Annotated Anime: Ping Pong episode 3



Hey, what's going on?! We finally have an opening! That's not too bad for an initial treat this week. Actually, it's a really well-done OP, with some impressive work in storyboarding and animating -- you also don't get spoiled on short bits from the episode anymore, either. It's a win-win all around! And you know, Shinya Ohira is freaking awesome.

Oh right, let's talk about the episode.

It feels like with each episode the animators get even more fast and loose with their lineart, all while maintaining the established style of the show. The storyboarding is equally strong, creating dynamic and interesting shots even when not much is happening on-screen. If you're an artist, there's a lot to pull from and admire here.

So! Story-wise, everyone heads to the high school championship's Kanagawa Qualifiers, which pits the various schools against one another. Smile gets some challenging words from Dragon, which ups his desire to win even more. His usual emotion is pushed to the back and the "robot" in him comes out. Peco even wonders what's different about Smile, and tells him not to change up his play style so much.

There's some more great imagery during Smile's match against another player, in which the tide comes in during their match. But when he plays against Wenge, everything goes out the window and it's all ping pong. The only sounds are the scuffs of shoes, the tapping of the ball, and Smile's incessant humming. He loses the first match, but uses the "data" he gather from that to win the second. Sadly, when the third and final match occurs, his mercy and hesitance kicks back in, holding him back and letting Wenge win.

Obviously, it would be weird if Smile's style changed completely in one episode, but it's still a solid step in the right direction. Now we'll have to see if Dragon can convince Smile to join their team, or if the coach has other plans. Or will this loss break down Smile even more?

I think the greatest strength of this show is its ability to play characters off one another -- and most often, it does this without much (or any) dialogue between them. Case in point: Wenge and Smile's match. They hardly share any words, but you can feel their exchange in the game they play. It's wonderful stuff.

Watch Ping Pong, you bastards. It is so freaking good.

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Ben Huber
Ben HuberContributor   gamer profile

I'm the managing editor of Japanator by day, and a roving freelance graphic designer by night! /  more + disclosures



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