Ping Pong the Animation
Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans
Genre: Sports, Psychological, Drama, Table Tennis
First Aired: Spring 2014, 11 episodes
Summary: Peco and Smile have been friends since childhood, despite their drastically different personalities. Yutaka Hoshino, aka Peco, is cocky and carefree. He used to think he was one of the best table tennis players on his high school team, until he was destroyed in a tournament. Makoto Tsukimoto, aka Smile, is quiet and reserved. He’s nicknamed Smile because he never does. He’s naturally talented at table tennis but lacks the drive to become the best. Peco and Smile are on a mediocre high school table tennis team with a fantastic coach. If the players were motivated, they could be one of the best, but they mainly play for fun without the competitive drive. All that is about to change when Kong Wenge, aka China, transfers to their school from the Chinese national team. Kong destroys every member of the team, leaving them deflated and hopeless. After they pick themselves up from the depths of defeat they have a newfound motivation to better themselves and compete with China.
Ping Pong the Animation is directed by Masaaki Yuasa, known for the films Mind Game, Night is Short Walk On Girl, and Lu Over the Wall, as well as the series Devilman Crybaby. Yuasa has a unique style that shows in all his work. He has directed segments for other shows that are meant to be bizarre and trippy, such as the Space Dandy episode “Slow and Steady Wins the Race, Baby”. Ping Pong’s unique animation matches Yuasa’s style, but the content of the series is tamer than most of his other works. That aside, Ping Pong delivers an excellent story that goes deeper than it traditional sports story. The characters are relatable and flawed. Their motives are understandable.
You might enjoy this if: You appreciate the unique animation and get fully involved in the intricacies of table tennis.
You might not like it if: You are expecting the trippy side of Masaaki Yuasa.
Note to the Viewer: The original Ping Pong manga was released in 1996. The anime did not come out until 2014, meaning there was almost a 20-year gap between the two!
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