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Being completely non-athletic I have always avoided anything to do with them but I was immediately drawn into the Prince of Tennis.
Review by Matthew Anderson
Author/ Artist: Takeshi Konomi
Company: VIZ/ Shonen Jump
Length: 192 pages
Category: Shonen Sports
Rated: G (All Audiences)
Thereís a new kid on the courts and the tennis club doesnít know what hit them.
Like a twist serve to the face, Ryoma Echizen takes the Seishun Academy Tennis Club by storm. This unassuming 12- year- old is a tennis ace who never backs down from a challenge. The more impossible it is the better he likes it. As a seventh grader he takes it upon himself to bring down the club bullies and earn himself a spot on the starting roster among the eighth and ninth grade tennis gods of Seishun.
Can this upstart kid take on the most powerful of tennis players to become the "Prince of Tennis"?
DVD VISION TEST
ARTWORK: Konomiís style is clean and incredibly detailed. Clothing, shoes, and rackets all mirror their real-life components. Konomi also has a knack for directing your attention exactly where he wants it without neglecting the background. Itís very easy to visualize Seishun Academy actually exists. Layering effects and oversize characters that straddle panels make every page an interesting read.
SOUND EFFECTS: The effects have been translated but they pack exactly the right amount of visual oomph. The sound of a tennis ball on the court jumps off the page and you can practically hear the players sweat. Occasionally the effects are overly large or distracting but with the intricate detail of the drawing easy to ignore in favor of more exciting action.
EDITS: Without having access to the original, itís hard to say if anything has been altered but the story has a whole and complete feel to it so if anything was removed or altered it doesnít affect how enjoyable a read this is. These are Jr. High kids so you hope they werenít getting into too many naughty things that canít be shown butÖ you never know.
EXTRAS: I love the extras in this series! They range from serious to silly and are always fun to come across. The authorís bio and note in the front are fun to read in every volume and the chapter intro page often contain character glamour shots but it the interlude sketches which are cute and clever that really get your attention. They often refer to something that was previously said in a humorous manner. For example, someone mentions the need to ďstake your territoryĒ so the interlude has a character with a mallet driving a stake into the ground. I look forward to these almost as much as the story itself.
STORY: This is definitely a visual story. No
one really has that much to say, everything is driven along by the
drawings. Takeshi Konomi uses the actions as much as the words for
exposition though you just know he has to be holding back all the
good stuff for later volumes. By deliberately not explaining
Ryomaís time in America or anything about his family you feel
compelled to keep reading until you figure it out. The finely
executed tennis matches themselves have little dialogue. All you get
is the occasional taunt between players or murmured adoration from
the watching masses but little more is really needed. Too much
chatter would kill the entire momentum. Konomi is clearly a fan of
the strong- silent- type story and he has hit a smash with this one.
TRANSLATION: The translation feels natural and
none of the dialogue is too stilted. The formality that occurs just
reminds the reader that these arenít you typical American Jr. High
FANSERVICE: Prince of Tennis fanservice is a little different than the traditional. Most of the main characters are Jr. High boys who eat, sleep, and breathe tennis so panty shots and busty females are in short supply. The real service is in the explanation of tennis. Konomi demonstrates grips, gear, and shots without being obnoxious or preachy. I know practically nothing about tennis (except that you donít get extra points for hitting the ball over the fence. Stupid fence.) but I never felt that I was missing any of the story. Granted greater knowledge of the rules and techniques wouldnít hurt but it is absolutely not necessary to enjoy the story.
THE 2 VIEW
I had never come across a sports manga before
so I was intrigued with the thought. Being completely non-athletic I
have always avoided anything to do with them but I was immediately
drawn into the Prince of Tennis. Sakuno is so sweet and obviously
innocent that you want the older kids teasing her to pay and the
silent, confident Ryoma is just the one to do it. He might be a
little arrogant but his mystery keeps the reader engaged and wanting
more. The tennis lessons embedded in the story are always
interesting and informative and not preachy. The only disappointing
aspects of the manga was the cliffhanger ending of a tennis match
which is continued in volume 2.
I was completely surprised that I liked this
series as much as I did. Being neither male nor athletic, I fully
expected to read the first volume and then put it down for good.
Silly me. I got completely sucked in and absolutely had to have the
next one (and the next one and the next one). I have to keep an eye
on the release dates so I donít miss the new volume.
The art was unlike any I had seen before and I
really enjoy the detail and looking for the translated mutterings of
the characters. It is so easy to get pulled in by the story, the
details are infuriatingly, and intentionally vague so that you just
have to grab the next one to find out what it is the characters are
hiding. Konomi has made an art of not telling you what you want to
know yet addicting you completely to the plot so you have to know
The comic interludes and glamour shots make my
day every time I read them and they only get better as the series
continues. Those alone are almost worth the cost of the manga.
Itís nice to see an all ages story with intelligence that keeps
you guessing, on the edge of your seat, and laughing all at the same
time. Especially when even the sports challenged can read along and
enjoy all the same.
I encourage everyone, even the uncoordinated among you, to give Prince of Tennis a try. Donít let the shonen aspects throw you. It might not be a sappy romance but girls can like sports manga too- even ones like me who canít play a game to save their life. I might not be able to play tennis (or soccer or softball) but I certainly understand its appeal a lot more now. So whether you grab your racket or just grab the manga give Prince of Tennis a swing. Itís definitely more fun than a twist serve to the face.
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