Characters that made my year – Wenge (China) Kong (The 12 Days of Anime: Day 8)
Kong may not have had the biggest role in Ping Pong, but the glimpses we got of his personal journey really hit hard. This is one of the main reasons why Ping Pong was such a compelling series – it really made phenomenal use of its time, telling its characters stories by giving us perfect little snapshots of their lives.
When we first meet Kong he’s arrogant, condescending, really pissed off at being effectively exiled to Japan. Kong longs to return to China to compete in the higher level of competition there and to be reunited with his Mother. The show never has to spell any of these things out to us, but the message is received loud and clear from Kong’s association with airplanes and his isolation from all those around him.
We later see him start to warm up to those around him, starting to work with his new team and adjust to living in Japan. This is seen best in episode 6 when Kong’s mother comes to visit and he ends up spending time cooking and eating with his team. There isn’t much dialogue, but it is abundantly clear from the montage of pictures that Kong is starting to lose the chip on his shoulder and move on with his life, making the most of the situation he finds himself in.
All the characters in Ping Pong go through wonderful character arcs, but to me Kong’s was the most heartwarming. Quite an achievement for a side character with very limited screentime.