart from two or three tracks that had already appeared in that episode (and the ten or so episodes before it).
SaiyanGod117 wrote:Definitely, I don't know why fans here consider him so amazing his tracks are too soft and laid back. However, I would say he's 50/50 when it comes to good action soundtracks some can be good, some can be utterly boring and mediocre

Musically, a great deal of Kikuchi's score doesn't hit any significant notes, and therefore has this very "neutral" feel where you can't tell what kind of scenes it would suit. More than a few of his tracks seem to meander pointlessly with basic chords that you'd probably learn in your first piano lesson. There are times where it almost feels like he's put together some random pieces he'd played during a few jam sessions.
TheGreatness25 wrote:This is stark contrast from the Faulconer tracks, which were basically so radically different for everything. Everyone had his or her own theme; every fight had its own theme; every stupid, nonsensical in-between moment had its own theme (which are my least favorite ones, by the way).
Faulconer's music deserves far greater contempt. He went to the opposite extreme of writing a bgm track for just about everything, and where the frequent 5+ minutes of silence in the original DBZ is frustrating, I think the fact that the American version doesn't have five seconds without a bgm is kinda insane. The instances where Faulconer times the chord progression of a track to the order of punches thrown in a fight are incredibly distracting, and you soon find yourself begging him not to slow down/ replace the present track just because the fight had stopped for two seconds. Faulconer was clearly under the impression he was doing an AMV, not a soundtrack.
NintendoBlaze53 wrote:Every Composer for Dragon Ball captures a era of anime and as such is gonna be a product of times. Kikuchi is 80's.
By the time DBZ aired on April 1989, there was hardly any other Anime with that type of music. Check out other action shows from the 1988-1989 like Patlabor, Samurai Troopers (Ronin Warriors), Yawara, Ranma 1/2, Bubblegum Crisis, Shurato, and you'll suddenly feel like there's a major flaw in DBZ. Kikuchi's score wasn't 80's, it was 70's.
Thouser wrote:Kikuchi didn't score Mazinger Z. That was Michiaki Watanabe.
My bad, I assumed he did because he scored Grandizer (a spinoff of Mazinger Z with Kabuto Koji turned into a sidekick to the sheer fury of super robot fans)

User avatar
Lord Beerus
Namekian Warrior
Posts: 20962
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2014 5:20 pm
Location: A temple on a giant tree
Contact:

Re: Does DBZ's OST Feel Lackluster at Times?

Post by Lord Beerus » Mon Jan 16, 2017 6:29 pm

Kikuchi's score is the most lacking in sad moments, actually.
I greatly disagree with that.
It gets even worse as far as intense/ awesome moments are concerned. Was there a single bgm that conveyed intensity during Gohan and Cell's episode-long Kamehameha clash? (Most of the time it was that track with the army-like drum beat - so out of place it was painful).
Was there even a track played when Vegeta went ssj for the first time?
Did we not hear "The Monster Freeza vs. The Legendary Super Saiya-jin" for at least the 20th time when Goku first went ssj against Freeza? Was Goku becoming ssj for the first time the kind of scene in which you'd reuse an already tired bgm (that has even appeared when Freeza's henchmen find Bulma and try getting the dragonballs from her?)
What about Vegeta going into a fit of rage and attacking Cell after Trunks was killed? Where was the "intense" music then?
What about episode 181, when Gohan rises from the rubble after Piccolo had screamed himself hoarse about how Cell had killed him? Would you believe that, as Gohan made his way toward Cell, the bgm music played at that moment was the one constantly used during Gohan's survival with dinosaurs during the Saiyan Arc?
Finally, an incredibly dull bgm was played when Vegeta's final flash flew off the earth after ripping through Cell.
Not every intense moment needs an intense song in the background. Some of the most poignant moments in Dragon Ball have no music in them.

User avatar
OLKv3
I'm pretty cozy, here...
Posts: 1632
Joined: Sat Jun 18, 2016 12:39 pm

Re: Does DBZ's OST Feel Lackluster at Times?

Post by OLKv3 » Mon Jan 16, 2017 7:44 pm

I loved the Buu saga music. Especially the music that played during intense fights. Like SSJ2 Goku vs Kid Buu. Whenever that theme played ish got real.

Post Reply