Manga Reviews

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Prince of Tennis

Prince of Tennis
Licensed by Viz

Topic: Shounen, Sports

Echizen Ryoma is a tennis prodigy who won many tournaments in America. His family recently moved back to Japan where he begins to attend Sheishun Gakuen (affectionately shortened to "Seigaku"), a middle school with an extremely talented tennis team. There he's joined by a host of skilled team-mates as they fight together to obtain their goal of being the best in the nation. Along the way they have to defeat plenty of tough schools and players.

This is your prototypical shounen manga -- facing adversity the protagonist will "level-up" again and again in the quest for his goal. That said I enjoyed the beginning of the series a lot. The action is fast paced and the special techniques used are cool. However as the manga has continued on the series seems to be drifting further and further its roots as a tennis manga. For example, in the earlier volumes Ryoma is shown to have an extremely powerful twist-serve, but even with that he struggles to defeat some opponents. In this struggle he shows his growth.

However as the series continues it has become more a story of "finishing techniques." Each teammate, and their opponents develops a repetoire of super finishing moves which get pitted against eachother continually. Tennis is no longer the focus of the series, it is merely a tool to show off ever increasing levels of "badassness." The current lowpoint for me is one match where Ryoma and an opponent each continue to get service aces until the tiebreaker, simply because neither player can break the other player's "super service."

On the upside the characters are very well developed and the series still retains some of it freshness from time to time, though it has definitely lost much of its appeal over the last 25+ volumes. The art is pretty and I'll definitely read this series to the end, just for closure's sake.

Rating: 6.5/10.0


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