Feb 21, 2020
SCLFI (All reviews)
Ping Pong The Animation tries its best, I’ll say that much, someone put a lot of effort and deliberation into making this good, and not just another formulaic sports anime with no motive other than money, and so thanks for trying, but the fact of the matter is, despite its best efforts, it’s not especially enjoyable.
For starters, the animation, which I’m going to go on record saying is quite genuinely awful, though I’m sure plenty would disagree with me on the matter, and will instead tell me that it’s instead experimental or unconventional, but to me it’s just plain bad. The characters are genuinely ugly, they move like cheaply made puppets, and a lot of times you can really see where they were cutting corners. Take one instance, in which someone was crying, but you would have no idea based upon their face, and their whole body remained complete static, and even within that static image of them, there was no hint of sadness within their face, if not the tears you would not begin to guess this character was feeling anything at all. Or another, in which a full 30 second shot consisted entirely of the same second of animation, while I’m sure many will agree to disagree, and all things considered you’ll just have to look at it yourself and make up your own mind, but to me at least, the animation was downright repulsive, which hampered my experience, to put it mildly.

As for the actual story, as one may infer from the title, it is about a group of blokes playing ping pong for their school team, which is apparently a really big deal, in my high school experience, the only team that anyone gave the slightest fucketh about was the football team, but it seems in Japan being on the ping pong team in your high school is hardly a step down from playing in the Olympics, they fly to international tournaments, they’ve got all sorts of coaches and these people really give it their all, the Chinese fella in particular, he acted like if he lost he’d get sent to the gulag, but, point aside, they play ping pong, and it’s a main part of the show, there is no shortage of pinging of the pongs, and I suppose they do a reasonably good job of keeping it interesting, and showing that there’s a lot more strategy in a game as basic as ping pong is than you’d perhaps expect, but this focus is not exclusive, and the personal lives and emotions of the characters are shown as well. And, somehow, they managed to give the characters actual nuance, rather than making them completely melodramatic, because people still like soap operas, for some alien reason. So, the characters are reasonably interesting, but truth be told, I’d rather they just went with one route or the other, character or sport, we’re shown these somewhat interesting characters, though it would be nice if at least one of them wasn’t a complete asshole, but, we’ve got them, yet not a huge amount is done with them on account of the fact that they have to spend a large proportion of their time playing ping pong, which isn’t bad necessarily, the ping pong matches weren’t boring, but I was more interested in the characters than the game, the game holds metaphorical importance and such, fair enough, but I would’ve given priority to the characters, because they are the more interesting lot, despite the depth of ping pong, there is rather little to continue to keep it fresh when the game is so static, there are less variables than a game like football or mahjong, but it’s still fine, and really, if there’s one word to describe Ping Pong, it’s fine. Taking the animation out of the equation, it doesn’t have anything egregiously bad, but it’s not got anything that good either, it has no major strengths, but no major weaknesses either, them playing ping pong is fine, the characters themselves are fine, but neither of them have anything to majorly interest the viewer, this isn’t to say it’s a bad watch, just a very average one – it is exceptionally unexceptional.