So, as I previously wrote, I learned to love Parks and Rec after a somewhat lukewarm reception of the first 6 seasons late last year, and how the last season managed to resonate with me and make me blubber like a wuss, in the process reminding myself of another series, which as the ending moments neared also made me cry. And an anime sports drama of all things!
So, I did a mental examination of how my lil' brain works, as I wanted to know why the hell two series in completely different sides of the entertainment industry spectrum managed to make me cry with joy as they ended. And although I briefly discussed it in my previous post (Hyperlink on the previous Paragraph), I concluded that it was mostly due to the underlying message both series en on, which pretty much generalizing in both cases is "Work hard for work worth doing". but after posting and some more thinking I realized two things:
- I was Generalizing Too Much. There's much more to talk about.
- I didn't really expand on Ping Pong. (Dumbass)
And because I haven't really studied Redaction and/or How to explain myself through writing, I'm going to solve the second point I brought up, first! So professional.
"Ping Pong: The Animation" or (How to do Sports Drama In Style)
Ping Pong is a Manga Written by Taiyō Matsumoto from 1996 to '97, and adapted into an anime during the spring season of 2014 by Tatsunoko Prod. and directed by Maasaki Yuasa who's widely regarded for his highly stylized and unconventional type of animation. He's even directed for Adventure Time! (one episode though, which I love by the way) (The episode is Season 6's "Food Chain") (Note to self and readers: Learn to redact, you Mublebraster).
The series follows four High School Students, all Ping Pong prodigies, and each of them with very different reason to want to excel at the game. You've got: a self taught prodigy with an inferiority complex; a disgraced Chinese athlete withan attitude problem; the Japanese champion and national Idol, with the weight of a company on his shoulders; and, an introverted guy that feels he can best express himself through Ping Pong.
This anime is unique in its high sense of style, which contrasts beautifully with the mostly grounded sports drama we are being shown the story of. I Have MANY things I could talk about this series, but in order to keep it short in this post I'll gladly redirect you to Richard Eisenbei's Review at Kotaku, he neatly summarizes the series and is pretty much on point about it's appeal.
The series explores many themes through it's measly 11 episodes in a masterful way, but the one that caught my eye as I was watching Ping Pong, was failure. Not just sad failure, but Soul-Crushing, Life-Changing failure, the kind of failure that makes you see the future, past and present in a completely different light. This was pretty new to me, entertainment that wrecked their protagonists without it feeling gratuitous, which tends to be the way films, series, books etc. handle protagonists' failures.
Failure in Parks & Rec
Parks and Rec uses Failure to move the Series's plot forward, not the episode's mind you. It uses Failure as this constant throughout the series mostly punishing the three examples above, in very different ways.
- Ben: He is Haunted by past failures through most of the series , most notably his stint as a young adult mayor and the Ice Town Fiasco. However his failures also bring him benefits, as when he was at his lowest he created The Cones of Dunshire, with pretty unexpected benefits some time later. (And a Kickstarter!)
- Tom: The perpetual money loser. Tom fancies himself an entrepreneur during most of the, with a string of failed businesses that each bring him new outlooks on life and business, (SPOILERS) and as seen in the finale he even manages to make good on his many failures by documenting them in a business book which manages to become a top seller (Spoilers End). He Even loses his pretend Canadian wife, whom after many years of platonic love, he still thinks he might be able to woo, which proves unsuccessful. And even then he manages to learn from that.
- Leslie: She's pretty much the unstoppable force that drives the series. Unlike Tom who fails due to his own way of managing stuff, most of the time Leslie fails due to things that she can't control. She mostly fails because Pawnee has a considerable percentage of assholes inside its perimeter. even so, she still tries as hard as she can to make it past this failures. She's a model of endurance in spite of overwhelming adversity.
Mind you, even though all that they still manage to make it fun to watch this people crumble and rebuild themselves time and time again, and that's not even considering the other pieces of the cast, but this three are biggest and funniest losers of the bunch (Ben's Mental Breakdown while he is unemployed is one of the comedy highlights of the show, at least for me). And so, to see them succeed as the end approaches makes me teary eyed, because they've been stepped on over and over again making their Success all that more satisfying.
I started this and the other post (First paragraph Hyperlink *-') after realizing how this two series will entertain me AND inspire me in the future. as mentioned in my other post, I'm a College dropout, but after about a year of soul searching I've decided I want to make things that entertain and inspire people. This two series managed to unstuck my as from my (very comfy) chair and put me to work, they reminded me what little me wanted: To be the best version of me possible.
I hope it comes off as a surprise to you that when I did team projects in school I was the one that wrote most of the stuff, while my team mates tended to do the Info searches and conclusions part of the essays. I say this because I don't really now how to end except by urging you to over-analyze all the little details in Parks and Rec next time you binge it (Or catch it in Syndication, but that's a dead dinosaur right?), and to check out Ping Pong, as it is a Masterful experience, and I wish more people would check it out