Ping Pong simulwatch [RS] (3rd November start)

D1tchd1gger

Flame Haze
Episode 6
I think @João Gomes has covered everything.

Seeing some scenes away from the table, some can let go better than others.

One thing that stuck out was the used tissues on Sonodas bed 😏 I can't remember who said it, but they referenced him being the one who noticed her in disguise at the tournament.

One thing I was confused about was Yurie's scenes. She invites Kazama, I assume, out and we see her with him, but then without? Then she's back home and he's training and then she deletes the text. Is the bit with them together just her imagination?

And the mountains aren't for our dude either after failing at the tournament and the beach. Abroad next, I guess we'll see him again with the talk of foreign tournaments.

I'm watching the dub (because that's what Funimation was set to when I pressed play) and the cast sing in English when China and his team (seems he's coaching now?) go out for karaoke, but then it switches to Japanese when it becomes the BGM for the rest of the montage.

Ha, had more to say than I thought!
 

João Gomes

Hunter
@D1tchd1gger yeah, Yurie was daydreaming for a bit there. You can see at the end of the segment she's holding her arm as if she had it around Kazama, but she "wakes up" eventually and kinda lets it drop, IIRC?

The bit with Sanada noticing her in disguise and noticing her arrival in the car before everyone else hinted at his thing for her, more context for the world of Ping Pong and its characters!

The bit where it changes to Japanese is because first they're indeed doing karaoke but eventually it turns into the real song with the actual singer, which is why they changed it in the dub, too, I'm assuming. Only in your case it was maybe a bit more jarring.
 

Neil.T

Titan
Just a couple of bits and bobs from me here.

I'm sure at one point Kazama was becoming the beast titan from AoT 🤣
That's exactly what was happening, yeah. Ping Pong is from 2014, the year after the first season of Attack on Titan aired on Japanese TV, so it's definitely a direct reference.

There was also the beginning of episode 6 where the three kids on a train are talking about a fictional giant robot anime called "Shingeki no Robo", which the Madman Blu-ray subtitles translate as "Attack on Robot" to help lead viewers to the reference.

Heheh they should've used that imagery, not something as clichéd as a dragon!!
Just for the sake of some language trivia, Kazama's nickname and those dramatic images both come from his name being Ryūichi. Ryū is Japanese for "dragon".

is astigmatism in anime always depicted as vertical eyes??
Hmm... I don't think so. Not that I've ever been aware of, anyway. 🤔

I've seen short-sighted anime characters drawn with "3"-shaped eyes when they're not wearing their glasses, though. That's relatively common.

(I can't help but notice these things as a spectacle wearer. 😛)

Loved loved loved the shinsengumi visuals and analogy, with Kazama standing in as Kondo and Sanada as Hijikata.
I'm glad you explained that, João, because that whole part unfortunately flew completely over my head. I was even racking my brains trying to remember any characters called Isami Kondō or Hijikata that we'd encountered in the series so far. I wasn't at all familiar with the real-life historic figures that were being referenced.

It's symptomatic of the difficulties I continue to have in trying to get on the series's wavelength. I loved the karaoke montage scene in episode 6, though; that's easily been the most impactful moment for me so far.
 

Lordhippos

Vampire Ninja
Episode 6

Peco spends a fair bit of this episode down in the dumps still, flipping between smoking and candy.

It seems the leadership is being called into question in both clubs, the baldies dislike Kazama, and Smile wants his captain to do his job. Smile would be treated like a god at the baldy school I think but he would probably be disliked in equal measure.

The scene with Wenge and the wontons was really cool, I like how people just came in 1 by 1 and even through the language barrier they got the jist of things.

I felt bad for Smile, all alone, he really has nothing to smile about sadly. I hope we get some more of his back story.

I think Kazama dropped the ball here, Yurie clearly likes him and just wants to spend a bit of time with him, but he is more interested in training. Even with a busy training schedule he should be able to make a little time for her I feel. I took it from the way she deleted the message and found him training that he wasn't actually there with her.

Peco mixing his love of candy with alcohol, just how many of those did he eat to get that drunk?

I think my favourite segment of this episode was Peco and his reaching a new low, inadvertently almost committing sudoku! Akuma coming to his rescue was endearing, and his pep-talk to Peco about not giving up was just what Peco needed. I feel like Peco has been coasting along on his talent without really putting much effort in, meanwhile similarly talented people around him have overtaken him.

He's about to be in for a world of pain from that obaa-chan if love is a measure of how painful it's going to be!

Egami decided that neither the beach nor the mountains were what he needed, off abroad he goes! :D

Slightly disappointed we didn't have any awesome matches this episode, I quite like having those to break up the non-match stuff a bit.

That's exactly what was happening, yeah. Ping Pong is from 2014, the year after the first season of Attack on Titan aired on Japanese TV, so it's definitely a direct reference.

I do enjoy little references like this :)
 

João Gomes

Hunter
@Lordhippos commiting sudoku never fails to make me snort laugh, oh lord

@Neil.T that's a real bummer for me because you know what I think about the series and it would be cool if you could end up enjoying it, but as we said earlier in another thread, sometimes you vibe with something, sometimes you don't! I get it.

Is it the writing, artstyle, voice acting? Anything in particular, or a mix of things? Do you think the emotional beats don't land or do you have trouble relating to these characters?

We'll at least enjoy watching the movie! Looking forward to that 🏓
 

Neil.T

Titan
that's a real bummer for me because you know what I think about the series
Yeah, it's a bummer for me too, João. Truly. 🙁
I generally like Masaaki Yuasa's work, and I know how big a fan you are of this series.

It's certainly not the voice acting that's the issue for me, because that's done here to anime's typical very high standard. I couldn't say I'm the biggest fan of the intentionally unsightly artwork, but I totally appreciate how well it mimics the manga original, and I've actually warmed to it a bit more this time around. I do really like that Yuasa is always keen to experiment with some malleable animation styles.

No, you've actually already hit on what it is that's the issue for me, João, and it's the characters. You're right: I just don't relate to them and don't at all understand what makes them tick. I honestly better understand where everyone's heads are at in the story from reading your posts than I do from actually watching the series. It's an odd disconnect that I'm really not used to. It's like, I can never try to guess what any of them are thinking, if that makes sense. They're all a mystery.

I honestly don't know why the live-action film's different for me. For example, in that, I actually like Peco, which I can't say is the case in the anime. It'll be fascinating to see what you'll make of it, João.

Incidentally, I said before that I generally like Yuasa's work. As much of an actually rabid fan I am of The Tatami Galaxy and Ride Your Wave, I must say that Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! fell flat with me. Out of the three main characters in that, I only found one of them interesting, so it's not just Ping Pong that I've had that issue with.

Can't win 'em all, as you say. 🤷‍♂️
 

Lordhippos

Vampire Ninja
Episode 7

Peco is undergoing his transformation into a hero. The club really shows how much they don't take table tennis seriously by messing about, but I get the feeling the captain dude with the funny hair does actually listen to Smile sometimes.

Apparently in Table Tennis the coach => student relationship is defined by love. More love = better coaching.

Despite their best efforts to coax him, Smile won't be moved, it sounds very much like he's staying put where he is.

Peco has moved onto the next level of training beyond the obaa-chan, and is re-imagining how he plays table tennis from the ground up, he's not even holding a bat for a while here.

Yurie making chocolate table tennis bats was fun :)

Sanada wastes no time in trying to poach Yurie, at this point does Kazama even care? He's off in table tennis land and seems disinterested.

Man I'd pay money to see Smile actually smile, even a random joke here or there should do it.

Pecos' whole family being clones 🤣

I can kind of see where things are heading, and in a way I hope I am wrong. Peco has a knee injury (much like the senseis opponent from his story) and Smile likes to let people win, again much like sensei. I hope we don't end up with Smile letting Peco win despite his knee injury, it would be both too convenient and also too obvious at outcome.

@Lordhippos commiting sudoku never fails to make me snort laugh, oh lord

Glad you liked it :D

No, you've actually already hit on what it is that's the issue for me, João, and it's the characters. You're right: I just don't relate to them and don't at all understand what makes them tick. I honestly better understand where everyone's heads are at in the story from reading your posts than I do from actually watching the series.

I like the characters mostly, but I don't really always get their motives behind what they do. As I mentioned before I dislike Smile letting people win, and I think Peco is far too cocky for his own good for example. But on the whole I think we have some interesting characters here.

I would agree with you, you like what you like. Sometimes I watch stuff and it just doesn't click with me.
 
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D1tchd1gger

Flame Haze
Episode 7
Happy Valentines.
Bit more of a focus on coaches and training in this one.
The old lady getting Peco to run off the weight gained from smoking and eating crap and then handing him over to her son.
Some back story about both Smile's coach and Kazama's grandfather.
And China gets a robot that can play Ping-Pong, which was a bit random.
Yurie goes to give chocolates to one person, but gets a confession from someone else instead!

They're all a mystery.
I think only Smile for me is a mystery. He started as being good and just wanting to have fun at something he was good at and nothing would turn him and then he suddenly changed his mind and became focused on winning, but then let China beat him and now he's a robot made to play Ping-Pong. Just a bit all over the place.
Peco wants to be number 1, but took a knock when China beat him because Smile, his only equal he'd played so far, always let him win. He then hits rock bottom, nearly killing himself, and a pep talk from his frenemy got him back on track.
Kazama, it seems, from episode 7 is all about family obligation due to his uncle taking him in and his grandfather sorting out his dad's affairs after he died.
China needed to come to Japan and win so he could go back to China and hope to regain his place in their squad.
Ride Your Wave, I must say that Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!
Opposite for me, although I will have to rewatch RYW at some point because the dub didn't turn out great.
In Eizouken I loved Midori's enthusiasm and Sayaka straight talking and quirkyness. Tsubame was a bit bland though.

Episode 8
A hero appears.
Tournament time again.
I hope we don't end up with Smile letting Peco win despite his knee injury, it would be both too convenient and also too obvious at outcome.
The seedings suggest it might head that way!

the mohawk of sorts is from the hero character that saves him, yeah
And we see here it was probably Peco dressed up as a hero that came to the rescue.
 

João Gomes

Hunter
"It's time to dance."

That it is, Wenge. Just not to your tune, unfortunately! The montage before the final serve gives me goosebumps, it's so great and packs so much information, so much emotion from different actors. It's great.

In the episode before that we finally got a look at Kazama's deep rooted reason for striving to be the best and carry everything and everyone on his back. Yurie has a good parting message for him: play ping pong for yourself. Maybe he'll need some help to understand what that means...

The parallels are drawn aplenty still between the older generation and the newer players; an interesting way of playing with expectations and see what changes between then and now, them and our current main characters.

As always, it was sweet seeing Tsukimoto and Koizumi working out their emotions and affection for one another with Kaio trying one last time to take Smile away, with Koizumi's support. Tsukimoto's puppy eyes when he asks if he had been waiting the whole time for him is incredible visual storytelling. It's definitely my favorite relationship in the series and their date was a much deserved moment between both away from the table while setting up a question for the future: could you do it?

This is what Peco's capable of with discipline! It's his show and everyone is taking note. I love that joker card side of the situation where no one knows where this guy came from, except for Smile: his hero is back, for real this time.

It still feels like these characters are getting more depth and more layers this late into the game. It's hugely satifsying.

Onto the final episodes 🏓

@Neil.T as an aside, I definitely agree that Eizouken's characters are nothing too deep or super appealing; the strength of that series lies elsewhere, the arc they collectively go through and what they're able to achieve.

Tatami Galaxy is beautiful and hilarious, I'm due for a re-watch! But my backlog beckons...
 
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Lordhippos

Vampire Ninja
Double whammy today because apparently I have been slacking.

Episode 8

Kazama seems to have a real affinity for bathrooms/toilets. Oh and playing various robots. Are robots in table tennis a thing? I've not seen them before, but I guess by the fact they are here that they may actually exist.

I did find it funny that they took advantage of the mat situation to sell shoes, and then Kazama didn't even bother to wear them. I guess everyone must have felt a little ripped off after that.

I quite like how Wenge is getting into teaching his club more than losing his cool over losing. It seems that even if he can't take the world stage, I hope he can find some purpose in coaching players with his long years of experience.

The match between Wenge and Peco was good, and it's good to see just how much Peco has improved in just a year since his last facing off against Wenge in the practice match at the start of the season.

Episode 9

Dude out on his travels still, wonder where he'll wind up. Maybe in London where he'll meet Yurie who is going there to study flower arranging?

What happened to Kazamas dad here? does he jump after the flashback ends? seems like he does.

Smile is just learning his opponents move before turning the match around, once he has a read on him, it's gg and gn.

Man Demon is back and this time he has hair. His sister? is very annoyingly voiced though and seems like a bit of a baka. Hopefully his little chat with Kazama helps him, but I must confess I didn't fully grasp the meaning behind what they were talking about. Any insight on this would be good.

It seems Yurie wants Kazama to play for himself, and though Kazama says he's doing that, perhaps he isn't, and he's just playing for the sake of his father? Later he answers he's playing for the team, which I think is also wrong.

Now that the side characters are out of the way in terms of matches, it seems we have Kazama vs Peco, and then after that Peco vs Smile like I though a couple of episodes back seems likely. Peco is absolutely in the wrong by risking actual long term injury to his knee here in my view, I can't justify him continuing to play like this, but he can, so that's that!
 

João Gomes

Hunter
"Smile's waiting for me."

I truly appreciate the scene with Sanada and the trainer, in which the former expresses his displeasure with Kazama's perceived lack of interest (well, actual lack of interest, actually).

It's the kind of situation where we have enough information from earlier (the episode where Yurie talks with her dad about Kazama) to understand him having to manage knowing the circumstances of Kazama's crappy life and upbringing and having to balance that with the team's discontent with it's top player's attitude. Like, nothing is written nor said, but the situation itself is set up such that it gives the trainer more depth as a character. It's excellent.

Tayou Matsumoto must be a hell of a writer, like damn dude. Taking Sanada and managing to add emotional stakes to his game against Tsukimoto is quality shiit. Sanada is too lost in his one-sided pseudo-rivalry against Kazama and I think that's misguided in a relatively high level competition such as this one. He was going to lose anyway but the reason for his playing was the wrong one. A theme in the series.

Seeing Smile in robot mode is straight up hype every single time. Ota having come around to appreciate Smile in his own mini arc is also great to see.

Kazama's voice actor is amazing. The weight on his voice really sells you on the crushing pressure he feels. It's understated but it's there. That monotone, that heavy feeling that he's supporting enough pressure that he could break if his will (fuelled by trauma) wasn't so strong. Sublime.

And here we are, almost at the end. After building (well, we still haven't properly gotten to Kazama, but we're almost done with him) a great cast of characters, be it main or surrounding, with depth, their own motivations, pasts and well defined personalities, we get to the core of the story: Peco and Smile's friendship. What a ride, every time I watch this.

@Lordhippos Yeah, his father (Nori, I think) got the family business into deep shiit, as per the trainer's description earlier in the series and killed himself either out of shame or desperation. The quick cuts of him losing it in front of the pc sell the idea (I think there's even a bottle of alcohol in there), but I never actually questioned the outcome of that scene until you mentioned it.

Looking at it, you're right that there could be some doubt as to what happens, but yeah, this happening is what makes Kazama (the grandpa) step in to salvage the situation and in turn create a lifetime of trauma for the Dragon. As I mentioned earlier, his father's suicide, the shame his family made him and his mother feel mixed with the feeling of debt towards his grandfather is at the core of what drives him.

My read on Kazama and Akuma's conversation is that it served to show us that Akuma stepping back from ping pong allows him to better understand the pressure Kazama feels; it allows Akuma to probe into the real reason why Kazama plays ping pong (an hornets nest Yurie had poked in one of the previous episodes) which is important, for Kazama to mull the question in his head (there will be payoff to this particular point later). He lies here and lies again to Sanada. I think he tells Akuma what he'd like the reason to be and later tells Sanada what he wants the team to think of him. Neither are true at this point. Peco will help him sort that out ⭐

It also shows us a deep cut that I don't think Kazama had the tact to realize he had just uttered: that victory is all about effort. Those words were particularly painful to hear for Akuma, considering he gave it his absolute best and put in more effort than most but thanks to his circumstances, never could make it as far as he'd like (and deserve, really).

I think the main purpose is to reinforce that Kazama isn't in a good place mentally. And it adds more depth to Akuma. Him wanting to cry after having an honest conversation with someone he used to idolize but didn't really understand is an understated moment of emotional release for his character.

**** me, this series man. Holy crap.
 
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Lordhippos

Vampire Ninja
Nice analysis there thanks @João Gomes - some detail I'd not taken in fully as I went along, but the jist of all of this to me is that most of this cast are an unusual bunch, there isn't really any normal people amongst the main characters, and I think it makes for a more interesting cast overall.

I love in particular the rivalry they have as teams/players, but also the mutual respect they show. Talk of defeat is done with good intentions generally (get the opponent riled up and have a good game).
 

João Gomes

Hunter
.
Nice analysis there thanks @João Gomes - some detail I'd not taken in fully as I went along, but the jist of all of this to me is that most of this cast are an unusual bunch, there isn't really any normal people amongst the main characters, and I think it makes for a more interesting cast overall.

I love in particular the rivalry they have as teams/players, but also the mutual respect they show. Talk of defeat is done with good intentions generally (get the opponent riled up and have a good game).

I had a huge post continuing this where I detailed a bit too much of someone's personal life, someone close to me, but I ended up deleting because it was about someone else and not me.

Anyway, I wanted to draw a parallel between that person and Kazama; I wanted to illustrate how what happens to you in your formative years makes a huge impact on your personality and the way you perceive things. The person in question strives to overachieve constantly because mommy decided what they did in their earlier years was never good enough. Just an example.

I fully agree with your last point and I've mentioned it elsewhere on this forum; it's one of the reasons I love it so much: respect between characters and lack of malice. It's just good vibes, despite the tragedy that affects and surrounds some of them.
 

Lordhippos

Vampire Ninja
Episode 10

Alright so Yurie is off to London, I hope she bumps into Egami there like I predicted may happen earlier on.

Peco has an unusual bat, at the top levels of play I imagine that the type of rubber you use makes a difference, for me it was just get a bat and play! :)

Normally red = forehand side and black = backhand side, but what he's doing here is using two different surfaces, and instead of always playing forehand with the red side and backhands with the black one, he spins the bat around and uses different sides depending upon what type of shot he wants to play.

The level of skill required to do this is very high I think, and the player needs to constantly keep track of what side they are hitting with as well as everything else that is going on.

We see a bit more in this episode generally about what drives Kazama, and I think it's clear that he's not enjoying playing just to win. The comments about flying seemed to have him thinking his dad may still be alive if he could fly, instead of falling to his death.

What I really liked was how Peco bought out the best in Kazama, and even though he didn't win, Kazama seemed to genuinely enjoy playing the game for it's own sake instead of to get results for a change.

To me it was never in doubt that Peco would win, but his knee injury shaken off (I have to think he's putting a facade on here and it's potentially paining him more than he's showing), I hope it doesn't impact his game with Smile next round too badly, although I fully expect it may do.

Anyway, I wanted to draw a parallel between that person and Kazama; I wanted to illustrate how what happens to you in your formative years makes a huge impact on your personality and the way you perceive things. The person in question strives to overachieve constantly because mommy decided what they did in their earlier years was never good enough. Just an example.

Oh definitely, see it all the time as well, parents who live through the success (or failure) of their children. I'm not a parent but if I was I think I'd want my kids to have fun and enjoy things, not worry about always getting the best results no matter the cost.
 

João Gomes

Hunter
"People can fly."

@Lordhippos As you said, Peco brought out the best in Kazama! What a beautiful game.

I like that they didn't neglect to show us that intimidation is definitely a part of Kazama's game, I liked how they played that up. Kazama's beastly ways were a joy to behold, he really is at the top of the game. You can see however that Hoshino's childlike ways were getting under his skin.

Peco's pure adoration of the game is beautifully depicted and the best part is that he brings Kazama along for the ride. Seeing Kazama smile and stumble was great! Him gaining wings himself another great moment.

My only regret is that I would've loved to see Smile vs. Kazama. I think Smile could win, but I'm not entirely sure.

I was smirking like an idiot throughout this whole episode. Peco's childlike wonder is infectious, his theme an hymn of joy. I'm thinking saying Ping Pong is my favorite anime series wouldn't be such an out-there thing, after all.
 

Geriatric hedgehog

Vampire Ninja
I got Tiger-uppercutted off this wagon by life and was wandering around elsewhere. Caught up to episode 8 just now and very much loving this show (even if I still wish the art style wasn't so very loose heh). Sorry I don't have it in me to add most of my thoughts (ooiieee, stop breathing sighs of relief!!) apart from the fact that I know where you guys are coming from in relation to the characters, in how they're sometimes difficult to read. I'm finding how you can find aspects of these guys really irritating one moment, but then some wonderful characteristics in the next - guess that's how humans are in reality after all, insufferable one minute but glorious the next, and therefore to me that is a fairly realistic depiction.
 

Lordhippos

Vampire Ninja
I'm finding how you can find aspects of these guys really irritating one moment, but then some wonderful characteristics in the next - guess that's how humans are in reality after all, insufferable one minute but glorious the next, and therefore to me that is a fairly realistic depiction.

Yep pretty much, and I think it benefits the show for it as well. So many shows just have these kind of lifeless characters in who never get angry or happy etc, glad this gives a bit of life to them instead :)
 

Lordhippos

Vampire Ninja
Episode 11

Alright, so this is the final episode and I can say I've definitely enjoyed this show. I don't think it's in my top 5 like yours @João Gomes but it doesn't stop me liking it all the same :)

My respect for Smile has gone up further in this episode, I was only half right, it's Smile vs Peco, but Smile is not going easy on him or letting him win, he is prepared to use any advantage he can even Pecos' weak knee.

It was nice to see the back story with Smile and Peco, and how Peco was trying to protect him. Poor Smile being bullied and shoved into the locker, tricking himself into thinking he enjoyed it as I suspect the alternative would be to get upset.

I'd like to take a moment to point how the NGE reference on Pecos' paper, I love small details like this:

szn2hE2.png


Hoshino "Third Child" Yutaka 🤣

The game itself was really well animated, loosely as per the general art direction of the show, but it displayed how Smile was just on the proverbial back foot, and his strategy of trying to force Peco into a weak position was failing as Peco controlled the flow of the game and had Smile running around too much just trying to stay in the game.

Egami completes his world tour, and in classic fashion, finds the thing he was after was staring him in the face the whole time.

Getting a nice aftermath tour was fun. There seems to be a more confident Smile at the training hall. If you leave the Kaoi school apparently you can grow your hair back, funny to see Kazama with hair. Even Wenge catches a break and gets to play at the International level again.
 
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