Aniwords – Competition Motivation in Scorching Ping Pong Girls & Yuri!!! on ICE

Anytime you throw two shows together in a post, you’re limiting your potential audience, but I rather think I’ve outdone myself with this one by comparing the megahit of the season with a sadly underwatched gem that have very different audience-targeting goals.

Anyways, this is kind of a combination post on two ideas I’ve had in my head about things I wanted to say about each of these shows, and somehow it all came together. Even if you’ve only watched one (or neither!) of these anime, I think there’s still some good fun to be had here, so I hope you’ll check it out! Also, please, for the love of good anime, at least give Scorching Ping Pong Girls a shot.

Here’s the link~


5 thoughts on “Aniwords – Competition Motivation in Scorching Ping Pong Girls & Yuri!!! on ICE

  1. In real life I don’t watch sports. I occasionally watch sports anime, though, and 2016 was a pretty good year for the genre. That said Ping Pong Girls didn’t really give me any sense of what ping pong is like. I’d say it works as a moe friendship show first, and as a sports show second. The ping pong aspect seemed mostly an excuse for having girls look flushed and sweaty, which is a rather rare aesthetic (considering that sweat is usually something people – especially girls – are apologetic about in anime).

    In contrast, whatever weekness Yuri on Ice was really good at giving me a taste of figure skating. The performances spoke for themselves. Even character-wise, the boys from YoI felt more individuated to me, and I think a big part of that is that off-ice body language and on-ice performance worked pretty well together.

    However, storywise, YoI has pacing problems and feels disjointed, which Ping Pong Girls doesn’t. Basically, YoI is more ambitious, but doesn’t quite succeed, while Ping Pong Girls is exactly what it wants to be, down to the last detail.

    Basically, I think Yuri on Ice is a pretty good sports show with queer appeal, but also with narrative problems, and it relies a lot on the goodwill of its audience. YoI can afford to rely on that because charming queer relationships are rare in anime, and because it mostly nails the performances. It’s appeal strikes me similar to the gossip pages of yellow press newspapers: sports plus supplementary fan service in the celebrity-cutlure sense.

    Ping Pong Girls doesn’t have the luxury to rely on the audience’s goodwill, because shows of its kind are a dime a dozen. But it completely nails the execution and accomplishes everything it’s going for, which I would describe as a ping-pong-flavoured moe friendship show. It’s appeal comes from tried and true shounen friendship ideals, and I suppose the idea that sports should be fun.

    For me, Ping Pong Girls was more consistent in quality and enjoyment, but Yuri on Ice reached higher heights; when it was good, it was a lot better. In any case, I’ll take Keijo over both.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A few friends of mine on Twitter are all about the sweating thing, and I think it’s kinda cool too. You play sports, you get sweaty. That’s how it goes!

      I actually mostly agree with your assessment of both shows, although for me I guess I’d say YOI only hit the kinds of heights you’re talking about… once? twice? maybe? And I’d stack the climactic moment of SPPG‘s episode 10 up against the best of YOI without a second thought haha.

      Keijo, though… I’m just not on that train at all haha.


      • I just came off the YoI finale, and the show’s really made a comeback in the last few episodes, I thought. But I can fully understand preferring Ping Pong Girls.

        Btw, your post made me re-watch the first two episodes of Saki, whose first season is still the benchmark for the Ping-Pong-Girls sort of show (it suffers from voyeour cam syndrome, though), IMO.


  2. It’s nice to see Scorching get some love… As Dawnstorm says it’s “just” another moe friendship show, but despite that it’s better than most entries in the genre. Not as good as Three Leaves, Three Colors mind you, but still pretty good.

    Though, given the amount of time dedicated to the mechanics of ping pong, I don’t see how she can say she got no sense of what ping pong was like.


    • Yeah, it seems to have been pretty overlooked this season! (Not that I’m really that surprised, this season being what it is.)

      It’s definitely not as deep in ping pong lore as Ping Pong the Animation was and the way it blended ping pong concepts with shonen-style “superpowers” kind of dilutes the pure sporting aspect of it, but I think it gets the overall sensibility perfectly.


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