Ping Pong Girl gives us two more high profile matches in this fifth entry but fails to improve on all those flaws seen previously.
Ping Pong Girl really likes to hype up its matches but it doesn’t quite like to follow it up with the expected quality. Koyori and Agari both, unsurprisingly, score a point each against the master of defensive play, Kiruka. The perfect counter for backspin is topspin and both girls can be seen using topspin. Agari starts using her now improved forehand smashes to push Kiruka back and succeeds in breaking this wall. Koyori speeds up the game by hitting alternately on the corners to win too.
The problems seen in the Agari vs Koyori match are still visible here; there are relatively more instances of animation, but still frames mostly plague the two matches. It’s a shame that we aren’t getting some of the animation seen in the matches prior to Agari’s. The animation back then, although scarce, was pretty cool and made the matches exciting with how it followed the ball as it flew between players (especially Hokuto vs Koyori). But episode two was the last time we saw some good animation out of this show. These two matches lack any kind of visual flare whatsoever; we’re not expecting high quality animation throughout the matches since that’s asking way too much from Kinema Citrus, what we want is at least some form of animation to make this feel like a sports anime and not a colored sports manga.
And this is where a big problem of this show surfaces: these two matches are exciting mostly to those who are familiar with table tennis and know those moves each player uses. The show’s pretty much unable to get to a wider audience mainly due to the lack of any good visuals. Other factors also play their part here; the show has poor comedy and not interesting enough character interactions. But even then, the lack of animation deals a really big blow since visuals play a big role in making a sports anime exciting. No one would want to watch a sports anime which only has still frames to offer along with some incomprehensible ping pong talk.
On to something good in this episode. Koyori is moving forward and now has a goal which will help her increase her rate of improvement. Unlike the other girls in her group, she isn’t aiming for the Nationals or to be the very best like no one ever was, she is aiming for that big tournament so that she can play a variety of stronger opponents. Koyori only plays this game for the excitement so it comes as no surprise that she has no interest in standing on the top of the game. This does somewhat explain how Koyori got this good at ping pong; she played stronger opponents all this time and learned a lot. Until and unless we get some flashbacks related to her meeting with table tennis and her time spent with it, we won’t know for sure her secret to becoming this good.
While Kiruka lost against Koyori and Agari, they only scored one point against her and it’s pretty obvious that mere point doesn’t determine the quality of a player. Kiruka has yet to go all out with her game and she’s got more going for her than what she put on display here.
The world of Ping Pong Girl also has doubles table tennis. Two teams are already quite obvious: Kiruka and Mune, and Agari and Koyori. Kiruka is said to be way better when playing doubles so this should be worth watching. It’ll also be interesting to see if they give this doubles thing a realistic touch or add nonsense like “you have to connect with each other” to the mix, especially with the Agari-Koyori pairing.
This episode is treated as the halfway point of the show with the OP and ED switched, while the OP’s extended version is also played. This half dealt with introducing the main cast and telling about all their specialties while also giving some development to Agari and Koyori. The goal these girls have now is winning the Nationals. And the first test is to face off against a dangerous team who has featured in the Nationals and in the opening sequence. Whether the remaining episodes will be only about this practice match or if they’ll show some official tournament matches too will have to be seen; the most likely situation is that we’ll get a practice match or two with the tournament starting by the end of the show’s run.
This episode was a disappointment; they hype up their matches only to not deliver anything worth calling “animation.” We should learn not to expect anything out of this studio with regards to animation by now as we’re bound to be disappointed. The techniques the girls used to win gave the matches a certain degree of excitement, but the visuals could have really sealed the deal here. The unfunny Kiruka and somewhat boring character interactions aren’t helping either. The practice matches are coming up in an episode or two and we’re at least hoping to find some more diversity in a single player’s style since everyone we’ve seen so far (save for Koyori) only knows one move.
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