Ping Pong. It’s not normally a sport that’s associated with drama. It doesn’t get much attention in anime compared to the bigger sports such as Baseball, Soccer, Basketball and the like. In fact, it doesn’t get much attention at all.
But here we have an adaption of a ping pong manga from the 90s (1996-1997) in the year 2014. Now, for those of you who don’t understand how the anime industry in Japan works, here’s a simple fact for 90% of anime adaptions of manga: they’re only made to advertise the manga. Therefor, they’re generally only made during the time that the manga is currently being published, as that’s when a manga is at the height of its popularity
But here we get an adaption of this work nearly 2 decades after it’s completed. I was incredibly curious. I asked myself, “why does an anomaly such as this exist?”
After watching, I think I found my answer.
The story and characters of Ping Pong: The Animation are timeless. The story is a means to propel the characters forward. The characters themselves feel natural, realistic, and, dare I say, human?
The characters are comprised of some of the most standard sports anime archetypes there are. You have the character who is talented but never trains, the one who always plays but doesn’t seem to be that good or have any passion, the one who has no talent but overcomes that fact with intense training and practice, etc.
These are standard shounen sports cliches/archetypes, and honestly, they DO make for fun watching, even if one can easily guess what’s going to happen next.
But Ping Pong portrays these archetypes in a way only a very small amount of manga/anime in general do. They portray them more realistically. They portray them as human.
The manga was originally written by Taiyou Matsumoto, who has since published many more works. He’s still active in the manga industry even today.
The director for this anime is none other than Masaaki Yuasa, who is famous for directing works such as The Tatami Galaxy, Mind Game, and Kaiba. His signature directing and animation style is in full force for Ping Pong as well, as you can see in these gifs:
Masaaki Yuasa isn’t one to conform to the standards and “safe” ways of the Japanese animation industry. While his shows don’t generally sell well, they always get a cult following for their unique animation, directing, and stories.
At its heart, Ping Pong The Animation is a character drama with ping pong used as a means to further it. It is a fantastic watch, and deserves any and all acclaim it receives.
You can watch Ping Pong the Animation legally and for free on FUNimation’s website here.
This past Spring season, one anime caught my attention - Mekakucity Actors. Studio SHAFT has blown my mind once again. With their unique style and “over the shoulder” trademark, they’re an easy studio to pick out.
But what is especially different about Mekakucity Actors, is that it is not adapted from a manga or even an original from the studio. It’s based on Japanese “pop stars.”
Vocaloid is an electronic voice synthesizer program, with multiple different installments. Each installment, has a different voice - the most famous being Hatsune Miku. First the voices were given names and then personifications. Their music has skyrocketed and even gone to live concerts. Watch Miku perform here. Miku and her many counterparts are world renowned, especially among the Otaku Community.
In addition to live concerts and world fame, Vocaloid produces music videos… of a different sort. Kagerou Project is a Vocaloid song series about a group of teenagers who acquire supernatural powers after near death experiences. You can listen to and watch the Kagerou Project music videos here.
So Mekakucity Actors - I was hooked. I’m pretty sure I watched the first six or seven episodes on the first day. With lovable and generational chatacters, it was easy to relate to this ragtag group of friends. Heart warming and heart wrenching. With arrangements of the songs included in the soundtrack, it provided a real and believable interpretation of the story.
More than anything, I was stunned with SHAFT’s ability to portray trauma and psychological tension. I have no words to justly describe it. Packed with action, drama, and comedy, I would highly recommend Mekakucity Actors to anyone looking for a short, mind-bending animation.
LAIKA (studio behind creepy greats ParaNorman and Coraline) has been getting some love lately as animation fans eagerly await the fall 2014 premier of The Boxtrolls. San Diego Comic Con provided some more excitement around this “hand-crafted” storyteller when LAIKA president/CEO Travis Knight revealed interest in a fully traditional animated film in the future.
According to SlashFilm.com, LAIKA’s current films have all had aspects of hand-drawn animation in them, so switching from stop motion to traditional may not be so out of reach for the incredibly detailed work the studio is already producing.
Look at the storyboard samples at the top of this post, originally posted on their nearly brand-new Facebook page — seriously, I was the 100th page follower, which is unbelievable to me because they deserve so many more fans! — but look at David Vandervoort’s storyboard above and you can see the depth and beauty this studio would bring to traditional animation.
"Just do it, son," I imagine is what Knight’s dad, a founder of athletics brand Nike, would have to say on the matter.
- Courtney (HarmonicaCave)
Yesterday, it was reported that Nickelodeon was pulling the final five episodes of Legend of Korra: Book 3 before they aired. To calm the swelling agony that ensued,co-created Bryan Konietzko posted the following image on his tumblr.
"Hey Korra Nation! Phew. Some of you may have heard versions of this news elsewhere, but here’s the official word. After this Friday’s on-air premiere of Episode 8 “The Terror Within” at 8/7c, all remaining Book 3 episodes will move to a digital rollout. That means two things: 1) Korra is NOT cancelled, 2) the remaining episodes will roll out weekly on Nick.com and the Nick app beginning August 1, as well as on platforms like Amazon, Google Play, Xbox and Hulu.
Thousands of you have been asking to watch this incredible show online, so hopefully this news works in your favor. Mike and Bryan created a breath-taking season for us all…so get ready to watch it all go down!!!
Thanks for being the BEST fans in the industry and see you at Comic-Con.”
Now that my mini-heart-attack has subsided, part of me is wondering if this move to digital is actually a good thing for the series. The entire first half of season 3 was not available for stream on the Nick website after the television air and for the people who didn’t have cable, such as me and the many fans who shared their outrage on the Korra Facebook page, this made it nearly impossible to watch or rewatch unless through illegal means. While I get that online viewership doesn’t have the same pull as on-air ratings, inaccessibility in this digital age might have hurt the show’s viewership overall. [Nosy editor’s note: YEAH! Because who wants to start watching a show if they can’t catch up with the episodes they missed?]
Video game developer Keiji Inafune’s Mighty No. 9 video game will be getting a CG animated series! The announcement was made during Anime Expo on July 5th.
The series has an announcement teaser trailer, which you can watch here, and the official youtube channel has provided a synopsis:
"The story focuses on BECK, a weak transforming combat robot, who was made to fight in a combat robot league as a part of the MIGHTY NUMBERS, the strongest robots in the world. When Beck is the only robot spared from a virus that forces his teammates to destroy mankind, he has to find a way to overcome his own inadequacies so that he can stop them"
Any fans of the new game excited by this announcement?
Trailer for Master Jiang and the Six Kingdoms.
This Chinese feature is coming out in 2016 in China, and hopefully the rest of the world soon after. According to Gizmodo, the cel animation is done by just two animators, Li Wei and Pei Fei. It looks epic and beautiful. Waiting for this is going to be agony.
A glassware collection for Walt Disney Japan, based on Winnie the Pooh and his friends. The basic glass cup and bottle shapes are complemented by silicon lids that recreate some of Winnie the Pooh’s more famous activities: climbing trees, putting his head in a jar of honey and hanging from a balloon. We also designed silicon coasters that complete the scene when placed underneath the glassware: the door to the house, honey on a branch, the clock in Pooh’s room and Pooh stuck in a hole. Rather than focus our design attention on the glassware, we chose to redesign the coasters and lids. (via Nendo)