Monday, June 20, 2016

Harlock Saga: DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN (Wada, 1999)


     Leiji Matsumoto's manga character Space Pirate Captain Harlock has seen many different incarnations and adaptations, but one of the most fascinating was the 6 episode animated OAV (straight-to-video) "Harlock Saga" (Japanese: ハーロック・サーガ ニーベルングの指環), which was a very loose adaptation of Richard Wagner's "Das Rheingold" opera into a literal space opera.  In this epic,  Matsumoto's original manga and TV characters (Captain Harlock, his best friend Tochiro Ooyama, female pirate Emeraldas, mystery woman Maetel and alien muse Mime) encounter Wotan, Alberich and the other characters from Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen opera tetralogy.  Originally planned to encompass all 4 Wagner operas, this miniseries recreates the basic plot of the first, "Das Rheingold", and takes it into the realm of a struggle between humans and gods (essentially the same as Wagner's premise, except with spaceships).

     Musically, composer Kauru Wada's score uses one motif and one variation of a theme from Wagner's opera "Gotterdammerung" (actually the 4th and last of the Nibelung Ring operas), specifically material from "Siegfried's Funeral March".  In other words, this series is a loose adaptation of the first opera's story, but not so much the music.  The score was performed by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Kontantin Krimets, and the recording was released on 2 CDs with the below (somewhat misleading) titles:
  • DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN I: ハーロック・サーガ~ニーベルングの指輪~ラインの黄金 オリジナル・サウンド・トラック第1弾, Harlock Saga ~Nibelung no Yubiwa~ Rhein no Ougon Original Sound Track Vol.1
  • DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN II: ハーロック・サーガ~ニーベルングの指輪~ラインの黄金 オリジナル・サウンド・トラック第2弾, Harlock Saga ~Nibelung no Yubiwa~ Rhein no Ougon Original Sound Track Vol.2

     Wada skillfully extrapolates two melodic ideas from Siegfried's Funeral March and generates a grand and gothic score mixing suspense with swashbuckling "naval" textures.  In the CD booklet to Vol. 2, transcriptions of several themes are found, but I pretty much ignored them and used my own judgment (since I personally found the notes confusing or misleading).
  • Ring theme: 9-note rising-falling figure taken from Wagner's "Siegfried's Funeral March"
  • Ring fanfare: Brass accents preceding the Ring theme
  • Harlock theme: Noble, gothic rising theme derived from a variation of a theme from "Siegfried's Funeral March". 
  • Harlock March: Various propulsive march rhythms often leading to Harlock's theme.
  • Alberich theme: Mysterious suspense theme.
  • Nibelung theme: Winding theme often on organ (arpeggio ostinato labelled Mime's theme in booklet).
  • Freia theme: Variation of the Nibelung theme.
  • Wotan motif: Rising-falling motif, usually developed in winding lines.
  • Fasolt and Fafner theme: Poignant string theme.
  
CD.Trk Ep. Title Film Sequence
1.1 1-6 Overture Opening Credits, soundless images of the Arcadia and Wotan's base, battle, etc.
Low accents joined by Ring theme in bass, then joined by Harlock theme in horns/trombones, rising in brass layers, accents with added choir/drums.
1.2 1 The Planet 0:00: Recent transmissions of the an asteroid's interior urban traffic are reviewed on monitors.  However the patrol ship's sensors report that all life has now been extinguished.  The captain is informed a shuttle is approaching from behind (also when the Arcadia follows the enemy battleship to a dark planet in Ep. 3).
Wavering suspense string figures, joined by wind/brass dialogues, harp, pizz bass.
1:00: Sensors scan the ship and detect a bomb, as well as Emeraldas and Tochiro.  Tochiro asks the captain help them investigate the asteroid by blasting open a hole so they can enter.
Tremolo/pizz strings, brass/wind ornaments lead to accented Harlock March with jaunty Harlock theme variation (Tochiro theme) in solo winds (bassoon, clarinet, flute/oboe).
2:26: The space patrol ship blasts open a hole and then enters the asteroid interior.
Alberich theme fragment in suspense winds/strings/muted brass accents/piano accents/celeste joined by eerie cor anglais ornament.
1.3 1 Legend of the Witch 0:00: The captain explains that Mime is from an ancient race (the Nibelungen) which would destroy the universe if it arose again.  She wonders if Mime is on the asteroid.
Nibelung theme harmony developed on organ and choir textures.
0:27: Emeraldas and Tochiro enter a building and find a hologram of Mime playing an organ.  She tells them that she is sending the transmission from planet Rhein.  Bandits had destroyed Aclusion to find the location of Rhein in order to obtain the Rhein's gold and are on their way to Rhein.
Nibelung theme on organ as arpeggios and then melody, ending on harmony cadence.
1.4 1 The Fall 0:00: The asteroid begins to self-destruct.  Emeraldas and Tochiro steal a ship and escape the explosion (also when Tochiro escapes the exploding dark planet in Ep. 3).
Percussive action rhythm with strings/brass/winds/tam tam/taiko, developed with low piano, rising brass.
1:25: A mysterious ship flies away.
Ominous brass fanfare derived from Ring harmony.
1.5 1 Three Women 0:00: Emeraldas and Tochiro fly to Rhein and find a watery world.  They find the source of Mime's transmission, but abandoned.
Ring theme in winds/tremolo and bowed strings, joined by Harlock theme in cor anglais/brass.
1:03:Three water nymphs float to the surface and stand on the rocks.
Swirling harp/strings, mysterious winds/brass.
1.6 1 Harlock 0:00: The Arcadia arrives at Rhein.  Harlock asks Mime to return to the ship.
Ring fanfare, Harlock theme in brass ending in brass accent, mysterious strings, Harlock theme in solo winds supported by low strings.
1:07: Back on the Arcadia, Harlock thanks Mime for returning.  He promises to find the bandits.
Harlock theme in brass/tremolo strings, low strings, ending in Ring theme in low strings with wind accents.
1.7 5 Ride of the Valkyries Alberich's battle fleet battles Wotan's space defenses (also when Alberich arrives outside Valhalla and destroys Wotan's fighters).
Richard Wagner:  Opening prelude to Act 3 of the opera "Die Walküre" in the usual arrangement of brassv fanfares, galloping winds, swirling strings and snare rolls.
1.8 2 Prelude Recap of previous episode: Emeraldas and Tochiro leave Rhein and the planet subsequently explodes.
Energetic Harlock March in drums/swirling strings/muted brass joined by Harlock theme in brass, ending in suspense cadence.
1.9 2 The Rhein Gold Emeraldas tells Mime that she is returning to her ship, but will help her if she needs it.  She departs.
Held strings into Nibelung theme in oboe, strings, harp into Harlock theme variation in bassoon.
1.10 2 Maetel 0:00: Harlock learns that the bandit ship is heading for Earth.  Mime tells him that the bandit needs Dr. Daiba to make the Rhein gold into a ring.  Scene cuts to Earth.
Suspense strings joined by Ring theme in contrabassoon, suspense strings, mysterious clarinet, harp/strings.
0:59: Maetel tells Tadashi Daiba that if someone appears asking him to make a ring from gold, that he should refuse.  She tells him it is a message from Harlock.
Low piano accents, Ring harmony in strings/brass, Harlock theme fragment in horns.
1:39: After Tadashi has completed the Ring, Alberich shoots Tadashi and laughs.
Trumpet flourish, into accented and tremolo strings, brass accent, harp, eerie strings.
1.11 2  The Man with a Mask 0:00: Alberich enters Tadashi's metal refinery lab and marvels at the equipment.
Alberich theme in winds/tremolo strings/muted brass accents, joined by Alberich brass figure and Alberich in bass clarinet, harp pluck.
0:40: Alberich causes Tadashi's car to crash (also the Arcadia pursues Alberich's ship in Ep. 3).
Rhythmic string tremoli over bongo rhythm with bass plucks and brass accents/rising figure leading to brass end cadence.
1:17: Tadashi wakes up in his darkened lab and meets Alberich.
Suspense texture in vibraphone/strings/flute, tam tam into foreboding Alberich strings, harp cadence.
1:51: When Alberich asks Tadashi to make a ring from the gold, he hesitates, but Alberich plays on his pride to convince him to make the ring.
String tremoli and low string accents, joined by bass clarinet dialogue with cor anglais motif.
1.12 2 The Golden Ring Tadashi forges the ring using hot and cold metallurgical techniques.  Alberich takes the ring and gloats about his power.
Accented rhythm under fateful versions of Ring theme and Harlock theme developed in drums/strings/brass.
1.13 2 The Journey Tochiro asks Tadashi to come with him to see Harlock.  He gives Tadashi his father's Cosmodragoon pistol and tells him that his father was a member of Harlock's crew.  They take off from Earth and soon approach the Arcadia.
Martial drum/string accent rhythm joined by regal brass theme, developed into a fanfare based on Harlock theme, ending with falling winds/celeste/harp.
1.14 2 Arcadia On the bridge of the Arcadia, Harlock welcomes Tadashi.  The Arcadia launches.
Rhythmic timpani and string accents lead to Harlock theme in trumpets/bassoons, joined by brass/strings, developed with brass accents.
1.15 2 Legend of the Makrokosmos Mime tells Harlock and his friends that she is Alberich's sister and that they are the last of the Nibelung clan.  Alberich plans to use the ring to start a war with Wotan and the gods.
Fateful female choir and cascading harp joined by Harlock theme developed in low strings, strings, tam tam/string cadence, choir leads to Harlock theme in low brass, ending in brass accents.
1.16 3 Great Cosmic Battle 0:00: An enemy battleship prepares to fire on the Arcadia.  Harlock orders the ship to battlestations and makes evasive maneuvers.
Low brass accents joined by drums/gong, suspenseful swirling strings and wind flourishes. 
0:46: Tochiro and Yattaran prepare return fire.
Harlock brass fragments developed into an action rhythm, ending  in a suspense cadence.
1.17 3 The Search At the dark planet, Harlock learns that the center is made of a giant ship.  Tochiro descends in a flyer to investigate.  He finds a giant well and flies in.  He loses contact with the Arcadia.
Low strings, muted brass/bass clarinet/oboe variation of Harlock theme, held strings lead to winding Alberich variation bassoon figures over low wind/string accent rhythm, wavering brass figures and eerie Alberich strings with brass accents/winding high Alberich wind figures.
1.18 3 The Planet-Shaped Spaceship Tochiro finds a smaller planet at the center of the dark planet.  Mime tells Harlock it is a planet-type ship which she and Alberich had stolen from Wotan's palace on Valhalla.  She explains that Alberich wants to show Harlock how Wotan had oppressed the Nibelungs.
Eerie/fateful falling strings/choir leading to winding piano ostinato/bass accents/held strings.
1.19 3 The Secret of the Gods Tochiro reports that the ship is 650 million years old.  Mime explains that the Nibelung had helped mankind rise while Valhalla slept, but now that the Gods have awakened, man will be destroyed in the ensuing conflict.
Low percussion/strings and brass pulses leading to Ring theme in low winds, joined by Harlock theme fragments in brass/strings, developed into a danger fanfare.
1.20 3 Crisis 0:00: Wotan is disgusted at how old he has become.  Fricka tells him it's because the Rheingold has been taken and time now flows again.
Foreboding Wotan motif in low strings in dialogue with violins/violas.
0:40: The Arcadia escapes the exploding dark planet and destroys an approaching debris asteroid.
Fast falling ostinato in strings with brass/drum swells/accents and Harlock fragments in brass layers.
1:08: Mime cries out and the Arcadia is mysteriously drawn into an unknown direction.
Urgent Harlock-derived strings/brass fanfare.
1.21 1-3 Aurifera:
To the Promised Land
End credit song for Episodes 1-3:
Composer: Akira Inoue, Vocal: Nozomu Odagi.


CD.Trk Ep. Title Film Sequence
2.1 4 A Warning for the Gods 0:00: The Arcadia is drawn through space towards Valhalla as Freia plays the organ.
Low brass/timpani, Nibelung theme on organ as arpeggios and then as melody.
0:53: Wotan and Fricka discuss the fortress ship which the giant Risenheim brothers are building for them.  Erda appears and gives Wotan a warning. 
Nibelung theme on strings/timpani, tam tam scrape accent into poignant/tremolo strings, joined by muted suspense brass and Wotan motif developed in bass, gong/timpani into bass clarinet ornament (Erda), bass pulses with wavering brass/falling and tremolo strings/vibraphone/bass clarinet ornament motif, joined by muted brass accents.
3:03: She also tells him of Harlock's approach and not to underestimate the humans.  Wotan is dismissive of her warnings.  Erda departs.
Low strings/timpani into Harlock theme in brass/winds/strings/timpani, mysterious winds/strings, tremolo strings under dialogue of brass accents, bass clarinet ornaments and harp, Wotan motif in low strings leading to brass/wind accents and Ring theme in strings.
2.2 4 Appearance
of the Fortress
A giant globe-shaped fortress appears on the Arcadia's screen.  Wotan and Fricka observe the Arcadia's approach.  They decide to visit the unfinished fortress and depart in a glowing globe.
Poignant Wotan motif developed in strings with timpani accents, wind/string trills joined by cor anglais solo based on Wotan motif, developed on low strings/timpani.
2.3 4 Fasolt and Fafner 0:00: The Risenheim brothers ask Wotan about their request to have Freia after the fortress is complete.  They ask to touch her or they will not complete the fortress before Alberich's battle fleet arrives.  Wotan agrees.
Dialogue of poignant string layers (Fasolt and Fafner theme).
2:09: Freia plays the organ and the Risenheim brothers approach.  Freia screams.  Wotan expresses regret.
Freia theme on organ arpeggios, Freia theme on organ, joined by rhythmic strings, timpani roll end cadence.
2.4 4 Invasion/
Landing
0:00: The Arcadia shakes as it arrives at Valhalla and is buffeted by rocks and lightning.  A giant rock shales the ship and Mime is knocked out (also Ep. 6 when Harlock takes a shuttle to reach Alberich's ship inside the fortress' liquid prison).
Rhythmic falling violin ostinato with brass/timpani/cymbal accents/ornaments, percussive rhythm with brass fanfares derived from Harlock theme, danger accents, falling strings ostinato, rising cadence.
1:04: The Arcadia lands and finally skids to a stop.  Harlock asks for a status report.
Rhythmic rising-falling string ostinato with brass fanfares, accents, falling strings/brass/timpani, rhythmic low strings with Harlock ornaments in high winds, low brass/strings with percussion solo, muted suspense brass figures, Harlock fragment in low winds.
2.5 4 Tochiro In Trouble Tochiro and Harlock take off in flying platforms to explore the foggy landscape.  Tochiro is drawn underground by green tentacles.
Wavering strings (derived from "The Planet") and bass plucks, joined by wind ornaments/string swells/bass/brass accents, tremolo strings/harmonic string textures/bass clarinet.
2.6 4 A Large Fleet
of Battleships
Wotan sees Alberich's battle fleet on a monitor, as Tochiro explores an underground forest.
Foreboding Alberich theme in low brass and strings, timpani/wind ornaments, low strings, tremolo strings into brass accent.
2.7 5 Goodbye 0:00: Tochiro finds the pipe organ and a distraught Freia.
Freia theme developed in winding choir/strings, harp cadence.
1:04: Freia tells Tochiro that the organ controls time.  Mime arrives and Freia faints.
Harlock theme in organ, harp arpeggios joined by soft strings.
2.8 5 Emptiness Of Wotan Wotan and Fricka discuss how long they have lived on Valhalla.  Fricka encourages Wotan to stay resolved.
Low piano accents joined by somber Wotan full theme on solo cor anglais.
2.9 5 The Robot's Attack Wotan's assassination robot attacks Tochiro, Mime and Freia.  He is outgunned until the Arcadia arrives.
Harlock March in drums/strings, joined by Harlock theme harmony in brass/gong.
2.10 5 Mystery Of Valhalla And Alberich 0:00: Freia explains that when she plays the organ Valhalla vibrates and resonates with the organ on Rhein, controlling time.
Poignant muted brass, modulating Nibelung arpeggios on organ/ethereal textures/muted brass.
0:39: Mime explains that Wotan banished the Nibelung, but now Alberich will use the Rheingold ring to stop the resonating vibrations.  This will eventually cause Valhalla and the universe to be destroyed.
Ominous low brass Alberich theme layers dialogue with rising strings and brass accents/string tremoli/winds, brass accents into Ring theme in low strings, Harlock theme slowly developed on brass and winds, ending in brass/string/timpani cadence.
2.11 5 Harlock's Decision Harlock promises to restore the Rheingold.
Rhythmic brass/snare accents joined by Harlock theme in brass/timpani.
2.12 5 Power of
the Ring
Alberich uses the Ring to destroy Wotan's space defenses with black light.  A panicked Wotan orders the giant brothers to hand over the fortress.
Fanfare in timpani/falling choir/swirling strings, brass cadence, timpani accents into poignant strings, Wotan theme in winds into fanfare reprise.
2.13 5 The Arcadia's Departure The Arcadia takes off and bursts free of the underground forest.  It heads towards Wotan's fortress.
Harlock March in drums/strings, Harlock theme in brass with wind ornaments, developed with strings and winds, ending in a worried accent.
2.14 6 Anguish of Fasold & Fafner Wotan orders the Risenheim brothers to attack the Arcadia but they resist, especially since Mime and Freia are on board.  Meanwhile Alberich's battle fleet approaches.
Accented low string ornament, low strings with low wind accents/ornaments, joined by violins, low winds.
2.15 6 Entry into the Fortress The Arcadia approaches and enters the space fortress on the Risenheim brothers' invitation.  Wotan wonders why they are not firing on the Arcadia.
Low Wotan brass developed with gong, drums, strings, vibraphone/tam tam accent leads to low string accents/Harlock fragment in low winds, danger accent.
2.16 6 Sentiments For Freia  Fasolt explains that they only did Wotan's bidding for Freia's sake, but now realize that there is too great a difference between themselves and Freia.  Mime and Harlock urge the Risenheim brothers to fight Alberich's forces.
Dialogue of poignant string layers (Fasolt and Fafner theme), low piano/string accents joined by wind/string figures.
2.17 6 Harlock & Wotan Harlock talks to Wotan over the monitor and tells him that he will retrieve the Rheingold ring for the sake of the universe.
Low brass rhythmic accents into Harlock theme in brass layers, joined by strings/winds.
2.18 6 Arcadia vs Alberich Alberich refuses to give up the ring and challenges the Arcadia.  Tochiro orders battle preparations.  The Arcadia and Alberich's ship exchange fire.  The Risenheim brothers use the fortress to trap both ships in a prison of darkness (fluid of the Dragon).
Low winds/strings/drums, Harlock March, joined by Harlock theme in rising brass layers, swirling strings, Harlock March into danger fanfare.
2.19 6 Harlock vs Alberich Harlock confronts Alberich on his ship.  After a brief gun battle he obtains the ring.
String tremoli into Ring theme in low strings/string accents, developed with brass/drum/string accents.
2.20 6 Decision of the Brothers/
Escape
The Risenheim brothers tell Harlock and Tochiro that they will self-destruct the fortress in order to save the Arcadia.  Meanwhile, Freia floats down to Valhalla in a pipe organ space capsule.  The fortress begins to explode.
Low winds/muted brass/violins/timpani/gong into Freia theme arpeggios on organ, Ring theme and Harlock theme in strings/brass/male choir with accents, ending in timpani swell.
2.21 6 End Song The Arcadia departs Valhalla.  Mime vows to return the Rhein gold.  Harlock warns that the destruction of the fortress has released thr Dragon fluid out into the universe, which will revive long-dormant monsters.
Ring fanfare in muted brass, Harlock theme in strings, brass/harp joined by strings and developing into regal Harlock theme fragment.
2.22
"Siegfried's Funeral March" Unused: Richard Wagner: "Siegfried's Funeral March" instrumental interlude from the opera Götterdämmerung, Act 3.
2.23
HARLOCK SAGA
Symphonic Suite
0:00: Ring fanfare on drums/choir/brass accents/swirling strings, Ring theme in strings, Harlock theme in brass, Ring fanfare.
1:19: Freia theme in building organ arpeggios, becoming Nibelung theme arpeggios, joined by harp ornaments/celeste/female choir.
2:21: Low string accents/tremoli, Erda bass clarinet ornament, harp, Alberich theme on cor anglais, strings, Wotan on organ/low brass, joined by martial percussion/brass. 
4:08: Harlock March, joined by Harlock theme in brass, strings with wind ornaments, developed on strings/brass/timpani.
5:49: Ring fanfare on brass/choir/drums, brass accents into Ring theme in strings.
2.24 4-6 Druid:
The Sage of the Oak
End credit song for Episodes 4-6:
Composer: Akira Inoue, Vocal: Nozomu Odagi.




Links
Harlock Saga Wiki Entry 
Leiji Matsumoto Wiki Entry
Harlock Saga 1 (DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN I) on VGMDB
Harlock Saga 2 (DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN II) on VGMDB
Moscow Symphony Orchestra
Der Ring des Nibelungen (Wagner's opera cycle) Wiki Entry

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