Prince of Tennis, The

Now it's time to delve into a rather interesting subgenre branch: Sports Anime. In this case the main point is focused on the game of tennis, the players and their styles. Prince of Tennis is an excellent example on how it should be done probably, although it's hard to tell whether it will appeal to those not interested with the actual sport itself.

Echizen Ryoma is a 12-year-old tennis talent who has already won numerous tournament during his time in the United States. Being the son of legendary tennis prodigy, Echizen Nanjiroh, Ryoma possesses just about every skill and intelligence his father used to have. His early aim was to finally beat his father at a game, but with him simply being a copy of his father's youth, Ryoma realizes that he needed to use his own style of play to surpass Nanjiroh. As a freshman, he was sent to the Seigaku High School; its tennis club being one of the very best in the prefecture. Ryoma entered the club's monthly ranking tournament to decide who the regular members will be. He impressed everyone with his tennis ability, beating two regulars and became one himself in the process. Representing his school, the club is set to take the tennis world by storm, the final target being that of a place in the All-Japan finals.

The best part of the series is that most of the main characters are extremely well-balanced. All eight members of the tennis club have their own distinct personality and styles of play, and every one of them is totally unique in their own way:

  • Echizen Ryoma, being the quiet and loner type. As an all-rounder, he is able to judge his opponent's style of play in the blink of an eye, and his topnotch skills are almost unbeatable. He lives in the shadow of his dad though, a world-class professional player who won every match he ever played before his sudden retirement. With his new friends and seniors at Seigaku, Ryoma's determined to prove his worth. And he's really good at what he does.

  • Kaidoh Kaoru, a 2nd year student whose nickname is "The Snake". He specializes in the skill with the same name to tire out his opponents. With his intimidating looks (and he hisses all the time) and serious attitude, Kaidoh holds an advantage whenever he plays. Not only that, he's most probably the fittest player of the team - his hard training and incredible endurance factoring to his excellence.

  • Momoshiro Takeshi, another 2nd year student who's an all-around nice guy. Likes to hang out with Ryoma (and his three freshman pals). Prefers to be called Momo-chan and always tries his best to impress the girls. Specializes in the Dunk Smash move.

  • Tezuka Kunimitsu, the team captain of Seigaku tennis club and senior. Like Ryoma, he's another all-rounder and one of the most promising tennis players around. Always with his serious mood, Tezuka is determined to bring out the best from all the members. Specializes in the Drop Shot move. He's still recuperating from an injury, although he still leads the team with all his might. And he also appears to be very popular among female fans.

  • Oishi Syuichiroh, vice-captain of the tennis club. Being Tezuka's best friend, he's capable of understanding the captain's sometimes unorthodox ways. Oishi's also a caring person who most of the time is concerned about the members' well-beings. Specializes on the Moon Volley.

  • Kikimaru Eiji, an acrobatic player who puts his flair into good use. He's an agile player who's almost always able to return the hardest of shots. Being the liveliest regular, Eiji is a total loudmouth and even nicknamed Ryoma as "little baby". Known as the golden pair, he plays in the doubles with regular partner Oishi, and they're one of the most difficult pairs to beat in the entire prefecture.

  • Fuji Syusuke, a natural talent and well-known tennis prodigy. He's also referred to as the club's No.2, right behind team captain Tezuka. Always with a calm and friendly appearance, Fuji is pretty much the most laidback regular of the club. On the tennis court however, he's an incredibly skillful player, complemented by his tennis senses. Specializes in the Swallow Return move.

  • Kawamura Takeshi, one of the more powerful regulars. Usually he's very shy, but he transforms into a strong, confident and sometimes arrogant guy when holding a tennis racket, seemingly being the "source of his power". He's got a deadly eye on the ball, and his special Burning Serve beats even the best of returners. He occasionally partners Fuji when playing doubles.

  • Inui Sadaharu, the backbone of the club. And he's got a peculiar style of play; using mathematical calculation and collected data to anticipate his opponent's moves. Although he lost his regular place to Ryoma during the first ranking tournament, Inui now serves as team tactician, statistician and manager. He arranges the team's training sessions, and his method is trusted heavily by the captain and coach Ryuzaki Sumire. Most of the time his calculations are extremely accurate, and Inui never gets bored of watching the members play as he gets to collect more and more data by the day.

Ryoma's introduction to high school tennis prompts him to become the center of attention. Sports journalists and opposition members are eager to get a sight of him, which he find hugely annoying. Nowadays, the father Nanjiroh is a perverted monk (sounds familiar?), but he never lost a bit of his tennis abilities. He regularly plays with Ryoma just to annoy his son who has never been able to defeat him in a game. And regarding love interests, the coach's granddaughter has a crush on shallow Ryoma, a loner who's absolutely clueless when being with girls. This makes him a subject of mockery from his dad and close friends. Oh, and it's absolutely hilarious.

So far, the Anime has remain unlicensed, so downloading is probably the only way for you to watch it. The Prince of Tennis is a decent, funny series which would appeal the most to tennis fans, but otherwise it's still a great Anime. It can also serve as a good medium for newcomers and those interested with the sport. This said, PoT is definitely not for everyone, but for those who would like to try, it's worth your time.


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