I’ve been quite impressed with the movie releases I’ve seen from Viz Pictures: Train Man, Kamikaze Girls, and Linda Linda Linda (even if that last one was confusingly direct).
Their next up is Ping Pong, which sounds like great fun. Here’s the press release:
VIZ Pictures, an affiliate of VIZ Media LLC that focuses on Japanese live-action film distribution, debuts its latest DVD with the release of the critically acclaimed PING PONG from director Sori Fumihiko. The film will be offered as a two-disc widescreen edition that also features bonus material including “The Making of Ping Pong” and two additional shorts, “Ting Pong,” a brief parody of the film, and “How to Play Ping Pong,” in addition to a director and cast profile and the original Japanese trailers. The DVD will be distributed by VIZ Media (with an anticipated initial retail price of $29.98) beginning on September 4, 2007.
PING PONG is based on a popular 5-volume comic by bestselling artist Taiyo Matsumoto, who created several acclaimed youth-driven manga titles like TEKKONKINKREET: BLACK & WHITE, NO.5, and BLUE SPRING (all published in North America by VIZ Media). Director Sori Fumihiko, who also notably worked as an effects supervisor for the movie TITANIC, went to great lengths to preserve the visual style of the original manga in the film, which ultimately was nominated for eight Japanese Academy Awards in 2003. Actor Shidou Nakamura also won the ‘Newcomer of the Year’ award for his performance as Dragon, a rival of the two main characters. PING PONG was a favorite at a the Montreal Fantasia Film Festival, the Philadelphia Film Festival, The San Diego Asian Film Festival, and the New York Asian Film Festival, where it was the Audience Award winner.
Best friends “Peco” Hoshino and “Smile” Tsukimoto have been playing ping pong since they were little kids. While the cocky and talented Peco plays to win and loves the sport, the quiet and introverted Smile thinks of it as just a way to kill time with friends and only plays because he secretly idolizes Peco, who taught him the game as children. Smile is initially the better player, however, and the object of his overzealous coach’s attempts to make him a champion. Though he is more skilled, Smile frequently and intentionally loses to Peco out of a misguided sense of friendship. However, Peco is badly beaten and humiliated by his rival, Dragon, in an important inter-high school tournament, and he suddenly quits the game leaving Smile to become the newest amateur ping pong prodigy and celebrity. Eventually Peco is drawn back to the intensity of the game with the help of a chain smoking grandma who is a ping pong sensei. He begins training hard for the next championship, hoping to fulfill his destiny to become a ping pong hero, but to do it he must face his best friend for one last match.
Sounds like a live action comedy version of competition manga like Hikaru no Go.