+ Fast paced action
+ Well developed characters
Story focuses too much on moves
3.5 out of 5
Prince of Tennis Manga Review
Written by: Karthon
Echizen Ryoma is a tennis prodigy who has 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. Incredibly, he's able to make the team even though he's a freshman (no freshman has ever made the team before). 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, Echizen will have to improve his skills and face incredible adversaries. His team-mates will also have to improve their game if they want to even reach the nationals, let alone become number one in the nation. Maybe, with a bit of luck they will be able to come together, and reach their common goal. Either way, in the process, each of them will learn more about each other, themselves, and the limits they thought they had.
This is your prototypical Shounen sports 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 develop a repertoire of super finishing moves which get pitted against each other continually. Tennis is no longer the focus of the series; it is merely a tool to show off ever increasing levels of "coolness." The current low-point for me is one match where Ryoma and an opponent each continue to trade 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.
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