Masaaki Yuasa is something of a hot commodity these days. Devilman Crybaby came out this year and blew people away. Mind Game just got released on streaming services for the first time. People are wanting more from Yuasa. However, what actually brought Yuasa into the spotlight was his incredible adaptation of the manga Ping Pong. However, the anime doesn’t actually go into a lot of details about how Ping Pong is actually played and relies on the viewer to interpret a lot. Here’s a quick rundown on the rules and techniques of ping pong!
Players engage in a match of 5 games, competing to see who can score 11 points first. To get a point, the receiving player must miss hitting the ball after its first bounce on their side of the play table. If the ball fails to touch the table once on the side opposing the server, it’s counted as a point for the receiving player. However, players must also win by 2 points. If it comes down to 10 vs. 10, then the game will be played until someone pulls ahead by two points. The first player to win 3 games total is the winner of the match.
Ping Pong the Animation kind of assumes you understand all this going into the series. Honestly, it’s not that important to the overall plot. However, it might be handy to understand that ping pong rallies traditionally do not go on very long. Those elongated, drawn out swings and exaggerated motions that feel like they take up minutes of your time in Ping Pong the Animation? Most rallies generally last a few seconds before someone actually scores.
The Shakehand style is the oldest and most intuitive. It’s just grabbing the paddle like you would a knife by the hilt. However, it’s important to stick your index finger out onto the paddle to support your grip. Its popularity comes and goes, but it’s most frequently used by diehard power players because it gives you better muscle support. Kazama Ryuuichi, the very definition of strength within Ping Pong the Animation, naturally uses this style the most. You can see it pretty vividly during his match against Peco with his explosive shots.
This grip is most commonly used by beginners, as it’s the most natural way for the human hand to hold a paddle. Shakehand Grips are also one of the most effective and are often utilized by champions. Again, for power-crazy Kazama, this fits right into his personality and his desire to crush anyone who comes across him. Though there are plenty of champions who still make use of the Penhold grip, the strategy with Shakehand is the most simple: overwhelm your opponents with pure power and make them submit.
Penhold is the other leading paddle grip in ping pong, and sacrifices power for control of the ball. It’s a lot easier to make “scooping” saves with it while maintaining accuracy on the return. This is what you see most characters using in Ping Pong the Animation. This style requires a much closer approach to the table, and you can that in Peco after his transformation. Even when going up against power player Kazama, Peco stays close to the table and relies on a traditional penhold looper grip. This completely fits in with Peco’s play-style was well, which focuses more on footwork and keeping up with the ball.
There are other forms of the Penhold though. There’s also the Counter Driver style of grip, which Kong Wenge seemingly uses. Whenever Wenge grips his paddle, his index finger and thumb make a circle, which fits into a Counter Driver grip. This is generally used to counteract an opponent’s top spin and make them struggle to return the ball. You can even see this in play during Wenge’s beginning match with Peco, who comments on how much he struggles to return the ball due to the spin on it. Peco can’t create his own and keeps sending the ball flying or into the net.
Hopefully this gives you a bit of insight into the mechanics that drive the game being played in Ping Pong the Animation. Even though the series doesn’t do a lot to describe how the players are actually playing, there’s a lot of thought and detail put into how each character plays off one another and the actual strategy involved in Ping Pong. You just have to seek it out for yourself.
There’s much more to be said about ping pong, but we’ll just leave it at that. If there’s anything you noticed about Ping Pong the Animation, or anything we missed in the article, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!