Ping Pong The Animation review
So this week I decided to watch a sports anime with the sport in question being kind of obvious. It was a departure for me, as I usually only watch dubs or well-known stuff. This was a sub and a bit of a more obscure one. Nevertheless, I marathoned the 11 episodes in about a week.
My thoughts on this one are mixed. First of all, there’s not nearly enough ping-pong in Ping Pong. The table tennis is never something of prime importance. You may see a couple of rallies, and then they’ll show the final score of the game or match. If you were hoping to see some good table tennis and some exciting play, you’ll be greatly disappointed. (Substitute “me” for “you,” because I was genuinely hoping for a cool take on table tennis.)
But the characters are fantastic. The two main characters are named Smile and Peco. Smile is pretty much Rei Ayanami, except not moe in the least bit, not a sex symbol, and not a girl. Otherwise, the two are the same. He never smiles, which is why he’s nicknamed “Smile.” But he grows as the series goes along.
Peco does the most growing in this series, though. He goes from being a terrible ping-pong player who gets skunked in his first game 11-0 to one of the top table tennis players in the world. How? Well, that’s what the story is about. There is one disturbing scene halfway through the series where Peco literally tries to commit suicide. It’s not easy to watch, but it’s perhaps a bit prescient with today’s day and age. Peco recovers from that suicide attempt to become an excellent player and a “hero,” in his words.
Would I recommend Ping Pong? Actually, I do. Here’s why: while you’re not going to get that sports feeling like you do from something like Eyeshield 21, you do get characters who are worth rooting for – or rooting against. And while they all have flaws, they also all grow as the series goes along. Ping Pong may not win a gold medal, but I’d still give it a solid silver.
Series rating (out of four stars): ***