April 10th, 2014.
Mastering the Basics
Yuasaa has a new show. I’ve never finished one of his shows yet, but I’ve seen segments of them, and he’s a name to follow, alright. I also heard the source material is good, I mean, why else would you adapt a manga from 1988 with a live-action film from 2002? All in all, it screams to me that this is a work someone wanted to do, rather than doing so “because money” (though we can never disregard money).
That’s more than enough cause to check it out.
Thoughts and Notes:
1) Artistic Introductions:
2) The music as we’d been introduced to “Smile” with all the data on screen? Really felt like a Tarantino flick, some mixture of Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, and Kill Bill, heh.
3) Look ma! We’re artistic! We’re breaking our action down to components, showing it in all of its slo-mo glory, but back in 1988, we didn’t really have bullet-time, so we stopped on each frame, one at a time! :p
5) I know they’re nothing alike, but the spartan minimalist feel still reminds me of The Tatami Galaxy.
2) Mr. Smile – On Friendship:
1) “Having fun at your club?” – “The game is the same wherever I play it.” This is like Bamboo Blade’s Tama-chan and Free!’s Haru all rolled into one guy. Either you like the game, or you don’t. All there is, is the game, and the game is the same anywhere. Well, Tama-chan ended up liking the club and played the game because of the club. Yeah, much closer to Haru, who also had issues with showing emotions. And in the end they all find out that the place, and the people with whom you play matter. I suspect it’d happen here as well.
2) “Old Man Smile” – That’s why he hates people, he thinks of them as kids, and he’s scared of what he doesn’t understand.
3) “So that’s Smile-san to you, fool.” – Oh my, I laughed out loud here. I like these characters.
4) Oh man, that broken English was so good. You go, old teacher man! Also, such a line for a teacher/coach, “No man so good, but another may be as good as he.” – It’s all about together, about who you are playing with, or competing against. I wonder if he thinks Smile is not giving it his all when playing against Peco.
3) Tennis is The World:
2) Badasses! Yeah, sports shows and samurai shows are so very similar, in so many ways. The true badasses, the masters of the game, the Chinese people, can hear their lessers play, and tell how the game is progressing, based on sound alone. It’s like two samurai fighting, or people in a dojo, and those sitting at the sides explaining how the match is going.
3) “The chopper is losing on purpose” – Yes! Exactly as I suspected. Old tennis coach may not be the best tennis player, but he knows what lies at the heart of his students. That small question of his before whether they’ve been friends for long? He knew Smile is losing so Peco, who cares about being “The Best in Ping-Pong” will get to retain that feeling!
4) Wenge! Wenge lives for the game! He is the competitive drive of players (and Haru and Rin-chan’s). To him hell is playing bad games. Playing with someone much better or much worse than you is no good for those who want to get better, to those who live for the game. So if this is Hell, then Wenge will punish everyone else as well.
5) “Crying when you lose is a bad habit.” – And here we see why Smile loses on purpose. I’m also not surprised Smile is so indifferent about Ping-Pong. As Wenge had said, if you play like it, it becomes a habit. The habit isn’t playing badly, but “not playing to win”, which entails “not caring about the game.” – I think Smile is all too aware that the game isn’t the same wherever you play it, or rather, with whoever you play it. He doesn’t care where he plays, so long it’s with Peco. And that’s why he’s willing to lose.
OP – Wow, that came out of nowhere. So much energy. The style reminds me somewhat of a mix of Aku no Hana and The Tatami Galaxy, visually. Very energetic, very vibrant, sound-wise. A lot of movement without much change. It’s charming, but not exactly my cup of tea.
ED – Nice visuals, a good amount of energy, but all in all, forgettable, as most EDs are.
Post Episode Thoughts:
This show was basic. This show was simple.
Now, how many of you think that’s me badmouthing the show? Silly people, you’re all wrong.
This show is a sports show about friendship, with all the fat taken away. Spartan style? Yes, because it will live and die based on its characters, based on its story.
What we have here isn’t unique, it’s not a story we hadn’t seen countless times. But we don’t come to shows for a “new story”, and we do rewatch shows, where we’re promised not to have a single plot-twist to surprise us. We come to shows for a crisp and clean execution.
This show is promising us that. Anything else is dust in the wind.
Also, “Old Man Smile”? He doesn’t hate kids. His best friend, Peco, is one.