Ping Pong the Animation Original Soundtrack – Discussion and Review

Ping Pong the Animation

Album Title: PING PONG SOUNDTRACK Standard Edition
Anime Title: Ping Pong the Animation
Artist: Kensuke Ushio, Oorutaichi
Catalog Number: ANXX-00570
Release Type: Soundtrack
Release Date: November 26, 2014
Purchase at: iTunes


Tracklist

Show »

Track Title Artist Time
01. Hero Appears Kensuke Ushio 2:06
02. Hero Theme Kensuke Ushio 2:00
03. Moon Base Kensuke Ushio 1:45
04. A Day of Peco Kensuke Ushio 1:33
05. Katase High School Ping Pong Club Kensuke Ushio 1:40
06. Obaba Tamura Kensuke Ushio 1:31
07. China Kensuke Ushio 2:08
08. Like A Dance Kensuke Ushio 2:27
09. Old Joe Kensuke Ushio 1:42
10. Butterfly Joe Kensuke Ushio 1:46
11. Game Analyst Kensuke Ushio 1:22
12. Smile Monster Kensuke Ushio 1:42
13. Ping Pong Phase Kensuke Ushio 0:37
14. Four-Eyes Attacks Kensuke Ushio 1:57
15. Rivals Kensuke Ushio 1:40
16. In Mirrors Kensuke Ushio 1:36
17. Akuma Kensuke Ushio 1:59
18. Out of Control Kensuke Ushio 1:59
19. Dragon Kensuke Ushio 2:17
20. Nothing Happens Kensuke Ushio 2:12
21. Yurie Kensuke Ushio 1:29
22. Poseidon CF Kensuke Ushio 0:27
23. The Melancholy of Dragon Kensuke Ushio 1:45
24. Wish Upon A Star Kensuke Ushio 1:51
25. His Noise Kensuke Ushio 1:10
26. Tenderness Kensuke Ushio 1:30
27. A Recipe of Hero Kensuke Ushio 1:44
28. China’s Kitchen Kensuke Ushio 1:32
29. Sweet Pain Kensuke Ushio 1:31
30. Night Cruising Kensuke Ushio 1:41
31. The Heat Kensuke Ushio 2:18
32. Sanada Kensuke Ushio 1:56
33. Say My Name Kensuke Ushio 1:45
34. My Home, China Kensuke Ushio 2:49
35. Childhood Kensuke Ushio 1:51
36. The Other Side of Dragon Kensuke Ushio 1:53
37. Peco Kensuke Ushio 2:50
38. Ping Pong Phase2 Kensuke Ushio 1:59
39. 手のひらを太陽に Kensuke Ushio 1:43
40. Tenderness(5years after) Kensuke Ushio 1:10
41. Farewell Song Kensuke Ushio 1:31
42. Hero Appears (Reprise) Kensuke Ushio 1:17

Review: A casual listen of Ping Pong the Animation‘s soundtrack led to a discussion on the Anime Instrumentality Group Chat. Here’s the fruits of the resulting discussion, edited to make us sound a bit more thoughtful and coherent:

zzeroparticle:
When it comes to musical genres, I’m least qualified to talk about electronica. That’s because much of its structure and conventions are alien to my ears. So when I stumble upon something like Ping Pong the Animation’s soundtrack, my first reaction is that it’s interesting in a good way.

Pointblanket:
I don’t remember it standing out all that much, other than maybe the techno tracks playing during the various sports montages. Though perhaps that’s just because the music blended so well with Ping Pong’s unique visual style.

zzeroparticle:
I definitely agree with that. While watching the anime, the music kept up the steady rhythm in a way that was integrated smoothly with the visuals. As I listen to Ping Pong’s soundtrack standalone, I find myself drawn into its nice buzzing flurry of electronic sounds. This isn’t the type of music that would normally appeal to me, but so far, the experience hasn’t been unpleasant. It’s a nice change of pace that may just grow on me in the way Paprika’s OST did.

If nothing else, the context bias gives it a boost.

Pointblanket:
Yup. Lets see if a listen-through of the soundtrack will re-spark some fond memories that justify Ping Pong as a top pick for anime series of 2014…

Ah right, the hero’s theme, that was a track heavily featured during many uplifting transitions.

Hero Theme

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zzeroparticle:
Yeah, Ping Pong’s “Hero Theme” sounds… different. The piece channels its intensity in a way that carries a hint of grandiosity in its minimalism, but is definitely far from your standard hero’s theme.

Pointblanket:
I think it’s got a great vibe to it that’s filled with determination. I would say this track is a good representation of the electronic style that Ushio used for this soundtrack — relatively simple, looped chord progressions, with development created from adding or removing layers to the foundation. “Like a Dance” is another pretty fun example of this:

Like a Dance

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I’d say that the minimalistic music flowed extremely well with the artistic style and sports montages during the anime, but, there’s (probably intentionally) not much attention called to the tracks themselves. For me, these pieces work better in context rather than for stand-alone listening.

zzeroparticle:
Many of these tracks aren’t the kind that will stand out without the visuals or the energy that flows out from the action to back them up. But to composer Ken Ushio’s credit, they’re not bad either. For example, I wouldn’t necessarily listen to something like “Moon Base” on its own, but it wouldn’t be bad music to have in the background when I’m working.

Moon Base

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I think the most definitive thing to say about Ping Pong is that it’s a great example of an atmospheric soundtrack. Far better than many other atmospheric soundtracks that I’ve been exposed to in a good long while.

Pointblanket:
I’d say so too! Rarely was the music intrusive (unless the context called for it to feel that way).

zzeroparticle:
I’m most surprised by the fact that I’m not bored to tears listening to this like I usually would be. There’s a lot to like here beyond just the atmospheric fare.

Pointblanket:
There is plenty to say about the motif-based compositions used in the soundtrack. “Old Joe,” for example, immediately stands out as a strongly thematic piece. Suddenly, we’ve got a meandering waltz-like piece that immediately changes the mood when it’s introduced. I can almost picture Joe’s character ambling about, reminiscing about the “the good ol’ days” and whatnot. The instrumentation in this piece is especially fun, with xylophone and string pizzicato sounds adding some great color, following the easy-going accordion melody.

Old Joe

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zzeroparticle:
Agreed. That accordion is a nice touch to add some nostalgia to the ongoing atmosphere. I also liked “Butterfly Joe” too, especially in the way the piano part flits about. You can sense past glories through its sentimental tones. There’s also a feeling of grace and elegance which permeate the track through and through before it ends. Definitely sets the coach’s ping pong career — both his rise and fall — to music very well, especially with that abrupt end.

Butterfly Joe

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“Smile Monster” though… that’s grating. Loud beats, which, as we’ve discussed before, are not on the list of things I enjoy in music. But the grinds are what really annoy me most here.

Smile Monster

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Pointblanket:
I would say that “Smile Monster” does have an appropriately sinister feel, with heavy synth and compressed bass sounds along with various effects being used to create that “industrial” feel. Though this would definitely be removed from a regular listening playlist…

zzeroparticle:
Contextually appropriate, yes, but still pretty grating on the ears.

Pointblanket:
Well, at least “Ping Pong Phase” is a nice respite from “Smile Monster”! Too bad it’s just an interlude…

Ping Pong Phase

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zzeroparticle:
It’s creative! And maybe you can argue that the game of ping pong itself can be given a theme since it means so many things to many of the characters.

Pointblanket:
Going back to the usage of character themes in Ping Pong, each character had different perspectives on life, and during the show, this was accompanied with widely differing musical moods. “Yurie” is another fun example of a character theme that was used to quickly establish a different mood.

Yurie

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zzeroparticle:
Yurie’s role in Ping Pong was a bit nebulous in that she wasn’t necessarily one character’s (Kazama) love interest. It’s possible that she serves as a contrast to Kazama’s relentless devotion to ping pong. In light of that, her theme is light and carefree, bouncing along in an upbeat manner to shed joy wherever she treads, which contrasts with the tense, rigid nature in which Kazama approaches the sport.

Pointblanket:
That reminds me, listening through the rest of the tracks, I think I remember what struck me throughout the series now, other than the fun, pounding sports montages: I felt that Ushio really captured the essence of introspection well, even with relatively simple, atmospheric tracks. The characters’ internal emotions- be it melancholy, ennui, determination- could be felt in the music that accompanied the scenes in the anime, which were often sparse in dialogue.

The Melancholy of Dragon

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These moods would quickly be felt by a viewer even with just scenes and a background track. Even without context, I feel they stand out as mellow, reflective pieces. But paired with the solid sound directing in the anime- the music shines out, speaking louder than some form of monologue in expressing the characters’ feelings.

Wish Upon a Star

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As a final highlight, I love that we get a treat towards the end of the soundtrack with “Ping Pong Phase 2”! It’s not just an interlude this time, and I still love the use of ping pong sounds as a rhythmic foundation before the gradual build up of the ensemble!

Ping Pong Phase 2

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zzeroparticle:
I’m so glad “Phase 2” picks up where “Phase” leaves off. The use of the ping pong sounds to set the rhythm is already pretty clever, but I absolutely love how the mood shifts. It starts out as a very whimsical piece until more instruments join into the fracas to move into more determined waters. The tone encapsulates the show, the show’s subject, and the varied characters in a nutshell wonderfully!

Closing comments

zzeroparticle:
Atmospheric soundtracks like Bakemonogatari’s generally aren’t my cup of tea. Bereft of context, they often leave be bored to tears. Ping Pong: The Animation’s score rises above that, effortlessly capturing the characters’ personalities through their themes. Furthermore, I relish pieces that use found objects cleverly, like the ping pong hits in the “Ping Pong Phases”. So while Ping Pong’s OST won’t sail to the top of my favorite soundtracks list, it’s a welcome change of pace that’s minimally distracting; something I can listen to when I’m busy concentrating on some other activity altogether.

zzeroparticle’s rating: Good

Pointblanket:
Though repetition and patterns are widely used in Ping Pong: The Animation’s soundtrack, Ushio does a great job of keeping the various electronic pieces feeling fresh by adding or removing layers as the songs continue. Even with minimalistic composition, distinct moods and motifs are cleverly created in conjunction with the characters in the story, melding together with Ping Pong’s unique animation style to form a fun, memorable anime experience.

Pointblanket’s rating: Good

Anime Instrumentality Staff

A collaboration between the staff members at Anime Instrumentality to bring you the best of all the anime music out there! Or silliness, whichever it is that happens to come first.

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