The Ping Pong Club
The Boy's Ping Pong Club at Ina Middle School has been consistently humiliated by the women's team. It doesn't help that they'd rather follow their hormones than their coach, Shibazaki. So who comes to the rescue? The new manager, a very attractive young girl named Kyoko, who's willing to stoop down to their level to motivate them to play some real ping pong. But she can channel their collective depravity into something constructive for a change? Or are they just too messed up to care?
No synopsis could fully convey what this show has to offer. At least South Park kept itself to bodily functions and killing Kenny. The Ping Pong Club goes much, much further. So far, in fact, that it consistently walks a thin line between being gutbustingly hilarious and utterly disgusting.
I'll start with the tame stuff. There's dressing in drag, especially with the bishounen Kinoshita. There's the huge, dumb (of course) half-American character Tanabe with the killer B.O. (They sell nose-plugs for each match he's in.) There's the budding, but totally doomed relationship between Kyoko, and the team captain Takeda, who's probably the only decent lout in the bunch.
And then there's Maeno and Izawa, Japan's answer to Beavis and Butthead. But MTV would never (I repeat, NEVER) air the adventures of these two on the air. To say they're perverted is a massive understatement. But not only does their perversion extend onto the ping pong table (refer to Maeno's signature serve, in which he reveals to the invariably female opponents the contents of his gym shorts), but there are numerous times they get a kick out of offending moviegoers, passersby, and anime viewers with their downright awful antics. Their impressions of feral dogs and sea turtles come to mind. (We don't really need to elaborate on this, now do we?)
I'm not terribly surprised that only twelve episodes were ever released in North America, despite sources informing me that the original series had a full twenty-six episode run. This show is just too racy for most audiences here, American Pie and There's Something About Mary notwithstanding. There's a fine line between inferring perversion and outright showing it, and The Ping Pong Club has no compunctions about running haphazardly across. More than half the fun in watching this show is seeing just how far these characters are willing to go, and I'm absolutely certain it will be further than you think. (Trust me. Even the most jaded of our review staff winced at this show at least once.)
Though you probably won't be paying attention to these aspects, the music, animation, and art are on the better-than-average side, and the opening song is really catchy. However, the gutter-dwelling humor of this show is what really catches everyone's attention, and that's precisely its intent. The Ping Pong Club seems to have been written by, for, about, and cast with fourteen-year-old boys in mind, and though your junior high experience wasn't probably this far beyond normalcy, this show sure beats the pants off Meatballs any day.
And you will never think of the phrase, "Moshi moshi," in the same way ever again.
An incredibly raunchy series that is, at best, a guilty pleasure. Sure, a lot of THEMers like it, but that's beside the point! If you can tune into this sophomoric humor (and I certainly don't blame you if you do), add another star. If, however, you're too squeamish to even touch Plastic Little, remove two stars and walk over to the Ghibli aisle. — Carlos Ross
Recommended Audience: No self-respecting parent would ever show this to their children, if only to prevent them from following the example of these utterly crazed lunatics. Mature audiences ONLY, due to innumerable sexual innuendoes, nudity, and really sick, twisted comedy.
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, Japanese with English subtitles; R1 DVD
Review Status: Partial (26/52)
The Ping Pong Club © 1995 Furuya Minoru / Kodansha / Kitty Film / TBS
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