|Anime Title:||[C]: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control|
|Artist:||School Food Punishment|
|Release Type:||OP/ED Single|
|Release Date:||May 11, 2011|
|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” 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.\
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.
[C] ED – RPG