Ping Pong The Animation Episode 1: Spying On China (Quick Look)
The last sports anime of the season.
Sidekick’s First Impression
Makoto Tsukimoto (nicknamed Smile) & Yukata Hoshino (nicknamed Peco) are 2 childhood friends with a natural talent for ping pong and are members of their school’s team. Smile always holds back when playing against Peco, but the school coach, as well as an opponent from a rival school (Kong Wenge) notice Smile’s great potential.
This was a great debut episode as expected. Taiyou Matsumoto is one of the best mangakas around in my opinion, while Masaaki Yuasa is also a fantastic director with an eye for unique projects. They pretty much make a dream team. I was hoping for an adaptation of Matsumoto’s Sunny but I don’t mind making do with Ping Pong that much.
I have to say I wasn’t sold on the series immediately though. Peco and Smile have a interesting relationship going on, and both of them are pretty great characters, but I just couldn’t feel the tension between them (especially not from Smile’s perspective) or the intensity of the sport until they introduced China (Kong Wenge) in the second-half of the episode. Wenge is a fantastic character. He really upped the ante of the episode, introduced a tension to the series to really keep things interesting, and just totally won me over with his personality. He’s a hard-hitter, with one misstep that caused him to lose his prestigious title over in China, and has a lot of anger and grief festered in him.
Still, the friendship between Smile and Peco is an interesting dynamic we do not see often. Their friendship is pretty beautiful (with Smile helping Peco after Peco’s defeat) and at the same time potentially destructive for the both of them. Peco seems to be constantly reliant on confirmation that he’s better than Smile, at least that’s what Smile thinks. It’s probably why Smile himself tries to purposely lose to Peco, to give him that confirmation, but his unwillingness to play against China may be a hint of his general apathy towards the idea of competitiveness in the sport, or a possible lack of passion.
On to the aesthetics of this anime. Right off the bat it’s pretty obvious this isn’t a very conventional looking series, but I think that’s something to be expected when you combine Yuasa’s trademark kooky visuals with Matsumoto-sensei’s unique art style.
What it reminds me off is honestly Aku No Hana’s rotoscoping, except with more vibrant colours since it clearly isn’t as dark as AnH is. I thought the colour palette used was beautiful, and while I do appreciate a quirky art style from time to time (it can be very refreshing) I’m not the biggest fan of Yuasa’s style here. It allows for fluid animation during matches, yes, but beyond that I can’t help but feel like Yuasa’s trying to force me to see Ping Pong from a different perspective than the way I usually watch my anime. It’s hard to explain this, but it’s something I’ve always felt with Yuasa’s anime, and it has always been both a plus and a minus for me.
What stood out the most to me was the music in this pilot episode though. It was absolutely fantastic. Aside from Mushishi and Haikyuu (and maybe Jojo’s once I’ve heard more of the OST) this is probably the best OST of the season. Tracks were very pleasant to listen to, especially the OP and ED themes which I absolutely freaking love. Sound direction was pretty spot on too, and greatly added to my enjoyment of the episode overall. If anything, watch this series for its fantabulous (yes I made that word up, now shut up) sound. And maybe China.
Possibility of Watching: Definitely a keeper.
Possibility of Blogging: Nope. I’ve got way too many series to blog this season even if I’m sharing 2 series with Eva, so I have to pass on this one. Expect an overall review when it finishes airing though!