Sports anime and manga is something that I’ve been working hard to get into recently and I think that I’m succeeding so far. Still, I think of myself as a work in progress when it comes to finding my own legs in the genre iself and feel like I need to consume some more of it to get some level of mastery. With that, Scorching Ping Pong Girls felt like a good step because it’s two things I used to find off putting. Why? It’s a sports anime with a moe character aesthetic. That sounds like some trouble considering what most people think of moe or used to because it’s not considered a major threat anymore except for older fans who havne’t the growth of moe anime go. With that said, this package turned out to be some kind of unexpected surprise for me. Like woah, why haven’t I watched this before hand?
The opening of Scorching Ping Pong Girls featured a team that has won nationals nine years in a row, Oudou Academy, completely destroyed by a new team from Hayabusa High. Very important considering that Hayabusa plays an important role in the story later. You know, our girl’s one opponent for this anime besides themselves. Our focus team is the Ping Pong Club from Suzumegahara Junior High. A team that hasn’t won any national tickets yet and whose ace, Agari only made it to the prefectural Quarter Finals. With the arrival of the exchange student, Koyori, a student who has made it the prefectural seminal finals and is incredibly shy, everything is shaken up for the better.
Scorching Ping Pong Girls follows a pretty standard sports pattern by featuring rivalry against players their own team, some growth from that rivalry relationship, practice games with the winning team from Hayabusa, and such, but I think there is something more to that here. Partially because the show is only one cour and we didn’t get to see our girls play in the tournament itself besides a flash back, but they all feel like they progressed anyway. You know, even if it was left unfilled with them not playing against other teams and players. It’s a very character focused narrative and what we got was more then enough to be satisfying to leave the watcher wanting more. The thing all good series should do.
I really love the characterization in this show that comes from our girls forming pairs to growth of each other. Plus, that bit of adding some quirks to each character does a lot of ground work here. Agari, with her serious and tsundere habits, and Koyori, with her shy and very loving habits, are the main pair of the series, but they don’t even get along in the beginning. That’s mostly because of Agari not liking anyone challenging her place as the best player at Suzumegahara Junior High and holds herself seriously. After playing against each other finally, the two bounce off of each other incredibly well with their love of the game and each other. You can possibly say they become a couple too if you want to look at that way. I kind of do myself.
And that’s not where any of the characterization stops either because Suzumegahara and their opponent Hayabusa have other pairs that are decently developed too. Our two other second years are Hanabi, the first and quirky one, and Hokuto, the calculating one who can tell what type of underwear a person is wearing by their ping pong paddle. They have a relationship that’s lasted a long time and goes beyond words. The team third year parental unit of the club is made from Mune as the team mom who has a larger chest and Kiruka, the team dad who is exceptional and rest herself on Mune’s chest a lot much to Mune’s complaint. Their relationship started in their first year as the only ones who wanted to go to nationals and it’s rather touching to see that passion still there. Perfect table tennis duo. Alongside them all are the first years who are nameless, but do feel like real people when they aren’t acting amazed all the time.
So let’s talk quickly about Moe, Sports, and other aesthetics and themes in this anime. As you can tell from that last paragraph, there is mild amount of ecchi content in Scorching Ping Pong girls from the whole underwear thing and the boobs thing. The honest thing about how they are handled is that they never feel like they are too much. The jokes never go too far because there is no underwear that appears on screen (or much nakedness either). They are incidental sorts of moments and jokes that sort of add some more characterization in the show in the little bit even our players who are “attacked” complained about it. It’s that moment which puts the two together in their mom and dad form. Yes, some usual moe things make their way into it like Kiruka forcing people that lose against her to wear cat ears when she is testing players and other things, but I find those elements on the same level too. Very fun things that adds some good character to the show. Without those elements, I don’t think Scorching Ping Pong Girls would have the feel it has.
Plus for all of Scorching Ping Pong Girl’s simple moe designs and such, there is a lot of good art direction in this show that just blows my mind. The good facial animation on each character is only the starting point. I love the very shonen figures that appear behind a character’s back when making powerful movements and speeches to add emphasis to what they are saying. Very cool and powerful sorts of things. I also really like how it shows the ping pong ball’s movement with it’s ball form appearing over a designated path when a player misses or hits a ball back with some fun bits of slow time with Hokuto’s play style. It really does add some fun emphasis to what is going on and is cool. Oh, there are the good cuts of animation with players hitting balls back and forth with each other. Eh, not as cool. Just kidding. It’s such a good looking series.
Where would I be if I said anything else then me really liking this series. With it’s standard sports format and short length, it’s taken the viewer into it’s world with some fun Ping Pong action and good character stuff. I’m honestly so disappointed that there isn’t more Scorching Ping Pong Girls out there when there really should be. I really like this Suzumegahara Junior High Club and I would love to see them play more teams. What can you do when this anime is just a commercial for the anime and we most likely won’t get the manga over here. So yes, easy recommendation for moe and sports anime fans. It’s made me look for more moe sorts of shows to watch like Girls Und Panzer. So yeah, a review of that will appear within the next two weeks.
I guess this is what I’m doing with my December and January. I’m planning on watching next Girls Und Panzer next. Prepare for a review of it the Friday after Christmas..