English Cast for Ping Pong

FUNimation Entertainment announced the English cast for the Ping Pong: The Animation anime at Anime Detour:

  • Aaron Dismuke is Yutaka Hoshino/Peco
  • Micah Solusod is Makoto Tsukimoto/Smile
  • Mark Stoddard is Jo Koizumi/Butterfly Joe
  • Marcus D. Stimac is Ryuichi Kazama/Dragon
  • Anthony Bowling is Manabu Sakuma/Demon
  • Alan Chow is Kong Wenge/China
  • Tyson Rinehart is Ota
  • Ian Sinclair is Masayuki Sanada
  • Clifford Chapin is Shuji Nekota
  • Lindsay Seidel is Yurie
  • Eric Vale is Egami
  • Jeremy Inman is Michio

The English version is being directed by Christopher Bevins.

Ping Pong adapts Taiyo Matsumoto’s manga. Masaaki Yuasa directed the television anime at Tatsunoko Productions. Nobutake Ito designed the characters.

FUNimation will release Ping Pong: The Animation as a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack on June 23, 2015.

Source: ANN

Winners of the 2015 Tokyo Anime Award Festival

The winners of the 2015 Tokyo Anime Award Festival have been announced.

Animation of the Year: Theatrical Film
Frozen
Award of Excellence: Stand By Me Doraemon

Animation of the Year: Television
Ping Pong: The Animation
Award of Excellence: Yo-kai Watch

Animation of the Year: Anime Fan Award
Tiger & Bunny The Movie -The Rising-

Best Director
Isao Takahata

Best Script/Original Work
Jukki Hanada

Best Animator
Kumiko Takahashi

Best Animator
Nobutake Ito

Best Animator
Osamu Tanabe

Best Character/Mecha Design
Takahiro Kishida

Best Art Director
Kazuo Oga

Best Voice Actor/Actress
Daisuke Ono

Best Voice Actor/Actress
Kouki Uchiyama

Best Music
Hiroyuki Sawano

The recipients of the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Awards include:

Art Director
Masahiro Ioka (Anne of Green Gables)

Voice Actor
Hiroshi Ohtake (Cyborg 009)

Composer
Nobuyoshi Koshibe (Sazae-san)

Singer
Isao Sasaki (Galaxy Express 999)

Producer
Hisashichi Sano (Doraemon)

Animation Artist
Sadao Tsukioka (Cigarettes and Ashes)

Director
Toshio Hirata (Pet Shop of Horrors)

Original Creator
Monkey Punch (Lupin III)

Animator
Tadakatsu Yoshida (Fushigi Yugi Eikoden)

Scriptwriter
Yoshitake Suzuki (Kyojin no Hoshi)

Sound Director
Kan Mizumoto (Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files)

Ioka, Koshibe, and Hirata passed away before receiving their awards.

The festival also presented awards in the Competition category.

Feature-Length Work
Song of the Sea
Award of Excellence: Mune

Short-Length Work
“Mi ne mozem zhit bez kosmosa” (“We can’t live without cosmos”)
Award of Excellence: “Bang bang!”
Award of Excellence: “Beach Flags”
Judges’ Special Award: “My Stuffed Granny”
Audience Award: “Shichigorosawa no Kitsune”

To be eligible, the works had to have been screened in theaters or broadcast on television in Japan between November 1, 2013 and October 31, 2014. The nominees were selected by 100 judges, including anime producers and members of The Association of Japanese Animations.

Source: ANN

Masaki Yuasa Wins at the Tokyo Anime Awards Festival for Ping Pong: The Animation

Ping Pong: The Animation was recognized at the Tokyo Anime Awards Festival by winning the Grand Prize award for Television Anime of the Year. Masaki Yuasa directed the anime adaptation of Taiyo Matsumoto’s Ping Pong manga for Fuji Television’s Noitamina block. The series aired in Japan during Spring 2014.

While Yuasa himself wasn’t present at the awards ceremony, he wrote a note of gratitude for the award while confirming that he was working on a new project with fellow TAAF award winner Nobutake Ito, who won the Best Animator award for his work on Ping Pong: The Animation.

Kouki Uchiyama, the voice for Ping Pong: The Animation‘s Makoto “Smile” Tsukimoto, won the Best Voice Actor award.

Sources: Crunchyroll and ANN

2014 In Review: Spring 2014 Season

Yesterday, I took a look back at the shows I was watching during the Winter 2014 anime season. Today’s post is taking a look back at the anime series I started watching during the Spring 2014 season.

The World Is Still Beautiful: After watching the first episode of the series, I thought that it showed a lot of promise. Not only did the story grab my interest, but so did the look of the animation. The series also managed to find and keep the right combination of drama and humor to tell its story. It became a series I looked forward to watching week after week. Overall, The World is Still Beautiful is a sweet series. The only real issue I had is when it was glossed over in the episodes that introduced Bard that Nike had been ordered to go to the dungeon, but for whatever reason, she never went. Livius’ temper was definitely out of control, and that was definitely not one of the sweeter moments of the series. I really enjoyed Nike as a character, and Livius’ evolution as a character was pretty decent. With the way the series ended, I suspect there isn’t going to be another season; however, if there turns out to ever be a second season of The World is Still Beautiful, I’d definitely watch it.

One Week Friends: After watching the first episode, I thought that One Week Friends was a sweet series. As the series continued, it remained a sweet series; however, the sweetness never got to the point of being so sickly sweet that it was saccharine. It’s a light-hearted show, but it’s not so light-hearted that it’s simply a barrage of jokes. Throughout the series, there was a good mix of humor and drama. The characters are accessible to the audience; as you meet each character, you’re able to get a good sense of who they are through their interactions with each other. The characters I came to care about the most were Kaori and Yuki, and I came to care about them at the end of the first episode. However, I also came to like Shogo and Saki later on. At the end of the first episode, I was worried that the concept would hold up for the series’ 12 episode run. But I’m happy to say that the series succeeded in maintaining its concept throughout all of the episodes and succeeded in keeping the concept, story, and characters interesting the entire time. I also thought that the series was brought to a realistic end. And since there are still loose ends in regards to the potential relationships, there’s fodder for fanfic writers to work with to write their own continuation of the series. While One Week Friends is a good series, I’m really not sure there’s a chance for more episodes; at least, I don’t think there’s enough material to go for another 12 episode series. There might be enough to maybe squeeze an OVA episode or two out, but that’s about it. However, I have a feeling that it was intended to end here. I also really liked the animation style that was used in the series. It has a “soft” feel to it, and it almost looks as if it could have been inspired by paintings made with watercolors. This look and feel is perfect for bringing the story of this series to life.

Captain Earth: After watching the first episode, I found myself thinking that the series had potential. Admittedly, that first episode was a little hard to follow and understand at times, but my hope was that once the major exposition was done to establish Daichi and the world that he inhabited, that the series would become easier to follow. At the end of Episode Two, I was still a little confused, but there was enough interesting ideas being presented that made me want to see more of the series. At the end of Episode Three, I was genuinely interested in the characters and what was going on, especially since some of the questions I still had at the end of Episode Two were answered during Episode Three. At the end of Episode Five, though, I found myself feeling a little frustrated at just how slowly the storyline was progressing, as well as the fact as I thought I was starting to understand the story, new concepts were slowly being thrown out that I had to try to fit into my understanding of the series. It also didn’t help at that point in the series, the antagonists still weren’t very clear. It turned out that the first seven episodes were there to establish the premise and the series’ elements, and that Episode Eight truly started to move the story forward. The next six episodes focused on Amarok and Malkin working at awakening the other designer children and getting them to join their cause. Ultimately, the first half of the series had a rather slow start, and I think that the amount of designer children that were introduced helped to bog this section down. Now that I’ve seen the whole series, I can say with certainty that Liban and Bugbear really didn’t need to be there. Liban did nothing during the series after being introduced, and Bugbear only did a couple of things in the long run; the things that Bugbear did could have been done by another one of the Planetary Gears. I liked Bugbear’s backstory, and perhaps Zimbalt could have been given that backstory. Between Zimbalt’s backstory and Bugbear’s backstory, I thought that Bugbear’s was stronger. The second half of the series felt as if a lot of concepts were being thrown out to the audience and that the story was being hurried along in order to reach the series’ final destination. In the end, Captain Earth had an interesting premise that it was presenting, but the overall execution just wasn’t quite as strong as it could have been. While Captain Earth was an overall stronger mecha show than Aldnoah.Zero was, Captain Earth did still have some issues. And I have one question: Who is the girl with the recorder that appears about three times in the series around Daichi? She’s the one who ultimately leads him to the Livlaster in the first place, and then she shows up a couple more times near the end of the series. The audience is never given an explanation for her, so that’s one aspect of the series that I was dissatisfied with. She’s does some important things in the series, but we never get her name or know anything about her. All I can refer to her as is “the Recorder Girl.”

The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior: After watching the first episode, I thought the show had a good combination of comedy and drama to help drive the characters and their story. I also thought the first episode was charming and fun to watch. I enjoyed watching the series for the most part, although I thought Episode Nine was one the weakest episodes in the series. My favorite part of the series was definitely the story of Kazunari and Ritsu. Some of the ensemble stories about the other characters tended to not do much for me for the most part, and with some episodes I found myself wishing that there was more of a focus on Kazunari and Ritsu. My least favorite character was definitely Sayaka. Not only was she the most annoying, she also came across as a character who didn’t really add much to the series. A lot of the times, she was either just “there” or wasn’t even at the dorm for the entirety of an episode. In a lot of ways, I think this series might have been a little stronger if she wasn’t in it. She was probably intended to be a foil for Mayumi, but I thought Shirosaki did a pretty good job of filling that role for both Mayumi and Kazunari.

Brynhildr in the Darkness: After watching the first episode, I thought the series showed a lot of promise, and at the end of episode two, I thought there was a really good setup for the story. By the end of episode four, after both Kazumi and Kotori were introduced, I found myself wondering if the series was setting up Murakami to have a harem. By the end of the series, I think I could safely say that while Brynhildr in the Darkness wasn’t a true “harem anime,” some of the girls surrounding him did act as if they were part of a harem of girls attracted to the main protagonist. I started to become frustrated with the series around Episode Nine, because I felt like the loose thread of the device was left hanging. Unfortunately, it didn’t come back until Episode 12. With Episode 10, it began feeling like the writing started to become sloppier. At the end of Episode 12, I felt like there had been a major and sudden change to the tone and direction of the story. It also felt unnatural, like they were rushing things in order to fit everything into two episodes. I ended up being disappointed with how the series ended. When I reached the end of Episode 13, I found myself thinking, “I devoted 13 weeks of my life to this show, and this is how it ends?”

Haikyu!!: After watching the first episode of Haikyu!!, I thought that the series seemed to be following many of the tropes associated with sports anime. However, the main character of Shoyo, along with his backstory, was intriguing enough that it didn’t feel like “just another sports anime” by the end of the episode. By the end of Episode Three, I found that Haikyu!! was keeping my interest, even though I’m not a fan of volleyball. At that point, I was already looking forward to seeing what was going to happen in the series as it progressed. The two practice matches that appeared during the series helped me to get a better understanding of how to play volleyball, and the matches themselves were exciting to watch. These matches also helped to set the stage for the Inter-High tournaments. When the series hit the Inter-High tournaments, the story was done in such a way that these matches were even more exciting than the practice matches had been. When Karasuno went up against Date Kogyo, I was very impressed by how well Karasuno was able to hold up against them. But much of the Inter-High focused on the hard-fought match between Karasuno and Aoba Johsai; in fact, it was so hard-fought that it extended into a third set. I had anticipated which team would ultimately win the third set, but I still found myself feeling a little disappointed and off-guard when that team actually won. I knew in my heart of hearts that this is how this would have to play out, but the match had been so intense during the episode that I couldn’t help but find myself rooting for the underdog team. While the underdog team takes the loss hard, I think they also learn a lesson in humility as well. When I first started watching Haikyu!!, I never would have imagined enjoying a sports anime about boys’ volleyball as much as I’ve come to enjoy this series. While Haikyu!! may employ a lot of tropes that are associated with shonen series, the characters are engaging enough and interesting enough that the viewer doesn’t necessarily notice the tropes being used.

Riddle Story of Devil: At the end of the first episode, I wondered if the potential promise I had seen for the series would manifest itself as the series progressed. Sadly, I ended up being rather disappointed in that regard. By the end of Episode Two, I had a major issue with just how many characters were being thrown out there at once and I had a hard time keeping their names straight.  At the end of Episode Four, I found myself feeling a little frustrated because characters were being written out just as the audience was getting to know them. I also realized the weakness of knowing the fact that a student has to fail each time they try to assassinate Haru, because the series would come to an end if they didn’t. By the end of Episode Five, the only thing that was keeping my interest to any degree was discovering who the next person who tries to assassinate Haru is and how they’re going to do it. Admittedly, at that point, if I hadn’t been watching the series to write about it for my blog, I would have dropped it after watching Episode Five. The formula that had been developed started being changed with Episode Six, so the series started becoming a little more interesting again. However, after truths are revealed in Episode 11, things become very confusing and crazy in the final episode. In fact, I found myself spending most of Episode 12 feeling rather confused as I watched it. While Riddle Story of Devil wasn’t my least favorite anime I watched during the Spring 2014, it definitely ran a close second.

Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara: After watching the first episode, I found myself thinking that there was an interesting concept that was drawing me into what I was seeing. I also thought the episode had a good mix of drama and humor. Although I was already sensing from the ending credits that a harem could develop around Sota, I thought that the premise was interesting enough that it could potentially keep the harem elements a little bit more in check. After watching the second episode, I thought there was a major tonal shift, and it appeared that the series would simply end up being a harem comedy with gags that would end up getting old fast. After Episode Two, I felt a little disappointed by the series; however, I decided to stick it out and see if perhaps the series would get better as it went along. After seeing Episode Three, I thought it was rather predictable; this hampered my enjoyment of what I saw. And after such a big deal had been made about the flags in Episode One, it was hardly touched on at all in Episode Two or Three. At that point, I was already feeling that it was my least favorite anime of the Spring 2014 season that I was watching. Sadly, my feelings for this series hardly improved for the remainder of its run. And then, near the end of Episode 11, it’s suddenly revealed that Sota is actually in a virtual world, and in a story that feels like it was inspired rather heavily by The Matrix. At this point, the narrative became a confusing and contradicting mess, and those issues with the narrative continued for the remaining two episodes of the series. It also didn’t help that the ending felt rather vague. The main weakness for this series is that it doesn’t truly understand what kind of tone and feel it was going for. It started out with hints of a harem anime with the potential for an interesting story, then it became primarily a light-hearted harem anime with some elements of a fantasy story thrown in, and then it turned into wanting to be a sci-fi story with a setup like The Matrix and suddenly became much darker and serious in tone. The first shift in tone was kind of noticeable, but it wasn’t jarring. However, the change to the darker sci-fi elements ended up being a very jarring transition, and I don’t believe that it worked well. After finishing Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara, I found myself regretting having ever started it. This would also rank up there as one of the worst anime I watched during 2014.

Ping Pong the Animation: First off, I have to say that I have to give credit to Ping Pong The Animation for not being a “typical sports anime.” Unfortunately, I have to say that the pacing for the series ended up being a bit awkward, especially since the series was trying to condense about one year into the course of 11 episodes. This meant that the first seven episodes tended to feel rushed. Then, starting with Episode Eight, the pace slows down and the series spend its final four episodes focusing on one event; this would be the singles qualifiers that takes place for the series’ climax. But then, during the final episode, there’s a timeskip that takes place from the end of the qualifiers match to several years into the future. Unfortunately, with how rushed those first seven episodes were, this didn’t allow for as much character development as there could have been in order to help the audience care more for the characters. I wish there had been some more episodes for the series in order to give the story and the characters a little more room to “breathe” and to develop even more. Now that I’ve finished watching the series, I find myself wondering why Kazama’s cousin Yuri was ever introduced. Honestly, she didn’t truly add much of anything of any real relevance to the series and was quickly written out in Episode 10. When it came to the animation, I have to admit that I did have some issues with the animation style right at first; however, I became accustomed to it around Episode Three. Once the animation style didn’t distract me, I was able to better focus on the storytelling aspect of the series.

Chaika – The Coffin Princess: After watching the first episode, I have to admit that I was a little annoyed by Chaika’s tendency to speak in one, two, or three words phrases; however, as the series progressed, I just got used to this character quirk. But what I saw in that episode made me interested enough to want to continue watching the series. When Fredrica joined the cast and becomes part of Chaika’s party, I thought it added an interesting layer. At that point, not only were they being pursued by the Gillette Corps, they were now also traveling with a party member who is out to kill one of the other members of the party. Overall, I thought that Fredrica was a good addition to the party and its dynamics, and that she was portrayed realistically. When the Red Chaika was introduced in Episode Five, I thought this added an interesting twist as well; unfortunately, Red Chaika seemed to disappear after two episodes. In Episode Seven, it appeared that Chaika had developed feelings for Toru, which ended up adding another layer to the story since it was obvious that Akari liked him. I was thrilled when I learned that there would be a second season of the series in Fall 2014, and I found myself looking forward to what that second season would bring.

Nanana’s Buried Treasure: After watching the first episode, I thought that the concept of Nanana’s Collection was an intriguing one, and the interactions between Juugo and Nanana also kept me interested in continuing to watch the series. I enjoyed the first three episodes or so, but then things started to get a little confusing. Near the end, it was starting to get interesting with the final confrontation between Hiiyo and the Adventure Club in Episode 10. That episode ended on a cliffhanger, and I expected the final episode to be action-packed and focus on the confrontation. Unfortunately, that confrontation ended up being anticlimactic and boring in Episode 11; this is primarily due to the fact that so much time was spent on characters talking to each other and not having much going on in the way of action. And the very end of the final episode didn’t truly resolve anything, and some footage seen both during the ending credits and right after raised more questions than answers. To me, this was an unsatisfying end to the series, and I started to feel as if I’d wasted my time over the 11 weeks that I watched this show. At the end of the series, I didn’t see the promise that I had seen early on manifest itself like I had hoped. As the series went on, it seemed to lose its focus as various characters and concepts were added to the series. While the characters from Matsuri and their organization seemed to be important early on, those characters and the organization basically disappeared by the end. The last time we saw Yukihime and her partner was a brief shot of them in Episode 11 when they were in the mall at the same time as Juugo. Also, Juugo declares early on in the series that he’ll help Nanana locate her killer. Unfortunately, this part of the story is hardly ever touched on, and is not resolved at the end of the final episode. I wouldn’t say that Nanana’s Buried Treasure was the worst anime series that I watched during the Spring 2014 season, but I also can’t say it’s among the best, either. For me, it was ultimately a series that had a lot of potential that was never realized due to decisions that were made in regards to the storytelling. And I have to say that if it turns out that Nanana’s Buried Treasure ends up getting a second season, I would have no desire to watch it due to the various issues I had with the storytelling of this series.

Anime Spotlight: Ping Pong the Animation

Ping Pong the Animation is an anime based on a manga by Taiyo Matsumoto. The series is produced by Tatsunoko Productions and is directed by Masaaki Yuasa. The series aired on Japanese television from April 10-June 20, 2014. As of this writing, FUNimation Entertainment holds the North American streaming rights for Ping Pong the Animation.

The series focuses on two boys who participate in their school’s ping pong club: Makoto Tsukimoto (aka Smile) and Yutaka Hoshino (aka Peco). They’re both first-years who are good enough players that they caused a couple of members to lose their spots as regulars, which has caused some friction in the club. It doesn’t help that Peco tends to skip practice in order to play against people at the tennis table dojo in front of the Odakyu station in order to bet against them. Smile, meanwhile, doesn’t live up to his nickname and is basically rather aloof to most other people. Even though they may have opposite personalities, Peco and Smile are best friends.

One day, Peco gets the idea to skip out on practice in order to check out Kong Wenge, a Chinese ping pong player who has been recruited to play with Tsujido High’s team. He convinces Smile to go along with him. When they get there, there’s no one in the gym, so the two of them start playing against each other while they wait for Kong to get back. Kong and his interpreter are on the roof, and they hear the two of them playing.

When Kong goes back inside, he challenges Smile to a game; however, Peco insists to play with them. Kong beats Peco rather easily, which upsets Peco because he’d been considered an impressive player until this point.

Koizumi, Peco and Smile’s coach, takes an interest in Smile’s abilities and eventually persuades Smile to have Koizumi train him. As Smile trains with Koizumi, he has a major change of attitude that causes his teammates to like him even less than they did before. But as time goes on, Smile learns how to balance having his talent and relating to the other members of his team.

Peco, meanwhile, quits table tennis after losing to Wenge, but then comes back to the sport and rejoins his school’s team. When Peco loses to his old adversary Akuma from the days when he and Smile trained at the table tennis dojo, Smile decides to quit again; he also grows his hair out long and gains weight from eating so much junk food. It’s after a chance meeting with Akuma that Peco realizes that he needs to retrain from the beginning, and asks Ms. Tamura, the woman who runs the dojo, to work with him again.

Kazama is a ping pong player from Kaio, and he has been the reigning champion of the sport. His grandfather owns Poseidon, a company that creates and sells ping pong equipment and accessories. Kazama takes an interest in Smile and keeps trying to get him to leave his school and to come play for Kaio; unfortunately, he never seems to convince Smile to change schools. Kazama’s cousin, Yuri, stars in Poseidon’s commercials and seems to have an interest in Kazama. However, Kazama is so intent on training for table tennis that he doesn’t notice her feelings for him.

Within the course of 11 episodes, the series basically goes through a little over one year in time and culminates with the singles qualifiers during Smile and Peco’s second year of high school.

First off, I have to say that I have to give credit to Ping Pong The Animation for not being a “typical sports anime.” Unfortunately, I have to say that the pacing for the series ended up being a bit awkward, especially since the series was trying to condense about one year into the course of 11 episodes. This meant that the first seven episodes tended to feel rushed. Then, starting with episode eight, the pace slows down and the series spend its final four episodes focusing on one event; this would be the singles qualifiers that takes place for the series’ climax. But then, during the final episode, there’s a timeskip that takes place from the end of the qualifiers match to several years into the future.

Unfortunately, with how rushed those first seven episodes were, this didn’t allow for as much character development as there could have been in order to help the audience care more for the characters. I wish there had been some more episodes for the series in order to give the story and the characters a little more room to “breathe” and to develop even more.

Now that I’ve finished watching the series, I find myself wondering why Kazama’s cousin Yuri was ever introduced. Honestly, she didn’t truly add much of anything of any real relevance to the series and was quickly written out in Episode 10.

When it came to the animation, I admit that I did have some issues with the animation style right at first. However, I became accustomed to it around Episode Three. Once the animation style didn’t distract me, I was able to better focus on the storytelling aspect of the series.

I’m glad that I was able to see Ping Pong the Animation through free streaming, but it’s not a series that I’m going to go out of my way to watch again or purchase on home video.

Review: Ping Pong The Animation: Episode 11 – “Blood Tastes Like Iron”

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 11 spends most of its time on the final match between Peco and Smile. During the course of their match, there were intense action sequences that were intercut with various flashbacks from Peco and Smile’s childhood. It was really hard to decide who to root for over the course of the match.

There’s also some focus on Koizumi, Tamura, and Kazama, the former players who have connections with some of the contestants in the qualifiers that had connections back in their youth.

During the episode, we didn’t actually get to see who won the match at the time it’s taking place. There’s a time skip to a few years in the future, where we see Smile working as a coach at the dojo under Ms. Tamura. Kazama comes to visit with Smile, and through their dialogue, we find out what’s happened to the other main characters since we last saw them.

At first, I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get to see the winner of the match during the episode, but in the time skip portion, there’s a picture in the dojo that shows the top four winners for that qualifiers match. That made me feel better about the fact that we weren’t shown the ending of Peco and Smile’s match.

Episode 11 brings Ping Pong to an end. While I liked how the series ended, I have to say that many of the early episodes tended to feel rushed, which didn’t allow for as much character development as there could have been in order to help make the ending even stronger than it was. I wish there had been some more episodes for the series in order to give the story and characters a little more room to “breathe” and to develop even more.

Speaking of characters, I find myself wondering why Kazama’s cousin Yuri was ever introduced. Honestly, she didn’t truly add much of anything of any real relevance to the series and was quickly written out in Episode 10.

At first, I did have some issues with the animation style, but I became accustomed to it around Episode Three. Once the animation style didn’t distract me, I was able to better focus on the storytelling aspect of the series.

Even with my issues with character development, I have to give Ping Pong a lot of credit for not being a typical sports anime. I’m glad that I was able to see this series through free streaming, but it’s not a series that I’m going to go out of my way to watch again or purchase on home video if a North American anime distributor ever gets the home video distribution rights for the Ping Pong The Animation.

Review: Ping Pong The Animation: Episode 10 – “I Thought You Were the Hero!!”

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!