Prince of Tennis Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B-

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  • Art Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: All
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 7.95
  • Pages: 189
  • ISBN: 1-59116-435-4
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Prince of Tennis Vol. #01

By Jarred Pine     March 26, 2005
Release Date: April 01, 2004

Prince of Tennis Vol.#01
© Viz Media

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

What They Say
Ryoma Echizen just joined the Seishun Gakuen Middle School tennis team, which is known for being one of the most competitive teams in Japan. Ryoma has proven his skills by winning four straight American junior tournament titles. With his skills, Ryoma challenges a rule of Seishun Gakuen that freshmen don't represent the team to play in tournaments until summer...

The Review
The cover artwork is similar to the original Japanese cover, featuring Ryoma Echizen getting ready to hit a backhand. The background color is green with a gradient of yellow. The logo is very similar to the Japanese logo, a circle with the title in the middle, except the text is translated into red blocky letters. The Japanese title text is along the top of the circle. The back cover has another illustration of Ryoma.

The print job is of good quality as well as the paper. There was only a couple instances of bleeding on a couple pages, and I notice a couple other pages had small alignment issues. For extras, the opening page has some words from Konomi about his tennis background and underneath there is a blurb about Konomi.

Konomi’s artwork is very clean and crisp. His character designs I am a little undecided on. There are a lot of characters introduced in this volume, and each of them do stand out from one another, but some of them are almost too bishie for my tastes. The one thing that really bugged me is that Ryoma’s eyes and ears are way too big. In fact, the ears on a lot of the characters are huge. There also isn’t a lot of range with facial expressions with each character. There is one design for each and Konomi really only does minor changes. I think this just leaves the characters a little flat.

The backgrounds are decent. They are also very clean but I noticed quite a few times that background characters had blank faces. The action scenes are done well, with the arc and path of the tennis balls highlighted for an added effect.

SFX are translated and retouched. There really aren’t too many SFX so the artwork that was covered up is minimal. For the most part the text has been translated quite well and the adaptation has very minor American slang or sayings. There was one bubble where @#$%* was used in place of an expletive, but I have no idea if it was like that in the original. The word “dumb-ass” is used later on, so I can’t tell. The mile unit is used when describing how fast a serve is, instead of the metric system. 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.

A couple of other issues that bothered me were two pieces of text that were not translated. One is a scene where Ryoma is reading a magazine and the page that he is reading matters in the dialogue, but nothing is translated and there is no note to let me understand what was going on. There is also one panel where the brackets are not translated, when they were earlier, and on the brackets the Japanese school grade is used. This just made things a bit inconsistent and felt sort of lazy to me.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
Twelve-year-old Ryoma Echizen is a tennis genius. After winning 4 junior championships in America, he has returned to Japan and entered into the 16 and under Kakino-Kizaka Junior Championship tournament. On the way there he is given the wrong directions and is disqualified for being late. No matter, because he can now get a bit of revenge on the high school kid, who gave him a hard time on the subway, during a little side game. Later Ryoma joins his school’s tennis team and tries to go for a starting position, which is usually reserved for 8th and 9th graders only.

One of the biggest selling points of a sports manga is its characters. They have to have dynamic personalities and be very memorable to the reader. The problem I have with Prince of Tennis so far is that I am missing this. The competitions are a lot of fun and feature some good tennis action, but the main character Ryoma is completely forgettable. He doesn’t say much, acts smugly to all his teammates, and is extremely cocky. He had one scene with Sakuno where he gave her some tennis advice that started to bring out a personality in him, but he still came off smug and short. The other teammates so far don’t really stand out either. So far there is the main rival, Arai, and the quiet, strict captain who both are pretty much cookie-cutter characters. The one characters that I like in this big so far are the other 7th graders and Sakuno. They add a light touch of humor and warmth to the story that is much needed.

The other big selling of sports manga is the depiction of the sport. I am a tennis beginner so I am not too familiar with the terminology but I know how the game is played for the most part. So far the actual game play is pretty realistic although it doesn’t go into much detail. The only thing far-fetched is that there are 12-15 year olds smashing balls at 100mph on the tennis court, but I’m willing to overlook that since these kids are supposed to be the best. It adds a nice dramatic flair that makes the tennis action enjoyable.

While the first volume has a lot of good tennis action, so far it is filled with a lot of forgettable characters that really offer nothing except maybe something for the bishie fans to get excited about. Ryoma and his teammates are just completely flat and not really likeable, with the exception of Horio and Sakuna. I think that if I was able to get into the characters a bit more, the tennis action would get even stronger. I also crave at least some character drama instead of the typical, “I don’t like you, let’s play tennis!” stuff that is used so far. There needs to be more development off the court in order to flush out these characters.

There is a lot of potential here and I hope it is not wasted on bishie boys posing and that some real dynamics and personalities develop on and off the court.


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