Posted on 17 May 2014 with categories: Ping Pong

Episodes 05 and 06 are dedicated to character-development. It’s here where Ping Pong shows that it also knows its stuff in terms of storytelling; the develoment doesn’t start too early or too late, and these two episodes really added depth to all of the different characters, despite that there were no big matches.

I’m currently thinking of a character that it ignored… and I can’t seem to find one. Oh wait: the beach guy is the most shallow of the bunch. Apart from that, every character here is relatable (or as much as you can do with that with a guy who is supposed to be a human robot). Smile being a human robot as a main character has an interesting effect: the entire series revolves around him, but there are enough other things going on. I especially liked how Kong Wenge has completely changed now that he botched his goals of trying to get back to China as fast as possible. Ota became very sympathetic with the inclusion of his parents’ job (this guy is working hard for his future!)

The climax here was Peco though. Because of that it was the most cliched of the bunch, however I still found it offered some interesting perspectives. You don’t often see main characters with lots of talent developing into spoiled brats: that’s usually reserved for rivals, and even then those rivals usually always put in lots of effort. Peco however has always got everything handed to him, which succenly changed when everyone started practicing really hard and putting in effort. I’m not sure whether I understand the decision of the creators to make him have this sudden realization after a near-death experience though, though let’s see what they can do with that.

Posted on 6 May 2014 with categories: Ping Pong

The opening of Ping Pong wasn’t done in time, so the first two episodes showed a sortof montage as a placeholder. Now we know why, with episode 03 and 04. The creators actually got the single best animator currently in the business to oversee it: Shinya Ohira. This guy understands animation like no other. The opening is rough and messy, but the actual animation is incredibly detailed. He mostly does the animation for movies (which always are among the best-looking scenes), so it’s pretty major to see his work in another television series since Windy Tales and Paranoia Agent, even though it’s only the opening. It was worth it!

As for Ping Pong: what I really like about this series is that it really doesn’t plan to hold the viewer’s hands: usually with sports series there is some point at which you’d get a brief explanation of the sport the show is about, or that they spend a lot of dialogue explaining what’s going on. Nope, not here. This show really says everything with its animation. It’s clear that it doesn’t have the biggest budget, but even than it manages to hide that brilliantly with its direction: it makes use of many split screens for its movement, and unlike Shaft series it really puts the animation where it is really needed. My only complaint is the use of CG… in like one or two scenes in total.

Seriously the ping pong matches of episode 03 and 04 were riveting to watch. A bit hard to follow perhaps, but again: once you pay attention you can see exactly what the creators are trying to portray, and it also helps that the soundtrack is really good.

Beyond that though, Ping Pong is just a damn good character-study. All characters so far have shown multiple sides of themselves, and it’s episode four and the creators are already pushing for the character development, while other characters like Smile are static on purpose. Every character has his or her motivation, every major character is different, every character is analyzed, right from the start. Yeah, this show is great!

Posted on 18 April 2014 with categories: Ping Pong

Yes, I know that more people here were involved in making this series beyond Masaaki Yuasa. It’s written by the creator of Tekkon Kinkreet, Taiyo Mashimoto. That guy is awesome. And the combination between those two makes this series even better. Because here’s the thing: anime is significantly different from manga or light novels. Beyond telling a story, you have so much more to worry about: correctly animating characters, giving live to them through cuts and motions, using your music correctly, pacing the story right for the amount of episodes you’re given. Being good in one medium is no guarantee that you’re also good in the other. Consider what would have happened if Seiji Kishi or Shinbo got their hands on this series. Really, this would not have worked at all!

What makes Ping Pong amazing is not its story, but the way in which it’s told. The purpose of this episode was to slightly draw Tsukimoto out of the closet he kept building around himself (whether they’re also symbolizing THAT closet, I’m not sure yet, but even it if were the case that would not matter, because it’s part of his character). The way they do that is perfectly built up throughout this episode. And the animation just brings it out really well.

I feel the Osamu Dezaki-style cuts really work in this series, and finally there’s another guy who uses them. They’re a very interesting way of bringing these characters to life: the way in which the direction keeps showing different sides of the characters during the ping poing matches, ranging from simple shots to exaggerated, to flashbacks, to symbols. That’s how you bring characters to life. My only complaint is the use of CG: it stands out at times. Though thankfully they don’t use it in the important moments.

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