Crying, in North American professional sports, is mostly reserved for the winners. Athletes cry when they’re emotionally overwhelmed at a win, while the losing participants quickly depart, stoicism etched into their faces until they exit the public eye. In order to appear strong – particularly if one is an athlete in the spotlight, regardless of skill level – one must hide their emotions following a loss, as to not appear weak.
I personally disagree with the idea of crying equaling weakness, as crying is a good indicator of just how much one cares about what they are doing.
Often neglected when speaking of an animated sports series – or anime in general, for that matter – is the use of sound. Not the soundtrack itself, or the actual sound effects, but the use of them within the specific narrative of a series, in tandem with the visuals.
In episode three of Ping Pong: The Animation, Eriko Kimura turns in one of the more impressive pieces of sound direction that both supports and amplifies Masaaki Yuasa’s visuals and Taiyo Matsumoto’s story. The moment is Smile’s coming-out party.