The Prince of Tennis

Alt title: Tennis no Ouji-sama

TV (178 eps)
2001 - 2005
Fall 2001
3.882 out of 5 from 9,476 votes
Rank #1,631

Meet Ryoma Echizen, the cocky prince of tennis. He comes to Japan from America where he is known as the Prince of Tennis – but that is no surprise considering he is the son of the former tennis pro, Nanjiroh Echizen, otherwise known as the Samurai! Upon transferring to the school Seishun Gakuen, he meets the regulars of the tennis club, and becomes the first freshman to become a regular; but he has a lot to learn yet about being a tennis star. Ryoma, along with the rest of his teammates, aspire to win the Nationals; but first, they must defeat the other teams which stand in their way!

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StoryHistory features a plethora of monumental battles, Nelson versus Napoleon, the Greeks against the Trojans, and apparently any high school tennis match featuring Ryoma Echizen. Prince of Tennis manages to take a simple concept – a high school tennis tournament – and transforms it into a wonderfully flamboyant and comedic romp into the world of sport. Prince of Tennis follows the Seigaku Tennis Club and its bid to make it to the Junior National Tournament Finals. Central to the plot is Ryoma Echizen, a freshman tennis prodigy. Returning to Japan after spending four years in America, Ryoma manages to not only wow the seniors at Seigaku, but also easily secures a place as a “regular” – something unheard of for a freshman. With their new ace player in place, Seigaku begins its quest to conquer the regional championships and attain its dream of making it to the National Finals. Whatever excitement Prince of Tennis lacks in its basic premise, it more than makes up for in pure entertainment and spectacle. In a shounen tradition shared with series such as Naruto or Bleach, Seigaku’s regulars demonstrate an array of impressive yet entirely outrageous new techniques. Incorporating such exorbitant moves, the matches themselves become dazzling extravaganzas that seem more like a clash between rival ninjas than a game of tennis between middle school boys. As expected, these astonishing attacks always emerge at the most crucial point of any given match. Naturally several aspects of the plot become predictable, though I still found myself anticipating the revelation of Ryoma’s most recent technique. Prince of Tennis only manages to get away with such theatrical styles of play for one simple reason: it never once takes itself too seriously. Designed to entertain rather than educate, Prince of Tennis’s generous supply of comedy perfectly complements its showy matches. Humorous exchanges between Seigaku’s club members, ridiculous training camps, and various jokes surrounding Inui’s special vegetable juice, nicely balance a generous helping of boomerang shots, disappearing balls and shattered tennis racquets.AnimationOutside of the tennis court Prince of Tennis’s visual quality remains fairly standard. However, with most of the series devoted to Seigaku’s games, this is not a major problem as Prince of Tennis boasts impressive animation during its match sequences. In particular some close ups – such as that of Ryoma’s shoes as he jumps – exhibit a more realistic movement, even down to the minute motions of his shoelaces.  By pouring more effort into the matches, Prince of Tennis’s visuals heighten the intensity of what become epic battles. Whether displaying Momo’s powerful ‘Dunk Smashes’ or Eiji’s flexible acrobatics, Prince of Tennis effectively portrays each playing style, and even the most ludicrous ideas seem more believable.SoundThe musical score does well to enhance an already cheesy atmosphere. Including suitably melodramatic music for intense matches and light, bouncy harmonies for more comical moments, Prince of Tennis’s sound design performs its duty. Though fitting admirably with the series, it feels as Prince of Tennis’s score took few risks and instead chose a safer, more generic path. Consequently the music frequently feels familiar rather than in any way innovative. Completing its soundtrack, the series’ myriad of opening and ending themes, while moderately catchy, unfortunately leave little lasting impression. Overall, the voice acting is decent, with nothing to complain about. Special kudos goes to Horio’s voice actor. His blaring, nasal voice, served only to make Horio all the more irritating – a perfect fit for the character.CharactersIncluding characters from other competing schools, Prince of Tennis boasts a large cast. While Ryoma remains the central protagonist, he is not Prince of Tennis’s sole focus. The other Seigaku regulars demonstrate plenty of development throughout, from their various problems and injuries, to the creation of their new match-winning techniques. Although central focus always inevitably shifts back to Ryoma at some point, Prince of Tennis often feels more like an ensemble series, which helps maintain interest. Even secondary characters such as the students from Hyotei and Fudomine enjoy more development and screen time than would be found in any average shounen series. By exploring their personal stories and improvements, Seigaku’s opponents develop into more than just faceless rivals; they become characters in their own right, which gives each match an added depth. This allows Prince of Tennis to become something worthier of viewing instead of falling into a realm of mediocrity entitled: ‘The story of Ryoma Echizen’.OverallPrince of Tennis demonstrates satirical qualities that become, without a doubt, its greatest strength. Mixing a large portion of comedic content with matches of epic proportions, Prince of Tennis provides pure entertainment and ideal viewing for those looking to kick back and relax. Hardcore tennis fans may find Prince of Tennis a little on the ridiculous side, but take it as it is and even those who, like me, aren’t necessarily fans of sports anime could find themselves enjoying this playful series.


This review will only cover the 178-episode series. | The Prince of Tennis is an interesting anime with interesting reviews about it too. People seem to either love it blindly or hate it religiously. As for me, I can understand both of those perspectives, and I'll explain both of them since there's a lot to this from my experience. Recently after finishing both Shokugeki no Souma (which I believe is a very similar anime to this one) and the popular sports anime Haikyuu!! I had decided to rewatch The Prince of Tennis… for the third time. Years later, and after watching many other popular titles, I came back to this very special show. I loved this anime when I was younger, and back then I had considered this my favorite show ever. I had watched everything I could to this series because I was hooked at how fun and interesting the tennis was. The crazy superpowered tennis matches—and the phenomenal characters that made them possible—had made this show god-like for me. After rewatching it in an effort to compare it to Haikyuu!! I've come to a realization: The Prince of Tennis was not as good as I remember. The Prince of Tennis has many flaws. That's not to say this show is bad however; this show was still enjoyable for me to watch. Being able to see such amazing characters interact with each other was fun. Seeing them bond struggle after struggle, and seeing them pull through together was heartwarming for me. Even the filler episodes for this series were enough to make me smile and laugh. While the tennis superpowers are fun, the power scaling is all over the place, and going into this show without knowing this may leave you very confused. As a kid, I remember thinking that these tennis teams could survive in a war with nothing but a tennis racket and a few tennis balls. These middle school students can jump six feet in the air and hit a tennis ball with enough force that it can break the strings of a racket and zoom right through it. The tennis players in this show can pull off stunts that no one could in the real world, and it's important to know that these abilities are meant to be fun (some even being metaphorical). As for the story, it's very predictable. No matter what the odds, the Seigaku team will find a way to pull through. The main character, Ryoma Echizen, seems to overcome any obstacle not through any deep motivation or because of his overwhelming tenacity and his strong desire to win, but just because he's the main protagonist that has to win. If there was anything that bothered my about this show a lot, it would be the thousands of layers of plot armor Echizen wears as the show goes on. That said, the fact that he is such an overdog (as opposed to underdog) protagonist is what makes this story unique, but it was overdone here. There are still other amazing characters in the show however, each with well-crafted motivations and personalities that are explored, but for the main character, he doesn't really have any of those. The animation is old, which may turn some folks off, but it still fits, as bad as it is by today's standards. It simply works, but it does get better as the show goes on. As for the sound, the sound effects are really nice and enjoyable, and while some of the music themes are overplayed a lot, they are still really good. They fit this show perfectly. TL;DR | While I would still say this show is good, it certainly is far from perfect, and isn't something that I'd recommend for many people to watch, purely because 178 episodes is quite the commitment that not many people would be up for. The average anime viewer would get probably get bored of this show; story-wise, it's nowhere near the level of Naruto or Attack on Titan. This is a great anime I would show to younger kids; I think they would have an easier time getting invested in the story and the characters, and would love the ridiculousness of this show. Even though The Prince of Tennis still has a spot on my list of favorite anime, it's something that's there because of my childhood. The franchise as a whole has a lot of hidden gem-like moments that are amazing, but for someone who doesn't have that much time on their hands, having to sift through tons of episodes just to get there isn't worth it for everyone. Not everyone would have the patience to get hooked on this show, and I would instead recommend a show like Haikyuu!! instead for a good sports anime with amazing character development, and Shokugeki no Souma for a well-done story with an overdog protagonist. This show isn't the kind of gold that everyone will see value in. It's more like an antique that will be seen as junk by a lot of people for a lot of valid reasons. Even so, this show will still be treasured by some, and will certainly still hold an important place in a handful of hearts like mine that grew up loving this show through all its faults. If you do end up finishing this, I would recommend the 26-episode National Tournament OVA arc. Even though certain events don't line up with what happened in the original series, the story and its pacing were much better and made up for it. The matches were also far more interesting as well, so at least give it a try. Even the Another Story specials that go with it were fun to watch. As for the New Prince of Tennis sequel, it isn't worth watching.

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