《乒乓》

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《乒乓》
作者:松本大洋
出版社:大塊文化

「天份這東西,不是你想要就有的。」

四月對於乒乓球壇可說是重要月份——首先是亞洲盃於月初在日本橫濱拉開序幕,然後在月尾更有兩年一度的世錦賽於匈牙利布達佩斯上演,中日兩大乒乓強國勢必展開一番龍爭虎鬥。

中日兩國在乒壇相遇,在漫畫世界裡也有描述。今次要介紹的,是松本大洋的日本漫畫《乒乓》。坊間一直對這本漫畫評價甚高,所以即使是二十多年前的作品,也一直為人所談論。2002年曾被改編及拍製成真人電影,後來在2014年更有動畫版推出。

《乒乓》以片瀨高校乒乓球隊兩位性格迥異的一年級生為主軸,兩大主角一個自負囂張,一個沉默寡言,但都是年紀輕輕的乒乓好手。沒多久,他們就遇上了遭中國國家隊革離,後來轉戰日本的少年好手孔文革(名字明顯取自中國名宿孔令輝及馬文革)。連同幾所高校球隊的精英,故事就在他們奮力備戰全國大賽中展開。

松本大洋最為本地漫畫迷熟悉的作品應該是《惡童》,其實他的出道作品《Straight》也是以棒球為題材的體育漫畫。相傳他為了畫《乒乓》,親自走訪全國大賽,而且向專業人士請教乒乓球專業知識。日本漫畫家資料搜集之態度認真,又見一例。

《乒乓》所畫的線條軟綿,並非大眾路線,說不定有人會覺得「畫得不美」。但無可否認,松本大洋畫風獨特,令人印象深刻。以體育漫畫來說,仍屬一部不容錯過的經典著作。

Ping Pong
Author: Taiyō Matsumoto
Publisher: Locus Publishing

‘Talent is something that can be discovered but not sought.’

April is a crucial month for table tennis – The Asian Cup will kick off in Yokohama, Japan at the beginning of this month, and the biennial World Championships will be staged in Budapest, Hungary, in late April. The two table tennis superpowers, China and Japan, are bound to end up in fierce competition.

The table tennis encounters between China and Japan are described in manga form as well. In this issue, we’re going to introduce Ping Pong by Taiyō Matsumoto, a highly rated Japanese manga that people still talk about some 20 years after it was first published. In 2002, it was adapted into a live-action film followed by an anime series produced subsequently in 2014.

Ping Pong focuses on two talented year-one students with drastically different personalities, who are members of the table tennis club at Katase High School. One of the main characters is cocky and loud while the other is reserved and quiet. They eventually encounter a young player named Kong Wenge (apparently adapted from renowned Chinese players Kong Linghui and Ma Wenge), who was kicked off the Chinese national team and then moved to Japan. The story begins as the characters prepare for the national championships together with elite players from several other high school teams.

Among Hong Kong fans, Tekkonkinkreet is Taiyō Matsumoto’s most popular manga. His debut work Straight is also a sports manga focusing on baseball. According to sources, Matsumoto personally visited national championship tournaments and sought professional advice and expertise from table tennis pros in order to produce Ping Pong. This is yet another example demonstrating the conscientiousness of Japanese manga artists in information collection and research.

Ping Pong’s soft drawing style is not particularly mainstream and some people may even think that this manga is not appealing to the eye, but there is no denying that Taiyō Matsumoto’s drawing style is unique and impressive. This work is still a sports manga classic not to be missed.

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