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!