- Genre: Sports!, Slice of life, psychological, comedy, horror
- Episodes: 12
- Studio: Kinema Citrus
Fuchsia haired Haruka just moved to the big city from a small town in Hokkaido and is eager to put her awkward social outcast days behind her. She quickly learns that high stakes ping-pong is the hottest thing around and an absolute must for any self-respecting social climber. Standing in the way of her climb to the top of the elite school ping-pong club is purple haired Yui, the highly competitive ace of the club and green haired Nao, her self-proclaimed arch-enemy from rival Raira Academy club. Can Haruka overcome the obstacles in her way to become the new queen of ping-pong, beloved and respected by all? She will certainly give it her best!
I like sports anime. I like sports anime a lot. I will pretty much watch anything that even tangentially falls into the category despite how dubious it may appear at first glance. I won’t lie, this was in the dubious pile.
The art of Scorching Ping Pong Girls may not be the most interesting thing you’ve seen lately. Indeed, it isn’t overly detailed and has a certain sketchy, heavily cartoonish quality that occasionally makes it seem a bit simpler than its contemporaries. Moreover, the designs are completely par for the course, easily interchangeable with dozens of other school club animes and completely forgettable. Worst of all, despite the simplicity of said designs, angles are occasionally awkward and details are easily lost when with any sort of camera distance.
This said, the colours are wonderfully luxurious and serve to flesh out the designs, making them instantly more compelling and fun to watch. And this show truly shines with its animation. A good sports anime knows how to get you pumped up for competitions and the dynamic and incredibly fluid scenes of fast paced ping-pong matches will bring you to the edge of your seat and have you cheering the girls on before you even notice. Sports animes have made me try out a lot of different sports in my days but there’s no way I could keep up with these ping-pong girls.
At first glance, the narrative can seem somewhat stereotypical of the genre, with Haruka discovering the club and training alongside the team as they compete for a chance to go to nationals, but the cast of characters is what really allows Scorching Ping Pong Girls to rise above the fray. Haruka may seem like your standard wide-eyed protagonist, suddenly enamored with a sport and blindly determined to become the best, but behind her innocent persona is a world-class manipulator, constantly scheming to push everyone else out of her way. She lulls those around her in a false sense of security by feinting helplessness and pretending to be an airhead, and strikes when the time is right, as poor Yui learned at her own expense.
Raven haired Reiko first seems to be a classic aloof dark-haired cool girl but we quickly realize something isn’t quite right. The show uses some pitch black humour as it portrays the myriad of goofy situations Reiko gets herself into due to her serious drug problems. We also have the mysterious and completely silent blue haired character of Tomoe who seems to be having some sort of secret relationship with blonde Asuka, and pink haired Faservice babe Saori, the surprisingly brilliant and reliable “mom” of the club. The show didn’t have too much time to develop their characters which is a shame, but the tidbits we got were quite intriguing.
Of course we can’t talk Scorching Ping Pong Girls without mentioning Nao. Nao serves as both a hapless and generally likable antagonist for the beginning of the series, before Haruka’s dramatic heel turn, and the shows most reliable comic relief. It should be said that all the girls were given some pretty good gags to work with but Nao is almost pretty much just a walking joke. Her super intense Chuuni personality and constant energy could have easily made her annoying but she is somehow perfectly balanced, and used sparingly enough, to make all of her appearances absolutely delightful. By the mid way point, I was chuckling at the mere mention of her name. Also, and I realize this is a completely personal preference, but the use of a male voice actor, and one with a rather deep voice at that, was a great touch in my opinion. Since there are no male characters in the show, the contrasting voice was even more obvious and absolutely hilarious.
All in all Scorching Ping Pong Girls is a pleasant sarcastic romp that gets surprisingly dark at times. The bloodbath of those final episodes may be a little much for those with weaker constitutions. It could’ve been an all time classic but unfortunately, the more unique elements are never really exploited to their full potential. The show seems to be trying too hard to be both a completely unique experience and a tropey, recognizable sports anime at the same time and ends up bogged down by it’s on concept. Still, if you want to see a series at least attempt to do something different, this is a decent watch.
Favorite character: Haruka and Nao
What this anime taught me: I am eerily good at creating convincing nonsense
Happy hour is any hour with vodka
Suggested drink: Ping Pong
- Every time Reika “finds” cash – take a sip
- Every time Saori’s dad is too friendly – take a sip
- Every time Reika forgets her paddle – roll your eyes
- Every time a match ends in overtime – look at your watch
- Every time Haruka does her “evil eyes” – take a sip
- if someone noticed – take a gulp
- Every time Noa enters – cheers!
- Every time we see Asuka and Tomoe’s clothes in backgrounds – take a sip
- Every time the club wins – applaud!
I regularly review shows I saw a long time ago, I tend to rely on the pics to jog my memory. It then occurred to me that it might in fact be feasible, or at least entertaining, to create entire reviews based only on those pics. (i.e. a blind review) You thought that was how I always reviewed shows? Well..fair enough…
Because these little games are really more fun with more players, I roped a few more very agreeable bloggers, into doing their own reviews. Someday maybe we can compare notes to see who was closest to the actual show. Fabulous prizes will be won!
Well guys, I hope you had fun! Of course you did! Wanna have more fun? Go read
- AstralGemini’s fantastic review here;
- Shokamoka’s hilarious take here; and
- TPAB’s phenomenal analysis here