Number of Episodes Available: 6 Score: 5 out of 5
Longtime friends Smile and Peco are both members of the ping pong club at their high school and are both very talented at the sport. However, Smile’s quiet personality keeps him from being able to win against Peco. The club’s teacher takes notice of Smile’s talent and works to change his attitude toward the sport.
In a nut shell: Sports anime tend to fall into two categories; the believable and the super powered. Believable would be like the basketball series Slam Dunk. No one does anything outside the realm of human capabilities. Super Powered? Have any of you seen Prince of Tennis or Eyeshield 21? The characters are capable of super human feats, like hitting unreturnable serves. The joy of Ping Pong The Animation is the fact that it is a simple anime. It is relatively fast paced and doesn’t serve up any over complicated plot points. In fact, the fact that plot is relatively straight forward is the show’s double edged sword, both making it a joy to watch and disappointing that it feels very shallow.
Art: Ping Pong The Animation has a really neat animation style. I feel like I am watching a flip book of the manga. Like FLCL, the world seems to blend from reality to fantasy seamlessly. However, the fantasy is limited to the clearly stated imagination of Peco and Smile. Smile, a shut in, hopes that a hero will one day come to save him. When faced with the reality that won’t happen, he re-imagines himself as a merciless robot. A cool characteristic of the show is the panels. When the ping pong action gets intense, the show switches to having animated panels to convey the action. For a sport that can be relatively intense and fast paced, the panels allows the viewer to absorb the action in a more multifaceted light. For example, we get to see a character’s facial reaction, their footwork, and the way the ball hits the table.
Pacing: The series feels like a manga. Each episode feels like a complete story. There are no cliffhangers as of yet, no plot holes. In fear of sounding like a broken record, the show truly feels like a manga. The only issue I have with the pace is how short the matches feel. I get it. Watching each point play out would be tedious. And based on the research I’ve done on ping pong, points either happen lightening quick or are drawn out. So, I get it. Doesn’t mean I like it.
Final Word: In the end, if you’re looking for something unique to watch this anime season, Ping Pong The Animation is probably your bag. The art is refreshing and different, the characters are interesting despite feeling one dimensional, and the story is engaging. This is a short one, with only 11 episodes planned out for the season. Here is a scene of Peco versus a disgraced Chinese National player named Kong Weng.
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