I haven’t even ever played ping pong, yet it was still super hype.
Based on the 1996 manga Ping Pong, the Animation is it’s younger animation brother. Younger by eighteen years. Released in 2014, Ping Pong the Animation brings the story to the screen. And it does so well. It follows the story of numerous characters, all young ping pong players or retired professionals. The way the story starts out has you thinking the grand focus will be on a single main character, but it quickly has you realize everyone else has a tale of their own as well.
And that’s a huge part of its charm. There are nearly no side characters in the series. Everyone with a name has their story told. Their talent or fighting spirit. Their hard work or lack of motivation. Their rise to the top or their falling down. Or all of those things, or neither of them, or any combination really.
I wouldn’t know my pings from my pongs, yet the way some details about the sport are thrown in gives off a strong vibe that the writers did their research. If you’re into ping pong, I wouldn’t be surprised if you could find a nice bit of extra value in the description of the bats the characters use or the techniques they pull off. It wouldn’t be a “sports anime” without some over-the-top visualization sprinkled here and there, but it’s still, at its core, a story that happens to use sports as part of its story.
Speaking of visualization, the animation style is rather unique. Much more realistic than the every show you’d watch, but definitely not afraid to keep things dynamic. It has a habit of collaging different shots together, rather than switching the entire view to a new angle. Makes for a viewing experience somewhat similar to that of a comic book. Very fun to watch.
Slap an upbeat soundtrack behind the struggles, tensions, reliefs and releases depicted, and you have a fine recipe for some good old hype. Yet somehow it never takes the overtone. You feel the excitement, but you’re also constantly aware of the characters’ feelings; what it took for them to get here, and what consequences different outcomes may have for them. You stay invested in the people, not the play.
It’s only eleven short episodes, go watch it. It’s good.