Prince of Tennis Vol. #09 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, October 20, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Translated by:Joe Yamazaki
What They Say
The much-anticipated match between Seishun Academy's Ryoma Echizen and St. Rudolph's Yuta is underway, and neither of them is giving in to each other's intimidation techniques. Upon orders from Hajime, St. Rudolph's cunning team manager, Yuta must aim for Ryoma's left eye, which was accidentally injured during his previous match. Battling all odds to secure his team's victory - as well as his own on-court safety - can Ryoma formulate a strategy to tame Yuta's killer twist spin shot? And is Yuta really that evil?
Although thin on plot and development, Prince of Tennis continues to do what it does best; pitting two formidable opponents against each other in an exciting battle with the rackets!
VIZ continues to use the original Japanese tankoubon artwork here with an illustration of Ryoma, Yuta, and Shusuke. The colors are very bright on the semi-gloss finish and I’m just happy that the cover is not another Ryoma-centric one. The print reproduction is good, although there was some smudging on a few pages. Extras include chapter inserts featuring words from Konomi-sensei, a 2 page mini-manga talking about Konomi-sensei’s daily life, and a few pages of a roundtable interview with the Seishun team.
There are some great tennis sequences, even if they are improbable, that are illustrated with a lot of excitement with strong panel layouts. Yuta’s twist spin and Ryoma’s drive volley are quite impressive. Konomi-sensei takes all the exciting and thrilling aspects of the game and makes sure that the reader feels the excitement as well.
I am still not a fan of the character designs, but they are very clean and I love the attention to detail on the clothing and equipment. There are a decent amount of backgrounds, but most of the panels feature more close-up action artwork.
SFX are translated and retouched with a lot of boxing and aren’t that visually appealing. The school grades are translated as 7th, 8th, and 9th instead of using the traditional Japanese grades. The translation reads just fine. I like how they handled Hajime’s little quirk in his speech with always saying “huh-huh”. There is a small error on page 141 where ‘Kamio’ is repeated and should instead read “Kamio Ibu of [Fudomine] wins”.
Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
I’ve learned to accept a few things while reading Konomi-sensei’s tennis manga, which has improved my experience and overall enjoyment with this volume. The tennis, while based in reality, is more fantastical but it highlights the excitement of the sport much like how many basketball manga are all about the slam dunk and flashy passes. Character background info will not be given, so don’t hope for any strong motivations to drive the conflict during matches. Lastly, I’ve given up on any semblance of a storyline, as this is truly just a shounen battle manga along the lines of DBZ or other fight-based stories. Take two formidable players, match them up, and watch them exhaust their bag of tricks until only one remains. On these points, Konomi does execute nicely in creating an entertaining story, but one with not much depth.
The major match-up in this volume features our snarky tennis ace Ryoma going up against St. Rudolph’s No. 3 singles player, Yuta Fuji, who is the younger brother of Seishun’s No. 2 singles player, Shusuke. Yuta possesses an “on-the-rise” shot which quickly returns Ryoma’s twist serve, keeping Ryoma from charging the net for a volley. This technique gives Yuta the early advantage, but Ryoma’s speed proves to be too much. Left with no other choice, Yuta then pulls out his twist spin groundstroke. This shot is a variation of the twist serve, only a groundstroke, that looks quite impressive. However, the one drawback is that it is hard on the arm, especially on a body that has not fully matured. It’s sort of comparable to a young kid throwing a curve ball, the twisting motion can put a lot of stress on the arm and cause a lot of damage. To combat this killer stroke, Ryoma pulls of an insane version of the drive volley, which is a topspin shot with a large swing that hits the ball before it hits the ground. Ryoma’s twist on the stroke is to slide underneath the ball and then leap up at the last second to get as big of a swing as possible. It’s a fantastical yet quite impressive looking move. The battle between these two is quite exciting, even if the results are not a surprise.
After watching his younger brother constantly use the damaging twist spin, Shusuke takes a bit of vengeance on St. Rudolph’s captain and strategian, Hajime. It was Hajime who taught Yuta the shot without a care about what it did to his body. Shusuke does a great job of putting Hajime in his place, completely demoralizing him in front of his team. There is a tiny bit of dramatic conflict in these matches, Yuta wanting to grow out of his brother’s shadow and Shusuke sticking up for his brother, but it’s not the main focus of the matches or the moments afterwards. There’s no time for resolution after a defeat or buildup for the next battle. The matches come at rapid fire pace, which makes it entertaining but not as meaningful as they could be. There are some interesting developments at the end of the volume that definitely foreshadow some fun matches ahead.
For eight volumes I’ve been wanting Prince of Tennis to be something it is not. After accepting the faults I’ve found with this title previously, I went into this volume expecting tennis battles with fantastical and exciting shots by highly skilled players, each one saving their ultimate trick shot until the last possible moment. It’s a battle manga, plain and simple. The plot is thin, characters are shallow, and development is non-existent. But the tennis action is illustrated with a lot of style that highlights the excitement of the game which, if not taken seriously, is a fun albeit shallow read.
Mania Grade: B-
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translatin Rating: B
Age Rating: All
Released By: Viz Media
Orientation: Right to Left