There’s No Crying in Ping-Pong

yutaka hoshino, peco, ping pong the animation, ping pong episode 4

Crying, in North American professional sports, is mostly reserved for the winners. Athletes cry when they’re emotionally overwhelmed at a win, while the losing participants quickly depart, stoicism etched into their faces until they exit the public eye. In order to appear strong – particularly if one is an athlete in the spotlight, regardless of skill level – one must hide their emotions following a loss, as to not appear weak.

I personally disagree with the idea of crying equaling weakness, as crying is a good indicator of just how much one cares about what they are doing.

ping pong, ping pong the animation, peco, yutaka "peco" hoshino, young peco

Yutaka “Peco” Hoshino cares deeply about ping-pong. He played it consistently from a very young age, and was the trendsetter of his group of friends. As Manabu “Demon” Sakuma says, when Peco turned right, Sakuma and Smile in turn would face right. Not only is ping-pong something that Peco has a natural talent for, but the sport is intrinsic to his personal growth, or lack thereof. Ping-pong allowed Peco to lead his group of friends by simply being the best. He taught Smile – and presumably Sakuma as well – how to play, while bringing home trophy after trophy for his own dominant performance.

“The only way to be sure you won’t lose is to not fight.”

-Manabu “Demon” Sakuma, Ping Pong: The Animation, episode 4

It is this history of success that so stagnates Peco as a player. At some point, Sakuma moved on and began training elsewhere, inspired by the desire to best Peco. At another point, Smile consciously stopped trying to win against Peco, falsely inflating Peco’s ego. Without worthy opponents to practice against, Peco’s ping-pong has stayed at the same level from when he was young. When one is at the top, it can be difficult to see one’s personal weaknesses if that individual remains unchallenged. Additionally, Peco’s ego has so grown in size by the time he reaches high school that he is thoroughly unwilling to practice with the team, often skipping under the assumption that he is the best player on the team regardless. Somewhere between his childhood dominance and his Ping-Pong Club truancy, Peco became more enamored with winning than he did improving. He expects to win, and cries when he loses.

ping pong the animation, peco cries, ping-pong peco skunked by kong, peco crying after losing, yutaka "peco" hoshino

Smile hints in the first episode of the series that Peco has the “bad habit” of crying after a loss. This, coupled with Sakuma’s advice that the only way to not lose is to not fight at all, shows the precipice that Peco has arrived at following the first four episodes of Ping Pong: The Animation. In the first episode we, along with Smile and Kong Wenge, watch as Peco cries petulantly. These are not genuine tears of sadness as much as they are a direct result of losing. Following his match with Kong, Peco still believes himself to be better than the entirety of his school club, his best friend Smile, and childhood adversary in Sakuma.

peco crying after losing to sakuma, peco, yutaka hoshino, peco ping-pong, ping pong the animation

It is only having watched Smile’s match with Kong, coupled with a crushing loss to Sakuma on a fairly large stage, that Peco sheds genuine tears. He cries while he is alone, and he cries not for the fact of the loss but for its implications. Most importantly, he cries because he cares. Well beyond using ping-pong as a tool to inflate his own feelings of self-worth, Peco does want to improve as a player. Having allowed himself to cry sincerely, Peco can now move forward.



  1. Well said! Now that Smile has fully confronted the reality of his weakness, he can actually begin to grow. I do think that Peco’s goal is winning, not improving for its own sake, but that he will work to improve because he knows it is necessary for him to reach his goal.

    There’s nothing wrong with wanting to win above wanting to improve, as long as he realizes he won’t be able to win without improving first. And I think, now that he’s encountered the bitterness of losing due to his stagnant skills, he will avoid the trap of being satisfied once he wins again.

    Right now, Peco’s record in the show is 1-2. I expect he’s going to have a lot more losses coming his way, but also some big wins.

    The even more fascinating question is how much Peco’s drive to win through improvement will affect Smile.

    1. I really want to see Peco hit rock bottom and then begin steady development towards actually seeing what he can do with his talent. I don’t want to say much more until I know that you’ve seen the latest episode (I should have responded to this sooner and/or written this post sooner)\ ^ ^;) but I elaborate on this a bit more in my latest ping-pong post.

      “There’s nothing wrong with wanting to win above wanting to improve, as long as he realizes he won’t be able to win without improving first.”

      This is spot-on. Peco tells Smile in episode two that he wants to be the best in the world, but then adds that “losing is no fun to him.” He cannot have it both ways. If he really wants to be the best in the world, he has to accept that getting there will include losses. As Sakuma tells him, the only way to ensure that you don’t lose, is to not play in the first place.

      Thanks for this comment. Sorry I took so long to get to it.

      1. Yeah, I’m pretty angry you took so long, you pleeb. 🙂

        I’ve seen episode 5, and Peco’s getting there. I wonder if he’s all the way down yet…probably, but what if there’s further to go?

        Peco’s in a tight spot. Does he like winning so much that he’s not willing to risk losing to be able to win? He’ll have to decide before he can move on. Right now, looks like he’s thrown in the paddle (down the river!). Teehee, pun stacking ftw.

        1. I am very sad that I did not think of these puns for my latest post. ^ ^

          Seemingly, there is further to go, although I don’t think he’ll go as far as assaulting a passerby like Sakuma. Peco is inwardly destructive to himself, and offers a good comparison as one who has also lost the power he once had. I think Peco will come around, but it will take a few more episodes.

          1. I’m happy to keeping thinking of puns for you. You know what they say, “All for pun and pun for all.”

            ….I’ll stop bringing down the collective intelligence of your blog now.

  2. Reading these posts is really making me want to watch this show, which I had decided to pass on due to my disinterest in the sport. Would you say this is an anime suitable for a later marathon once all the episodes are out?

    1. Yes. And the great thing about shows like these is that the story makes you care about the sport because you care about the characters who care about the sport. Peco is one of them, and the audience truly cares for him.

    2. You should! I know nothing about ping-pong as a professional sport, but what the series is good at is developing a series of narratives around talent and work ethic.

      I’d say that it’s definitely marathonable. Most episodes leave me wanting more and seem very short.

      Let me know what you think if you do decide to watch it.

  3. Ping Pong’s based on a 1996-1997 seinen manga by manga creator Matsumoto Taiyo, who also wrote the very surreal Tekkonkinkreet. There’s also a live action movie version from 2002 with Hong Kong actor Mark Lee as China, although after watching it, it just isn’t as visually eye-popping as the anime version.

    Btw, do you plan on doing any posts on Mahouka? I’m quite interested in hearing your opinions on it, given the controversy surrounding a main character’s ‘brother-lover’ tendencies and the usual ‘the LN is more detailed and better’ argument'(I hear the LN really is TOO detailed.)

    Regardless, the full OP, Rising Hope, by singer LiSA is amazing.

    1. I really need to read the original manga, but I don’t want to be spoiled either. Hopefully I’ll have time to come back to it later. ^ ^ I do know that followers of the manga were saying how they changed the coach character to be much older, which is an interesting choice. I really love the anime Jou Koizumi, but it makes me wonder if he’s a different character completely in the source material.

      In spite of the fact that I am watching Mahouka, I’m unsure as to whether I’ll write anything on it. Others have written far more interesting things than I when it comes to that particular series. One post I did like a lot was this one:

      Who knows though? If I’m inspired, I’ll definitely write something. ^ ^ Perhaps when the series finishes.

      1. No worries! ^^ Maybe you might be inspired when all the plot points come together in 20 more episodes. But how do you find Mahouka as casual viewing so far?

        Hope you are still enjoying Mahouka’s music and OP. 😀
        The full OP’s been really growing on me, mostly for the fast track, right vocals, and the guitar riffs.
        Also, the Youtube link for the full Mahouka OP I posted has just been taken down due to a copyright claim from Japan. Sorry about that. Would you like me to send you another link?

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