Ping Pong The Animation

| June 23, 2015

Hero worship is in full effect in our modern pop culture. People obsess over new superhero films, comic books and a many of other things that have permeated through our public consciousness. People often forget that our family and comrades can offer many things to be seen as heroes in our everyday lives as well. This is illustrated beautifully in Masaaki Yuasa’s Ping Pong The Animation. Based off of the manga by Taiyo Matsumoto, the story revolves around two high schoolers, named Yutaka “Peco” Hoshino and Makoto “Smile” Tsukimoto, two childhood friends that are on the high school ping pong team. Coach Jo Koizumi is trying to ensure that both players get to the next level of playing, but Peco’s big mouth and Smile’s empathetic nature are getting the best of them. Together they must reach within themselves and one another for strength, in order to become the best table top players in Japan.

I generally don’t care for sports anime, but I can honestly say that Ping Pong is an absolute exception, due to its rich characters, quirky style and the amount of energy that it exudes from every episode. Taiyo Matsumoto’s art style, as seen by many anime fans through Tekkon Kinkreet, is fabulously executed by Masaaki Yuasa. Yuasa’s style has always drawn from a variety of animation from around the world, in order to create a very distinct voice in contemporary anime. While it may not appeal to many and may in fact look ugly to most, Ping Pong manages to be extremely efficient when it comes to animation. Animation at times is repeated during various ping pong matches and other daily activities, but when it comes to showcase someone’s abilities during a match or illustrating a character’s imagination, the animation becomes extremely fluid and organic. In tandem with the animation, all of the character’s, both the central and supporting, are given the opportunity to develop, that feels like you’re watching actual people live out their lives. There’s a sincere love for the game, that comes forth through many of the character’s. For some, like Kong “China” Wenga, it is a means of being the best and proving himself, so that he may return back to his homeland. For Peco, its for the sheer love of the game and wanting to be so great, that he’s able to compete on a global level.

There are only 11 episodes, but nothing ever feels wasted for the duration of the series. With all of these character’s having lofty aspirations, the fact that they compete with one another makes for every game, every bout with stakes. That’s just a perfect formula for great writing, for every action and conflict, to feel the weight of each of these character’s dreams at the end of a paddle, every strike, that makes it compelling. Along with the great writing, the staging of both matches and framing of the series really makes it feel like a manga come to life. There are various points where the frame will divide into various panels, much like comic panels, to highlight various aspects of a game or even situations. Its in these elements that also highlight Yuasa’s attention to animate the right elements, at the right time. The music from Kensuke Ushio also captures the right amount of energy, in order to exhilarate throughout the entirety of the series. Each character has their own little music motif, that Ushio manipulates by adding or subtracting elements, in order to give us a better understanding of the characters in various points of their character arcs.

Yuasa’s Ping Pong is brilliant from beginning to end, an assured anime that is just unforgettable. From its themes of heroism, to its fleshed out character’s, Ping Pong is a pitch perfect manga adaptation from Taiyo Matsumoto and contains enough elements that will have you watching the series, again and again. Highly Recommended! 

About the Author:

is a graduate from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Audio for Visual Media. He works as a freelance location sound mixer, boom operator, sound designer, and writer in his native Chicago. He's an avid collector of films, comics, and anime.
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