Ping Pong the Animation focuses on two high school ping pong players: Makoto Tsukimoto (aka Smile) and Yutaka Hoshino (aka Peco). Peco starts out being overly confident in his abilities and constantly skipping practice until he’s dealt a crushing defeat by a Chinese player named Kong Wenge during the first episode. Smile, meanwhile, is an aloof and rather gloomy guy. However, he has a raw talent for ping pong.
Episode 11 spends most of its time on the final match between Peco and Smile. During the course of their match, there were intense action sequences that were intercut with various flashbacks from Peco and Smile’s childhood. It was really hard to decide who to root for over the course of the match.
There’s also some focus on Koizumi, Tamura, and Kazama, the former players who have connections with some of the contestants in the qualifiers that had connections back in their youth.
During the episode, we didn’t actually get to see who won the match at the time it’s taking place. There’s a timeskip to a few years in the future, where we see Smile working as a coach at the dojo under Ms. Tamura. Kazama comes to visit with Smile, and through their dialogue, we find out what’s happened to the other main characters since we last saw them.
At first, I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get to see the winner of the match during the episode, but in the timeskip portion, there’s a picture in the dojo that shows the top four winners for that qualifiers match. That made me feel better about the fact that we weren’t shown the ending of Peco and Smile’s match.
Episode 11 brings Ping Pong to an end. While I liked how the series ended, I have to say that many of the early episodes tended to feel rushed, which didn’t allow for as much character development as there could have been in order to help make the ending even stronger than it was. I wish there had been some more episodes for the series in order to give the story and characters a little more room to “breathe” and to develop even more.
Speaking of characters, I find myself wondering why Kazama’s cousin Yuri was ever introduced. Honestly, she didn’t truly add much of anything of any real relevance to the series and was quickly written out in Episode 10.
At first, I did have some issues with the animation style, but I became accustomed to it around Episode Three. Once the animation style didn’t distract me, I was able to better focus on the storytelling aspect of the series.
Even with my issues with character development, I have to give Ping Pong a lot of credit for not being a typical sports anime. I’m glad that I was able to see this series through free streaming, but it’s not a series that I’m going to go out of my way to watch again or purchase on home video if a North American anime distributor ever gets the home video distribution rights for Ping Pong The Animation.
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