In my previous post about Top 10 Ending Animations I neglected to mention another one of my favorite anime directors….Masaaki Yuasa. I’ve mentioned him before regarding his earlier works like Kemenozume and Tatami Galaxy. He is a great fit as director for this series. Smile ended up shining in this episode with his incredible talent and I can clearly see Yuasa has a strong and definite vision for adapting this manga!
Ping Pong you’ve greatly impressed me as a sports series. You took such a simplistic look that leaves the viewer wondering why you used the animation you utilized here. The style that was used in each individual match, the panel-style art with Kong/Tsukimoto’s game it all flowed together quite nicely! Seriously those panel scenes were without a doubt an applause to the manga if I ever saw one. The power behind this series is the best I’ve seen for a sports series in a few years. I cannot help but wonder if this was greatly influenced by JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure; intensity with a sense of humor. In that show, they’ve got big bulking muscle men that we are to believe are in high school?! Ping Pong really took a nod to that series here, and not with the comedic efforts but with its ferocious style. For another series in the sports genre, Chihayafuru took a popular Japanese card game [Karuta] and illustrated it with such beauty. The characters were extremely likable, and their own aspirations were left with a graceful touch in its delivery. Ping Pong is all intensity and it really came through in this episode!
New visuals were presented here as the opening and it worked so much better with Tada Hitori than the copy and paste scenes of the previous opening contained in the first two episodes. This once again just like the previous two felt a lot longer in its duration. So much happened here! We got introduced to a new pong player joining the tournament, who was hilarious in his own right. So if he is terrible at pong he should go to the beach. Ocean views are always nice. Such great exposition there! Haha! Peco had a little less screen time this week, and the moments he HAD been in were exemplary of his hilarity as a character.
The build up to the tournament here was some excellent depth into Smile and his teacher Koizumi. Kong was awesome in this! The drive he had in his pong match with Peco allowed for the gradual build-up in his interest in Tsukimoto [Smile]. His desire to win and go back to China to redeem himself played a large role during his match with Tsukimoto. It ended up being about his love for the game. Tsukimoto on the other end of the table so to speak caught a glimpse of winning when Kong utterly destroyed his first opponent in a shut out. Tsukimoto at that moment acting in a very subtle way. Disgusted. In that what Kong had done to achieve a win wasn’t right. Such fantastic development here for Tsukimoto! It is a shame this series didn’t follow what Kurenai and Natsuyuki Rendezvous achieved with recording the voices first. I could really see that being a big advantage in fine tuning the quality even higher than it was here!
That match between Kong and Tsukimoto left me shocked. Tsukimoto had such skill with the game that his transitioning from sloppy table pong to a frenzied offensive stance stopped Kong in his tracks! The way the matches played within these rounds not only embellished Tsukimoto as a pong player but also developed his past self to his future. As a human shaken and introverted by involving himself with other’s affairs, to ultimately overcoming it all with just a paddle, ping pong ball and a little humming. What a great ride this has been and we are only on episode 3!
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10
THIS EPISODE ROCKED AND IS A GREAT ADDITION TO THE NOITAMINA LINEUP!