Zen Buddhism and Enlightenment in Ping Pong the Animation

I’ve recently been catching myself rewatching the last few episodes of “Ping Pong” over and over again. Although much of the anime is inspired by the 2002 film based on the Ping Pong manga, every frame and shot of the show is made with the complete dedication that only a genius like Masaaki Yuasa could uniquely offer. “Ping Pong” is far from a typical sports anime; it’s a complex story of emotional growth that traces itself through a group of ping pong players. It’s difficult not to scream out in internal joy when we see folks like Kazama and Smile finally becoming enlightened at the end of the show.

Ping Pong: The Animation - We're all alive, that's why we laugh, red hands in a circle reaching for the sun
Yes, enlightened. The main character Peco, despite his initial flaws — his arrogance and indulgent personality — is a hero who, in his own quest for personal enlightenment and self-improvement, touches and changes the lives of the people he meets along the way. Through his hardships and experiences, we see Peco learn from his mistakes and develop into a perfect Buddhist teacher, capable of uplifting even the most ignorant and unenlightened of people, doing so so with the sublime and simple grace of a true hero.
Ping pong : the Animation - I am the invincible hero
Ping Pong: the Animation - the Hero removes the darkness
“Ping Pong: the Animation” shares the common narrative of the Ping Pong Learner, always on his quest for enlightenment, continually interpreted and reinterpreted in the personal lives and emotional developments of the characters. Ping pong is the human activity that has brought a cast from far-flung and diverse backgrounds and dispositions together, each of whom carrying a personal definition and purpose to ping pong in his or her heart. We see this when Butterfly Jo, the Old Lady of the Dojo, and the CEO of Poseidon come back together for a brief reunion, talking among one another with the coarse, lively language of young friends; this scene is the first and only time we ever see all three of them on screen at once.
Ping Pong: the Animation - the three elders, old lady, coach koizumi/butterfly jo, and poseidon CEO when they're young and lively
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Recent traffic from /a/-viewers

The other day, somebody posted a link to my Madoka analysis on /a/ (archive here: http://archive.foolz.us/a/thread/106641443/). Despite accusations that I was the one who did it, I promise that I wasn’t the one who posted it — really! I was really quite surprised to see the sudden influx in traffic. Whoever you are, thanks for spreading the good word about the philosophically inconsistent terribleness of Madoka.

Honestly, I knew /a/ was bad, but I didn’t know they had degenerated to such a disgustingly low level of discussion. This really isn’t a debate. Madoka’s last two episodes are objectively indefensible from any reasonable school of philosophy or literary analysis, and if you don’t understand that even after reading my amazingly articulate, one-of-a-kind, million-dollar blogpost, then you have my sincerest condolences. For all those Madoka fans out there who seriously think that the show is even remotely philisophically legitimate, I know that living with such mental incapabilities must be hard for you.

Condolences.

white rabbit eating freedom fries

Although I don’t really care that much about the /a/ objections to my critique of Madoka (since the objections are all really stupid and child-like criticisms that I’ve heard time and time and again, and even addressed in the original post), one point that kept coming up was this idea that the ending to Madoka was somehow sad, emotional, and deep.

Really? There’s nothing sad about the ending of Madoka at all. In a world that Urobuchi sets up to be tragic, heartless, and absurd, there really isn’t anything sad about Madoka heroically “sacrificing” herself to guarantee everybody’s sweet sweet happiness for the rest of eternity.

Honestly, the real ending to Madoka should have been similar to what happened to Mami, Kyoko, and Sayaka — Madoka does something foolish and idealistic, but in the end the world churns onwards because it doesn’t give a shit about frilly little pink magical girls. For example, when Madoka makes the grand final wish that saves all of humanity (TM), it ends up not doing anything, and as a result Kyuube tears her apart limb from limb. Or something. You get the picture. If you seriously watched Madoka and didn’t understand that the entire first 10 episodes were entirely about philosophical absurdism (link here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absurdism), which is 100% contradictory with the last 2 episodes, then sorry! You’re just dumb! It’s unfortunate I had to be the one to tell you. Maybe from this point on you could consider reforming yourself and reevaluating your life decisions. Until then, feel free to shitpost on my blog. I welcome all comments that aren’t blatant spam, really!

azusa getting high

 

Oh also, while I’m here, I want to address this particular shitpost:

>>106642327
>Mami dies a pretty gruesome and unheroic death

It’s like he doesn’t realize that that was the fucking point. Has this guy never watched an Urobutcher anime before?

Holy shit, top lel, try looking at my post again kid. Sometimes I wonder if you people even know how to read. Just kidding! I don’t wonder that — because I already know that you don’t!

What it means to be a hero – episode 3 of Ping Pong: the Animation

First of all, this episode is amazing. It’s incredibly well-written, very compelling, and it stays true to the philosophical themes established in previous episodes. I talked about the theme of heroism in episodes 1 and 2 of Ping Pong the Animation, and luckily for me, my analysis has only been further validated by episode 3.

A condensed summary of what we learned in episodes 1 and 2 is as follows: Peco and Smile represent two opposing definitions of heroism.

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Madoka is a terrible philosophical trainwreck, with spoilers

Madoka sucks.

I know what you’re thinking. Jonman, come on, Madoka came out what — ten years ago? And during those ten years it’s been completely uncontested as the greatest anime of all time. I’ve loved this show and made it part of my LIFE. I own the Madoka figurines. I buy the Madoka posters. I wear the Madoka t-shirts. If you cut me open and looked into the bloody guts spilling out of me they would spell out the words M A D O K A MAGICA. Uh, in Japanese, of course. In all of my years I haven’t seen a single good objection to Madoka Magica — not even one! — so why is your random blog post going to be different?

madoka t shirt

Okay, guy, you might have a point. But hear me out: Madoka Magica is entertaining, sure, but it’s philosophically incoherent. It’s like eating spaghetti with ketchup instead of tomato sauce. It’s like adding vinegar to your morning breakfast cereal. There are so many bits and pieces of the show that would probably stand reasonably well as independent stories, but when combined, they become an inconsistent mismash of incompatible and mutually exclusive moral messages. Spoilers follow, but I’m assuming that if you’re at this point in the reading that you’ve either seen the show already or aren’t concerned if I spoil it for you.

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