‘Ping Pong’ Recap: ‘Yes, My Coach’ (Ep. 7)

Kaio finally tries to poach Smile, Peco gets into the National Training Center with a little help from the old lady, and we learn about coach Koizumi’s storied past. This episode was largely devoted to character development, and finally brought into focus just what a complicated web of character interrelations Yuasa has woven out of the original source material, much as he did in Mind Game. There was no single major driving plot element, but rather various themes and plotlines gradually converging. By this point it feels like what we are seeing is more Yuasa than Matsumoto.

‘Ping Pong’ Recap: ‘Where Did I Go Wrong?’ (Ep. 5)

Ryuichi Kazama continues his victorious streak with a singles win at the Youth Olympics, while Sakuma and Peco realize they aren’t cut out for the sport after witnessing Smile’s continued improvement. At the halfway point in the story, we seem to be in a transitional stage in which the relationships of the players to one another and their attitude towards the sport are changing. The episode didn’t have much tension to it partly as a result of that. There was no strong driving narrative force. That made it one of the less memorable episodes so far.

‘Ping Pong’ Recap: ‘Smile is a Robot’

Determined to unleash Smile’s potential, Coach Koizumi devises a relentless schedule of training that culminates in a death match pitting old veteran versus young hopeful. Smile’s resistance finally cracks under the pressure, and he begins to get serious. Meanwhile, the appearance of a new rival – the tough-looking Ryuichi Kazama – sets the stage for a later showdown.

Masaaki Yuasa’s ‘Ping Pong’ Series Looks Incredible

Table tennis sounds like just about the last thing that needs an animated series, but leave it to the Japanese to make the sport as exciting as a superhero action-adventure series. This is our first extended look at “Ping Pong,” a new 11-episode animated series by Japanese director Masaaki Yuasa (“Mind Game,” “The Tatami Galaxy”) that will debut April 10th on Fuji TV’s late-night noitaminA block.