Prince of Tennis Vol. #06 (Mania.com)

By:Jarred Pine
Review Date: Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, March 15, 2005



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Takeshi Konomi
Translated by:Joe Yamazaki
Adapted by:

What They Say
With Coach Ryuzaki's blessing, Team Captain Kunimitsu Tezuka challenges Prince of Tennis Ryoma Echizen to a bitter duel to settle their differences. Given Ryoma's astounding skill and composure, will Kunimitsu's best game be good enough to win? Meanwhile, with the City Tournament fast approaching, Seishun Academy's campus is crawling with spies who are out to gather data on their players' strengths and weaknesses. As the electric thrill of competition permeates the air, will Seishun Academy win enough matches to surge through to the next round? And what peril lurks behind the menacing ways of St. Rudolph's manager and strategist Hajime Mizuki?


The Review
Packaging:
The cover artwork uses the art from the Japanese release, featuring Ryoma getting ready to hit a backhand. I understand that Ryoma is the main character, but I’d like to see some of the other characters have solo cover time. The English logo is place in the upper right, and volume count, with cover text, are also along the bottom. The back cover features an illustration of all 8 starters for Seishun. Something I found odd is that the spine artwork is the same as volume 5.

The print job is good with no noticeable fading. The beginning of the book has a picture of Konomi along with a little story. There are the same character profiles as previous volumes. Chapter headers are present featuring character artwork, as well as chapter closing pages with sketches that are quite humorous. There are no extras in the back of this book.


Art:
Nothing more really to comment on with this volume that I haven’t said in the past. The character designs are quite striking with great dark tones used. The action is clean and have exciting panel work. There are a few new characters introduced, but I still feel as though there are really only a couple distinct designs and only the hair is changing. The background artwork is getting slightly better, especially during the scenes with Ryoma and Nanjiro’s home.


Text/SFX:
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 dialogue translation is good, with no slang, but I felt as though it was a bit dry. Ryoma has his cocky talk, but overall it just feels as if everyone has the same personality, which of course might be another issue. And finally, on the city bracket, “Fudomine” is spelled correctly.


Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
At the end of the last volume, Kunimitsu asked the coach for a match with Ryoma. This had me all excited, as I was really looking forward to the two big heavy hitters going at it. That excitement is killed off early as the match only lasts about 2 pages and it influenced my mood for the rest of the volume. It feels as though the details of that match might be explained later on, but after the cliffhanger ending from the previous volume, the promise was there for a great match and it didn’t deliver. I was sorely disappointed.

The match though does serve a purpose. Afterwards we learn that Kunimitsu has tennis elbow, which is why he hasn’t been competing like the others. Also, the match seems to have lit a fire under Ryoma, as he challenges his dad and now has more motivation to get better. This seems to be the reason why Kunimitsu challenged Ryoma, to help get him motivated to succeed and carry Seishun.

The rest of the volume felt a bit sub-par to me. The rally matches between the starters, upperclassmen against lower, was entertaining only because of Sadaharu’s mystery juice. When a player lost his rally match, they had to drink the juice, and Sadaharu would immediately appear out of the shadows with a glass in hand. It offered a few chuckles, but that is about it. Then there is this odd chapter right before the city tournament that is just pure filler. It follows Ryoma’s cat as it walks around the city and you get to see a few panels of each of the players getting ready the night before the tournament. This would have been a nice opportunity to explore some of the other character’s home lives or backgrounds, but it’s breezed over and ends up being pure fluff.

When the city tournament comes, there is not a lot of tennis action. Seishun eases through their 1st round matches and draws the attention of a lot of opponents from other schools who are scouting them. One such scout from St. Rudolph offers Seishun’s 2nd round opponent some advice in how to exploit Seishun’s weak points. Seishun eases through the match, but they took longer than expected. This all sets up a big battle with St. Rudolph, who seems to know their weaknesses and have the talent to exploit them.

Comments
Overall, I found this volume to be a bit frustrating. The promised match between Kunimitsu and Ryoma was not delivered as expected, which probably influenced my mood for the rest of the volume. There is little tennis action and of course very little character development. The rally matches were fun with Sadaharu’s mysterious juice, but the cat chapter following it really left a bad taste in my mouth. The good side is that this volume builds up Seishun’s quarterfinals match against St. Rudolph, which promises to be an exciting one. This volume feels mostly like a time killer, and the next one couldn’t come any sooner.



Mania Grade: B-
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translatin Rating: B
Age Rating: 3 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 7.95
Pages: 190
ISBN: 1-59116-440-0
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left