I love sports anime. As a former athlete and as an eternal fan of the medium – sports anime, hits at the cross section of my two favourite things. And it’s because of this cross section that I have watched so many sports anime. However, I feel like there are varying degrees of sports in anime, for example: 3-Gatsu no Lion is like a sports anime, but I don’t think that is how fans would classify it. Or how about the differences between Kuroko no Basket and Slam Dunk? They’re both basketball series but they are actually completely different. With sports fiction, there is every trope in the book. We have: the kid who wants to play but isn’t good enough, the old guy who has to give it up soon, the team that sucks but has to rise to the occasion – just all tropes that all hit on sports anime.
But what makes Ping Pong so different is that it doesn’t really have the elements of graduating seniors, underdogs, or feel good stories. It is based on playing ping pong and the mentality driving different athletes. It is a no frills series, demonstrating how not all athletes are in love with the game and are more in love with the idea of being the best. There are no super powers in this sports anime either which I love (compared to Kuroko) and the animation style is perfect for the narrative. The direction of the show clearly shows the isolation of all these players and it makes me reflect as my time as an athlete. It reminds me of all the moments I had when I was training or doing treatment by myself. It reminds me of my wanting to quit playing at times because I was discouraged or playing poorly.
If you’ve ever wanted to truly get inside the mind of an athlete, watch Ping Pong the Animation, you will be surprised.