Author: Matsumoto, Taiyou (Story & Art)
Serialization: Big Comic Spirits
Genres: Sports, Seinen
Published: 1996 to 1997
Taiyou Matsumoto is somewhat of a hidden master of manga, most people don't know about him but those who do respect him a lot. Sadly until recently I was someone from the first group, but fortunately I have now converted to the second group. This guy is master of telling a story by very subtle means, conveying the tell with both his excellent and imaginative writing and unconventional and brilliant drawing.
Ping Pong is one of his most famous mangas and after you are few chapters within you begin to understand just why is this guys so special. This manga is a very simple tale of two friends growing up, their passion for the game of "table tennis" yet this is so much more. With this story you seem to strive with the characters for their goals, you cry with them when they fail and laugh with them succeed. These emotions are very hard thing to evoke especially on someone who doesn't even care about the sport of "Ping Pong or Table Tennis", but the writer does this feat with an ease only found in master story-tellers.
This tells the story of two childhood friends, Hosino and Tsukimoto who are very different from each other. Hoshino aka Peko is a carefree spirit who saves Tsukimoto aka Smile from bullies whom he attracts due to his unusually silent demeanor. Peko is his only friend and he introduces him to the game of "Ping Pong" as something which he really loves. This all is shown in flashback as we are thrown in middle of the story of these two as part of a high school team as they prepare for and take part in a tournament to select Japan's best. They both are talented players and their struggles both in this sports and also as growing up is shown with exquisite beauty of thought provoking drawing. Their unique relationship is detailed and also the fact that how it molded their life as a whole. We also get introduced with other good players of ping pong as well as get to know their story and feel their emotions with them. I might have revealed other details about the story but really don't wanna spoil the enjoyment by any means at all.
The art is superb on a different level, while it may not be very good to look at and some characters have almost the same face when getting serious the stylistic approach is very unique. It conveys so much more than any other conventional manga with its drawings, there are pages without any words which says more than many pages crammed with speech bubbles could tell. The story telling style is also unique with the jump between past and present and also between viewpoints of different characters which adds more to the simple story in a very unorthodox way. One chapter you might come to hate a character and a few chapters later when seeing his viewpoint you start to understand him and even care for him. This is all due to the writers excellent ability to incorporate us with the story.
Overall this manga is a journey, a story that takes you in and makes you strive with the characters and in the end you get to look back at how wonderful an experience it was and really feel like may be reliving it someday. It is indeed something special, quite definitely a masterwork and recommend to everyone who enjoys a good story whether you like sports or not.
Overall Score -
9.5 out of 10.
If you want more info and other reviews of this Manga check out its MAL page -