Aired: Oct 2016 to Dec 2016
Also Known As: Syakunetsu no Takkyuu Musume, Scorching Ping Pong Girls, 灼熱の卓球娘
Summary: The world of middle school girls’ ping pong enters an age of heated rivalry as the throne at its apex is surrendered…
Tsumujikaze Koyori, a girl who loves ping pong, has just transferred to Suzumegahara Middle School. Along with her friends who strive to be the national champions, can Koyori bring the winds of change to the school?! The curtain is about to rise on a scorching hot tale of girls who love ping pong!
Review: You know when something is better than how it looks on paper? When the sum of its mediocre parts come together to somehow form an interesting product when you were expecting an utter disaster? That’s what Shakunetsu no Takkyuu Musume is in a nutshell.
One of the aforementioned issues is the animation. The show does take shortcuts when you don’t think you’re paying attention, such as spending several seconds alternating between the same two images as the camera zoomed in on their faces. Fortunately, the animation usually isn’t as low-effort during the actual ping pong games and rallies, which probably is the most exciting part of the show, but there are times when it seems a bit choppy (and faces in the background aren’t properly rendered because the studio hopes we’re only paying attention to the girl who is the foreground either swinging at the ball or losing the point).
Then there’s the matter of pacing. The first five episodes were spent introducing all the members in the Suzumegahara table tennis club. The sixth episode was a bit of a breather with Koyori working part-time in a table tennis shop. And then the next four episodes were spent on a practice match against another school while the last two episodes focused on a training camp. There’s all this talk about the girls reaching and aiming for the national championship, but we don’t even get to see them play in the district qualifiers for said nationals! The end result has the viewer thinking not much happened after 12 episodes.
I can’t really fault the studio too much, though. They tried their best to rush through matches while giving us juicy bits regarding the players’ mentality and playstyles and so on. But when all’s said and done, the events that happened within an episode can be described with a single sentence.
As this is a show about cute girls doing things, well, you can expect there to be cute girls. They also happen to be rather zany and one-dimensional (except for Agari, I suppose, but she also happens to be a textbook definition of a tsundere and her initial drive to be number one may cause viewers to dislike her). Still, they’re entertaining gals who always made me laugh!
Something that other viewers may take issue with is how sweaty the girls get during their matches. Some may say it’s overly erotic, especially considering that the characters are all in middle school. I for one don’t really mind the sweat (since I can relate to sweating excessively), but I do find the camera focus on the bosoms and bottoms to be a bit much.
Wow, that’s a lot of criticism! The series certainly had more than its fair share of issues – and yet I kept looking forward to the show week after week. Shakunetsu never failed to charm me. I could count on the show to deliever exciting matches which would get me fired up. I guess they don’t have the word, “scorching,” in the title for nothing, folks!
It probably has something to do with Saki, a series which has more or less defined my life, haha. Schoolgirls trying their hardest in competitions always have me sold as a result. The characters in both Saki and Shakunetsu also learn important life lessons while they put their all into mahjong / ping pong, which I always consider to be great. Learning something that you could potentially apply to your own life while you watch these girls struggle for glory and victory is two-for-one, isn’t it?
The OST was amazing. I listen to the OP and ED every day. And the instrumental pieces were so unique compared to the other ones I’ve heard. Matches definitely benefited from the sick beats that were being dropped.
As for the yuri…well, it seems like it’s a rule that a girl has to show interest in another girl if she wants to be any good in ping pong. Lots of blushing, lots of talk about heart racing (mostly in regards to playing ping pong with others, but Koyori has a way to make it sound like she’s not talking about ping pong) happens. Not much ship-to-ship combat here, folks, since the pairings seem almost predeteremined, but there is a little bit of subtext between rivals from different schools.
The show had a lot of flaws, but Shakunetsu kept me entertained every week. It’s an underrated show that gets a lot of flak for its subpar animation, slow pacing, and quirky yet flat characters. But the drama, the tension, the emotion, the humor…all the juicy stuff is in here and makes every table tennis match look awesome. Give the show a shot if you’re all about the schoolgirls turning a sport into serious business. You might even learn a bit about ping pong along the way!