“Go, my racing, scorching heart!”
This post is the eighth of my entries into 2016’s rendition of the 12 Days of Anime aniblogger project. For more about the project, read appropriant’s introductory post. For a spreadsheet containing the work of all the bloggers participating, go here. For my previous 12 Days posts, go here.
There’s this sound effect/visual effect combination that Scorching Ping Pong Girls uses when it wants to invoke the feeling of a heartbeat. Neither are particularly uncommon, even when used in unison, but something that makes it stand out is that it’s always one. One character, one heartbeat. Cut, a heartbeat for another character. It can be just one because it tells you all you need to know—the joy of ping pong has been felt by the character and, presumably, by the one watching.
I rather adore the simplicity of this metaphor for excitement, for being drawn into the game. It is that feeling pared down to its most basic element, a single heartbeat symbolic of life and of the thrill of doing something you love. And, of course, a heartbeat of short—but that brevity is why it’s so thrilling! You can’t miss it!
There’s a lot of self-discovery that goes on in Scorching Ping Pong Girls‘ 12 short episodes, and much of it comes back to this basic idea of finding fun in love (or maybe it’s love in fun?). Agari is released just a bit from the shackles of her self-imposed need to be good above enjoying what she’s doing. Kururi’s brush with the heart-pounding excitement of playing Koyori leads her to a revelation about her relationship with Zakuro. There is a clarity to the heartbeat. Perhaps that instant of nearness to the pulse of life offers a sudden clearing of the senses, the mind, and the heart. I remember the best moments on the show choir stage, when even the will to perform well in the pursuit of winning faded away in the thumping beat of joy. I remember how clearly I saw my own happiness when wrapped up in the concluding minutes of the soccer tournament’s final match for the win.
I guess I wouldn’t exactly say I learned something about myself in those moments, other than that I really loved what I was doing. As Koyori yells out, “I love table tennis!” Being able to see and know that, being able to say it… I don’t know if it bears any worth to anyone but yourself, but I suppose I think that’s good enough.
Scorching Ping Pong Girls has a taste of that, even as a second hand experience. The music rises, the end of the match draws near, and in their smiles is a reflection of the full experience of a self-contained world. A heartbeat sounds and disappears as quickly as it comes, but for that small moment there is only the thud of life and the complete embrace of the one act. The ball hits the paddle, and the heart goes soaring away with it. Todokete!