Director: Masaaki Yuasa
Studio: Tatsunoko Productions
Music: Kensuke Ushio
U. S. Distributor: Funimation Entertainment
U. S. Release Date: June 23rd, 2015
Format: DVD/ Blu-ray/ 11 Episodes / 275 Minutes
Genre: Seinen, Coming of Age, Sports
Age Rating: TV 14
Overall Personal Rating: A-
Smile and Peco. Peco and Smile. Besties from the beginning, both with a badass backhand. Peco is known for his arrogance on the table tennis court, and Smile for his silence. But with a new school year and a new high school table tennis team, both boys are in for a challenge, on – and off – the court.
Peco’s slacker ways are hurting his game, and after getting crushed in a tournament, he decides to quit. Smile is finally learning to harness his natural talents, but can he squash his sympathy for his opponents enough to beat them?
Several years ago I had the opportunity to review a live action adaptation of Ping Pong and when I heard that the anime was being done I was very edited. The story is not so much the tail of Ping Pong players as it is the story of how these young men are finding their way in the world and how things change as they come of age. There is also the underlying question “Will the Hero Arrive”?
Anyway as I started watching the series I was at first blown away but the animation stylings and the free flowing aspects to the artistic choices. As I got further into the series I began to find it somewhat of a copout for shortcutting some of the visual language. I understand what they are trying to do with this loose and free line work, we have seen it may times in other anime when there is a reason to slip in a new perspective to a series. In the case of Ping Pong I think there should have been a little more attention to the solid conformity to the characters rattan than give us a loose depiction of the overall settings story. I think that with some more attention to detail there would have been a much more solid understanding of these characters as a hole.
The great thing about Ping Pong is that it is such a powerful story to begin with that even a loose free flowing artistic style did not fail the essence of the series. We live through self assurance turned self doubt and also see self loathing turned into loathing of all external forces. We get to taste how one owns understanding of who they are can make all the difference in the world and how powerful just playing a game at your best just for fun is where all the true fun lies.
Overall Grade: A-
Ping Pong is a powerful story that deserves a chance. If you do not like the animation style just give the story a chance. It won’t take long before you don’t care how it looks and just want to see how things turn out. I promise that this story will make you rethink your own ambitions or lack there of.
After you have watched the series you should check out the film, it was done by Sora, the same director who did Appleseed and a few other high profile CG films. But remember this film is not about special effects it is about the human condition and understanding ourselves.
Find out for yourself if the Hero arrives.