Every fall I write for the official Midnight Madness and Vanguard program blogs of the Toronto International Film Festival. And I usually try to find a guest writer to cover me here at the Gutter, write a piece ahead of time or even, sometimes, just totally wander out of my assigned comics domain to write about the movies I’ve seen and what I think about them. This year, I was lucky enough to get to stay here in my domain, continue my little sorta series on comics and film and, most of all, lucky enough to interview Dave McKean. Continue reading…
Posted June 29, 2006
It’s Japanese name is “IKE! Ina-Chuu Takyuubu” or “Let’s go middle school Ping Pong club!”, but it’s better known to its tiny fan base in North America as PING PONG CLUB. No plot synopsis or standard review could ever properly convey what there is to like about this series, but let me take a shot at it anyway.
PING PONG CLUB is a rip-roaringly, piss in your pants, shit in your shorts pile of Holy-fuck-funny. It’s perverse, childish, juvenile, and with the exception of the recent US series WONDERSHOWZEN, it’s 26 episodes are the most offensive TV series in the history of animation.
What it isn’t: SOUTH PARK. And I only mention this because this would make me (to my knowledge) the first reviewer in North America to talk about PING PONG CLUB in print or online, and not compare it to Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s outrageous long running series.
It has nothing to do with SOUTH PARK in any way that I can judge, and yet check out some of these reviews:
“At least South Park kept itself to bodily functions and killing Kenny…” — Carlos Ross
“For fans of South Park only…” — Jay Scott
“Take South Park, and mix it with Beavis and ButtHead, and you would have Ping Pong Club” — The Elf
“It resembles the American made South Park cartoon.” — DarkRabbit
I want you monosyllabic dolts to cut it out, because to compare the two is the equivalent of saying that insane Japanese game shows like TAKASHI’S CASTLE are identical to American sitcoms like FRIENDS. Yes, the two are both comedies, and both tend to use juvenile humour to sell a joke, but the cultural differences and the style of the comedy are worlds apart.
Perhaps my favourite response to the show I’ve seen, I found online on a site called “Justin’s Anime and Stuff”. This young fan’s list of “Anime I liked” is 217 reviews long, while his “Anime I did not like”, consists of one short entry:
“Ping Pong Club: Because it is messed up and if you watch it, it will mess you up”.
Justin isn’t alone. He’s one of the majority of anime dorks who don’t want cartoons “done in poor taste” being discussed or applauded. This show makes them uncomfortable since it’s seriously lacking in nearly naked schoolgirls with kitty ears, and instead is packed to the gills with balls-hangin’-outta-shorts, humour concerning cross-dressing, guys sticking their fingers up each others asses, shitting out ping pong balls, and etc, etc. Justin and his ilk think this “faggy shit” gives Japanese animation a bad name.
You know what? It’s YOU that gives Anime a bad name, you pathetic cosplay-wearing, narrow-minded virgins! I know you’re only pleased by things that are nauseatingly cute, and anything that has even a slight touch of quirky ugliness makes you recoil in horror, but please… fuck off and die.
Interestingly, the show itself has very little to do with the actual sport of ping pong, and instead concentrates on the cast of quirky characters and their relation to one another.
The team captain, and perhaps the only male character that isn’t a moron or a pervert of some sort. He is however, blessed with a huge cock and a MOONLIGHTING style love/hate relationship with the Team’s manager, an aggressive teenage girl named:
She’s a tough-as-nails, and landed the managerial job because the principal of the school hoped it would be a way to keep her out of trouble. She barely tolerates the antics of the room of adolescent boys trying constantly to get in her panties. In the episode “the Burning Spirit,” she proves to have incredible motivational skills for the boys when she offers a “sex pass” to the best player on the team: “The holder of this pass can do anything they want with my body for a month!” The offer powers the below mediocre team into the city finals.
This is the ladies man of the group, and does seem to attract the ladies until his pants are ripped off and it’s revealed that he still has the genitals of a tot and hasn’t grown pubes. Later on he’s forced to dress in drag, and it’s discovered that he makes a hotter bitch than any of the girls in school — when she attracts the lust of:
The sex freak. With his melon shaped head and midget body he breaks every sexual taboo you can imagine, even resorting to bestiality in the manga. A classic sequence has him hiding in a gym bag with a camcorder in order to capture smokin’ hot porno footage of the bags owner: a sexy teacher. Except, he falls asleep and is discovered by the teacher and her friends after they’ve all gotten totally shitfaced after work. Tanaka gets a carrot shoved up his ass and filmed as punishment, the experience literally reducing him to a drooling idiot.
Is a hilarious caricature of an American in Japan: Big, loud, smelly, hairy, and in awe of Japanese culture. He’s treated as comic relief, but he has zero malice in his heart. A real pussycat.
Spends most of his time either naked or cross dressing, and engaging in shit and sex-themed pranks along with his best pal:
The true stand-out star of the show who makes the rest of the over-the-top characters seem plain by comparison. Maeno is totally that spazzy, gassy kid in elementary who the teacher could never control — who’d be running down the hall with his pants around his ankles pretending to be a dump truck. He’s the class clown in a class full of clowns.
Shows up in later episodes as a shy girl who has a crush on Kinoshita, and figures if she can improve her ping pong skills, she’ll catch his eye. A good plan, but her mistake is going to nerdy freak Izawa to unquestioningly enlist him as her ping pong sensei. Izawa’s fondest dream is to have a beautiful girl that obeys his every word, and not abusing his new-found position of power proves to be impossible.
PING PONG CLUB, like many anime series, started as a Manga that was collected into 13 volumes originally published from November 1993 until February 1997. Its creator, Minoru Furuya (born: 03-28-1972) has gone on to create several other manga series such as HIMIZU, GREEN HILL, and SHIGATERA, none of which have been translated into English at this point.
For its American home video and dvd release, Central Park Media packaged the 26 episodes over 5 dvds. A special and heartfelt warning to you who might be interested in tracking them down: DO NOT listen to the english subtitled versions of the show released separately on VHS, and as an 2nd audio option on the DVD’s. In the original Japanese language with English subs the bizarre humour comes through amazingly, but once dubbed by the terrible voice actors CPM hired, the show drops from a perfect 10/10 to a Cinema Sewer rank of 2/10. It’s just that bad.