When we started offering recaps of Steven Universe last November, we were uncertain how readers would respond. Your feedback turned out to be overwhelmingly positive, and in fact, the most common request over the past few months has been to provide more recaps. But what show to choose for our sophomore recapping effort? After I saw the trailer a few weeks ago for Masaaki Yuasa’s new series Ping Pong, the choice became clear. So yesterday we recapped the show’s premiere and will continue to provide recaps throughout the show’s full run.
The decision to recap a show by Yuasa wasn’t difficult because he pushes the cinematic language in animation more expertly than arguably any director—TV or feature—working in animation today. Watching the premiere episode of Ping Pong, I was continually challenged and rewarded as a viewer by a filmmaker who understands how to manipulate the frame for narrative and psychological effect and explores the expressive potential of the animation medium to its fullest.
To do Yuasa’s work justice, I have turned to anime scholar Ben Ettinger, who is the foremost English-language expert on Yuasa’s work. It’s only fitting to ask Ben to write these recaps since it was through his unrivaled anime website, Anipages, that I first learned about Yuasa’s remarkable feature debut Mind Game way back in 2004.
Since Mind Game, Ben (pictured right) has kept atop Yuasa’s work as few others, and has cataloged his output including Kemonozume, Kaiba, and Tatami Galaxy. Not only are Ben’s insights on anime art unparalleled, he is also a professional Japanese translator, which means that he will be reviewing these episodes based on their original Japanese-language versions. If you’re looking for the subtitled versions, Funimation is simulcasting the episodes for American audiences, and Crunchyroll is simulcasting the episodes for many European and Middle Eastern countries.