The Prince of Tennis, Vol. 1 (英語) ペーパーバック – 2004/4/21
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There is a rumour going around that a 12-year-old boy is going to enter the 16-year-old and under tennis group. How can someone so young ever hope to compete with kids much older and more experienced than he? But this is no ordinary kid: he is none other than Ryoma Echizen, the Prince of Tennis!
A member of the tennis club at school, Konomi submitted his work to Weekly Shonen Jump after graduation from university and was debuted in a special edition of the magazine in 1993 with TETSUJIN SEKAI ICHI KATAI OTOKO. In 1997, his COOL ~ RENTAL BODYGUARD manga was serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump, followed by THE PRINCE OF TENNIS in 1992. Because of THE PRINCE OF TENNIS, the number of children in Japan who have taken up tennis as a sport has increased exponentially. An anime version of THE PRINCE OF TENNIS was created in 2001, and is still going strong.
However, the human relationships and mental and spiritual growth of the characters are what make this manga readable.
Although some episodes were utterly absurd, after all, I read through the last volume (42).
Amazon.com で最も参考になったカスタマーレビュー (beta)
The couple of other 7th graders that pal around a bit with Ryomo in the club are enjoyable side characters, and I'm quite intrigued by the team of the highest players of the school. This book humored me so much and got me helplessly addicted to the story. Another anime you might compare to this could be Princess 9(though I haven't yet watched it). I highly recommend this series! I think if you like series such as One Piece and Naruto, even though they're very different, you would like this.
The story is very simple:
Echizen Ryoma is a young boy with superb tennis abilities. He enrolls at Seishun Gakuen (or Seigaku for short), a school that has one of the best tennis teams in the region. He is quicky accepted into the team and becomes famous because he's the only freshman who was ever accepted (besides Tezuka). The story goes through 178 episodes of learning about teamwork and spirit (and you get to learn about tennis too!). His father is the well-known Echizen Nanjirou (also known as Samurai Nanjirou). He plays singles, but has also playes doubles.
Special moves: Drive A, Drive B, Twist Serve, Split Step, Nitouryuu,
Twist Spin Smash, Buggy Whip Shot, Cyclone Smash, Super Rising (from Yuuta), Buggy Whip Shot (from Kaidou), Spot (from Shinji), Deep Impulse (from Shinjou).
Seigaku's team is made up of 9 members:
Tezuka Kunimitsu: the captain of Seigaku's tennis team. A complete genius both on and off the court, Tezuka is very mature for age (some even doubt he's a 3rd year student). He was also a freshman when he was accepted into the team. He has a small problem with an arm injury that was caused by a jealous team mate back when he was still a freshman.
Special move: Tezuka Zone (kinda like a black hole. Can't give too much away here ;))
Fuji Syuusuke: Noted as the "prodigy", Fuji is an oppenent you do not want to face. He is constantly smiling and that helps to confuse friends and rivals alike. The only times he stops smiling is when he get serious in a match (like against St-Rudolf's Mizuki and Rikkai Dai's Kirihara). He cares deeply about his brother, Yuuta. He generally plays singles, but has also played doubles.
Special moves: The three reverses: Tsubame Gaeshi, Higuma Otoshi, Hakugei.
Oishi Shuichirou: The vice captain of the team, Oishi is also known as the "mother of Seigaku" because he worries a lot about his teammates. He plays doubles, and is one part of the national-rated Golden Pair team.
Specail moves: Moon Volley, Australian Formation
Inui Sadaharu: The "Data-man" of Seigaku, Inui's tennis style is what Ryoma once called "annoying". Able to tell which way and where the ball will go, Inui is an unstoppable player (not that he's never lost). He has a book which he writes down data in about anyone he encounters. He is also the one who makes the infamous "Inui Juice" which can knock out even the toughest people. He's kinda like a mad-scientist.
Special Move: Data tennis, High speed serve.
Kikumaru Eiji: The second part of the Golden Pair, Eiji is not someone you'll ever find standing still. Highly energetic and a happy-go-lucky kinda guy, Eiji is best known for his accrobatic tennis stlye. He also has the tendancy to end most sentences with "Nya" which is why he's portraid as a cat in some of the chibi epsisodes. He usually plays doubles.
Special moves: Acrobatic Play, Australian Formation, Kikumaru Beam
Momoshiro Takeshi: Tall, lean, powerful and muscular, Momo-chan is also known as Mr. Passion because when he get serious about tennis, you don't want to be on the other side of the net. He loves to eat and you can probably see him and Ryoma (which he has a close relationship to) pigging out at the local burger restaurant. He plays both singles and doubles.
Special moves: Dunk Smash, Jack Knife, Bullet Serve, Super Dunk.
Kaidoh Kaoru: Known as "viper" (not only in Seigaku, but in most other schools) because of his tendacy to hiss whenever possible, Kaidoh has been Momo's rival since they first met. He is a very serious competetor and hates to lose, though seems to have a soft spot for cats. His training regime is 3 times harder than most of his team mates, curtesty of Inui, and he can usually be spotted jogging before and after school and sometimes before matches. He playes singles, but has also played doubles with Inui and Momo.
Special moves: Snake, Boomerang Snake, Hadoukyuu Boomerang Snake
Kawamura Takashi: You think you have a split personality? Meet Taka-san who, when holding a tennis racket, becomes one of Seigaku's most destructive forces. Probably the most poowerful member on his team, you would know it because of the kind, thoughful person he is without a racket. His father owns a sushi restaurant and Taka-san plans to quit tennis after he finishes school. He plays doubles as well as singles.
Special moces: Burning Serve, Burning Shot, Hadoukyuu, Dash Hadoukyuu
Now, that's only Seigaku's team, but there are 8 more teams you'll meet throughout the series:
The American Team
I've read some of the manga, but I prefer the anime (mostly because of the art). Though Konomi Takeshi aimed this manga at boys, it wound up with an enourmous female-based fandom. There are a lot of guys in this anime ;)
All in all:
Character design: 9/10
Prince of Tennis is a really good story and I recommend it to everyone. My only problems with this volume (and the series so far) is some obvious typos and the transliteration of Ryoma's cat's name. Other than that, I hope you enjoy.
Without getting too deep into the story here, the manga is about tennis (duh), but the story centers around a young Japanese phenom who just moved back from overseas. He is 12 years old, but regularly wins against opponents in the high school tournaments. Since he is so young, he encounters a lot of opposition, mainly from older players, but also from his peers.
The reason I am giving a four star rating is because the series is good, but generally a little over the top. I do understand that artistic license is taken to make a manga series more engaging, but some of the panels are pretty out there. Like the first match where the players are hitting the balls into each others faces and such. It's a bit much. And the reason this stands out is because within the first three pages he corrects an older player on his description of the grip styles - accurately.
The author of this series was a pretty accomplished tennis player throughout his school years, and there is a lot of credibility in the occurrences. A lot of the training, the styles, the match formats, etc, are all realistically portrayed. The over the top-ness shows in the crazy matches themselves and the super human feats of tennis that each player seems to be able to perform. It's like a match between Federer Prime and Super Djokovich at times.
Despite the superhuman feats of ability and the often sappy pre-teen romance, the series is built solidly. I admit that I was drawn in very quickly. Four stars is a good rating, and if I compare this series to other quality series in other genres, the shortcomings are obvious. But compared to other sports manga I believe it is at least on par with the best. The determining factor for which sports manga you might prefer really comes down to what sports you enjoy. If you enjoy tennis, then this is an ideal series. Other sports manga covering different sports I recommend are listed below. Enjoy!
Slam Dunk, Vol. 1 (Slam Dunk (Viz)) (basketball)
Harlem Beat #01 (basketball)
Whistle!, Volume 1 (soccer aka football)
Eyeshield 21, Vol. 1 (football)
Of course the sports manga genre is huge in Japan but only barely scratches the American manga market. Here's hoping for a hockey sports manga! (Sooooo unlikely!)