Art book Review: Ping Pong

Ping Pong CoverA while ago I finished up watching Ping Pong the animated series. It was a fantastic series and the first sports series (outside of Initial D) I watched. The story was very compelling and the characters had very unique stories of their own. So of course I needed to check out the art book for Ping Pong.

First off, I have to admit that I am a sucker for art books that go in the landscape format instead of the traditional portrait style. Just something about them that I find much more enjoyable and more immersive.

The Complete Artworks book has a lot of the types of things you would see an your typical anime art book. The first segment breaks down each episode, complete with art and (assuming) a summary below, the book isn’t translated into English which isn’t a big deal since I buy them for the artwork.

The book goes into rough colored storyboard frames, the background environments and settings. One of my favorite “spreads” in the book is one with all of that characters laid out with all of their different clothing outfits on. You can see Smile and Peco (among other characters) in their ping pong attire, school attire, and even casual attire. It’s nice to see this since in most series characters wear the same clothing.

Beyond the character “spread”, is a wide range of character model sheets, expression sheets and notes on each character. These types of images are things I have always enjoyed looking at. You can see the characters in some of their earliest stages and also see how they look all the way around and their various expressions.

However, my absolute favorite part of this book is the following section. It is a very technical section on ping pong. It shows the different holds of the paddle the characters would have depending on their grip. There are sequential images for different types of hits with each grip as well. So if the animator needed to see how a pencil grip back hand looked, they have it as reference. Not only that, but they have it done in a couple styles so you can see exactly how the character moves from different perspectives. I really wish this portion was translated so I could read the notes on these pages. I can only assume they are gold.

The next section of the book contains key animation art for select shots, allowing you to see how the characters move for expressions and in some cases, the extreme perspective  of some shots. There are even a few pages of characters playing ping pong against one another so you can see how they react to the other player when the ball is hit.

One of the final sections breaks down some of the use of computers. Using 3D animation and even Flash for the series. Again, I wish this section was translated because this would be gold to read and learn how they used these programs in this series since it has such a unique visual style.

If you’re into art books, you can pick up Ping Pong at Tokyo Otaku Mode online.

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