Prince of Tennis Vol. #04 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, May 09, 2005
Release Date: Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Translated by:Joe Yamazaki
What They Say
The quest continues for the gritty players of Seishun Academy. With their sights dead-set on making it all the way to Nationals, they must outclass every team that stands in their way. Next up is Fudomine, a group of belligerent players who were disqualified from the rookie games last year due to a tournament fracas. Tempers flare and talents soar when the battle begins with the very first serve. It might take more than “Tsubame Gaeshi” to secure this victory!
The cover artwork uses the art from the Japanese release, featuring all 8 Seishun starters in a panoramic shot that is laid out vertically. I do like this cover as it features more than just Ryoma, even though he is front and center, and it has a stylish look to it that is very appealing. Since the artwork layout is done vertically, the logo, volume count, and other cover text are also laid out in the same fashion. The colors are a little washed out, but overall it is very nice. The back cover features an illustration of Ryoma following through on his serve.
Konomi’s artwork features a lot of strong, dark tones, and the print job does a good job at keeping them dark, although I did notice a few areas of fading. The beginning has a picture of Konomi with his cat, along with character profiles. There are chapter headers featuring character artwork, as well as chapter closing pages which are quite humorous. There is also a page with Konomi talking about contests he was running with his Japanese audience.
The artwork continues to be quite striking and refined. Konomi uses a lot of really dark tones that make the characters really stand out from the page. His attention to clothing and tennis fashions is also quite enjoyable. The one thing I am starting to notice is that some of the characters look very similar, and I start to get confused with who is who. There continues to be more background detail and the action is the strongpoint, as it is really clean and well laid out. There are even a couple great 1-2 full page layouts that are impressive.
SFX are translated and retouched. The school grades are translated as 7th, 8th, and 9th instead of using the traditional Japanese grades which was a little disappointing as it removes the cultural aspect.
The slang that were sparse in previous volumes seems to be removed. The are some small subs next to panel text, like the “Fudomine” letters on the jackets. One error I noticed was that the bracket spelled one team as “Hudomine” but in the dialogue was referred to as “Fudomine”.
Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
Seishun Academy against the unseeded Fudomine ruffians in the district preliminaries championship game, it’s time to get it on! Fudomine shocked everyone with it’s trouncing of Kakinoki. They have a bad reputation after being disqualified from the tournament the previous year due to fighting. There is an interesting sequence in the book that deals with this team of 8th graders and how the team was created. When they were 7th graders, they basically staged a mutiny against their upperclassmen and battled it out with them with their fists. But they aren’t just a bunch of bad seeds, they are talented tennis players who were better than their upperclassmen and just wanted a chance to play. This helps set the stage for the matches to come, as it is clearly understood how serious Fudomine is about tennis.
Three of the five matches are completed in this volume, with the third being the best of the bunch. The first match features the doubles team of Takashi and Shusuke. Shusuke unleashes his secret shot, the Tsubame Gaeshi, which is a countershot to the topspin that adds even more spin, which causes the ball to basically have no bounce when returned. One of the opponents, Tetsu, tries to change the momentum by unleashing his own Wave Surge. The end of the match features a big dramatic moment and a surprise. The second match with doubles masters Eiji and Shuichiro has its share of “wow” moments, but is pretty uneventful and the outcomes really is never in doubt.
The third match features the unstable and psychotic Kaoru Kaido, who is the third singles player. I’m starting to really like Kaoru, he’s just so unpredictable and, well, psychotic! The guy has a lot of heart and never calls it quits, and his rough exterior is good for a few laughs. He’s the loose canon of the team. The boomerang shot he pulls off is completely ridiculous, but it is fun to see nonetheless. His match is a total slugfest and I was completely wrapped up in it and raced to the finish, eager to know the result.
Overall, there is a lot of action and not a lot of character development. It’s not a bad thing, but with a little more characterizations these matches could have been even more enjoyable and meaningful. With the exception of Kaoru, none of the Seishun members really stand out yet and feel relatively flat. Momo has his moments, but there’s not enough of him. Kaoru is a complete nut case and needs to seek some treatment, and that’s why I like him. He stands out. Ryoma is pretty much non-existant in this volume, although he does do some showboating that got a good chuckle or two out of me. Cocky little bastard. We’ll get to see him in action in the next volume.
Being the championship match, this volume is mostly tennis action with little focus on any character development. The opponents, Fudomine, are flushed out nicely which helped with getting into the matches and caring about their outcomes. I couldn’t help but think I would have enjoyed it even more had there been some earlier character development to allow me to connect with more of these characters.
The tennis action is fast and furious, featuring quite a few moments where I exclaimed at a cool shot or Ryoma’s cocky showboating. Konomi’s artwork is pretty striking and refined, though your mileage might vary on the character designs. He does a great job with the tennis action artwork, as it is very clean and easy to follow. The pace is pretty quick and before I knew it the volume was over and I was ready for more!
Mania Grade: B
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: B
Age Rating: 3 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
Orientation: Right to Left