This Week: Ping Pong The Animation, The World is Still Beautiful, Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara, and Miss Monochrome: Supporter.
Our sumo series hit a production break, and I assume our hero there is trying to use the cover of the World Cup to slack off and take a nap when he thinks nobody is looking.
Instead though, we then have an unexpected substitution call off the bench.
Ping Pong The Animation [Episode ten]
This show ends in less than twenty four hours!
I highly encourage you to watch this series, as soon you will be able to marathon through it all at once, if for some reason you are reading these posts but are somehow not watching Ping Pong The Animation.
But let us speak of and examine the episode we do have.
Yurie sold her car to buy a plane ticket to head overseas and away from Dragon, and meanwhile Peco has himself a shiny new ping pong racket to play Dragon with. Ideally, those acquisitions work out well for everyone and nobody ends up with buyers remorse.
For once, the show itself went into a ton of the overt detail work regarding a racket tech check by having folks explain it in dialogue, which surprised me a lot. That is usually something I have been able to use as ammo in these posts, on the occasions when those checks have happened! Also though, it was something I dearly appreciated, as Peco’s current one is by far the most complicated one to try and get across the use of. It is a far better idea then to have the likes of Michio give some combination for prior equipment use (inverted rubber was for when he was pushed back and it could apply spin, pips out allowed speed, etc), and then the use twiddle blade for a penhold grip for all the viewers at home.
Which “just” allows him to do what he picked up how to (forehand and backhand use within the penhold grip style), while also giving him the added vector of being able to flip the sides of racket whenever he wants. Effectively doubling his response options, at the cost of it being a royal pain to attempt to pull off either without a physical hiccup and potentially dropping the racket or the dreaded mental lockup potential of indecision. There is a certain strength in having more limited options, after all.
But, through this device, Peco can come to express himself through his ping pong. Which becomes the only thing to grant him salvation at this stage of the game.
As suspected, this match was able to be long and more drawn out.
Even though the eventual outcome was all but assured, it was able to give a degree of heft towards Dragons heavy handed weight at the start. His dominance of the match, how he sought here to not only win a game but was going into his movements as a kind of declarative response to Peco’s aspirations. This was aiming at destruction, almost erasure, of Peco’s entire worldview as Dragon works out his own issues relating to the weight that he carries. The angers or regrets, his father and family matters, to the not feeling anything at all and even victory is a matter of hollow routine. That even the Kaio bench realizing he is going at provoking Peco, and the sideline official needs to speak up (albeit timidly) about his need to restrain himself. And we have those moments of him as a kind of mythological figure, climbing the seemingly impossible mountain from down below as if it was itself a thing to be defeated representative of everything else.
And it is a nice place to be.
For all involved then, as Peco gets to soar on to Smile at the top of his tower, Dragon’s wings have reached their limit, and Yurie flies away from the country, it was all hopefully worth it for that moment.
The World is Still Beautiful (Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii) [Episode ten]
The way this series will careen in tone is enough to give someone whiplash.
Especially now that the two separate halves of the show between slapstick comedy and drama almost seem at war with each other internally. Nike starts the episode bleeding from a head wound due to repeatedly slamming her head into a sturdy wall in a wacky over the top fashion, because she has feelings. By the end of the running time she picks up another cranial laceration due to hurling herself into prison walls, also because she has feelings.
But it is two different kinds of having feelings, you see.
I still have the same issue as last time where now that Team Drama decided to show up for the endgame episodes, Team Comedy seems more out of place than ever. And, in its own ways, is defeating Team Drama through structural subterfuge. It is so very difficult to take the high levels of embarrassment and zaniness over feelings with their appropriate hilarity because we have both seen the drama elements step up and we should also be well past this stage so late in the show. Yet also the drama is not without its share of muscle cramps and other afflictions, because the comedy has kept it down for so long that it gets hard to take the serious moments as serious as they should be as it tries to make up for lost time.
Things like Nike’s Grandmother turning out to be the big bad here feels rushed and more hammy than menacing, given the speed of that development and reveal.
I mean from the start of the episode we are thinking Kitara is a problem. Before we know it we have grandma on a pier giving bellowing evil laughs in the middle of a thunderstorm taunting a boy king in swamp water looking for The One Key that will save Nike. But that is not a good twist, it just comes off as kind of bland. Grandma has never been much of a mention in this series outside of a few passing statements regarding Nike’s background, so it is not like she has had major screen time she is acting against now and turning on its head. It was not like we had a letter from her more often in the series to get to know her (or think we know her) that way at a distance, for instance.
Kara Remercier coming out on stage to sing with a rock group during the welcome festivities was nice for what little we got to hear or see.
Even if it was just a reinstrumented version of the introduction credits song, it was more fun than I have had with a mid-episode song in this show than the usual rain summoning one tends to be by now.
Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara (Gaworare) [Episode eleven]
It is nice to see Nanami super excited about something. Even if (or perhaps, especially if ) that something does happen to be an major idol singer fascination whose mere presence can render her into a pile of lets be friends forever type goo.
And Serika is the same idol singer from the giant television monitor across the street from the near fatal car crash that started the series, so everything starts to come full circle on the that front finally. She is, appropriately, the Bard after all.
I did appreciate that we got to have a bit more of the school festival this episode, even in a fast forwarded and roundabout way (we even got cheated out of the after festival dance ourselves!), since that was one of the main quirks I had with last week.
Much like my last week mentioning of the number of girls in the harem perhaps getting to be a bit of a drag on certain mechanical aspects being able to execute as fully or as quickly though (like the introductions at the pageant), we do also need to bust down a character development door and get Serika’s background and story across. It is a tough nut to figure out how to crack here, in that we are at the late stage of the series and we are still introducing new core characters who are required for the larger How The World Truly Works gears. And on the one hand, that can feel kind of a shame, because one has already met so many folks and one probably has other characters they want to see more of by this point.
And yet given the role Serika has, in that through her concert Souta finally sees truth and the light of hopes / friendships / wishes and so on, he gets to have a breakthrough in his powers and see the actual reality of the world as computational data. So given how things are, that particular setup is not exactly something the series would be able to execute on sooner. I am certain one could have figured out a way to rescript both it and thus an earlier introductory rollout of Serika, of course. But then other mechanics I did like may not work as well (such as the sudden smash drop that Nanami really, really likes this idol, which is an amusing character thing this far on).
I dunno, it is tricky. At that impasse then, the series being blunt about all this regarding her and then getting to just go on trudging ahead to the virtual nature of reality stuff is likely the far better option than trying to slug it out through some larger device this show really does not have time for on the whole. We have more girls in the harem than episodes of the show, after all, so there is something to be said for it continuing to realize what it is, what it can do, and what it should avoid so as to maintain that level of brutal efficiency. So I am really doing little more than talking out loud here, essentially.
The power overload to the server, then.
I like the idea of a series of computer simulations being behind all of this, as it does a few primary things for me.
I think it better justifies than a fantasy aspect the use of the character class name pun engineering, the high speed efficiency of the structure of the show itself as mimicking the sped up processing, and were one to get right down to it the entire flag system itself as a series of blatant decision points. So that all checks out for me, I have no problems with that, and really it is among the better ways to explain this entire situation.
The first thing many would tend to think of when given the synopsis of this series would tend to be computer based visual novels or dating sims with regulation archetype characters, after all. It also means that things like the earlier interdimensional travel become easy to justify in retrospect, or the memory of Souta’s existence being stricken from folks minds as data points. Likewise, his level of control of the data in said reality then makes Nanami not forgetting who Souta is easy to hypothesize explanations for as well. It would not surprise me if we were to come to learn it was something he did, subconsciously or otherwise, being unable to allow that point to be erased or a coding quirk.
To be honest, at the end of this episode I had to double check how much time we actually had left. If next week was going to be the finale, I was prepared to have a lot more mental alarm bells going off. But we have two, so that gives it some breathing room. Which, arguably, is something it has had little opportunity to enjoy. So many actions or activities had to justify certain gears moving. So we will get to see if all the front loaded efficiency from across the series gets to have a nice payout. The preview for the penultimate episode seems nice in that “Nobody but Nanami remembers why they are together anymore” kind of way, even if I still suspect Souta will be safe and sound at the end of the series despite my earlier theorycrafting on why I might like it better if he was not. It will all come down to the execution, at any rate.
I am hoping for it to perhaps stick with the bittersweet or heroic sacrifice ending more than I probably should.
I mean, I will not be disappointed if it doesn’t happen (plenty of other harem shows have teased doing that but without the clincher follow-through, so it’d still be a genre thing to hurl up with all the others). But I keep seeing nifty things it could do if it decided to stay the course, depending on where they wanted to go with this whole harem lead nexus point thing, or the girls needing to perhaps move on after some kind of Royal Banner style sacrificial move after being able to remember him again, or something.
It has been a fun show to mess around with either way for what it is and aims to be. I suppose its just a matter of what kind of bow it wants to pick up to tie on everything at the end. If it wants to grab something standard but reliable from the store or maybe make its own arts and crafts project out of it for a personal touch.
Miss Monochrome: Supporter
Well this was unexpected!
To me at least. I have no idea if this was more widely held knowledge here regarding this OVA being put into production as a World Cup special. It popped up on a Tuesday though, just as the regular series of shorts did back during the autumn season when I was writing about it a bit every week.
I was trying to cram way too many series into the same word count limit each week at the time. But, nevertheless, I did enjoy its brand of light economic humor and deadpanning android idol dream shenanigan short skits enough for it make it on to my top ten list for 2013 when I was writing those posts up.
How does the international sport themed special episode perform then?
It felt pretty much the same as any other episode of the series, really, aside from having a bit more of a directly upbeat ending.
The setup goes as one would expect for this kind of special. Monochrome only thinking of soccer after someone purchases a ball from the convenience store she is stuck working in, and this quickly snowballing into seeking to make a video despite her having absolutely no idea how the sport operates on a practical level. Cue Manager Maneo being combinations of either embarrassed or concerned regarding either the nature of events surrounding him or Monochrome’s capability to potentially ruin herself (or him, by proxy). And Ru-chan the Roomba says nothing, yet remaining invaluable and adorable in their supporting vacuum cleaner and family member role.
That is about all I can say without ruining all of the jokes at least, as it is only a four minute short including the credits (which remain the same as the original series).
For a Monochrome episode, its need to be very gung-ho supportive of the Japanese national football Team does mean it can not be quite as dry in its humor use compared to the original series. While the series definitely had its share of just plain silly moments, the wackiness factor is a bit dialed up here as part of being more celebratory or exclamatory in tone. For good reason, of course, given the intent of the short. It just feels a little bit different from the original, is all. If one enjoyed the series though, they will still get enough of a kick out of this.
Plus, you get to see some Wooser in this short too, and he had a second second of his show wrap up this past winter. It had the best ending credits, so go support his show (Wooser’s Hand To Mouth Life, and said sequel I like a bit more, Wooser’s Hand-to-Mouth Life: Awakening Arc) too.
Together, perhaps Wooser and Miss Monochrome will one day get the late night animated talk show we all need.
Hangers is a weekly series containing my passing thoughts on currently airing anime productions. Opinions, as always, are subject to change.