- Genre : Sports!!, comedy, ecchi
- Episodes: 12
- Studio: Kinema Citrus
Koyori has recently transferred to Suzumegahara Municipal Junior High School, (OMG you guys, she’s a transfer student….) A painfully shy and let’s just say distracted, girl she immediately latched onto Agari who helps her out on her first day and whoa!!!!! What a coincidence, Agari is the school’ s table tennis ace and Koyori has been obsessed with the sport since she was little (I think). Now that these two have found each other, will their boundless drive and deep, even slightly carnal, love for table tennis take them all the way to nationals? Can Koyori share her doki doki with everyone?
**And what does ‘doki doki’ mean anyways?
My alternate title for this post was: Ping Pong is a Sweaty Sport. I think this is a good place to put the cut…
Some of you may remember that I had previously roped a couple of fantastic bloggers into reviewing this show without seeing it. If you’re interested you can read those posts here:
- Scorching Ping Pong Girls – Authentic Review
- AstralGemini’s fantastic review here;
- Shokamoka’s hilarious take here; and
- TPAB’s phenomenal analysis here
If nothing else – I have to say, this show is wonderful for collaborations!
In any case, it was amusing to see exactly what we got right and what was way off the mark. Of course we weren’t actually trying to make the reviews accurate, it was more of a creative writing exercise but it’s still fun to compare. I think we all guessed that Koyori was a transfer student which just goes to show you how drastically overused that trope is.
One of the most unexpected things I found was that the show really looks a lot better than I expected from the screen caps. I’ve noticed a similar inconsistency when doing the episode reviews. I will watch an episode and think that it was quite pretty or that a particular sequence stood out visually, and when I start to take screenshots for my posts, the art looks unfinished or lopsided and whatever had drawn my eye to the screen is lost. And I’m not talking about scenes with a lot of action that need movement to work. I guess some shows just can’t be captured in still life.
It was definitely the case here. Even now, as I look over the pictures for this post, something is missing. I guess you’ll have to see for yourselves. It’s a decent looking show with some interesting designs and it doesn’t translate well in screen caps.
This said, I am still a little unsettled by the odd design choice of giving all the girls unexplained bruised knees at all times. And the camera lingers on it a lot. I’m not sure if this is a common prejudice, but where I come from the bruised knees has some pretty naughty connotations. I’m just saying it was weird you guys. I’ve never seen this before and I’m at a loss.
Unfortunately, this did not hold true for the animation. It seems the gifs I had found had been sped up and also represented the best bits of action in the show. Don’t get me wrong, it’s serviceable but there are a whole lot of still shots here. Priority was definitely given to art over animation.
For me, this was a small personal let down as table tennis is one of the rare sports I find truly compelling to watch even without any context. I can get mesmerized by it even if I have no one to root for. Admittedly it’s also a fast-moving sport in a small contained space, that’s probably difficult to animate. All things considered they did ok given visibly limited resources.
As far as story goes, this is an archetypical Sports! anime. If you dislike those you won’t like Scorching Ping Pong Girls. It really adheres as closely as possible to the script in the limited 12 episodes it has. The narrative shortcuts that are necessary to condense these normally extremely long-winded plots into a single short season work quite well and make for a shallow but utterly enjoyable watch.
One thing I would like to underline for those of you more sensitive to this sort of thing is that there is a much higher than average amount of fanservice here that gets occasionally pushed into ecchi territory. Not the creepy peeping tom type, just the quite obviously sexual type with girls moaning and grunting in response to their deep love of ping pong (think Food Wars…). The effect is rather comical and harmless in my opinion, but it takes some getting used to.
One of the obvious compromises made for the sake of brevity was character development. These girls are fun, really fun in fact. All of them, including the rival team. However, they don’t so much have personalities as quirks. In my description I wrote that I think Koyori has been playing table tennis since she was a child. That’s because despite being the main character (or deuteragonist, depending on how you look at it) we know very little about her. She’s a ditz, she’s nice and she really loves table tennis. That’s it. And aside from Agari who is given a bit of background and intellectual motivation, that’s more or less the depth of characterization you can expect across the board. Hanabi is really friendly and very energetic and oves table tennis. Hokuto addresses people by the types of panties they wear, works at ping pong store and is dandere. The Captain was injured, never opens her eyes and has a yuri light thing going on with her doubles partner. ***And the other girls? You get the idea. Basically, the entire cast is made up of those eccentric side characters/rivals we usually only see for a couple of episodes.
If this was your usual 50+ episodes Sports! series, it would probably get annoying but in the context of 12 episodes filled with actions and loads of characters, it worked quite well. I didn’t have to invest too much in anyone and their outlandish personalities made them into “characters” right off the bat.
Another very wise decision was to not get into tournament play at all. The entire season is concentrated on inner team training and one training match with a rival school. The season finishes without a single official competition. This means that you’re not left feeling like the story is unresolved. This was the story of the team getting formed. It works as a cohesive narrative and gives you a semblance of closure.
On the other hand, they did not skimp out on the Sports! part. I once wrote that a good sports anime will often make you want to try the sport for yourself. At the very least, you get the sense that the author is a fan (some exceptions may apply…***cough Cheer Danshi cough***). Scorching Ping Pong Girls is another great example. Ping Pong nerd dialogue litters the series with detailed descriptions of the effects different paddle rubbers have on gameplay, how stances and strike movements affect the direction of the ball and so forth. Unlike one could assume at first glance, this show wasn’t simply an excuse to show girls bouncing around. Someone really did want to share their love of table tennis!
I also noticed that despite the title being Scorching Ping Pong Girls, they only refer to it as “table tennis” in the show. I’m not entirely sure why that is. Is Ping Pong considered an outdated word? Is it politically incorrect?
I found that the comedy worked well. There’s some great comedic timing on the jokes and although the humor is pretty cliched it’s not lazy. The setups are well written and give solid foundations to the punch lines. The few running gags are used in just the right amount to become funny without becoming annoying and every scene packs enough zingers to make sure at least one lands.
It’s a fine little show. It won’t be your favorite, but it’ll probably make you smile. It fuses all the classic sports tropes with a few cute girls elements in a very cohesive way and sort of illustrates how close the two genres are in practice. The funny thing is, lately there seems to be a distinct separation between those two fandoms. I have spoken to quite a few people that tell me one of these genres is their favorite while the other is their least favorite, and these two particular genres seem to come up against each other way more often than any other. As such, I would be really curious to see what people that usually have strong feelings on the subject, have to say about it.
***I have quite a few questions on the subject too, like why would you like this show and not more popular sports shows, is it just the cute girls? Well I don’t think it’s as simplistic as that-
***Can the Ping Pong girls show you the appeal of sports in anime?! I mean, maybe, there’s certainly some leeway in the discussion, but I’ve got my own reasons for not liking sports anime and it’s kinda personal…
***Wait, where are we, how did we end up here? Hmm, this blog is much prettier than yours… Hey! I worked hard to make my blog look nice, but err, I think we must have been summoned by a powerful witch or something.
***Either that or it’s just a collab. Either that or a collab, yeah…
***But Irina’s review’s already over and your review is already written too over on your blog? Almost like this collab was a last minute addi- Want a different ‘hot take’ on sports anime from a life-long sports hater? Click on over to Anime Q and A’s 20 Question Anime Review of Scorching Ping Pong Girls! Go on…CLICK!!!
Favorite character: Kururi
What this anime taught me: Ping Pong is a very sweaty sport
24 hours in a day, 24 beers in a case, coincidence?
Suggested drink: Ping-Pong (seems a little too obvious)
- Every time we see the first year fangirls – take a sip
- Every time Koyori clings to someone – take a sip
- Every time Hanabi jumps on someone – take a sip
- Every time Hokuto says “pantsu”– take a sip
Every time someone blushes – get some water
- if it’s Agari – take a sip
- Every time anyone says ace – clap
- Every time anyone says doki doki – cheer
- Every time Kiruka uses the boob pillow – take a sip
- Every time there’s a heartbeat animation – take a sip
- Every time Kururi says death or a derivative – take a sip
- Every time Kiruka opens her eyes – finish your glass
- Every time someone is covered in sweat – just keep watching, it’s basically the whole show