Scorching Ping Pong Girls is a twelve-episode anime adaptation of the manga of the same name written by Yagura Asanoa. The director for the series was Yasuhiro Irie, and the studio that produced it was Kinema Citrus.
The series aired as part of the autumn 2016 season, and is available on Crunchyroll.
The plot of Scorching Ping Pong Girls is a simple one, as tends to be the case with sports anime featuring school clubs: the Suzumegahara Municipal Junior High table tennis club aim to participate in nationals.
Nothing ground-breaking here, but the point of this anime is to see ping pong matches between the girls.
Unlike a large majority of other girls’ club anime, the club featured in this one actually has more members than you can count on one hand. Sure, six of them in particular get the main focus, but it’s a nice change of pace to have a popular club.
Our main characters are Koyori Tsumujikaze and Agari Kamiya. Koyori is a transfer student, who possesses an incredible love of table tennis. She’s normally a shy girl, but she becomes a different person whilst playing ping pong – particularly if her opponent can set her heart racing.
Agari is a second year, and was considered the ace of the club. However, she quickly finds that position in jeopardy with Koyori’s arrival – she started the series as a character who always wanted to be the best, unwilling to accept failure. Fortunately, Koyori helps her go through some character development which allows her to fall in love with table tennis. It doesn’t stop Agari from striving to become better, but she’s definitely a more likeable character after said development.
The other important members of the table tennis club are Hanabi Tenka, Hokuto Itsumo, Mune Ōmune and Kiruka Ushirode.
Everyone actually pairs off quite nicely, and not just for ping pong matches – there’s plenty of yuri subtext here. From heart-pounding ping pong matches to their interactions outside of table tennis, it’s clear that Hanabi and Hokuto, as well as Kiruka and Mune, have plenty of shipping material. Going back to Koyori and Agari briefly, they might just be the most prominent example of this.
As for the characters themselves, Hanabi is pretty much your standard energetic girl. She’s always full of energy and constantly happy.
Hokuto is a calculating character, able to manipulate how her opponent hits the ball. Being from a family that runs a table tennis shop, she is able to use her knowledge to provide the right equipment for her fellow teammates, as well as guess the type of underwear they are wearing simply by looking at their paddle.
Mune, whom is referred to as Munemune, is pretty much defined by her generous bust; hence the nickname. She’s a caring lass, though at one point that does distract her from her game.
Kiruka is the captain of the table tennis club, and is first introduced by taking on the entire club one after another. She imposes the penalty of having to wear cat ears on those who lose, though she isn’t above doing that as well. She and Munemune make for a fierce doubles team.
The show can be broken down into roughly three parts; the first is the introduction, in which Koyori joins the table tennis club and we learn about the girls’ different strategies.
Following that is a match against Mozuyama Junior High, which introduces a handful of new characters for the Suzumegahara girls to overcome. There’s some pretty unique personalities and play styles on show here.
The final part of the show is a training camp. We get some great interactions between the girls here, with them even inspiring the younger members of the club. It seems like a pretty odd place to end at, though. There’s no final climactic match, the club’s goal of getting to nationals still stands and there’s also the introduction of a new character who has history with Agari.
If anything, it feels like a set up for another season, but as to whether that will happen or not is uncertain.
As for the ping pong matches themselves, they are enjoyable to watch. Koyori’s love for table tennis proves to be infectious, not just for those she plays, but for the viewer as well. Watching someone participate in sports is always better when they have a strong passion for it.
We see many different techniques employed, including smashes, loop drives and the like. Whilst these terms may be meaningless to the casual viewer, they probably hold appeal for those who are partial to tablet tennis.
The soundtrack is quite good as well; the music that plays during the matches serves its purpose really well. The opening and ending themes are fairly decent, as well.
Familiar character archetypes work up a sweat whilst playing ping pong. The passion the girls put into their matches makes this show a lot of fun to watch, and there’s plenty of great moments of interaction between the characters, too.