Ping Pong the Animation focuses on two high school ping pong players: Makoto Tsukimoto (aka Smile) and Yutaka Hoshino (aka Peco). Peco starts out being overly confident in his abilities and constantly skipping practice until he’s dealt a crushing defeat by a Chinese player named Kong Wenge during the first episode. Smile, meanwhile, is an aloof and rather gloomy guy; however, he has a raw talent for ping pong.
Episode Nine continues the singles qualifiers. The first match is between Smile and Sanada from Kaio. At first, it looks like Sanada is going to win the first game, when the score is 9-1. However, it turns out that Smile was testing him; and after Smile figures out Sanada’s weakness, he’s able to win both games and ultimately win the match and move on to the next level.
As usual, Kazama has holed himself up in the bathroom while waiting for his match. He gets a surprise visit from Sakuma, who comes to check out the singles qualifiers. Sakuma tries to have a conversation with Kazuma, and it ends with Sakuma saying that he sympathizes with Kazama.
Kazama has his match and easily defeats his opponent, which allows him to advance to the semifinals. Nekota, another Kaio player, also advances to the semifinals. Smile also defeats his next opponent and advances to the semifinals. Peco also makes it to the semifinals, but his knee injury is starting to cause him some issues. Peco is checked out by the doctor on the premises, and rumor has it that his knee is in bad shape. Peco was shot up with painkillers and he’s determined to play his match against Kazama, Ms. Tamura tries to talk him out of it, but Peco insists on playing.
At this point, it looks like Episode 10 will be focusing on the semifinals, with the first match being Peco playing against Kazama. I predict it’s going to be a hard-fought battle, but that something will happen with Peco’s knee that will ultimately make him lose the match. While I want to root for a final matchup between Peco and Smile, I have a strong suspicion that Peco’s knee injury will keep him from progressing to the finals. And if Peco does end up losing, will he take the loss more gracefully than he did his previous losses?
According to MyAnimeList, there’s only 11 episodes of this series, so there should only be two left. At this point, I predict that the semifinals will make up all of Episode 10, and that the finals will make up most, if not all, of Episode 11. And if I’m right about that pacing, then it really supports my earlier idea that the story of the earlier episodes was ultimately being rushed in order to make it to this specific point in the story. If that idea is correct, then I’ll try to expound more on that in my writeup for the final episode.
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