Ping Pong the animation follows the story of two genius table tennis players Smile and Peco. One is quiet and reserved while the other is boastful and confident. When their coach realises Smile’s potential in the sport, he attempts to change Smile’s reserved attitude and help him become a great player.
Ping Pong the Animation is a masterpiece. If you can get past the first episode and overlook the odd art style, I can guarantee that you will love this anime. There are so many things this anime does right, from character development to visual storytelling to exploring themes of talent versus hard work. Character arcs are fleshed out precisely, bit by bit every episode as you steadily learn about their motivations or lack thereof.
Smile is a character that is very timid and silent. He is gifted at Table Tennis but lacks the inspiration and motivation to become a great table tennis player. Then there is Peco, the table tennis prodigy who wants to become the number one player in the world but becomes sluggish and lazy, thinking he’s above the tedious training regimen followed by his fellow classmates. There is the bitter Kong Wenge from China trying to bite for more than he can chew, feeling resentful and angry about his current predicament. Finally there is Ryuichi Kazama, a man with a traumatic childhood who only seeks to win and plays for everyone other than himself.
There are three types of players in any sport, the ones aiming for the top, the one that plays for fun, and the one that plays for reasons other than self-satisfaction. The four characters are reflections of each one of these categories. Yet, whatever their reasons are, they are all are united by this one sport that gives them a great deal of pain. Then, there are these small moments, whether it’s a bitter realisation of a brutal reality or an innocent laughter, it lets us see their genuine love for the sport. You can’t help but become entranced by their attitude towards table tennis, all for different, albeit valid reasons.