Manga Review – Ping-Pong Dash!

Ping Pong Dash Volume 1

Ping-Pong Dash!
卓球Dash!! (Takkyuu Dash!!)
HONDA Shingo
Shounen – Action, comedy, sports, romance
5 Volumes of 15 Volumes (complete)
Media Do (Akita Publishing)

Summary:

Haruku, a delinquent, is in a bad mood after he travels all the way to Tokyo to see the girl he likes and is sent away. But his mood turns even worse when a rival leader destroys a can of his favorite coffee. Still worse yet, he meets Sawa, a girl the opposite of Haruku’s ideal: she’s from Tokyo, is not fiery, knows nothing about the town or coffee, and she kicks him! He decides to get revenge in her preferred sport: table tennis!

Review:

Crazy sports battles and crazy yankee battles collide to make Ping Pong Dash! a manga I want to continue reading.

Ushiku Burai School in Ibaraki has a very high amount of yankee students. One of them is Haruku, a former country boy who was just dumped by a girl. As he’s sulking, one of his gang members gives him a can of coffee to shut him up end his anger, but another yankee ruins the can before he can drink it. Haruku knocks him and his gang down in revenge, inadvertently saving a boy from the school’s ping pong club. Just then, a transfer student arrives on the scene, and she inadvertently presses all of Haruku’s buttons by being a stylish Tokyo chick, not knowing where his beloved Max Coffee originated from, and mispronouncing the area’s name. When she sees blood and guys laying on the ground, she assumes Haruku is a bully and hits him right in the ping pong, if you know what I mean.

Haruku is super angry, especially when the yankee he knocked down earlier snaps a photo of it. So he decides to take the girl, Sawa, down by playing her beloved ping pong. After inadvertently walking into the girls’ changing room, Sawa is even more disgusted with Haruku, and she accepts. Long story short, Haruku couldn’t even score a single point, even when he tried to cheat. His friends expect him to be even more enraged, but seeing Sawa’s passionate play and harsh words about him making a mockery of the sport makes him fall in love with her instead! So he decides to play ping pong in order to be a man worthy of her affections.

Ping Pong Dash! is very much an over-the-top comedy. When we first meet Haruku, he’s riding back from his trip to Tokyo and crying. But he doesn’t ride on a motorcycle like you’d think a delinquent would:

Ping Pong Dash Sample 1

No wonder a yankee girl sent him away! That, and he becomes completely head-over-heels when he’s in love. In Sawa’s case, it’s goofy grins, and he’s set to charge in and defend her at any time, even when he’s sandwiched in a ping pong table and has to spiderwalk his way to her — a complete fool for love. It’s that reason that other delinquents think he must be weak and try to challenge him by attacking the members of his gang or the Ping Pong Club. So Haruku’s yankee life isn’t suddenly disregarded even though he aims to train in table tennis. In fact, they become tightly bound as a couple of his underlings join the team so that they have enough players, and another yankee decides to protect the club in Haruku’s stead.

While I focused on Haruku, the humor is spread around between all the many characters, like the captain being the only one who sees the elderly coach’s soul leaving his body, a romantic rival who chooses odd times to ask Sawa questions, or Himeka, who… has her own unique appearance and a large zest for love. Yeah, let’s go with that.

But while there’s plenty of silliness and fighting, the manga is still a sports manga. We’ve seen a few matches already of Ushiku Burai members trying to test each other’s skills. There are a lot of fast hits, shots that should be impossible to make, and visual representations like a snake for a shot. At times, it may parody the genre a little, with characters gagging or suddenly respecting someone over the name of their special attacks. But I like how Ping Pong Dash! is one of the rare shounen sports manga with a male protagonist that has a female lead who is a prodigy, not just a fan or club manager. (And she’s not the coach’s daughter!) You could erase Haruku and the whole yankee aspect, and you’d probably have a good, somewhat standard about a newbie who could shake up the sport. But then we have the girls team that is strong but has had a rough patch, plus the whole yankee aspect with some funny odd couple romance. There’s just a lot to like here.

Haruku is also a fun lead. It’s obvious that while his friends find their leader a little exasperating and/or a moron at times (think Kuwabara of Yu Yu Hakusho combined with goofy Vash mode from Trigun), they respect Haruku and want him to do his best in ping pong. Well, most of them anyway — one might be a frenemy. Otherwise, we get a variety of characters who either want to pound him to the ground or lead their school to victory.

Sawa is also likable. She’s tough but not super strong, but she’s also not an overly sweet shy wallflower. She just kind of says and does whatever is on her mind. She truly loves ping pong, and she isn’t cold to Haruku despite his obvious crush on her. Haruku’s feelings for her was more of a crush at first, but he’s had his feelings tested. Sawa seems to have her own backstory, so I’m curious as to see if (or, more likely, how) Haruku’s dedication will win her heart.

Ping Pong Dash Sample 2

Ping Pong Dash! seems to have been Honda’s first manga, and while I don’t know what he was doing in those six years between his illustration and Ping Pong Dash‘s release, but dang, it’s almost too good for a first work. I mean, look how much effort he has to put into Haruku’s hair alone — and he’s not the only one with a pompadour! Honda also likes to include some… how should I put this delicately, a wide range of designs for his characters. Sawa may be the typical beautiful love interest, but the girls’ team captain is tall, and another is on the BBW side. The boys’ team includes a handsome guy and a shortie with glasses, and some of Haruku’s gang members are having difficulty scoring dates because they look 40-ish rather than in their teens, lol. Expect a lot of angry faces and violent acts, complete with shoving a box of cigarettes in the mouth, unleashing a devastating blow that spins the opponent, and swollen heads. This is balanced out by the manga’s comedy, like Haruku going Sawa gaga or him demonstrating where he keeps his secret coffee stash. It’s just full of over-the-top violence and comedy.

Translation:

Honorifics are used. Several footnotes are used to explain details like yankee and kappa. As you can tell from the title, ping pong is used as the name of the sport. That’s actually a brand name, but it’s one of those names that have become interchangeable with the generic term. Freshman is used for first-year. Typos like “I thought him” instead of “I taught him” and “techniqu 0with” instead of “technique with”. Some stilted dialogue like “same school grade as me” instead of “same grade”. Sawa’s previous school is introduced as “Oho”, but we see in a flashback not too long after with “Ouhou” written on the coach’s jersey.

Final Comments:

Ping Pong Dash is pretty ridiculous, and it’s almost ridiculous how much I enjoyed it. It kind of reminds me of Spy x Family. Not the plot, of course, but Ping Pong Dash has that same type of lighthearted silliness, smart-but-dumb characters, and violence hidden behind its over-the-topness. When I first wrote this, only two volumes were available through Kindle Unlimited. But then they added three more! They must have added it just for me! C’mon… add the rest!!

Honda’s Creature! is available through Media Do.

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2 Comments

  1. dreager1

    That plot definitely does sound crazy but in a fun way. Trying to play ping pong for revenge was definitely an interesting motivation but now playing it for love should be enough to get him to the top eventually.

    With this much energy, the title’s very fitting. I haven’t read a manga for Ping Pong before so this looks like it would be a great place to start!

    Reply
    1. Krystallina (Post author)

      There’s a good manga aptly named Ping-Pong, but based on these early volumes, this one is has more of the traditional shounen energy plus some outrageous comedy. This one definitely caught my attention more than Ping Pong did, so if you’re trying to check off all the sports on your sports manga bingo card, this one would definitely be a good place to start!

      Reply

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