Ping Pong the Animation: Episode 2 – “Smile Is a Robot”

Ping Pong the Animation focuses on two high school ping pong players: Makoto Tsukimoto (aka Smile) and Yutaka Hoshino (aka Peco). Peco starts out being overly confident in his abilities and constantly skipping practice until he’s dealt a crushing defeat by a Chinese player named Kong Wenge during the first episode. Smile, meanwhile, is an aloof and rather gloomy guy; however, he has a raw talent for ping pong.

At the beginning of Episode Two, Peco is whining about the fact that he lost to Kong and says he’s going to be quitting ping pong.

Most of the focus on the episode is on Smile. Coach Koizumi has noticed that Smile goes easy when he plays against Peco, and Smile says he doesn’t. Koizumi believes it’s a subconscious thing, so he takes it upon himself to coach Smile personally. Smile doesn’t like the attention that Koizumi is giving him, and tries to avoid the early morning practices that Koizumi sets up. Koizumi basically ends up coming across like a stalker as he tries to get Smile’s attention to convince him to get the extra attention and coaching.

It culminates with the coach giving Smile special training during regular practices, and with Koizumi challenging Smile to a match. If Smile wins, Koizumi agrees to leave Smile alone; if Koizumi wins, Smile will “be his dog.” It’s a best of three match, and at first, the 72-year-old Koizumi is beating Smile. However, Smile finds something inside of him, and is able to start playing better and surprising Koizumi.

Should I feel bad in saying that it was kind of nice to see Peco knocked down a peg or two? Yes, now he’s going in the opposite direction and giving up instead of trying to better himself, but at least he doesn’t have the swelled head anymore.

Smile definitely hides inside an emotional shell, and he seems to try to avoid dealing with people as much as he can. Peco makes a comment about how Smile doesn’t like being yelled at, so it made me wonder if Smile may come from a home life where he’s yelled at a lot or there’s a lot of arguing or something; this would definitely explain why he feels such a need to hide himself in his emotional shell. Hopefully we’ll be able to get some more character development in the coming episodes in order to better understand why Peco and Smile are the way they are.

After watching Episode Two, I have to say that I’m still not a fan of the look of the animation in this series. However, with the way the story is starting to go, maybe a more polished look like in Yowamushi Pedal or Haikyu!! wouldn’t work as well. Smile seems to have issues of some kind, and maybe the roughness of the animation is there to reinforce the idea of how rough Smile has it.

I’ll keep going with Ping Pong the Animation in order to see how this sports-themed anime will play out as it continues.

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