[C] ED Single – RPG – Review

Album Title: RPG
Anime Title: [C]: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control
Artist: School Food Punishment
Catalog Number: ESCL-3668
Release Type: OP/ED Single
Release Date: May 11, 2011
Purchase at: CDJapan

Track Title Artist Time
01. RPG School Food Punishment 4:05
02. Slide show School Food Punishment 3:41
03. Transition period School Food Punishment 3:14

Review: How hard will you try in life? How feverishly will you try to be successful before it’s not worth it? Even if you don’t know what lies ahead, instead of retreating, on what faith do you choose to push forward? Sometimes life doesn’t offer you that choice; sometimes it’s a matter of choosing to give up or go as far as you can with what you’ve got. When the light turns green at the intersection of life, there’s no turning back. You choose a direction, and go.

School Food Punishment’s titular track on their latest single RPG presents a similar philosophy, but asks a profound question: if you must do something, but you’re unsure of how things will turn out, do you rush towards it and embrace the challenge or begrudgingly force yourself along? Will you get dragged into the ring or strut forward with your head held high? And when things start to look bad, will you crumble under the pressure or try even harder?

“mienai tsugi no stage / I cannot yet see the next stage.
saki ni susumu hodo  fukaku naru ao / The farther I advance, the deeper the surrounding blue becomes,
yami ni tobikonde / as I plunge into the darkness.

Play or fade out?”

As a college student in an unsure economy and shaky job market, lyrics like these speak to me more deeply than any drums or violins or synthesizer effects, but what’s being said isn’t even half the story. The simple fact is that “RPG’s” musical aspect is absolutely dazzling. It shuffles along with a sort of spy thriller flair (there is clearly some melodic minor harmony afoot here) and is constantly at boiling point; even the quiet bits brim with understated fervor. The keyboard, drums, strings, electric guitar, and crunchy synthesizer absolutely dance behind Yumi Uchimura’s vocals and seem to tell their own story. The way a series of delicate pizzicato string plucks, a heavy, foreboding guitar twang and quietly syncopated, densely harmonized piano chords send the intensity through the roof is utterly stunning.

A song can be considered great if it gives you goose bumps for one moment and sends a tingle down your spine a single time. “RPG” gives you that moment constantly. “RPG” is that moment. There’s constantly a million things going on at once, but instead of feeling complicated or overwhelming, it sounds dark, rich, and complex. Even more impressively, it does that while being essentially through-composed; no background section is ever repeated. While synthesizer solos in general tend to sound lazy, the one featured here has a certain human element to it that lends it an intricacy that elevates it from being an uninspired replacement for a real guitar solo to something simply irreplaceable.

I haven’t heard such a successful blend of voice, acoustic, and electric instruments since Chris Cornell’s “You Know My Name” from the opening of Casino Royale, and “RPG” even manages to incorporate synthesizers into the score. Even after listening to it over 20 times now, I am still discovering new piano riffs and bass licks and string runs I haven’t heard before. It’s by far my favorite anime song yet this year (sorry, fans of the AnoHana OP).

On the b-side, we have “Slide show” and “Transition period,” which, if nothing else, exhibits some of School Food Punishment’s typically fascinating and adventuresome harmony. Though they don’t have the utterly inspired, effortlessly catchy likeability of “RPG,” these are great numbers that unfortunately live in the shadow of this album’s namesake.

Slide show

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“Slide show” is a lightly bossa-inspired romp that is the most ethereal-sounding song on the single. The keyboard vamp brings you into the gently hurried rhythm as Yumi’s voice entices you to listen closer. Probably the most impressive aspect of this track is the very active, dynamic bass guitar. A too-often phoned-in instrument in a band, it’s a testament to the top-to-bottom quality School Food Punishment delivers here.\

Transition period

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And finally, we have “Transition period,” a wonderfully genre-less, delightfully strange black sheep of a song. The key changes constantly and progressions never quite resolve the way you expect, giving the track a sort of off-kilter, unruly personality. It’s the least “real” of the three songs, with the least emphasis placed on acoustic instruments and with Yumi’s voice “computer assisted” to give it an auto-tuned sound. The overall effect is like somebody rapidly placing and removing a plastic bag over Yumi’s head while she’s singing. But what makes this track so unapologetically, bizarrely eccentric is the bonkers flange-filtered synthesizer solo. Taking an already outlandish progression, it emphasizes tones it really shouldn’t have and does some chromatic passes that may have been unadvisable, but it is so purposely, defiantly audacious that it is simply fantastic.

School Food Punishment has become somewhat of an otaku darling in recent years with their unique sound and featured appearance on the acclaimed Eden of the East. With this, I feel they’ve really cemented themselves as a serious testament that contemporary popular music can be at once fun to listen to and seriously intelligent.

Rating: Excellent

[C] ED – RPG

Aftershok

A huge jazz nerd and unabashed fan of alternative rock, I joined Anime Instrumentality in December 2010. I tend to get very passionate when it comes to music and try my best to understand how it works. An enormous fan of The Pillows, among my favorite anime composers include Ko Otani and Yoko Kanno. My tastes in anime vary wildly, but I try to be as thoughtful about my viewing as I am about my listening. I play the saxophone.

18 thoughts on “[C] ED Single – RPG – Review

  • June 18, 2011 at 10:59 pm
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    You weren’t kidding when you said that you wrote a lot for the single ED haha. I’m not sure what else I could add to this, you pretty much know my history with this particular song through our twitter convos.

    “A song can be considered great if it gives you goose bumps for one moment and sends a tingle down your spine a single time.”

    That right there is the essence of this song. I still get chills when the song opens up during all my runs. And I’ve listened to the song over 400 times at this point.

    I’m really torn between this and AnoHana’s ED as the best of the season. On one hand, Ano Hana’s execution and implementation of their ED into every episode is brilliant, but if I were to judge it solely on enjoyment, RPG takes the cake.

    Decisions, decisions….

    Reply
  • June 18, 2011 at 11:55 pm
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    I love both OP and ED from [C], and I mostly agree with your post. 😛

    Reply
  • June 20, 2011 at 12:53 am
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    So that’s what you meant by 400 words for one song… And deservedly so. Excellent review, and like Bass, I can’t really say that I can add much to what you’ve wrote here.

    I’ve literally listened to this song over 1900+ times by now, and it never failed to send a chill down my spine every time. The lyrics are inspirational, Yumi Uchimura’s vocal are nothing short of brilliant, and each instrument continues to bring the song into life. Quite frankly, this is the type of music that I have always enjoyed, and hope to see more of in the future instead of the currently idol-plagued industry.

    Reply
  • June 20, 2011 at 2:23 am
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    Cool, I’ve been replaying the crap out of School Food Punishment lately. More SFP songs is nice.

    Reply
  • June 20, 2011 at 1:32 pm
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    school food punishment is one of my favorite bands for a good reason. There’s just something about how their style of instrumentals and Uchimura Yumi’s voice blend together that makes their songs so artistic. Their lyrics are thoughtfully written as well, and even though sometimes they’re packed so full of meaning that they end up nearly incomprehensible (“loop, share” I’m looking at you), they still bring an aura of unique dreaminess and modernism to the table.

    I think the incredibly uplifting “Kakenukeru” would probably be my favorite song from them followed by “RPG” and “Percentage” (which Yumi actually cried writing the lyrics to). High speed, high speed~

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBCCH_HjnKY

    Excellent review, Aftershok.

    Reply
  • June 20, 2011 at 7:39 pm
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    I expect nothing less from my favorite group :)

    Incredibly well put together review Aftershok. Very much enjoyed reading it. You somehow made me appreciate the music even more than I already did!

    Reply
  • June 21, 2011 at 9:20 am
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    @Bass
    It’s interesting to note that people actually tend to run faster or slower depending on the tempo of the music they’re listening to. I’d say the more heartfelt song is the one from AnoHana, but the better song is “RPG.” But then it just boils down to personal taste.

    @feal87
    I do apologize for the 49.99% of my post you do not agree with.

    @Hikaru
    By my rudimentary calculations, I have determined that you have spent an absurd amount of time listening to this song. Let me take you through my steps:

    The song is four minutes and five seconds long, thus it is 245 seconds long. You said you’ve “literally listened to [the] song 1900+” times, so I will go for the most conservative estimate and say you’ve heard it 1901 times. So that is a total of 465,745 seconds listening to this song. That is approximately 129.4 hours, or 5.4 days. Assuming, again, the most conservative estimate, let’s say you downloaded the song the day it was released, which was 5/11/2011. That means there were 39 days (and 53 minutes) between midnight of the date of release to the time of your comment. You’ve been actively listening to the song for a minimum of 5.4 days out of a maximum of 39 days, meaning you’ve spent 13.8% of your time listening to “RPG,” minimum. Let’s again be conservative and say you get 6 hours of sleep every night, so you are active only 18 of those 24 hours in a day. So since the day of release of this song, you’ve spent a minimum 18.5% of your waking hours listening to this song. And that’s as conservative an estimate as I can muster.

    Now, that’s dedication.

    @Valence
    Cool food is good food.

    @Suzushina
    I was particularly enamored by the Eden of the East ED, myself, but “RPG” seemed like a much more refined, fully realized version of their style.

    Thanks for reading! I aim to please.

    @Karisu
    The only downside with high expectations is that he next thing they come out with will be either a disappointment or just something we all expected.

    And many thanks for the compliments. I am here to spread my message of love, peace, and music appreciation. Happy to know someone thinks its decent.

    Reply
  • June 22, 2011 at 1:17 am
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    @Aftersh0k There are various other factors which would’ve distorted/contributed some of the play counts, then there’s the fact that the full song + PV was actually released about a week before the actual single was released. 😛

    Reply
  • June 22, 2011 at 1:11 pm
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    I’m happy that there are some more songs from School Food Punishment, and will probably have them all on my Ipod shortly. I don’t much like “Transition Period” though, just to much on the synthesizing.

    @Aftershok – I definitely run in tempo with music, which is why listening to a song of the wrong pace can seriously mess up your pace. In terms of running music though, I found Tomare by The Melancholy of Suzumiya cast is the best by far, I always have to listen to it at the end stretch of a run, because by the end it’s coaxed me into sprinting, no matter how far I’ve already run.

    Reply
  • June 22, 2011 at 11:50 pm
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    What made me hooked to this song is the nice beat in the beginning, reminds me a bit of one of mizuki nana’s kind of music in of her albums.

    i dont know if it fits with C’s concept of anime but for sure the song does justice =)

    Reply
  • June 23, 2011 at 9:01 pm
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    I perfectly agree with this post. School Food Punishment’s RPG never stops giving me the chills, and the message of the song rings out with me with absolute certainty.

    School Food Punishment has established themselves as an anime fan favorite with this song.

    Reply
  • June 23, 2011 at 9:14 pm
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    Oh wow, I liked RPG when I first heard it after watching C, but the lyrics make it even better. Plus, the song’s title really matches its content.

    Reply
  • June 26, 2011 at 7:31 pm
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    @Hikaru
    Trying to weasel your way out of it, huh? Nope! Now we all know your secret.

    @Fumoffu!!
    Hopefully, SFP will continue to fulfill our lofty expectations. I fear their own quality will collapse in on themselves soon, as much as I wish they’d continue to hit home runs like RPG.

    If I ever decide to remove myself from my sedentary college eating/drinking lifestyle, I will try this thing called “running.” I hear it is similar to beer pong?

    @Fabrice
    I have problems with the show itself, but at the very least the animation they put behind RPG is satisfactory.

    @Kuro
    If I ever make a movie, I’ll be sure to go to you for quotes for the movie poster:

    “…never stops giving me the chills…”
    “I perfectly agree…”
    “…established themselves as an anime fan favorite…”
    “…the message…rings…with absolute certainty.”

    @Reltair
    The lyrics do add an extra layer of meaning to the song, and it’s nice how well it matches the themes of the show (not that I’d be too familiar with them, as I dropped it after episode 2).

    Reply
  • June 28, 2011 at 3:26 am
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    I am speaking the truth 😀

    P.S – I think you’ve wrote my name wrong

    Reply
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