I haven’t forgotten about posting my final impressions of this series. Not at all! This took me quite awhile to figure out how I would deal with this anime. The spring season had a couple of stand-out and entertaining series it wasn’t like the summer season we have right now but it had one other gem worth mention here. Mushishi. A series that had a fantastic soundtrack to accompany the genuine atmosphere it visually displayed to its short stories. Ping Pong however took quite a different approach.
This is one hell of a series- one that I am glad it aired on Noitamina. THIS IS WHAT A SPORTS SERIES SHOULD CONSISTS OF! One of the best anime in the sports genre I have ever seen- no it’s not just about that! Through the course of 11 episodes Hoshino evolves his pong style only out of realizing his love for the game, Tsukimoto changes from being a robot void of emotions to prove and perfect his skills further to Hoshino with such passion. Kazama reflects on the areas of his life that he already found as minuscule- if he doesn’t win ultimately making him fall short in the end. Fueled by his own jealousy of the other pong players, Sakuma in this ended up leading a much different life. So much versatility here! It is because of this that every single player was extremely meaningful in progressing the story unlike Noitamina’s other series Nanana. Talk about a series that could learn a thing or two from Ping Pong! Seriously!
The manga was already an amazing hit that contained memorable characters and Yuasa’s vision only enhanced this so much more here; setting aside the nitty-gritty that Yuasa is one of my favorite directors in the anime industry. This is one series that will probably land on my top 10 for the year if not all time for the following reasons: it’s brash and this is where the voice acting comes into play. Some of the best acting of the year! Tenacious with every major and minor character that receives screen time! Favorite seiyu has to be Tsuda Kenjiro [Egami] his low, deep voice provided quite the comical and random moments in this series. Especially his decision to go to the beach. Haha! The small bits that Yurie had in this series waiting for Kazama for so long only to focus on her own dreams was testimonial enough of how powerful these characters are! If it had not been for the animation this series wouldn’t have landed such an impact on me like it did. The faces were bulky in scenes rather distorted sometimes yet when it came down to the expressions and movements they felt in every respect real.
This is one show not to miss out on one bit! I would not call it an inspiring and beautiful series similar to Chihayafuru yet a short, unsentimental series that represents itself as an authentic and inexplicably-animated glimpse at high-school life.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 94/100
Not much to say just that I was in utter shock and awe over this ending. Noitamina sure picked a golden story to tell here. Everything to the beach guy accepting his love of pong once again, and Sakuma’s wife having another child, to Yurie continuing her success came together in the end. This was one hell of an ending! I was surprised how the episode did a flash forward in the middle of the match between Peco and Tsukimoto. Interesting transition but it worked out very well. Only Yuasa and his team could have pulled this off.
The use of technology in this series was so minuscule that the scenes that displayed this side of life was done really well. I like how series can pull in social media aspects of today and incorporate them into series that have been running in manga serializations since early 90’s. The manga was if I recall done in 1996 to 1997. Technology at that time wasn’t at all what it is today. So it was really cool to see the text messages displayed on the other side of the screen here. Gatchaman Crowds played with this topic as well, and did so very smoothly. With Ping Pong in this episode, you could see the responses by the people in the area that were shocked it was two players from the same school that got into the finals. Let alone end up playing each other, and Kaio the renowned school was out of it completely.
The match itself had to be the best animated sequence of the entire show! The black and white backdrop against the two of them depicted how much they were similar as people and pong players. The flashbacks throughout this entire episode were much needed to understand more of how Tsukimoto learned from Peco. No idea Peco trained Tsukimoto in pong and we actually got to see that animated here! Both of the players were heroes to each other wanting to raise their potential to be the best there is.
Everyone looked so much older! Tsukimoto ends up coaching the kids at Obaba’s place and ends up meeting with Kazama of all people. I would have thought for sure Peco would have been the one to show up. Kazama finally accepts where he went wrong with Yurie which still proves that he accepts everything as they are but now questions what he had done right and wrong. Is putting table tennis ahead of everything else the right answer? For some it seems Tsukimoto thinks so. Refreshing to see Kong redeem himself towards the end where he made it to the Olympics.
Peco worked hard throughout this entire episode to win against his hero despite his injured knee. They did not even show the rest of the match, and yet the framed picture of Tsukimoto, Peco, and Kazama illustrated so well that they ended up having a fun time achieving towards their own goals. Great imagery there! We even had a scene thrown that showed Obaba, Koizumi and the president of Poseidon when they were younger! I would really have loved to see that match against the coach and the president! Ha hilarious stuff right there! This is how to write an ending! I have been very impressed with the way this series has turned out!
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10
Noitamina you outdid yourselves in picking a series that screams risk-taking and being authentically artistic! This has been a fantastic series on so many levels! Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin could learn so much from what this show has achieved in just 10 episodes! It is a shame this is only slated for 11 episodes as I would have loved to see more of these characters and the potential behind the plot!
So now we’ve got the match between Kazama and Peco. The entire episode was dedicated to this, and after watching this I can certainly see why! The art direction here was solid! So many frames with different styles and colors poured all over them! This gave the match the intensity it needed. The subtle music played off this sequence perfectly.
That scene where Kazama was slowly rolling the ball along his paddle was tough to watch. It was really tense there! As Peco was waiting last episode for Tsukimoto, it looks like Tsukimoto doesn’t even watch Peco as he knows he will win and have to face each other. Pretty strong intuition there Tsukimoto.
The long vertical panel scene was really different for this match. The inner monologue of Kazama definitely proved his pong skill. He knew everything about the game and would throw anything and everything at his opponent if he had to. Only here while he was returning to Peco he was reading his movements. I loved the intensity in Kazama’s voice here. A sign of hesitation? I would think so. Ha so Kazama looses it. Did not see that coming at all. It’s all about victory for Kazama because for him it’s a painful experience or burden as I mentioned in regards to the previous episode. That whole sequence makes those previous stall scenes a heck of a lot more powerful. I can really see this series one that I could re-watch.
I like how in this match we see the sides turning for Peco. Not only was Kazama losing it being controlled by his drive of victory but Peco was truly worried he would not win. They finally brought back Tsukimoto’s hum! So Peco created a hum too. Peco and Tsukimoto were a lot more alike than before and this whole scene enhanced that greatly. He was faster than before, and becoming a better player than Kazama in the match. Ha! I love this show! So we have Peco who is driven by his fun of the game and Kazama by his desire to win. Interesting to note that Kong was accepting everything at face value while watching the match, when just a few episodes ago he felt just as strongly as Kazama. The birds flying was a nice touch to the single cut face off between the two. That was really cool! Peco forgets about his injury and endures just to have the feeling of what it’s like to play pong for fun.
I’d have to admit it was hilarious seeing Kazama turn his monstrous driven victory into a game of fun as well. I also really like the fact that Kazama continues to just accepts things as they are. This proved how fun pong can be for these two players, and whom would be the winner here. Can’t wait to see what is left in the final episode in this! This has to be my favorite episode out of the series so far. Incredible writing, amazing animation that all came together so smoothly for one whole match! Yuasa you rock!
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10
Kurata could learn quite a lot from Yuasa. This director is incredible in the way he tells his stories! The voice acting in this show has surpassed any that we have had this season, and last season as well. The beach guy showed up again at the beginning, and it is nice to see what the perspective of the outsiders within the pong academy feel. The pacing was still as good as it has been in pervious episodes. Jeez, I would really like to see the entire team who worked on this do a full on original romance series without all the fan-service. That would really be interesting to see!
They’ve done such a good job in developing the main cast and minor characters in this. Sanada as seen towards the beginning of his match has a lot of displeasure in his life. So much intense hatred towards Kazama having all the things that he doesn’t. Reminds me a lot of how Sakuma held in all his feelings in the previous episodes only to loose it and face the consequences of his actions. I like the fact that there is this correlation here between Sanada and Sakuma. They both experienced matches with Tsukimoto the lifeless robot that he is known for and lost. The match was done so well to illustrate this point. On one side there was Sakuma with a hearty intensity. On the other end was Tsukimoto, a calm player to the world of pong. Loads of development for Sanada in the one match! He accepted the fact that he was going to lose only to at least finish off strong. At that moment he lost he understood why Kazama wanted Tsukimoto on the team. Powerful direction here! Oh my goodness that was Sakuma with hair?! The people in this series continue to surprise beyond belief!
This episode’s theme was all about acceptance. I could see that with Sakuma’s conversation with Kazama in the bathroom. I can see why Kazama the type of person that he is was the strongest at Kaio Academy. He understood a lot about life, a lot about the game of pong, but he chose to accept it all and his release from all those emotions were in that stall. Figuratively speaking here. Let go of all the burdens before a match. I appreciate Kazama’s character a whole lot more now. Even in the previous episode I never could understand why he would always be in a stall before a match, but now after seeing that conversation with Sakuma I can clearly see why this is the case.
Peco and his knee. Another appearance of acceptance is illustrated here. He wants to go on winning without any hindrance even though he knows what he is going through is tough. Nice contrast between him and Tsukimoto here. Tsukimoto the lifeless robot that he is needed to add more feeling into his playing to continue on getting better. Peco wanted to be like the hero he created his mind of Tsukimoto. This drove him to believe in himself as a hero. The true savior of pong. At least that’s what I could see while seeing this episode. That ending though! Peco was leaning on Tsukimoto this whole time waiting for him and vice-versa. As players of the same game they learned a lot from each other and it will be curious to see how well Kazama fairs off against the newly trained Peco. Was it just me or was the animation this time around better than any of the previous episodes?
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10
Haha! I absolutely love this series! Mushishi and this are the best of the season, this episode just once again topped all the previous episodes in this show! This was a fantastic episode! Where do I even begin with the amount of substance the writers threw in here! All that determination and drive we had with the emotions of the main cast from the previous episode all makes sense with the tournament here. Earlier on with the previous tournament we had a fresh set of emotions where every single player was nervous and itching to win.
Here, we got a feeling of acceptance. The level of maturity in Tsukimoto, Peco and Kong was astounding! Kong realized he wasn’t as good as he originally believed and perhaps it was foreshadow the he was really feeling homesick. Tsukimoto looked a bit stronger than he has been in previous episodes. Seriously the animators did a great job of conveying that. Throughout this episode they kept saying the the hero appears! and this was directly towards Tsukimoto. Ha! Not even close! Peco has grown so much in the year that he lost to Kong. He has a reason for playing the game! You can truly see it in his playing style here!
Shifting to another topic here. Shounen series should follow what Yuasa has done with this series. With a shounen series the characters battle and battle winning and losing, but there is no middle ground. No sort of logical format in how they can win to certain people and lose to others. For Ping Pong, the writers spent so much time developing these people only to fall and learn from their mistakes. Strong characters are what makes this series shine, and this episode was a testament to every trait that has been poured into them. Man, Yuasa would do wonders for series like BLEACH and One Piece. Not only that, but the episode director Mototaira Yasushi was able to pull from the disjointed segments in the previous episodes and move the plot forward. Especially with Peco. His training was shown last episode a bit all over the place, but here is the result of how it all paid off. I loved that scene with Obaba and Koizumi, we finally got to see how different their coaching styles were through their discussion on Peco and Tsukimoto! This was fantastic! This defines what a Noitamina series should be! Yasushi, I am surprised. I mean this guy directed episodes out of gem shows like Gin no Saji and Baby Steps, yet also took the helm on an episode of the horribly paced Kurozuka [granted the premise was incredibly solid, and awesome], Sword Art Online, and even Ixion Saga DT. Seriously that show was terrible. This director HAS potential he just needs a strong team of writers, producers, etc. to work with. Not to mention having this series be based off of an outstanding manga also helps.
Every single one of Kaio’s players were an imitation of each other! What happens to set the main cast aside right here from the rest of the bunch was the fact that they weren’t wearing the Poseidon shoes. I found it hilarious that Kazama who even advertised for the shoes chose not to wear them. I guess what Yurie said he gave some thought to. He was indeed playing for himself. Can’t wait to see his matches in the upcoming episodes! Peco and Kong’s match was amazing! Loved those closeup shots of Peco serving the ball! Such a fascinating turn to end the episode and we still have a few more episodes left! Great series so far!
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10
This series stands out quite a bit with its characters! Mushishi may have the best collection of stories, but Ping Pong without a doubt is the show that has such a strong variety of characters. The best characters of the season. We had such intensity this entire episode! Just like the previous episode, this was a bit all over the place yet this time we had a correlation to work with here. Determination.
Tsukimoto was breaking out of his robot phase finally giving us some emotion! It was great to see him telling coach Koizumi how he would feel going to play over at Kaio. I did NOT expect that scene at all! Also, we were left from last week when Peco had the final push in getting back into pong. Here we saw him in action! Obaba is a great parental figure in this series, she doesn’t give two cents about feelings just that suck it up and give them the love they deserve for the sake of sport. Koizumi does worry about the emotional well-being of his team, and we see that a lot. The members of Katase High are for the most part all laid back and want to have a good game. Tsukimoto has pushed his emotions aside due to over exertion and here we can see him growing out of that. Thanks to Koizumi’s behavior this is how Katase High acts. Kaio on the other hand is a rough bunch of players. Kazama’s teammate whose name escapes me right now was so brash in his affections towards Yurie. He wants to truly overcome Kazama as a player and as a lover in the eyes of Yurie. Such a fantastic way to develop animosity within the team by placing Valentine’s Day in the heart of all this motivational drive of all the players here!
Kazama and Tsukimoto are both taught in entirely different ways but are standing on the same mat with the same kinds of ideals and motives. I can see why these two are similar. Kazama is very mature for his highschool age just as Tsukimoto is. They both have a hidden passion or fondness for the game that they don’t want to be flashy with it. In terms of direction we can clearly see Masaaki’s reason for delivering such lively scenes within the actual matches. The practice match scenes here were animated so traditionally with normal cuts. The big games we had in the previous episodes had flair only to show how important they were in developing the characters further.
What an incredible episode again! Also the musical score is very good. Loved the aggression in that scene when Yurie was spinning her car around in circles! This just shows that this series has adolescent themes like Captain Earth does in an entirely different way.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10
This episode did feel a bit all over the place yet the story was still quite solid here. This wasn’t as good as the previous episodes except towards the end there when Peco was getting all fired up. Continuing with the tradition that this series isn’t about the game of pong but life. Very spread out in direction here! We got a nice look at what everyone was up to outside of school. Emphasizing that this show doesn’t have just one or two main cast members but that every character is just as equally important to the heart of the story as Tsukimoto, Smile, and Kong. I did not notice how quickly the seasons were changing. This episode managed to shift the timeframe pretty quickly as it was already christmas by the middle of the episode. That song they used at that point was done so well!
The very beginning gave me the impression I was watching Kemenozume but it was a robot show on TV. Nice detail with that segment! The robots illustrated the fine point that Tsukimoto was dominating the world of pong at the school, which in turn affected Katase High just as much as the Kaio team. Tsukimoto throughout this show has looked down on others yet I really saw a jump in confidence from him this episode when he went running with the coach.
This episode delivered a refreshing take on Peco though. He was the one person this episode that shined. His chat with Sakuma proved that he did not want to give up on Pong all together just needed a venting session which gave rise to him trying to drown in the shallow end of the ocean. Nicely illustrated there! He was at his peak of being pathetic and this drove him into a corner that the player that beat him always looked up to him as Mr. Hero. Just the push he needed to reverting back to who Peco was in the beginning of this series, only with a little more edge this time. I will be curious to see how well Old Lady Obaba will handle re-teaching him how to perfect his skills even further given how he reacts with people.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 8/10
Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin should really learn from Ping Pong The Animation in how to tell a story. Noitamina you sure picked a great series to air here. This programming block is known for airing obscure series but as of late they have had their share of generic shows. Guilty Crown, Black Rock Shooter, Galilei Donna are just a few. It would be nice to see an episodic romance series, cannot recall one that has ever been done before. Every episode Ping Pong has had has been astounding and individually it gradually builds up and gets stronger with its pacing, its storytelling, and its characters not to mention its music as well. If it had not been for Mushishi having a second season this spring season THIS series would be my favorite anime to air! Ping Pong and Mushishi are without a doubt the two best anime this season at delivering stories that are fundamentally solid and are an absolute joy to watch. Both shows continue to leave such big impact especially in its music. The difference here is that Mushishi are individual tales whereas Ping Pong has a continuous plot to develop throughout 11 episodes. Table tennis is boring seriously I was searching on youtube the other day on matches and they can be lackluster. Yuasa is really a genius of his craft in bringing the game of pong to life! Ping Pong has paid off with his hard work. Not to mention all the other talented creators behind this series.
This episode proved how brilliant this series is with its art direction. We finally got a look at life outside the pong schools and what a lively view we received here! As you watch this series you can clearly tell this series doesn’t have a huge budget to work with, and this episode emphasized that. It may not have a pretty picture overall but it is what can be seen between the lines, the heart of the plot, and its direction that makes the anime so unique. Murata showing up at the beach was a pleasant surprise as that was where we left him last in episode 3. His loss with Tsukimoto in that episode proved to dismantle any care he had so going to the beach is always nice. Ha! That seiyu is really incredible!
This episode once again stated that this series isn’t about ping pong in fact its about life. They really allowed for this theme to really carry over here with such a fluid transition between the beach to the city, to an office, and back to the schools. The conversations in those scenes allowed for dynamic development outside of just pong.
Sakuma had more screen time here than even Tsukimoto! He was hell bent on revenge here. Dreaming that all your hard work will pay off in becoming acknowledged by your own role model only to be left dissolved allowed for a pretty convincing change in Sakuma. He wanted to be noticed with his skill by Kazama. When Kazama told the reporters that his team at Kaio was lacking talent that they should learn from Katase High’s Tsukimoto left the Kaio team in complete disarray. Now as soon as I saw this scene I thought oh crap they are going to be pissed yet the episode director here still managed to move along this outcome quite skillfully. Yes the team is upset about what Kazama said to the reporters, but they talk amongst themselves in a reserved manner, the only one up in a tizzy here was Sakuma. WOW. Towards the end there I thought we were going to have a fight break out between Sakuma and Tsukimoto! Tsukimoto gently laid the hatchet to rest here while dominating Sakuma in their match when Tsukimoto said he didn’t have the talent to play table tennis. This broke him completely. All of his hard work and determination only to be shot down by a guy whose a first year and acknowledge by another school’s master player. I thought the aftermath here was rightfully justified for Sakuma’s character. He left utterly broken and took his anger out on person walking along the crowd of the city. The consequences of this illustrated how frustrated Sakuma was.
This wasn’t all that was astonishing this episode. I had to rewind those scenes with the guy with the tan and long hair. Peco?! WOW! This was quite a change here too! After he lost his match with Sakuma he drastically changed into someone that just wanted to give up pong all together as we saw in that final scene of this episode! So much character development in 24 minutes!
This makes me really want to see what Yuasa has in store for Episode 16 of Space Dandy even more! Oh the ED song was an alternate version than what we’ve been hearing and it sounds just as good as the original! I like this song very much and the animation by Eunyoung CHOI was a perfect choice for this! Also the commercial for Poseidon that Yurie did was a really nice touch! Colorful scene there!
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10
I am very impressed with this Noitamina. This show continues to be getting better than the previous episodes! Here, we had a look back into Peco and Tsukimoto’s past. We also had the outcome after the match of Tsukimoto vs. Kong. We also were shown Peco vs. Manabu and Kazama vs. Kong. We even had the aftermath of that too! All in 24 minutes! This just proves the pace of this series is perfect for a 1-cour airing!
Peco’s match was the best one we’ve seen yet! I really like how this series chooses to switch up its animation techniques for each game that’s played. Their match was slow, and then got faster and faster! Unlike Tsukimoto’s match against Kong where there was a few fast scenes in between full panel shots, we actually got a real game of pong here! This was incredibly animated!
Kazama was one scary opponent. Even before the match began and Kong’s coach wasn’t too worried, I knew something was up from the student of Kaio Academy. Yuasa definitely played on this here with his monster characteristics thrown in. Yuasa really distinguishes himself from a lot of other directors with the way he animates his series. The use of monsters in Kemonozume, the mushroom story of Episode 9 in Samurai Champloo and the symbolisms of college life in Tatami Galaxy. The imagery they used for Kazama was wonderful! I really like how he is very interested in Tsukimoto’s playing abilities. This is the second time he’s tried to recruit him with different methods. Having a strong script to work with and the dialogue from the manga really helped illustrate his conversation with Tsukimoto very well! Not only was Kazama a monster in the game of pong but the school he came from had all the possibilities available to their team to ensure they can win. This was greatly foreshadowed by Manabu’s tenacious match against Peco. What development there! Great episode that has furthered the characters at such higher lengths than before, and its not even at its half-way point yet!
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10
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!