Thursday, 19 June 2014

Ping Pong the Animation - Episode 11 (Completed)

Hoshino's defeat of Kazama has sent reverberations not only around the arena in which the tournament is being hosted, but also the wider world as word spreads online via the media and social networks.  For those involved however, this is all ancient history already, as our focus zooms in on the final between Peco and Smile.

Amidst worries about Hoshino's knee, Tsukimoto remains adamant that he'll happily play to his opponents physical weakness, perhaps buoyed by his tutor's experiences which had previously been relayed to him. After wondering whether he'll even show up at all, Peco finally makes his grand entrance, and the match begins at the kind of blistering intensity you might expect given the skill level of those involved.

Put pressure on his week knee Tsukimoto might, but Hoshino is still no slouch as he struts his stuff. In a way though this doesn't even really matter to either of the competitors involved - all that is important is that they're having fun, and for perhaps the first time in a long while Smile finds himself feeling alive and defying his nickname as the intense game continues against a backdrop of flashbacks to his and Peco's youth.  When the game is done, we skip forward in time to see what has become of the main player's in the cast, to provide us with a happy yet grounded ending to events.

So ends a series that wavered very occasionally but was for the most part utterly fantastic, with this episode once again justifying its animation style as it came to the fore in depicting the speed and passion of the game it seeks to represent. There's more to Ping Pong than "just another sports anime" however - while most series use a sport either as a mere background to other events and dramas, as some kind of super-powered spectacle or as a passion above all else, Ping Pong treats table tennis as both an intensely personal journey of growth and maturing into adulthood as well as a piece analysing the driving forces behind these sporting endeavours.  The result is touching, fascinating and occasionally thrilling, and although its presentation falters at times it ultimately delivered a wonderful series that is memorable in terms of visual, audio and story.

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