RUDOLF THE BLACK CAT [RUDORUFU TO IPPAIATTENA] – Naoki Sato
Original Review by Jonathan Broxton
Rudolf the Black Cat is a Japanese animated family adventure film directed by Kunihiko Yuyama and Motonori Sakakibara. It follows the adventures of a suburban ‘indoor kitten’ named Rudolf, who has always longed to roam the streets of his little neighborhood. However, when Rudolf gets his wish and is accidentally abandoned miles away from his home in an unfamiliar big city by his owner, he must team up with a street cat called Gottalot in order to find his way back home.
The score for Rudolf the Black Cat is yet another outstanding work by Naoki Sato, chronologically the fifth of the nine scores he wrote in 2016. Considering the child-like and sentimental nature of the film, Sato’s music is a pretty, thematic delight, which contains several distinct stylistic ideas, and which are all excellent. Many of the cues are very short – often between 30 seconds and a minute – which does tend to make the album feel a little disjointed, with very little chance for the music to develop over a significant period of time, but this is really the only drawback of the score. The music itself, taken on its own terms, is excellent.
There is tender piano writing in the opening “Boku No Rie Chan” and the penultimate “Hontouha – Boku No Rie Chan Nan Da,” prancing pizzicatos in “Kono Atari No Koto Nara Kuwashii Yo,” a sweeping orchestral theme in “Rudorufu To Ippaiattena Main Title,” sentimental string writing in “Rie Chan” and “Rie Chan No Nukumori,” a dramatic Jaws spoof in “Bucchi No Shinobiashi-Mouken Chuui,” a rambunctious action sequence with a heroic finale in “Boss Neko,” tension and apprehension and a touch of horror in “Jigoku No Banken,” and much more besides. The best of the upbeat adventurous music can be heard in “Bouken No Hajimari,” “Doubutsu Zukan No Naka No Sekai,” “Track Ni Nocchae Ba,” and “Ippaiattena Ga,” each of which revel in stirring brass, strident strings and lively woodwinds.
Unfortunately Sato doesn’t really have much opportunity to return to many of the themes with any great frequency, instead treating each of Rudolf’s adventures as a vignette with its own musical identity. In fact, what many people will take away from the score is the recurring dance-like brassy samba ‘cat’s life’ theme which first appears in “Neko No Seikatsu – Atarashii Sekai,” is heard later in “Neko No Seikatsu – Utsuri Yuku Hibi” and the conclusive “Boku Ra Ha Soredemo Mae Wo Muku,” but gets its main statement in “Neko No Seikatsu – Ji Wo Oshiete Yo,” the longest cue on the album. It’s a bit of an ear-worm, and great fun, but may irritate some listeners with its unremittingly peppy and perky tone.
Having said that, my favorite cue is actually “Minna Genki De Ne!,” a 3½-minute extrapolation of the wonderful adventure music from “Bouken No Hajimari,” which could have been the main theme from a Bruce Broughton western score; the graceful dancing string writing, the lively brass undercurrent, the lithe woodwinds, the rattling percussion, and the sparkling sense of wit and fun are all infectious. Despite the fact that this is a short score for a children’s animated film about cats, Sato delivers his usual brand of sincerity, orchestral technique, and thematic beauty, resulting in a score which is certain to appeal to his fans. The score is available as an import from all the usual Japanese retailers like Yesasia, Play Asia, and CD Japan.
- Boku No Rie Chan (1:04)
- Kono Atari No Koto Nara Kuwashii Yo (0:25)
- Ano Mon No Soto Ni Ha (0:19)
- Rudorufu To Ippaiattena Main Title (0:34)
- Bouken No Hajimari (0:46)
- Rie Chan (1:21)
- Neko No Seikatsu – Atarashii Sekai (1:10)
- Bucchi No Shinobiashi-Mouken Chuui (0:59)
- Boss Neko (0:47)
- Ji Ga Yomerutte (1:24)
- Doubutsu Zukan No Naka No Sekai (1:12)
- Neko No Seikatsu – Ji Wo Oshiete Yo (3:29)
- Koko Kara Gifu Madette (1:02)
- Track Ni Nocchae Ba (1:30)
- Rie Chan No Nukumori (1:22)
- Kore De Kaereru! (0:34)
- Ippaiattena Ga (0:38)
- Doushitemo Shite Agetai Koto (1:33)
- Yasashii Uso (1:35)
- Jigoku No Banken (2:01)
- Shouri No Kime Serif! (0:20)
- Neko No Seikatsu – Utsuri Yuku Hibi (1:35)
- Rudo No Kesshin (0:59)
- Gifu He No Kaeri Kata (0:43)
- Minna Genki De Ne! (3:35)
- Zetsubou Ha Orokamono No (0:47)
- Kaette Kitan Da! (0:56)
- Hontouha – Boku No Rie Chan Nan Da! (2:48)
- Boku Ra Ha Soredemo Mae Wo Muku (3:28)
Virgin VPCG-83514, 39 minutes 13 seconds.