The Prince of Tennis (テニスの王子様 Tenisu no Ōjisama?) is a popular Japanese shōnen manga series written and illustrated by Takeshi Konomi. The title is often shortened to TeniPuri (テニプリ?), a portmanteau of the two parts in the Japanese pronunciation of the words "Tennis Prince". The manga was first published in Japan in Shueisha's Weekly Shōnen Jump in July 1999, and ended publication on March 3, 2008. A total of 379 chapters were serialized, spanning 42 volumes. As of volume 40, the manga has sold over 40 million copies in Japan. News that a sequel to the manga series was going to be developed was announced in the December issue of the Japanese manga magazine Jump Square. The new manga series, entitled New Prince of Tennis, began serialization in the Jump Square magazine on March 4, 2009, with the story taking place several months after the end of the original manga. Viz Media acquired the license to distribute the series in English in North America.
The manga was adapted into an anime series directed by Takayuki Hamana, animated by Trans Arts and co-produced by Nihon Ad Systems & TV Tokyo. The anime aired across Japan on the anime satellite television network Animax and the terrestrial TV Tokyo network from October 10, 2001 to March 30, 2005, spanning a total of 178 episodes, as well as a theatrical movie. In April 2006, an original video animation (OVA) continuation of the anime began to be released on DVD. The beginning of the second OVA series was released on June 22, 2007, roughly 3 months after the end of the first. The second OVA ended on January 25, 2008, and the third and final OVA started on April 25, 2008.
The series developed into a media franchise and has had numerous other adaptations outside of the animated incarnation. Since April 2003, more than fifteen stage musicals have been produced for the series. An animated movie was released in 2005, as well as a live action movie in 2006.The franchise has also had a long running radio show, numerous video games, soundtracks, and other merchandise or collectibles.
The series is primarily set in Tokyo, and centers around Ryoma Echizen, a tennis prodigy who attends Seishun Academy (青春学園 Seishun Gakuen?), or Seigaku (青学?) for short, a private school famous for its strong tennis club and talented players. Ryoma quickly defeats numerous upperclassmen shortly after entrance to secure himself a spot as one of the team's regulars. In pursuit of their ultimate goal of winning the National Middle School Tennis Championship, members of the team make new friends while learning and mastering increasingly complex techniques. Ryoma also begins to develop his own style of tennis, and eventually realizes what the sport really means to him.
Note - Names are in Western order, with the given name before the family name.
- Ryoma Echizen (越前 リョーマ Echizen Ryōma?)
- The protagonist of the series, Ryoma is a first year student at Seishun Academy and the son of Nanjiro Echizen, who was formerly known as "Samurai Nanjiro" during his days as a professional tennis player. He makes his first appearance when he criticizes a high school student about his tennis knowledge in a subway. He often says "mada mada dane" to his opponents, which is directly translated as "You still have some ways to go." in the Japanese manga. He is mainly seen drinking Ponta (Fanta in the manga or grape juice), or sleeping if not playing tennis. Favorite move: Twist Serve and Drive B.
- Kunimitsu Tezuka (手塚 国光 Tezuka Kunimitsu?)
- Tezuka is the captain of the tennis club and a third year student at Seishun Academy. A National-caliber player and vice-captain the year before the series took place, Tezuka is serious about everything — one of his trademark phrases is "Don't let your guard down." Tezuka puts his captaincy of the team and its performance before anything else, including his own pursuits. Favorite move: Zero Shiki and Tezuka Zone.
- Shuichiro Oishi (大石 秀一郎 Ōishi Shūichirō?)
- Oishi is a third year student at Seishun Academy and the vice-captain of the tennis club. Along with Eiji Kikumaru, he is part of Seigaku's "Golden Pair," a doubles team that made it to Nationals the year before the series takes place. He is very observant and patient baseline player, cited boring by Eiji. Oishi is a very responsible character and cares deeply about the team. Favorite move: Moon Volley.
- Syuusuke Fuji (不二 周助 Fuji Syūsuke?)
- Fuji is a third year student at Seishun Academy who is given the title "genius" due to his tactical skill on the tennis court. Fuji is often seen with a calm and content expression on his face, with his eyes seemingly closed from lightly smiling. However, when he is excited, provoked, or when playing seriously, Fuji reveals his sharp blue eyes. Fuji's tennis is counter-style, in which he uses elements of opponents' shots to send usually nonreturnable counter return shots. Favorite move: Triple Counters.
- Eiji Kikumaru (菊丸 英二 Kikumaru Eiji?)
- Eiji Kikumaru is a third year student at Seishun Academy and is part of the "Golden Pair," along with Shuichiro Oishi. Using his acrobatic play, he can return almost any ball, even those that seem out of human reach. Eiji is also known to have the sharpest vision on the team, with an exceptional talent for seeing fast moving objects. His favorite saying is "hoi hoi". when playing in games he always has a large smile on his face. Favorite move: Acrobatic play.
- Takashi Kawamura (河村 隆 Kawamura Takashi?)
- Takashi is a third year student at Seishun Academy and, according to the manga series, this is his first year as a regular. He is a shy and a soft-spoken person off the court, though still outspoken and stubborn when he makes a decision. However, he becomes extremely aggressive and loud once he grabs a racket. This change in his personality is marked by him shouting "Burning!!!". As the least skilled regular, he relies mostly on his power and aims to become the National middle school number one power player. Favorite move: Hadoukyu.
- Sadaharu Inui (乾 貞治 Inui Sadaharu?)
- Inui is a third year student at Seishun Academy. As a highly intelligent player, he plays what is called "Data Tennis," which involves collecting and analyzing data for a player in order to determine their weaknesses to the extent that he can determine the exact probability of certain shots being successful. Inui often manages the team training regimens, which usually involves contests or races of some kind, with many being forced to drink one of Inui's many infamous juice concoctions. Favorite move: Data Play.
- Takeshi Momoshiro (桃城 武 Momoshiro Takeshi?)
- Momoshiro is a second year student at Seishun Academy, known as Seigaku's number one rascal. He is an aggressive power player who uses the court and environmental conditions to his advantage. As the player who is the most open and friendly with everyone, Momoshiro is connected to everyone on the team on some level. Favorite move: Dunk Smash.
- Kaoru Kaido (海堂 薫 Kaidō Kaoru?)
- Kaido is a second year student at Seishun Academy whose nickname is "Viper," which fits him well as his signature move is the "Snake Shot," a curving forehand that drains an opponent's stamina by forcing them to chase the return. He wears a bandanna and often exhales, making a sound similar to a snake. He is often remarked as the hardest trainer of the team. Favorite move: Snake and Boomerang Snake.
The anime is quite different from the manga version. For example, in the anime the Seigaku team goes on a field trip to train for the finals, whereas they did not in the manga. However, all the radios, mini dramas, CDs and games make references to this and act as if it had always taken place. Thus, someone who only read the manga might be confused by the different portrayals.
Notable differences include the addition of table tennis scenes and billiard scenes in the anime. Episodes in the anime also deal with Kevin Smith and the U.S. West Coast Team, whereas the American team does not exist within the manga. In the Kanto tournament where Seigaku faces Midoriyama in the manga, they switch the tournament draw in the anime, and put Josei Shonan to face Seigaku instead. Also, Ryoma faces Rokkaku's captain, Aoi Kentaro, in the Prefectural Semifinals, while the manga puts Kaidou against him. Events in the anime also take place at a different time than when they take place in the manga, such as Akaya Kirihara being introduced much earlier in the manga series.
While the manga occasionally attempts to try and explain how some of the seemingly impossible techniques are performed, such as the Tezuka Zone and Kikumaru's Seal Steps, the anime provides explanation and sometimes even exaggerates these techniques to a point where they becomes almost magical. This is possibly due to the fact that the use of animation in anime naturally enhances these effects, but at times the anime seems to deliberately exaggerate the effects in order to parody itself. In the animated movie, Tezuka's skill and power has been compared to that of the meteorite which led to the extinction of dinosaurs in a lengthy clip, a comparison that even the author found it so exaggerated that he found it funny. Another instance is Ryoma's anime-only Cyclone Smash, which blows Sanada away where the powerful smashes in the manga series can only blow away the opponent's racket. However, as the manga progressed, there were less explanations of the new techniques as some of them were either improved versions of previous techniques or new techniques that were based on the same principles.
The Prince of Tennis manga was first published in Shueisha's Weekly Shōnen Jump in Japan on July 1999, and ran until March 3, 2008, spanning a total of 379 chapters divided into 42 tankōbon. The series was put under hiatus when Konomi was injured in an accident during July 2006, but publication resumed in September 2006. As of Volume 40, the manga has sold over 40 million copies in Japan. The manga is published in North America by Viz Media.
A sequel to the manga series, entitled New Prince of Tennis, began serialization in the monthly magazine series Jump Square on March 4, 2009. The story is set several months after the end of the first manga, and features Ryoma returning to Japan after his stay in America.
The anime series, directed by Takayuki Hamana, animated by Trans Arts and co-produced by Nihon Ad Systems and TV Tokyo, aired across Japan on the anime satellite television network Animax and the terrestrial TV Tokyo network from October 10, 2001 to March 30, 2005, spanning a total of 178 episodes.
In April 2006, an original video animation (OVA) continuation of the anime began to be released over a span of seven DVDs. The beginning of the second OVA series was released on June 22, 2007, roughly 3 months after the end of the first. The second OVA finished on January 25, 2008, containing six episodes over a span of three DVDs. The third OVA started on April 25, 2008, and finished on January 23, 2009. A fourth OVA titled "Another Story" was released on May 26, 2009, which included two episodes: "Fū'un Shōnen Atobe" which showed Hyotei's current team's freshman years, and "Naniwa no Ōjisama", where Seigaku goes to Osaka for a practice match with Shitenhoji. The second DVD in "Another Story" was released on September 25, 2009.
On April 24, 2007, Viz Media released the first The Prince of Tennis box set in the United States. Viz Media has also opted to not include the Japanese opening and ending themes, instead using electric guitar music. However, the original music themes can be found in the DVD extras of disc 3. As of January 15, 2008, four box sets have been released by Viz. The four box sets contain the first 50 episodes of the series.
In contrast, Japan has released a total of 45 DVD volumes for the entire 178 episodes of the anime series.
- Director: Hamana Takayuki
- Series Composition: Makoto J. (Eps 1-75) → Tomioka Makoto (Eps 76-101) → Maekawa Kiyoshi (Eps 102-178)
- Character designs and chief animation director: Ishii Akiharu
- Character Design Assistant: Takahashi Shigeyuki
- Art Director: Kawai Ken
- Director of Photography: Ktsutaka Takashi, Kuwabara Kenzi
- Color Design: Akama Misako
- Editor: Yumiko Fabrics, Noziri Yukiko
- Music: Watanabe Chell
- Sound Director: Hiramitsu Takuya
- Animation Production: Trans Arts
- Animation Production Cooperation: Production IG
- Animation producer: Kanno Kazuhito
- Producer: Shima Akiko equipment, Susumu Matsuyama, The Giyamaatsuo, Takahashi Tomoko
- Producers: TV Tokyo, NAS
Beginning in 2003, a series of Prince of Tennis musicals began. Each year sees two musicals based on the storyline come out in the summer and winter, with a 'Dream Live' performance each Spring, featuring numerous actors and past songs. Each storyline musical adapts a single arc of the manga, typically one specific match against a team. Due to the aging of the actors, all the main characters have been recast several times.
The Prince of Tennis - The Two Samurai: The First Game is the first animated film of the series. It was released in Japan on January 29, 2005, and co-aired with a short movie, A Gift from Atobe.
On May 13, 2006, the live-action adaptation film, The Prince of Tennis, was released in Japan.
The Prince of Tennis franchise has spawned many different video games. The vast majority of these are either tennis games or dating sims, and they are spread across several different video game consoles. The first of these games was released for the PlayStation console on February 20, 2002, and is the only game which holds the simple Prince of Tennis title - all of the following game titles are preceded by the "Prince of Tennis" title. This was followed by Genius Boys Academy, which was released for the Game Boy Advance on April 25, 2002. Since then, several other video games has been released for different gaming consoles, including one more PlayStation game, three Game Boy Advance games, five Nintendo DS games, and thirteen PlayStation 2 games. The latest games to be released were Nintendo DS's Girls, be gracious on March 5, 2009, followed by Boys, be glorious on March 26, 2009.
There is also a Chinese drama based on "The Prince of Tennis" story, with the title "Let's Go! The Prince of Tennis" (Mandarin: "加油! 网球王子"; Pinyin: "Jia You! Wang Qiu Wang Zi"). There are some differences due to localization for names and cultural themes, but it's still recognizable as far as the story and characters go.
The series has produced a half-hour weekly radio show, nearly 200 music CDs, and a large selection of merchandise, including a trading card game and figures. Three live events, "TeniPuri Perfect Live" in 2003, "The 100 song marathon" in 2008 and "Tenipuri Festa" in 2009, were held by the TeniPuri voice actors and Konomi Takeshi himself.
The 1986 J-pop song Valentine Kiss by Sayuri Kokushō was covered multiple times by multiple characters in the series. From February 2004 through February 2010, a total of nine different versions of the song were released (seven individually, and the final two together). The first one, featuring the character Keigo Atobe (voiced by Junichi Suwabe) reached #14 on the Oricon charts.
The Prince of Tennis was announced to be a part of Cartoon Network's new online broadband service called Toonami Jetstream. It began streaming July 14, 2006. The anime began airing on Toonami's Saturday night block on December 23, 2006, though some episodes were initially skipped. Beginning on February 24, 2007, the episodes aired, restarting at the beginning, going in order. However, it is now off Toonami and Toonami Jetstream as of December 3, 2007.
In the Philippines, The Prince of Tennis aired weekdays on QTV 11 (now Q 11) (part of its afternoon anime block "Anime Revolution"), but later ended. Although, due to popular demand, The Prince of Tennis was aired back on Q on the same time slot, and later moves to weekdays on GMA 7. As of current, the anime series is no longer aired on the said channels. It also airs on the anime cable channel Hero TV as well as on Animax Asia.
Though The Prince of Tennis has become a successful franchise, spawning several adaptations like an anime, original video animations, musicals, movies, radio shows, and video games, the series has received both positive and negative reviews. When a popular anime and manga news website, Anime News Network, reviewed the first DVD box set released by Viz Media, they commented that "Prince of Tennis is among the dregs of the genre." They go on to say that it is "boring" and "lacks the human drama necessary to get audiences to care who wins or loses." 'Anime on DVD', however, comments that the show "takes the usual themes in sports shows and applies them masterfully." DVD Talk takes more of a nonchalant view, commenting that the "series is okay but not great" and that it has some charm, which will make you not regret watching it. Active Anime also gave praise to the series, saying that it "holds some surprising twists to the regular sports drama formula", and praised the suspenseful matches and innovative techniques. When Spectrum Nexus, another manga and anime reviews website, made an overall review of the entire anime series, it comments that the show takes "its time to evolve into a very enjoyable series" and that one should "remember the spectacular matches and the characters you found yourself admiring along the way."
Despite the reviews, there is no doubt that the series is vastly popular in Japan. When TV Asahi, a television network in Japan, conducted a nation-wide survey for the one hundred most popular animated television series, The Prince of Tennis anime came in twenty-seventh place. They also conducted an online web poll, in which The Prince of Tennis placed eighteenth. Nearly a year later, TV Asahi once again conducted an online poll for the top one hundred anime, and this time, The Prince of Tennis anime advanced in rank and came in eighth place. They also surveyed Japanese celebrities for their favorite anime, where the series only came in sixty-eighth out of the top one hundred.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 "Shōnen Jump Japan Ends Prince of Tennis and Muhyo and Roji". 2008-03-03. Retrieved 2008-03-03.
- ↑ "Ken-ichi Sakura Confirmed for Prince of Tennis Tribute". Anime News Network. 2008-11-03. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 "American Artist Assists on New Prince of Tennis Manga". Anime News Network. 2009-03-06. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
- ↑ "The Prince of Tennis, Vol. 1 (DVD Box Set)". Viz Media. Retrieved 2008-02-13.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 "Review - The Prince of Tennis DVD - DVD Box Set 1". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2008-02-13.
- ↑ "The Prince of Tennis, Vol. 4 (DVD Box Set)". Viz Media. Retrieved 2008-02-13.
- ↑ "Buy The Prince of Tennis Trading Card Game Booster Pack Vol. 11 - Order Now". PlayAsia. Retrieved 2008-11-02.
- ↑ "Prince of Tennis Figure #2: A Kunimitsu". Hobby Link Japan. Retrieved 2008-10-21.
- ↑ Script error
- ↑ "AnimeOnDVD Review - Prince of Tennis Box Set 01 (of 0)". animeondvd.com. 2007-04-04. Retrieved 2008-02-13.
- ↑ "DVD Talk Review - The Prince of Tennis Box Set, Vol. 1". DVD Talk. 2007-04-24. Retrieved 2008-02-13.
- ↑ "ActiveAnime.com:: PRINCE OF TENNIS BOX SET 1 (ADVANCED REVIEW)". ActiveAnime. 2007-04-13. Retrieved 2008-11-08.[dead link]
- ↑ Prince of Tennis Anime Review. thespectrum.net (7 October 2006). Retrieved on 13 February 2008.
- ↑ "TV Asahi Top 100 Anime Part 2". Anime News Network. 2005-09-23. Retrieved 2008-02-13.
- ↑ "TV Asahi Top 100 Anime". Anime News Network. 2005-09-23. Retrieved 2008-02-13.
- ↑ "Japan's Favorite TV Anime". Anime News Network. 2006-10-13. Retrieved 2008-02-13.
- Official sites
- Animax's official Prince of Tennis website (Japanese)
- TV Tokyo's Prince of Tennis Site (Japanese)
- Shueisha's Prince of Tennis Site (Japanese)
- Shin Prince of Tennis website (Japanese)
- Official Prince of Tennis Site (Japanese)
- Viz's Shonen Jump's The Prince of Tennis Site
- The Prince of Tennis at TV.com
- The Prince of Tennis (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- The Prince of Tennis at the Internet Movie Database