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.
Episode 10 focuses exclusively on the match between Kazama and Peco. During the first game of the match, Kazama easily defeats Peco.
While this is going on, Smile is off by himself, playing a handheld game. When Koizumi finds Smile and asks why he’s not inside cheering for Peco, Smile says that he believes in a hero that he’s waited for so long and that he’ll come back today. From shots we’ve seen over the past couple of episodes, we know that the “hero” is Peco. The “hero” is a running theme throughout this episode, both in regards to Peco and to Kazama.
During the second game, Peco surprises everyone by turning things around during the middle of it. When he defeats Kazama at the end of it, there’s such a stunned silence that you could’ve heard a pin drop.
It all comes down to the third and final game of their match. It’s very intense, and also features flashbacks from both Peco and Ryuichi from their childhoods. At the climax of the match, the match is shown completely in black and white with very little in the background. At first, I wasn’t sure if it was done this way for an effect or if the animators were in a rush. By the end of the scene, though, I decided that it was done for an effect. The black and white and minimalistic feel of the animation really helped to heighten the intensity of the action.
Kazama gets some major character development in Episode 10, and I found the resolution of his and Peco’s match to be very satisfying. However, I have to admit that I was a little surprised with the resolution, though. If you read my writeup for Episode Nine, then you’ll know how I thought this match would end up going; all I will say that the winner of the match ended up being the opposite of what I predicted in the previous writeup.
So it looks like Episode 11 is going to focus on the final match. I’m looking forward to seeing the next episode in order to find out who will ultimately win. Honestly, I have no idea who to root for!
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