If you haven’t already seen Ping Pong the Animation or heard about it, then you’re definitely in for a treat. From unique and stunning visuals to heart-pumping action and memorable characters – Ping Pong the Animation is easily one of All the Anime’s best licenses. I really enjoyed my time with Ping Pong and with Animatsu Entertainment’s release of Haikyu part two finished, I desperately needed more sports anime.
The series revolves around two childhood friends, Makoto Tsukimoto (Smile) and Yutaka Hoshino (Peco), who share a love for ping pong. Entering a new high school, their time with ping pong is lackadaisical at best. Peco tends to skip practice and go play ping pong for money elsewhere while Smile, without any real challengers, just plays it easy. That is, until they hear of a rival school bringing in a Chinese ping pong star, Kong Wenge, to play for their team. Peco’s ego gets the better of him and ends up losing in a friendly match to Kong although Kong’s real interest lies in Smile.
I won’t go into too much detail on the story as you really need to experience it for yourself. The long and the short of it is that Ping Pong offers some really great character development and character-driven story. Unlike other sports anime where tournaments and matches are glamorised Ping Pong settles for a more realistic approach although the games themselves can certainly enter the fantasy realm. Having characters facing realistic challenges in their lives only furthers the enjoyment of this series and it’s great to see them having fun when they lose themselves in a match.
It’s hard to ignore the fact that this series has some very unique visuals and while they may seem very odd at first glance, the visuals are absolutely stunning throughout the series. This unique approach in art style allows the series to go in some very unique directions that we just never see in your everyday anime. The art might not be that smooth or crisp throughout but that all adds to the charm of the look of the series and I love it. The action, on the other hand, is pure brilliance I really felt like I was watching a real-life game of ping pong each match.
The series comes with both English and Japanese audio, I had every intention to try out both, but I really got sucked in by the amazing cast of the Japanese track, which I highly recommend. The soundtrack is also brilliant; I especially enjoyed the subtle techno tracks that accompanied Smile’s matches. The praise for Ping Pong continues as it features one of the best-opening themes with “Tada Hitori” by Bakudan Johnny. The combination of the song and visually is genius and really gets you pumped for each episode. The two ending themes, “’Ano Hero to’ Bokura ni Tsuite” and “’Ano Yoake Mae no’ Bokura ni Tsuite”, both by Merengue aren’t that bad either.
Finally, a Collector’s Edition release with a decent selection of on-disc extras. How other sets can’t achieve this I don’t know, but this also comes with a downside in the form, or lack thereof, of physical extras. The on-disc extras include Episode Commentary for episodes 1 & 11, Japanese Box Set Commercials, TV Spots (five different character versions), Original Trailer, Promotional Video, U.S. and other various Trailers. The set also includes Textless Opening and Ending songs as standard, as well as Next Episode Previews which surely should have been included during the series, but oh well. Now that’s a decent set of extras, not all of them are that exciting, but there’s still a sense of value there. Unfortunately on the physical side, there’s not much to talk about; the only physical extra is ‘Collector’s Packaging’ which could easily be used for a standard release. So while the series is awesome I’m not really feeling the Collector’s feel from this release.
Ping Pong is easily one of All the Anime best licenses and definitely one of my favourite anime. The unique and stunning visuals combined with the subtle but pleasing audio brilliantly set up the realistic feel of the story. It’s hard to think that all this is contained with an 11 episode series but it is arguably some of the best 11 episodes you’ll ever see.