No more apologising. NSW won and so do both Warriors and All Blacks, so today is a good day. Next season should be interesting now that Ping Pong is finished (review soon). Anyway though, here’s the post that’s supposed to come out 3 days ago.
“I Thought You Were The Hero!”
It’s the penultimate showdown, between the unstoppable force and the emerging hero. While Ping Pong has always been fascinating in its delivery of the character development, there has yet to be one full on match which showcases the true extent of how talented those players are. There were flashes of brilliance, and some of the shots are quite impressive, but most of the time the back and forth often takes a back seat to the actual character progression. Not anymore here though. With a massive match up ahead, it’s vital for us audience to participate and witness first hand the transformation, otherwise it would lose much needed impact.
What is a hero? Hero is someone who inspires others, someone who leads those out from the darkness, someone who embodies the positive spirit so other people can follow. After the defeat to both Kong and Akuma, Peco rose again from the ashes to guide those around him. To him, Ping Pong is something he enjoyed, and something to be treasured. His ambition is slowly rubbing off on his competitors, and after freeing Kong once again, he is now sitting on the biggest stage of his life so far, facing someone with a different philosophy to the sport.At the end of the day though, this is back to Peco’s state of mind. He is said to be really talented but we haven’t seen him explode into action. The knee injury is not helping, but he still has a date to go to after this match.
Dragon was in pain. To him, victory is obligatory. It’s not a goal, but a responsibility. He must uphold the respect from others and keep up the image of invulnerability. A curse was placed on him to make him striving for victory and nothing else. He fights to clear his father’s name, and he forever lives in the shadow of a man who cannot fly. His hero died floating years ago, therefore when someone appeared him posing to be a hero, he snapped. He was extra agitated, taunting Peco whenever possible, fighting to crash the ambition of his opponent to completely deny the thread of false hope he may represent. It’s even worse when Peco was using the flipping paddle, a gimmick that was more like a toy to him, a big signal that he’s not taking this game seriously.
The big turning point came when Peco remembered the joy of playing, and stop favouring the injured knee at all. No more worries, just playing to his full potential. Peco is a speed demon, and this is the first time we see just how fast he is. With several quick cuts, the comeback is real. No more playing according to the rule, flipping is now just for the fun of it. He can jump, he can fly, he can show Dragon a brand new world in Ping Pong that he has never feel before; A match where it’s extremely fun to play. He was lonely at the top, and now by being pushed to the limit, it’s such a glorious feeling.
As the colour drains out near the end of the episode, there’s a great sense of tranquility to it. No more distractions, no more fancy reasons, just animation at its core, just the joy of Ping Pong. Pure, and simple. Despite the match itself being a crazy series of fast pace rallies after another, it’s extremely calming, and full of joy. As Peco advances to the fated match against Smile, he left a massive smile on Ryuichi’s face. The fearsome dragon is no more. Ryuichi has rediscovered the joy of playing the sport once again. He doesn’t need to see it as a burden, but something to be enjoyed. He was smiling.
It’s always painful to lose, but this time, there’s no sadness. Instead, there’s an overwhelming sense of liberation. We had just witnessed the best match played in the tournament between two top players. It is quite a spectacle. Dragon is fortunate that he is facing Peco, who is both good enough and offbeat enough to have insane rallies with. Dragon is able to go full out without worrying a thing in the world. He is still climbing upward with his both hands, but this match up showed him just what it feels like to fly with wings. The walls are still there, but Kazama is no longer restricted by them.
A standing ovation please.
“The Emperor and The Hanged Man, Part 2”
Coming off from the shock at the end of the previous episode, this one takes little time to jump straight back into action. I largely consider Part 3 of the JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure as a experimental piece in the beginning, simply because Araki has yet to break away from the thinking of the old school shonen power styles. In this one though it’s clear he’s starting to find his groove into designing the stand abilities, and it’s bizarre alright. The fun aspect of “where the fk is the weakness” search is finally here, and it’s the start of why the fights in the JoJo series are so entertaining to watch.
An interesting aspect of this set up however, is that this is a fight for both Polnareff and Kakyoin, both ex-assassins who converted to the party. Polnareff has the power, and Kakyoin has the similar thinking as those sneaky killers. It’s no surprise that it’s Kakyoin who recognised the weakness first, while giving his friend a chance to exact revenge. This is also hopefully a turning point for both of them, as Avdol’s demise could be the catalyst to strengthen the team spirit for the first time. At the same time, Hol Horse is becoming quite a fun character as well despite being a villain. Suffice to say that I really enjoy the past two episodes, and things are looking on the way up from here on.
“Don’t Give Up!”
Man I just love the OST in this show. As the main story kicks into gear this episode we are faced with the issue that plagued from the beginning: no mean of transportation to the castle in the sky. With the newfound motivation and keenness, this episode feels fresh despite being a mostly build up sequence. It’s a group effort from the entire town, and there’s just something magical about seeing all the people you know getting involved in the project. Logy’s backstory is revealed here with significant weight on his character as a whole as he has to come to term with his past failure and move on. I just wish the anime adaptation puts more emphasis to him prior. While it’s understandable that they want to milk the best girl in Wilbell more for commercial purposes, it does hamper on the storytelling integrity, especially with his name in the title.
Nonetheless, with the airship finished, I could see the last 2 episode being the exploration segment. It’s just kind of worrying that the ED covergirl doesn’t have more screentime for us to understand her properly.
“Mega Lucario vs Mega Lucario! The Aura Storm”
The signs are there from the beginning. Citron commented a few times in the previous fights that Lucario tends to chain his combo without listening to Koruni’s commands, and here we see the extreme case of it. Overwhelmed by his own power in the Mega form, Lucario lost control completely in the friendly matchup with Satoshi’s pikachu. Pikachu has a horrible winrate against any Lucario he faced so far, and this one is the worst defeat of them all. He was overpowered, bullied, humiliated, and almost drag Satoshi into danger as well.
As it turns out, the relationship between Koruni and her Lucario, who she spent her time with since childhood, was a unstable one. They assumed that they knew each other too well, and caused some frictions in their understanding of each other. As Koruni’s grandpa demonstrated in another Lucario vs Lucario fight, she has a lot to learn. It was a fantastic fight, and a great fanservice to the pokemon fans nonetheless. As it stands, Koruni would have to find their way and strengthen her relationship with Lucario in order to move on forward, and personally I hope she stays in Satoshi’s party a bit longer. Her energy is infectious, and her dynamics with Satoshi is already greater than what Serena could muster so far.
“The Emperor’s Sexual Harrassment”
It’s the return of the first protagonist, and with that the new fusion of the technology from the two worlds. This series has been wonderful in its passion on super robots, and the first fight is a great proof of it. The focus is all on the left arm, and with the new connection with the hair it just bypasses the biggest weakness of the mech design and shifts the attention to the two most powerful aspects of it. As usual the use of music is fantastic, and the usual show of love to the giant robot fights is as apparent as ever. I just love the energy here. As for the title, it’s referring to the usual stupidity gag within the penguin empire.
The usual dominating abusive relationship between Koichi and Kyoko continues, with Kiriko looking on from the background. I do admit that I miss the flirting between those two individuals, and once again it’s back the usual business. This is supposed to be a quick breather, with the whole back to school scenario and a reflection time for the Penguin Empire. However the with the end of the series looming, a third force appeared as the ultimate cannon fodder in the form of the governments who decides to rat Daimidaler out simply because their return triggered the rise in the ero level. It’s a not-so-subtle jab on the real life equivalent, and keeping up with the usual tongue-in-cheek seriousness this series love to do.
“No Need for All of You to Dance. I Can Handle It All by Myself”
There were plenty of hints back then, but this is the first episode that explicitly stated the nature of the ambiguity in its presentation of the harem aspect. Parallel world is a common trope in fantasy genre, and the whole alternative servers is a more sci fi take on the same idea which is used here. While once again the first 2/3 of the episode is the usual school festival shenanigans building up to a optimistic outlook and peace of mind for Souta, when the tone change it changes abruptly. Similar to the parallel world he witnessed a few episodes prior, he’s currently living in a false dream, a world that is too perfect for him. The episode ends on his disappearance act and once again Nanami is shown to be the anomaly in the cast. With 2 more episodes to go, the next one will certainly be one depressing penultimate 23 minutes before any chance of a revival is hinted near the end.
“An Important Friend”
I’m really not a fan of this episode at all. We were on the cusp of some serious development at the back end of the last episode, and this week’s one just negate all of them right away. It jumped from the first week back from Summer holiday straight to winter, skipping a lot of content that builds up to this point in time. As of result, Hase looks a lot more wussy and selfish than he deserved to be, as us audience has no idea what he had went through during this period of time. It trivialised his character development, and made him a lot more despicable than the manga counterpart, simply because we aren’t aware of the series of events that left him so defeated. Therefore all the important scenes in this episode have the inverse effect than the ones they intended. It’s character assassination by withholding critical information from the viewers without giving them an answer.
Yes “progress” were made, and relationships got better, but we were left out so much of it. The secret to Fujimiya’s past was revealed, but done in such way that there’s little to none emotional impact to it. This show has been toying around with my emotion throughout the past 10 episodes, that I was surprised that I don’t feel anything when this critical information was revealed. This episode has lost its touch. In order to try to come up with a suitable ending point it rushed through too much content for my liking. I’m really not a fan of this decision at all.
“Fortress in the Sky”
Time to infiltrate into the enemy base. The new town is filled with mystery as the bizarre actions from the lord in the sky mystified the main crew. The absurd usage of the magic fuel, the precious coordination of its soldiers, and the abduction of the young ladies from the town, they all leads to something yet to be disclosed to us. This is a more action based episode, with separation, abduction, and a new mysterious entity that greets our main characters. With a cliffhanger ending I’m expecting more fighting in the next one. This show is gearing up for a thrilling finale.
“The Anti-Sister Battle Corps, a.k.a. the Chimame Corps”
Arguably yet another best episode so far. The timing is perfect, and just has enough cuteness in this episode to deliver on both sides of the spectrum. The demonstration of synergy between the two nutcase character in Cocoa and Chiya, while bullying Sharo at the same time, is just fantastic. Chino’s desire for Cocoa is also at display here, and Lize and Aoyama showed once again why they are both the best characters in this show. Everything is snappy and to the point, but not rushing through the delivery of the punchlines. Every character has their moment here. I quite like how much Tippy adds to the equation, just by flustering around and be bullies unconsciously by other characters. Thoroughly enjoyed this episode to say the least.
It’s the dungeon siege episode again, and as usual it’s up to the combination of Juugo’s superior physical capability and Tensai’s intelligence to solve the puzzle. A brief interlude of Kagetora admiring Daruku’s lethality later, Hiiyo turned up to the bottom of the dungeon and a fight sequence breaks out. This show is slowly becoming similar to another show next season with crazy power-ups in Nanana’s treasures used in fights. There are more character building scenes, but nothing concrete at the moment. It’s just sad that this show only has one episode left and could not give a suitable reward for all those character building, a complaint that I will sure repeat in my final assessment.
“A Sudden Reunion”
With the show gearing for a quick finale, some scenes were cut, and as of result some of the sequences makes little sense once you stop and think about it. It’s not like the story so far didn’t have that issue, but it’s much more glaringly obvious in this episode. A new character is introduced alongside the final villain, and both fall in love fairly quickly in this episode as well. It tried to do a moral dilemma, but just brushes through it without much impact due to lack of time. As it stands now, the next two episodes shall be a bit more action packed as the final boss rocked up to the doorsteps.
“The Heart of Taurus, The Spear of Light”
Massacre, politics, stupidity, and the return of an old foe. This show just suffers too much from the timing problem. It could’ve been great if the issues raised were handled with more subtlety, but there’s just not enough time. The set pieces also needs proper build up to be effective as they demands emotional involvements to work well. Oh well, it’s only an ep or so to go now. I do appreciate the sentiment of not wanting to expose the daughter character to the cruelty of the world though. It’s not horrible, just plenty of missed opportunities. The weird flashback to the laser class during this episode is one interesting experience I have to say.
No party lasts forever, and we are coming up to yet another end of the season already. There were surprises, and there were joys, and there were disappointments. However on the whole, I’m glad that I watched the shows I did this season. It would be hard for any other shows to top Ping Pong in the second half of the year, but I’m not complaining. It’s one of those shows that just don’t come often.