In 2012, Yuki released a double A-side single for “Play Ball” and “Melody of the Slope,” which is the opening theme song for the Kids on the Slope anime series. Previous to listening to this single, my only exposure to Yuki had been through hearing her performing the ending theme song for Naruto the Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow. Unfortunately, I hadn’t been terribly impressed with her vocal performance for the Naruto theme, because she sounded screechy and that she was trying to sing a song that was out of her range.

Play Ball / Melody of the Slope
Publisher: Sony Japan
Release Date: May 2, 2012

“Play Ball” is an uptempo song, and in some parts of the track, the music arrangement kind of makes me think of the sound and style that would have been heard in American pop music back in the 1970’s. In some parts of “Play Ball,” I can hear some of the screechy sound that I didn’t care for from the Naruto theme, but the screechiness on this song is nowhere near as bad. Enough of her vocal performance isn’t screechy, so “Play Ball” can actually be an enjoyable song to listen to.

“Melody of the Slope” was written by Yoko Kanno. While the song has a more modern sound than many of the jazz songs that make up the soundtrack for Kids on the Slope, there are still elements included musically to help it fit in with the jazz score. Vocally, this is the best vocal performance that I have heard from Yuki. When I learned that Yuki was the one who sang this theme song and that she was the same vocalist who performed the theme for the first Naruto movie theme, I was rather surprised. I never would have guessed it was the same singer.

This is the full-length version of “Melody of the Slope,” and I like the song even more in its full-length version. While I really liked the edit used for the opening theme of Kids on the Slope, I always felt it was too short and wished it would go on longer. This version fulfills my wish.

Unfortunately, neither the opening or closing theme for Kids on the Slope was included on either of the soundtracks that were released for the series, so you have to chase down the singles that they were released on. If you like the opening theme for Kids on the Slope, the “Play Ball / Melody of the Slope” single is the only way to acquire the song on CD.

The single for “Play Ball / Melody of the Slope” is not available for purchase in the United States. In order to obtain a copy of it, you will have to find a retailer who can import it from Japan for you. Your best bet would be to go through an online retailer that specializes in importing music from Japan.

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