Ping Pong The Animation is a very unique sports anime both in terms of narrative and animation. The animation is what makes people turn away from the anime because of how jarring it is. It also doesn’t feel much like an anime because of the ‘realistic’ approach. Personally, while it did took some time to get used to it, I really like the animation because it compliments the direction of the narrative.
The narrative is also unique as it doesn’t follow the usual sports anime trope where the main character is an underdog and will eventually beat his or her rival with passion and practice. This sports anime is less about the sports but more about the characters’ stories and their journey of life. This brings me to one of the main characters of the anime, Peco.
Now I’m gonna be straightforward here, I don’t like Peco. In fact in the middle of the series, I absolutely despise him. He first comes of as an obnoxious, arrogant and eccentric ping pong player. A good ping pong player too as we see him obliterate another player who challenges him to a match without much effort. He also has a really bad attitude of almost always skipping his school’s ping pong club practice. Despite his attitude, the the club desperately wants him to stay and keep playing for the team because he’s just that good.
At this point I already dislike him. His arrogance and bragging get annoying really fast. He talks about wanting to conquer Europe without even putting any effort in his training. It is made worse when he makes his closest friend, Smile involved with his behaviour and causes him many inconveniences. I was really happy when he loses his first spontaneous and unofficial match against Kong, a Chinese ping pong player.
After a while, it comes to a point when he realizes that maybe, just maybe, he is not as good or talented at ping pong as he initially thought. After being utterly defeated by Kong, he completely gives up ping pong. All his bragging about conquering the world before is essentially meaningless because he gives up altogether after his first loss. Yes all this while, he only plays ping pong because he wins all the time against pretty much anybody, no matter what age they are. Then, he gets jealous that Smile, a person who he sees as always tailing behind him, plays a better game against Kong. That is still acceptable to me. I mean, seeing someone who is always below you suddenly surpass you must be shocking. However, he brings talent into the picture. He actually argues that the reason why Smile is better than him now is because Smile has more talent than him. He is the one who has the talent, destroying every person in front of him since he was little and suddenly he wants to say he has no talent?
This is the point when I totally despise him and nothing can change my feelings towards him. He becomes completely directionless and goalless in his life, gaining more weight begins smoking and distancing himself from the world of ping pong. I get it that it is his deliberate character flaw which is going to be redeemed in later episodes but I just hate him so much at that moment, I can’t see him as anything but an enemy.
Lastly his redemption phase, the stage when he is supposed to realize his flaws and mistakes. The phase when he is supposed to attract the audience one more. The phase when he will recover from his failures and get back up again. Yes at this stage, he has matured and he has changed. He no longer is the arrogant person he once was. He no longer belittles everyone else’s effort and training. In fact, he himself is going to practice non-stop and put every effort he can find into playing ping pong. He will challenge himself to become a better player than he was ever before! Theoretically, the audience should forgive all his wrongdoings before and root for him at this point. However, I can’t bring myself to like him. I still find him annoying and I don’t want him to win at ping pong. I even want him to fail all the time. Maybe this is the result of me disliking him the majority of the time of this anime. It’s pretty much irreversible now.
That’s only my own opinion of his character. What do you think of him? Do you think he is likable especially at the end of the anime? Do you think his flaws are redeemable?