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As I’ve said a few times here in other articles, I’m not much on sports anime. But having seen Haikyu!! and Teekyu now, my eyes have been opened. I’m interested now in broadening my horizons, even if it’s in miniscule ways. I decided to have a look at Scorching Ping Pong Girls, which caught my eye due to its colorful characters and subject matter. A show all about ping pong? Who even thinks about playing ping pong competitively, let alone create an anime and manga series about it? But that’s exactly what drew me in in the end, too.

The anime, which began in October, follows the exploits of the Suzumegahara Municipal Junior High table tennis club, namely its ace player Agari Kamiya, who’s hoping to win a championship for the school along with her teammates Hokuto Itsumo and Hanabi Tenka. When Koyori Tsumujikaze, a transfer student, enters the picture, their team only gets stronger from there. Though she’s ridiculously talented, you wouldn’t know it from her demeanor, and that can cause some competition between the girls.

I was surprised to find that this table tennis adventure (jam-packed with moe, by the way) wasn’t relegated to short episodes and instead gets the full-length treatment so you can get to know the girls for who they are, even despite all the silliness and zaniness you’d expect from a moe fan-service show like this one. I’m thankful for it, because it allowed me to look past mile-a-minute gags like those in Teekyu and the seriousness of Haikyu!! to find what just might be one of the best “starter” sports series out there for beginners.

For one, the girls’ attitude really makes the program. They may be all about winning a championship and bettering themselves at their craft, but they’re never ones to let you forget it’s all for the sake of fun. Koyori herself is all about reminding her own teammates why she plays ping pong in the first place. It’s refreshing to see this philosophy in a show where competition is key, because so many other sports shows that I’ve researched seem to lack the idea that the sports being played are out of fun and camaraderie. That idea permeates every episode of the series going forward until even the girls who had no idea they should appreciate what they’re doing as simple fun are changing their tune.

I used to be fiercely competitive in all aspects of school life back when I was in high school, and I would never have let that sort of attitude fly. Unfortunately, having done my best and worked and trained as hard as I could to make sure anyone else was incapable of besting me, my relationships and grades deteriorated–and my skills in band, my “club” of choice, flatlined. I wish I had adopted these ideas that Ping Pong Club imparts.

Even at its most fan service-packed moments where there’s someone guessing at the color of another character’s underwear or bizarre scenes like that going on, there’s something to like about Scorching Ping Pong Girls, which really drives home the message of teamwork, hard work, and–most importantly–having fun. That’s why, at the end of the day when you finish watching and settle in for the night you’re eagerly awaiting the next episode. If you’re looking to dabble in sports anime, this might be the first place you want to stop. I can guarantee you’ll get something out of it. Just make sure you keep in mind why you’re watching in the first place, too: to have fun! 

Top Image Credit: Twitter

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