Okay. It’s that time again where we take a look at a list of sports that has yet to be turned into an all-male or in this case all-female underdog team. We have a bunch of girls taking on kendo and then in mahjong. What other sports do you think should get this treatment? Oh yes. Ping pong! And hence, that is how Shakunetsu No Takkyuu Musume was born and conceived. I think. But wait. Wasn’t there a ping pong themed anime a very long time ago? You know, a series about a male’s ping pong club filled with weirdo and wacky losers? The club that did anything and everything except play ping pong except for a couple of occasions? No? Didn’t see that? Didn’t even know it existed? Yeah, screw all that. We’re going to make an all-female ping pong club anyway. What else could go wrong if you have an entire team of females, right?

Episode 1
Everyone is in utter shock and disbelief that the girls’ ping pong powerhouse, Oudou Academy lost. Because they are the champions for 9 consecutive years and this is just the first round of the group stage that their captain lost in straight sets without getting a single point! OMG! They can’t believe it! They even cannot accept their loss to an unknown debutant. Guess what? The opponent just went down on her knees and give thanks for a good match. But with a devilish smile. It leaves the captain crying. Oh… Why does this remind me of Donald Trump winning the US presidency? Of course this gives hope to other teams that it is their turn to claim the crown. At Suzumegahara Junior High, Agari Kamiya is the school’s top ping pong player as she beats next best player Hanabi Tenka. Completing the top 4 are Hokuto Itsumo and Munemune. With other girls as avid admirers of Agari, it is no wonder why she would want to safeguard her top spot. Dreaming of a legion of fans? Like an idol? They hear news that Hayabusa Academy rode the wave of their luck by dethroning Oudou but Agari has no interest since their school didn’t participate (they were ruled out during the qualifiers) but will make it to the next stage next time. Next day as Agari head to school early, she sees this very shy girl, Koyori Tsumujikaze stuck on a gate. She is a new transfer student. Because she ‘saved’ her, Koyori becomes close to her. More like sticking like a leech. Upon learning Agari is part of the ping pong club, Koyori becomes excited as she loves ping pong. Agari agrees to play a demo match with her. She notices Koyori is able to return shots that are almost impossible to take. Agari could have lost if not for the other club members streaming in. Koyori cowers behind Agari as she is just intimidated by everyone and everything. Including Munemune’s giant racks. Koyori ends up in the same class with Agari. It’s a good thing because Hanabi keeps bugging her to be friends.

The newspaper club interviews Agari. She tells them they have never made it to the Nationals and at best are only local champions. She is confident she will lead the team there this year. They hear a commotion from the clubroom. Koyori easily defeated a tenth ranked player and as per club rules, she now officially occupies this spot. When other girls start admiring Koyori, this makes Agari jealous. Somebody is stealing her spotlight now. Munemune challenges her next. At first it looks like Munemune has no sweat getting points over Koyori. But the tables start to change when Koyori has figured out Munemune’s weakness and capitalizes on it. Because of her stocky build and huge boobs, she gets tired easily if made to run around. Because of this, Koyori wins 11-8. Munemune knows Koyori’s background. She is the prefectural semi-finalist in her previous school. This sends alarm bells ringing for Agari because her personal best is just the quarter-finals. When other girls start thinking she could be their new ace and now clamour around her like a new hot pop star, it’s time for Agari to hit the panic button. Her top spot is under threat!

Episode 2
Now that Koyori is in fourth place, Agari feels the threat closing in. Today Koyori challenges Hokuto. She learns about her strange ability that she can tell and ‘extract’ data by looking at their racquet rubbers. Including what panties you’re wearing today. I kid you not. As the match begins, it looks like Hokuto is easily trumping Koyori and making a big lead. This is because of her other ability in which she can see the angles and success percentage to return. Is she some sort of robot? Both sides are exhausted and during this long rally, Koyori gets her groove back by just enjoying the game. This means more smiles and happy faces. In turn, this throws Hokuto off. In the end, Koyori makes a great come back defeating her 11-9. Next day, Agari comes to the clubroom only to see Koyori there practising by herself. So now she is also losing her punctuality record? When Koyori suggests practising together, fear flashes across her mind as she gives excuses why she can’t. Agari continues to avoid her. Before you know it, Koyori is already playing Hanabi who is a master of returning shots at greater speeds. Like a smash? Like history repeating itself, Hanabi starts off well but Koyori makes a comeback and wins it. The girls hound around Koyori. Koyori still scared to bits. Agari continues to be deeply troubled. Oh no. Looks like there’s a new idol in town. Empty seats for our current top idol. And she’s crying about it. Hey, it’s only natural for the weak to flock to the strong. When Agari requests to practice with Munemune, Koyori thinks she hates her. Hanabi believes Agari is a nice girl deep down despite her thorny exterior and is sure preparing a special move to counter her. Munemune notices Agari is trying to focus on her backhand techniques. She believes this has higher winning chance but Munemune wonders if she is enjoying playing the game. She knows Agari always practised hard and thus effort will never betray her. So please don’t look so pained. With renewed confidence, Agari now challenges Koyori.

Episode 3
Flashback shows Agari’s mom always tell her to aim for the top and be number one. It’s more of a goofy encouragement rather than strict dictatorship. They like being at the top so much so it is reflected in Agari’s name. But reality is different as she is always mediocre till she found her calling in ping pong. The match for the top spot begins. Agari doesn’t waste time using her loop drive and ending it with a backhand smash. There’s an explanation what it is as well as some facts about Agari being 1 of the 4 elites specializing in this drive ability but I’m not really eager to know all that crap. Agari makes a great lead and with the girls coming back to cheer on her, Agari again starts to feel good. This is how it should be. But seeing her determined face, Koyori suddenly gets this excited feeling. She is able to return Agari’s smash. It is no big deal since Agari’s smash was never lethal in the first place. Agari is now sweating. Koyori is able to counter her smashes. That is when Koyori says she loves ping pong because she gets to see her opponents’ face up close and tell what kind of person they are. She can tell Agari is sharp and determined. When Koyori manages to climb her way back and tie the score, Agari too starts feeling that excitement in her heart. She realizes her love for ping pong and abandons her backhand smash to revert to her usual forehand smash. It feels good. In the end, Koyori wins 11-9 and becomes the new ace. Both congratulate and thank each other for a great game. Agari tried to put up a tough front but Koyori’s warmth breaks it down. While it is no surprise that the girls are all excited over their new champ, all isn’t loss for Agari because some girls also admire how amazing she is. See, you don’t have to be number 1 to get the cheers. Later when Munemune visits the club captain’s house and explains how amazing and valuable Koyori is, I guess it is time for Kiruka Ushirode to return to the team since her foot injury has been healed.

Episode 4
Koyori might be best in ping pong but just like Agari, she sucks in everything else. It seems Agari and Koyori have been playing each other ever since and the top spot has been trading hands like a volatile stock market. This time Agari wins. Their face off record stands at a tie, 7-7. But Munemune notices Koyori is on a losing streak. Like as though she is lacking some sort of special move. She then announces that Kiruka will return tomorrow. Koyori wonders how the captain is like so Hanabi explains she and Agari used to fiercely contest for the top spot before her injury side-lined her. When they head into the clubroom, they already see how amazing she is taking on 2 practice robots. And she even finds it boring! Koyori is introduced but as usual becomes super shy. This makes Kiruka want to tease her. A lot. For many of the other girls, this is also their first time seeing Kiruka. As the tournament is coming up, she wants to hold a match for the team roster and play every one of them. It is her way to gauge their skills. Whoever beats her gets an automatic spot. Of course knowing this isn’t just an ordinary battle, there is a catch. Those who lose to her must wear cat ears for the entire day as penalty. I guess this is better than putting on embarrassing cosplay outfits. But as she is the best player, surely nobody has any chance, right? That is why she will give them a handicap. As she has no stamina for a full match, if anyone can score a point before she scores 5, they win. And you guessed it, all the girls lost (because of her chop attack special) and the only ones left are Agari and Koyori. At this point Kiruka is feeling bored. I mean, nobody could even beat her. She even mentions about their bleak chances of reaching the Nationals at this rate. The truth, right? But this is where Agari stands up and tells her otherwise. They have been practising hard to do so and this time they will make it. You better mean what you say because you’re up next as this has stimulated Kiruka.

Episode 5
So the most anticipated match begins with Kiruka and Agari playing an intense rally. With the thought of aiming for the Nationals, this has Koyori thinking that all she wanted was to have fun playing ping pong and never thought of aiming for the Nationals. Because if she goes there, she’ll meet even more players and have more fun. Kiruka has also the tightest defence as she is able to counter whatever smash Agari throws at her. But it is finally Agari’s forehand smash that breaks it as she wins the game. Yay! Agari makes the team! It is all thanks to Koyori because she made her realize this is her better move as she got Munemune to help practice it after her first defeat. Kiruka finally takes on Koyori. She gets to see her play style and it seems she notices Koyori enjoying herself. This in turn makes Kiruka enjoy her game. In the end Koyori beats Kiruka. Kiruka lets out a maniacal laughter. Is she tired after double defeats? Maybe she’s glad that there are some worthy players. However Agari doesn’t feel the win was worth it because Koyori has been playing 18 players before them and scoring 5 points each straight. So by the time she reached time, it might have zapped some of her stamina. Of course this isn’t Koyori’s best as her serious skill comes when she is playing doubles. Guess who her partner is. If Kiruka says she might not be perfect but won’t lose if Munemune is with her… With everyone dreaming for the Nationals, this has Kiruka remember that when she first joined the club, she told everyone that she wanted to become number one and win the Nationals. Why is everybody looking so shocked? You mean they aren’t aiming or expecting this? Munemune likewise stated her goal same as Kiruka. Kiruka has scheduled a practice match with Mozuyama Junior High. They are a local powerhouse that reached the Nationals last year.

Episode 6
Agari is mad at Koyori because her smashes are no more lethal than before. Is she losing her form? Hokuto takes a look at her paddle and realizes the rubber is worn out. Well, I’m not sure if this gives her the ability to tell a player’s skills but apparently rubber can have her tell what panties you’re wearing too. I’m not kidding. Because Hokuto’s family runs a ping pong shop, she is very eager to sell some goods. However Koyori has no money and Hokuto shies away. Money face? Hanabi suggests helping her out at the store as she always complains about being understaffed. Of course with Koyori being a super shy girl, you wonder if she can pull through this as she mans the register. Remember the breathing exercise Hokuto told you. Though, it is mostly for pregnant women. Don’t ask. Then this gothic zombie weirdo comes in to buy stuffs. She has also earned enough card points to exchange a bunny t-shirt. The way she loves it is so creepy… I’m surprised Koyori isn’t scared out of her daylights. Later Koyori sees how Hokuto is an expert in analysing rubber and suggesting what goods her customers should get. Seeing that Hanabi is an expert in gluing and replacing rubber, Koyori gets motivated to work harder. Later their club members drop by to hang out although Kiruka claims Agari wanted to see Koyori and is worried about her. Like that ace would ever admit it. With the friends being rowdy, this reminds Hokuto of her past where she will always refuse her friends’ offer to hang out as she has to go home to help out with her store. Only Hanabi was interested in what she is doing and became impressed. It was then they became best friends and Hanabi offered to help out so she could finish her work faster and have more time to have fun together. When somebody accidentally knocks the goods off the shelves, everyone else comes to help out. Why? Because they’re friends.

Episode 7
As Koyori has worked her part, why is Hokuto seems forceful to give her deserved rubber? As she doesn’t know which to pick, Hokuto chooses for her. A springy rubber that makes her smashes feel pleasant and more lethal. That way, she can enjoy the game more. The girls head to Mozuyama and meet the ping pong’s captain, Zakuro Zashikiwarashi who is quite nervous and tongue tied. Remember that gothic zombie girl? Yup. She’s in this club. As weird as she can get, Kururi Futamaru likes to insert death into her sentences. A pun of desu? Plus, you can tell she has hots for Zakuro as the way she melts when Zakuro is being nice to her. Koyori is stuck on the toilet door (trying to get out since her lock was spoiled) and Kururi sees this thinks she is a pervert. Koyori tries to have a good sportsmanship so Kururi questions her why does she play ping pong for. For Kururi, she plays for Zakuro and is willing to die for it! Woah. Calm down. It’s only ping pong, right? The first practice match pits Hanabi against Sachiko Sasorida (the scorpion girl?). It seems Sasorida’s teammates don’t give a f*cks about cheering for her. Hanabi strikes fast and wins the first 2 sets. But then it is Sasorida’s turn to fight back by the third set. By nullifying Hanabi’s speed drive, Sasorida is forcing her to make errors and thus makes a comeback to win the remaining sets for her team. Not that her teammates care anyway. The next match has Hokuto versus Yura Yuragi (the swaying girl?). Hokuto’s quest to avenge Hanabi’s lost takes a backseat when Yuragi takes the first set.

Episode 8
Hokuto may have clawed her way back to force a rubber set. However it is clear that she is tired. Yuragi having more stamina and even having that similar vision ability like Hokuto clearly has the advantage. As predicted, Hokuto lost. Of course she feels guilty for losing but Hanabi commends her for a great game. Time for the only doubles match. It is Kiruka-Munemune against the chuunibyou Myuu Kanenashi and the nibbling Kimiko Hamu. At first the Suzumegahara pair takes the first set. However the Mozuyama counterpart easily takes the second. So while this gives them confidence that their wall is unbreakable, Kiruka notices Munemune not playing her true style because she is worried about Kiruka’s ankle injury. She reminds her that she is undefeatable with her. Also about their dream to become number one and win the Nationals. Because they couldn’t achieve their dreams as a single player, they realize they are unbeatable as a pair because they cover each other’s weaknesses. With this, they get their groove back and blow away their opponents! Hamu is literally scared of Munemune’s tiger aura! Suzumegahara wins the remaining sets and the game. With Mozuyama’s first defeat, this signals Kururi to have more practice to death training! Oh dear. That’s why winning is everything. Kiruka and Munemune’s win allows Agari a chance to face Zakuro.

Episode 9
It seems Zakuro is able to keep pace with Agari and nullify her forehand smashes. Zakuro is able to catch up and tie with Agari’s score till a point where she can overtake her. Time for a flashback 2 years ago. When Kururi joined the ping pong club 2 years ago, all members were thrilled she came from the famed ping pong school of Karasuma. Of course the seniors looked down on her and decided to show who’s boss by playing her. Kururi destroyed them and made them resigned from the club. The rest draw inspiration from it and hope Kururi could help train them to achieve their dream of becoming overnight stars by going to the Nationals. Well, nobody warned them they asked for it. Because unfortunately Kururi started to devise a very strict Spartan training and they got more than they bargained for. They became afraid of her and also resigned. This left Kururi sad and confused. Wasn’t this what they asked for? Why do they have to leave? Alone again. Naturally. Even zombies can cry. But hope returns when Zakuro continued to remain because despite her hard training, she wants to play awesome ping pong like her. This made Kururi ‘drool from her eyes’. Geddit? At this point Zakuro now leads the sets 2-1. With things getting desperate in the fourth set, Agari decides to make a drastic change and use her backhand smash. It succeeds and shocks Zakuro. She wins the set and now the final decisive set is at hand. This time Agari switched and mixed up her forehands and backhands to pull ahead and win the final set. Despite the loss, Zakuro felt she played a great match. Before Koyori and Kururi’s match begins, Koyori answers her question of why she plays ping pong. She wants to feel and share the excitement of the game with everybody. Well, not the best of answers. Anyhow, Kururi will beat anybody who challenges her to death! Cue for mad zombie mode on! It’s like Kururi has this super power skill because when Koyori returns her screw ball, Kururi doesn’t even have to touch it. She turns her back and some tornado aura blows it away! WTF???!!!

Episode 10
Each time Koyori hits back, her ball swiftly changes trajectory. Yeah, there’s some explanation about her curve drive but I’ll take it as some exaggerated flashy move. With this technique, Kururi is quickly leaving Koyori in the dust and easily takes the first 2 sets. However before the third set begins, suddenly Kururi has this dreaded feeling. Something bad is about to happen. Yeah. Because this is when the main heroine makes a comeback. Apparently Koyori might have look like she is randomly smashing back but this was actually to find her sweet spot. As per her training with Agari who taught her to find the best place to return a shot, that is what a sweet spot is. And it is in this third set that Koyori finally finds her sweet spot and counters Kururi’s curve drive. Once that is defeated, Kururi starts to panic. Uh huh. A short flashback from her side how Zakuro advised her to develop this habit into her asset. Unfortunately Kururi continues to worry like hell. She fears she will lose Zakuro’s smile and the right to be with her if she loses. This allows Koyori to claw her way back up and tie the sets. And as expected, the final set that will decide it all. Because Kururi is still worried, Zakuro had to go calm her and tell her to play her own brand of ping pong. That is the brand she loves. This gives her motivation to fight back and while she looked desperate in doing random smashes, she is actually trying to do what Koyori earlier did. But she’s not finding her sweet spot but rather trying to evolve her curve drive. The mistakes she makes gives Koyori free points. By the time Kururi manages to pull off her ultimate curve driver, surprisingly Koyori is able to counter that. Match is set and the game goes to Koyori and Suzumegahara wins it! Hmm… Don’t you see a pattern here? The entire game and even the individual matches are won by the margin of 3-2. Only the doubles match was won by 3-1. Kururi wallows in despair but Zakuro hugs her. Despite she lost, it was a great game and everyone was motivated seeing her play. Even zombie girls can cry. Suzumegahara leaves as both sides thank each other for a great game. Kururi now feels playing with Koyori makes her excited and she vows to become stronger the next time and everything will be more exciting. First time seeing her smile. Even zombie girls can smile too.

Episode 11
What’s next after a practice match? Training camp! But before they leave, they are shocked with the appearance of Kumami Tsukinowa. Who is she? An ex-ping pong club member who transferred out shortly before Koyori transferred in. Let’s say she left to another school for greener pastures. It might seem she is here to show off her ventriloquism but perhaps she is jealous Agari has somebody new close to her? Because she gives her a big hug but Agari not into such lesbian practice, pushes her away. Agari thought she is here to settle the score but Kumami apologizes she can’t play with her anymore. So with the training camp on the way, Kiruka plays with Agari and because the latter is still being bothered by Kumami, she can’t focus and her smashes are now easily countered and ineffective. As they soak in the hotspring, they note about Kumami in a powerhouse ping pong school, Tsubame Girls’ Academy who is way better than Mozuyama. That night Agari can’t sleep and it is obvious that Kumami is still occupying her mind. Time to let the cat out of the bag. At least for Koyori to know. Tsubame is a school not just for rich girls but as said a powerhouse in ping pong. The club’s captain lured Kumami there. She is the only daughter of the school’s board director and her family runs loads of ping pong halls. This means she can get whatever she wants. On the day Kumami left Suzumegahara, she is supposed to play a farewell match with Agari but declined. But even a month before that, Kumami stopped playing with her. So Agari thought she showed up for that but it wasn’t the case. It frustrates Agari because she wanted to play her. Of course they will still bump into Tsubame in the district qualifiers if they want to make it to the Nationals. As for what Agari can do to improve herself, Koyori suggests making her smashes more lethal. They get their well-deserved sleep and the next morning they are pumped up for practice.

Episode 12
The training camp continues. Hokuto and Hanabi play with each other to improve since they are the only ones who lost. Agari and Koyori also play each other. In Koyori’s desperate bid to help Agari improve her lethal smash, she sits on her shoulder. WTF?! Somehow all the silliness has the juniors motivated to practice harder. Train hard, train hard, train hard, not forgetting Munemune boobs time, more training, more training, soak in hotspring, more training so much so they’re practising their swings while sleeping! On the last day of the camp, it is a free schedule and everyone can do whatever they want. Of course this means everyone is up to practice more ping pong. Agari and Koyori train a couple of juniors as they are ecstatic to be taught by them. With more people coming in to train, it soon turns into a mini competition. As expected, Agari and Koyori face off each other in the finals and Agari wins it with her super fast lethal smash. Everybody feels good about their improvement and chances. And so here we are at the start of the real tournament.

Balls Of Fury
Although it is only a dozen of episodes, unfortunately it wasn’t really interesting enough for me to really want to beg or even look forward to a sequel. To be honest, the story was pretty bland and unexciting and because this is only the first season, it focused more about the new kid in town and the practice with a local powerhouse. That is all. Forgive me if you are going to hear me compare this to Saki a few times because I think that is what I believe how a sports tournament is supposed to play out. I may still not like the mahjong game but I’ll be referring to mostly the story and the characters.

Let’s start off with the story. Like I have said that this season is nothing more than trying to build up the base of the underdog, namely Suzumegahara. Also like I have mentioned earlier on, this series only has one season for now. Unlike Saki who has a couple of seasons and another couple of seasons for its spin-offs. So you could see that the flow and pace of their story and plot have been gradually played out. Yes, Saki is still the typical cliché sports tournament story of the underdog surpassing the powerhouse. But for this series, nothing has really begun. That last scene doesn’t really count because it just feels like to fire us all up that the series has ended. And if you remember ex-Suzumegahara player, Kumami, that feels like just a setup for future plots. Nothing much for now.

Then you have the characters. I find them uninteresting despite some of the characters have really weird personalities to make them stick out. The thing is, Saki in addition to the main underdog school, has got a host of rival schools to play with. This means more characters and more weirdoes who will be appearing. But here, you have only got Suzumegahara and Mozuyama. That’s it. So far we only have a single screen glimpse of Kumami and her Tsubame comrades in the final scenes and this doesn’t really amount to anything.

So for the past dozen episodes, no doubt we have some background information on our Suzumegahara girls like Hokuto’s family running a ping pong store as well as Kiruka and Munemune’s promise and dream to become number one ping pong players. However all these are just scratching the surface and nothing really too deep. As for the characters themselves, you have mostly the cliché stereotypes like the prideful top player, the very shy newcomer genius, the tomboy, the socially awkward, the boobs monster and the club president. In light of this, Hokuto ‘stands out’ more than the rest because of her strange habit of calling others except Hanabi by what kind of panties they wear! You don’t hear her call their real names as she continues to address them in their underwear colour and type! It is already ridiculous she can tell what kind of panties you’re wearing from the paddle you’re holding. Therefore theoretically if she keeps calling a certain someone the same panties nickname all the while, does this mean she is always wearing that same type?! Wow. They don’t change patterns, do they? Oh, this is supposed to be a ping pong anime… With Kumami’s appearance as a teaser, it might curious you to know their relationship but it fizzles out once the training camp begins. This makes it feel that her character is redundant for this season although like I’ve said it is to setup future encounters. If that is ever going to happen. I hate to say this but I think Mozuyama has more interesting characters than Suzumegahara. From zombie girl to that hamster girl who can’t stop nibbling (she never stops!) to that girl who just can’t stop swaying (she’s always swaying!) to that chuunibyou girl to that scorpion girl, don’t they look more like an interesting bunch?

In the end, despite all the training camp and practice together, somehow I just feel the Suzumegahara aren’t that close enough. Even with Agari and Koyori practising more often lately, I just feel that their bond isn’t really there. This again compared to their Saki counterparts. I suppose because the characters feel lacking in this overall personality, their bond and friendship don’t really resonate throughout and reach us. Although it is good that Agari has overcome her complex of being at the best and focus her goals to become a better player instead of protecting her own top spot and limelight. Because if you’re already number one, you’ll definitely have all that. In short, the girls aren’t really memorable in the long run (except Munemune’s boobs) and even I questioned myself if I am able to support them if they get another season and advanced to deeper rounds of the tournament.

More importantly for a sports genre anime is to have the feature of the game itself. Now, if you have watched Saki, you would have been flabbergasted by the amount of sheer nonsense and exaggeration when those lolis play their hands. For a guy like me who didn’t understand a single thing about the game, those visual exaggerations are a source of entertainment delight. Each player too has their own signature moves. Now compare the mahjong girls to this ping pong girls, the matches aren’t as exciting because we mainly see them hit the balls back and forth. Sure, there are a few delusional exaggerations but this is far few in between. They play up the drama of hitting the balls back and forth like as though there is some sort of intensity but I don’t really feel all that.

The ping pong girls also have their signature moves but they are boring and not memorable to begin with. Like Agari’s smash. I don’t really see anything special about it. At least she didn’t display some flashy move. If you watched Prince Of Tennis, you can see how each player can perform physics defying moves. I know we can blame to small arena and table for them not being able to pull off such acrobatic feats but that’s beside the point. And many of the matches, because they have to play multiple sets to win, many of them are skipped. Imagine if you have to watch the same scene for every game. Watching every point scored by the player. That would be so boring. Given how the girls already lack many special moves and skills, doing so would only turn this series into a snooze fest. So yeah, the ping pong matches aren’t entertaining because no flashy exaggerated moves for me to b*tch about.

Animated by Kinema Citrus, this series has its characters look more like Yuyushiki, another series they animated. You know, those kawaii and cute kind. Though, the art style of the characters may closely resemble to those in Saki but with seemingly less quality. One thing that bugged me about their artwork is when they animate the sweat on the girls’ t-shirts. I have a feeling they’re trying to give a realism feeling instead of fanservice but each time I see the sweat marks on their t-shirt, they look like mud. Dirty. Uh huh. As though they’ve gone into some mild mud wrestling or something. It’s pretty obvious and I can’t take my focus away from it. Hypnotizing… Munemune’s boobs are more than enough fanservice, though…

I didn’t recognize a single seiyuu here. Well, the main casts are mostly newbies or unknowns with not a long list of anime roles to their names. So we have Yumiri Hanamori as Koyori (Hanako in Anne Happy), Minami Tanaka as Agari (Tsukishita in Keijo), Yuuki Kuwahara as Hokuto (Hakua in Shomin Sample), Marika Kouno as Hanai (Rin in Sore Ga Seiyuu), Ayaka Imamura as Munemune (Yuriko in Sakurako-san No Ashimoto Ni Wa Shitai Ga Umatteiru), Hisaka Toujou as Kiruka (Aiha in Noragami Aragoto), Shiori Izawa as Kururi (Saya in Gakusen Toshi Asterisk), Nozomi Furuki as Zakuro (Yukari in The Rolling Girls) and Reina Ueda as Kumami (Mira in Dimension W).

The opening theme sounds weird. Shakunetsu Switch by the main casts of Suzumegahara’s ping pong club girls feels like it is trying to appeal to sound cute. I’m not sure if this kind of song is fitting but given the genre and comedy aspects of the series, I guess in a way it fits. The ending theme, Bokura No Frontier is a mixed reception. At some parts it feels slow, some parts feel like they are sleepy while singing the song and others feel like a generic pop idol song. It is no surprise that the idol group, Wake Up Girls sang this song as you might noticed that some of them here have a voice acting role in this series.

Overall, perhaps if this series gets more sequels, I can draw better conclusions if it is a worthy sports genre to watch. However with the bland first season, things aren’t looking good. A lot of things feel plain and nothing that gives you that extra excitement to go watch or cheer on the girls. Oddly, I feel as though the girls put in so much practice in ping pong but yet they’ll lose out to those idiots in Teekyuu who hardly pick up their racquet. Yeah… It would be bad if they did any other random stuffs other than ping pong because it would further damage the series. At this rate even that old male counterpart ping pong series seem to fare better overall. I used to play ping pong in my younger days but only as recreation and not competitive. This series not only fail to ignite any sort of passion for me to take up the game (not that I was hoping it would anyway) but it also made me feel I don’t want to remember all those nostalgic ping pong days. Because I suck. If I take this up, I’m sure to embarrass myself even more. Instead of agari (rise), I go sagari (fall). I’m so unfit as an anime couch potato these days.