Compellingly Hipster: Yuasa-Powered Ping Pong

Chloe Kagamigawa

I keep on calling Ping Pong hipster. I’m not sure why, but it’s got something to it that rubs me that way. The animation is as “Yuasa” as it gets, it’s very emotive and really gripping. Even when it’s kind of this nonchalant, laid back walking down the shores of Kamakura and up Enoshima like kids up to no good.

That octopus cracker thing is delicious, make sure you try some when you visit.

I guess I would pit Ping Pong against something, like, say, Flower of Evil, in that they both feature these scenes where the kids wander through suburban decay, except in the case of tourist-town Kamakura it’s a little bit just decay for show rather than plain old variety of decay. The population is old and sparse, at any rate, and with the quaint landscape, the sea-side view but largely framed by either the local landscape or human/traffic, gives it still a sense of mundane occupancy.

At any rate, Ping Pong is an anime that is about motion, about animation in the sense of the term that it moves. In fact, Ping Pong books. That makes the delightful highlight in episode 3 when we get these sliding panels that breaks up the screen. Thinking back to what kind of “slideshows” late-night TV anime can be, Ping Pong is almost a form of satire when viewed in that way. And in that sense, the motion really elevates the tension of the story drastically differently than a lot of Yuasa’s other works. It’s much smaller, but it keeps moving. Tight but constantly changing focus. It makes the wide-angle shots a lot more effective, such as the cut at end of episode one when Wenge was on the roof, or better yet, the scene in episode 3 when Dragon and Smile were talking.

When I watch it, it’s a rush. When I’m done watching it, it leaves me with a smile and in awe. But half an hour later I’m ready to, I don’t know, scratch my butt or something. There’s not much to it. Yet. And that’s probably why I find it really hipster-y. It’s great but so far the substance is just a lot of clever writing. Not that I’m complaining about it or anything, but I wish it wasn’t so much about the “then and there” and something a little more universal. It’s kind of like what Wenge said about Smile’s ego.

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