The source material for this is a manga comic and Sori stays faithful to the style of that with shots that wouldn't look out of place on the pages of a comic while, at the same time, he draws convincing and human performances from the key players. While the ping pong is shot in a very stylish way with superb editing giving a sense of the speed of the sport it is in the gentler and more human moments that this film really shines. The relationship between Peko and Smile is convincing and heart warming...portraying the sort of friendship that many of us would love to have exerienced; loyal, caring and forgiving.
It's a funny film too but in a very Japanese way. Those unfamiliar with Japanese cinema may see this as being a tad twee or cutesy but that is deliberate and the film is also utterly free from cynicism which is refreshing even now eight years on from its release. Sori recently brought us his updated version of the blind swordsman tale with "Ichi" as a female Zatoichi but it will be this tale of friendship and loyalty that will, I think, be what he is best, and most fondly, remembered for.