I’m usually not the biggest fan of Anime adaptions. Frankly, I just don’t see the need for it. The story is mostly reduced and more than often the animation doesn’t look that good either. But there are exceptions. There always are. When I think about what animation could add to the experience of the story, it’s probably most effective for action sequences. It’s tough to express tension and speed on paper. Two genres instantly pop into my mind. Sports and Action manga. I’m usually not too keen about both but there is one Anime out there which is different. Ping Pong: The Animation.
Ping Pong is not a hobby of mine but neither is watching Anime. Yes, the show is that good. The reason why I love it so much is the excellent animation with a gorgeous art style and the fact that the whole story is all about the characters. It’s about growing up, setting aims in your life, making choices and basically about becoming an adult. When they were still kids they were all playing Ping Pong for fun. Some innocent rivalry was going on and everybody wanted to be the best but not in a seriously competitive way.
Growing up the friends realized that choices had to be made and that success never comes easy. You can be talented but you still have to work for it. And that’s what Ping Pong is all about. Growing up and facing the realities of life. The whole sport is solely a metaphor for the whole process and a very good one in fact. Rest assured there is still a lot of Ping Pong playing going on. With a foreign player from China who seems unbeatable and the wish to become the greatest player of all times.
Practically a lot of 少年 elements are used in Ping Pong: The Animation but it never defines the story. There are a certain melancholy and awareness that sets it apart from the ジャンプ kids’ stuff out there. It is not aimed to appeal to this group but I just wanted to note what sets it apart and makes it an adult Anime about life, friendship and yes, Ping Pong.
Like I mentioned above I usually don’t see the need for Anime adaptions. It makes money, well, but that doesn’t mean it adds something to the story itself. Urasawa’s Monster for example. No reason to watch this if you can read a suspense-driven story with gorgeous drawings directly from the creator. Or my latest craving それで持ちは回ってる which is at times a very subtle and self-reflective read but everything that makes the manga so charming is gone when you watch the animation.
Ping Pong was serialized in Big Comic Spirit’s which is a weekly 青年 mag with pretty racy covers. I should probably order one sometime. The series run from 1996-97 and collected in 5 volumes. Again, maybe the manga adds yet another layer of personality to the story but I honestly doubt it. The animation seems so perfect and complete. But judging from my usual experience I should probably read the manga as well
If you don’t like the art style just because it’s different. Get out. For everyone else. Watch Ping Pong: The Animation. Seriously one of the best stories I watched in a long time. And that doesn’t solely include Anime. Have you already watched the show? Please share how much you love it. Or if you don’t, I would be curious to know why.