If there has been one anime I haven’t been waiting for its Ping Pong. Having never read the manga’s I only have the live action movie to go from as a previous source material. How did the anime fair? Well, it was okay. Granted my anticipation may have been too much for this series to live up to, but only having the movie to draw from may also have hurt my experience. The pacing of the first episode blazes past a lot of the intro in the movie. So much ground is covered that it makes me wonder what they’ll do to fill the rest of the series which only totals to eleven episodes. What was disappointing though was the lack of ping-pong playing itself. There was a lot of talk and quick comic book montage edits, but the actual back and forth of ping-pong didn’t captivate me.
The story for the unfamiliar follows two characters Smile and Peco. Smile never smiles which is one of those ironic nicknames, but it is actually a pivotal part of the plot. He drives the story for the most part as he is Peco’s handler. Peco is the star of the team at their high school and while he thinks he’s the shit he soon discovers otherwise when the duo go to a rival high school to watch their transfer student from China play. Peco ends up playing Hong (the transfer student) and getting *skunked .
I enjoy the animation style for the most part. Sure while I’d love to have everything be crisp and clean rather than the constantly moving lines, something about it really does fit the world and that’s important. For Ping Pong to work it needs to feel real and yet offer the magical fantasy world that Peco lives in his mind.
The other downer for me personally was Peco’s voice acting. Now I didn’t expect the actor that played the character in the movie, but I did hope for something equally as special. Instead the take on the character is really strange and personally the voice actor misses a lot of Peco’s personality. I never once found Peco to be arrogant or a crybaby. Instead he came across lacking confidence when his character should be overflowing with it.
It’s a start though and while it wasn’t as good as I was hoping it to be, it was still enjoyable even if it just made me put on the movie again. I’ll be back to see how the rest of the series turns out and at the very least I’m just glad that it’s a story that’s not forgotten since it’s one that I never have. Fun fact, my Twitter handle comes from this story… that should tell you how much I like it right there.
Director: Masaaki Yuasa Creator: Taiyo Matsumoto Studio: Tatsunoko Prodction
*Skunked = Loosing a match without scoring a point