Oh boy! This is a big one. I’ve been a fan of Prince of Tennis for a while, but I haven’t really done anything on this site relating to it. However, I’ve just recently gotten to re-watching the show. Why not take this opportunity to start reviewing it? It would be tough to review the show as a whole, at least if I wanted to get all of my thoughts in, so I’m doing reviews approx. every 10 episodes give or take, depending on whether it would be more prudent to do one more or one less.
So, let’s start!
We are introduced to Echizen Ryoma, a middle-schooler tennis prodigy who has just returned from the U.S. after winning a bunch of junior tournaments. Unfortunately, he was unable to participate in his first tournament in Japan due to being given the wrong directions by a ditzy girl named Sakuno. One thing leads to another and eventually Ryoma finds himself challenged to a game by an arrogant high school tennis ace. Ryoma dominates the game and the high schooler gets his arse handed to him.
Welcome to Seigaku, the new school of Ryoma and his self-proclaimed best buddy Horio. The two of them run into Takeshi Momoshiro who, unbeknownst to them, is a member of Seigaku’s famous first-string tennis team. They run into Momoshiro again after Ryoma saves Horio and a couple other first year tennis club members from being harassed by some sophomores. Momo had heard of Ryoma from the coach of Seigaku’s tennis club, who also happens to be Sakuno’s grandmother. He proceeds to challenge Ryoma to a game to test his infamous “twist serve”. Momo’s forceful play allows him to take a few points, but Ryoma controls the game and keeps the momentum. Eventually, Ryoma switches to his dominant hand, and after seeing that Momo drops out. One of the spectators for the match happens to be Mamoru Inoue, a reporter for Monthly Pro Tennis. He and his camerwoman Saori Shiba watch on from the sidelines. Inoue notices the resemblance in play styles between Ryoma and one of his favorite professional players, Echizen Nanjirou, who retired a while back. Inoue makes the connection based on their names, and it is revealed that Ryoma is the son of the legendary Nanjirou.
The regulars for the Seigaku tennis team have returned, and the club is heating up for the traditional ranking matches, which will pit the top players against each other to see who will be on the regular team for the next tournament. Meanwhile, it’s the last straw for Arai, one of the seniors who was bullying Horio and his friends in the previous episode. Ryoma’s continued disrespect towards Arai and the other seniors makes Arai made enough to plot against him. Ryoma comes back from a run to find that his rackets have gone missing. Arai had taken them, and challenged Ryoma to a game where he would have to use one of the older, broken down rackets from the back of the club room. Ryoma accepts the challenge, as Arai had hit a nerve by taking his property. Initially, Ryoma has trouble with the old racket, but he adjusts his play style and trounces Arai. Tezuka and Oishii, the captain and vice-captain of the team watch the game intently. Although Tezuka tells Oishii to discipline Arai and Ryoma for distracting practice, the episode ends with a close-up of the schedule for the ranking tournaments, which shows that Tezuka added Ryoma to the list after seeing him play, despite him being a first year.
The ranking tournament has begun, to decide who the 8 members of the regular team will be for the upcoming tournament. Ryoma has an easy time against almost everyone in his bracket, until he comes across Kaidoh, a member of the current regular team. Kaidoh is a surly guy with a signature move called “Snake”. Ryoma has a difficult time beating the “Snake” due to it’s rapidly changing trajectory. Seeing Kaidoh pull out his signature move in the game forces Ryoma turn on his serious mode, as he switches to his dominant hand.
As the game goes on, it seems that Ryoma is losing his stamina rapidly. Kaidoh’s “Snake” requires very quick movements to return, and Ryoma realizes that this is the true intention behind his using the move. However, it becomes clear that Ryoma is not letting up. In fact, Kaidoh starts to notice himself losing stamina. Eventually, he realizes that all of Ryoma’s shots have been focused close to his feet, causing him to bend his knees. This increases the power required to return the ball, thus causing him to lose energy. Not only does Ryoma create a great counter to Kaidoh’s “Snake”, he also performs a “Buggy Whip Shot”, a special type of spin shot that takes advantage of centrifugal force to put a high spin on the ball. “Snake” is an example of this type of shot. In the end, Ryoma grabs the victory from a frustrated Kaidoh, who is left beating his knees in the end.
So far, we’ve seen only a little of Ryoma’s dad, Echizen Nanjirou, but look forward to more of him very soon, ’cause he’s a boss (if not an extremely perverted one). Think of him as the Master Roshi of this show. Also, Ryoma seems to be sweeping up the competition, at least in terms of the established Seigaku regulars, and this won’t be changing any time soon. However, look forward to a transformation as he comes under fire from more difficult opponents in the future. Take heart though, because Ryoma is and forever will be the Prince of Tennis.
Thanks for reading, I hope you liked it. If you have thoughts or suggestions, feel free to tell me about it in the comments below. Thanks again, and have a great day!