Beyond the Boundary, Ping Pong

Beyond the Boundary

This is yet another one of those frustrating anime that could have been great, but was squandered by Japan’s unceasing desire to pander to the lowest common denominator. The story has already been done a million times before. The world is inhabited by all sorts of supernatural beings, but only very special people can see them.

The main character is a guy who is half-human and half-monster, and apparently immortal. This allows him to get stabbed, burned, and mutilated in various ways without any lasting results. His love interest is a shy, annoying, screechy girl with glasses who hunts monsters, and came to town to kill him.

The animation is fucking fantastic. Almost every single episode looks like a goddamn movie. The character motions are fluid and dynamic, and they fly around on-screen brandishing weapons and leaping away from supernatural explosions.

Unfortunately, the animation is all this series has going for it. The rest is insanely trite. The girl and guy like each other, but the girl won’t admit her feelings. They screech and holler at one another. The other characters are requisitely weird, and are as developed as a piece of cardboard.

In the end, the girl dies, but then comes back to life for no reason at all, teaching us there are no consequences. It was pretty lame overall, and I was super disappointed. It’s too bad they wasted so much money on the animation budget. Instead of doing that, they should have just made a second season of Berserk or something.*

Verdict: Bad

*Yes, I know there is second season of Berserk coming. I wrote this post before it was announced.


Ping Pong

This is a pretty fascinating anime with some of the worst animation I have ever seen. The character models are hideous, the animation is about as close to stop-motion as you can get, and the character designs vary from episode to episode. Prepare yourself for a lot of speed lines and jerky movements.

Even so, Ping Pong was absolutely enthralling. The story was great. It was about two childhood friends who bond over table tennis. One comes out of his shell, working hard to become the best. The other, much more extroverted friend, doesn’t take the game too seriously, relying mostly on his natural talent.

They manage to incorporate a good deal of drama and teenage angst, but make it believable and relatable. The only thing that pissed me off was the story’s confused message. It seems to think that people with natural ability will best people who practice a lot. Unfortunately, that’s not true. People with natural ability can be good, but they won’t beat people who take a sport seriously and practice day-in, day-out. Other than that, I enjoyed this anime.

Verdict: Good



5 Responses to “Beyond the Boundary, Ping Pong”

  1. 1 Themaster20000
    April 9, 2016 at 10:08 am

    I didn’t mind the animation in Ping Pong. It’s very expressive with it’s animation(it’s the style of director Masaaki Yuasa in general). Animation aside the show is engaging from beginning to end. The characters are relatable and it really goes into what the game means to them.

  2. 3 Dave Deacon
    April 13, 2016 at 9:00 pm

    “It seems to think that people with natural ability will best people who practice a lot. Unfortunately, that’s not true. People with natural ability can be good, but they won’t beat people who take a sport seriously and practice day-in, day-out.”

    Success in any kind of competition is a mixture of natural ability and practice, though. Becoming the best in the world requires both ability and practice. At the high school level, though, you’ll certainly see people like Manabu who practice every day but just don’t have the physical gifts, and (less commonly) people like Peco who have tremendous talent but don’t practice as hard. In many cases, there is a ceiling for people without enough talent in HS sports, and Ping Pong does a good job of portraying that.

    • April 14, 2016 at 8:07 am

      What you say about talent vs. practice is certainly true. But I was referring more to the final showdown between Peco and Smile. The story had already gone to great lengths to show us how great a player Smile had become through hard work and willpower. He pretty much decimated everyone in his path. But then Peco comes along with his “natural talent” and wins at the end. That is what rang false to me. Or maybe my world view is such that I don’t like to think that people who don’t try hard will win every time.

  3. April 18, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    Hmm, was he really just relying on talent? I’ve watched the show several months ago so I don’t remember clearly. But I was under the impression (perhaps because I don’t remember facts anymore) that Peco wasn’t actually just all natural skill. He wasn’t training as seriously as several other characters but he was in good shape so it made sense for him to improve tremendously in a short time. I mean it wasn’t the magical training with a wise master that changes total amateur into a pro in just a month because he was a very good player with a bad attitude. But maybe I am mistaken. My mind tends to automatically fill most plot holes in movies and series I watch, out of pity for me I guess…

    And I remember I had some problems with the ending though I read the message as a quite different one. I had a feeling the show makers are trying to tell me that it’s better to loose giving your all (as Smile did) than get an easy win and stop improving (as Peco initially did). So in general that You should just do Your best and don’t bother with an actual ranking that much which is kind of cool but in that case I had a feeling that someone is trying to use double standards. Because why is it OK for Smile to be satisfied with having a good match with his friend, getting a second price, and make ping-pong just his hobby when he has such talent but Peco had to go pro?

    Though I guess since this show was based on manga that was addressed to older audience than most popular sport series, it is sort of understandable that a motif of not really continuing it into adulthood was there. And it’s not like I’m not appreciating a bit ambiguous ending in a genre that is more often so motivational and didactic it makes me sick. Though maybe I was just unlucky because I haven’t watched that many sports anime yet.

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April 2016


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