Table-tennis aficionados solemnly claim their pleasure as the world’s second-favourite participation sport (after football – and pace the International Volleyball Federation). Maybe it’s hard to shoot a good rally, but there are fewer good table-tennis movies than footie ones: this adaptation of Taiyou Matsumoto’s manga series goes straight to the top by default, though it largely fluffs the challenge of dramatising the game-play. It’s the saga of two childhood pals finding their schoolboy assumptions about their relative ping-pong prowess shaken up over the course of two tournaments. Peko is a bumptious punk whose sense of supremacy is entirely self-willed; the true talent resides in his sullen pal Smile, but he has no nerve to wield it. A lot of the film’s observations are second-hand and when we do get some table action it bursts into splashy time-slice graphics; but, behind all the awkwardness, the film does set out a heartfelt view of friendship, character and destiny.