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Translations: Bleach 600 (2)
Title: Prince of Tennis
Genres: Comedy, School, Sports
Author: Konomi, Takeshi
Artist: Konomi, Takeshi
Publication: Shounen Jump (Weekly)
Start Date: Jul 1999 to Aug 3, 2008
End Date: Finished
Number of chapters at review: 379
Number of chapters read by reviewer: 379
Echizen Ryoma is a small, little, arrogant “cocky freshman” who just became a 1st year at the Sengoku Jr. High. Over there, he applies for the local tennis club and is instantly recognized as a talent by his fellow club members. Together with the rest of his team, it is his dream to win the Nationals and become Japan’s best.
Category Ratings: (1-10 scale)
Konomi’s strong points in the art department lie in the “action aspect”. He makes good use of speed lines and other means to give the various scenes an “impact”, to make them more energetic. Occasionally we also see a demonstration of cinematic paneling, though that happens a little too seldom for my taste. Konomi takes his time a little, throughout the first 100-150 chapters, when the art is pretty much “mediocre”, hardly being worth even a 7, but starting from that point onwards the art visually becomes better in all aspects going as far as occasionally even being worth considered a 9. The overall for the whole series is still an 8, though.
Being the clichéd shounen sports manga PoT is, the storyline is painfully predictable. There is the standard goal to win nationals, the standard mega-awesome-badass rookies as well as ultra-giga-fantastic senpai-tachi (the correct from for multiple senpai, for the record) and god-tier rivals. The plot focuses on one big goal and follows our heroes on their journey to accomplish it. It gradually develops just like a shounen manga should, but once again, it lacks this “surprise element”, all those unpredictable plot twists. However, just like with the art, Konomi covers this problem starting somewhere from chapter 150 onwards. He will gradually add all other shounen aspects, be that plot twists or flashbacks to develop his characters.
During the first few chapters, (with 150 chapters not being few at all, on second thought), the characters lacked depth. Strictly speaking, they were just three-dimensional stick figures running across the tennis court swinging their racket in all 4 directions. PoT became more than just a clichéd sports manga, when the Konomi showed us the life of the characters not only on the court, but outside it. With time passing, you will begin to learn the various backgrounds behind the characters. Even though they all play the same sport, they all have different reasons and motivations behind doing so.
After reading nearly 400 chapters of flying tennis balls, I come to the conclusion that the main message Konomi wants to tell his readers is that you should always keep on fighting to accomplish your dreams. That’s in case there was a message Konomi wanted to tell his readers in the first place. I mean… aside from that, there’s really no special theme in this manga. The only thing that could be mentioned in this aspect would be a message to small children out in the world to never except a poisonous-looking drink from your fellow 4-eyed tennis club member. Seriously, Konomi simply absorbs the reader with plain rational tennis logics. There’s no room for metaphysics.
Mada Mada Dane! Yeah, I am talking to you Konomi-sensei. Even though you managed to stay serialized with a three-dimensional stick figures cast in your manga for the first three years, that still doesn’t impress me as original. From that point onward, you improved this aspect a little, but that was still not enough. The most original plot lines were whenever a new character was introduced. All plot twists were just minor events, that had impact on one single game, occasionally the whole game set. I’ve never seen major drastic plot turns. The general flow of the story was predictable to no end. I stopped wondering about the outturn of a match somewhere after chapter 50 and I managed to guess the outcome of a specific game by 150.
Son, I am disappoint.
Overall, Prince of Tennis deserves a solid 7. It definitely does not reach the level of Slam Dunk, nor even Kuroko no Basket, but it still is a worthy read for sports fan manga, especially if you consider that there is a sequel currently running in Jump SQ. PoT’s biggest problem are the undeveloped characters in the beginning of the series. On the other hand, the art steadily evolves until it reaches a decent enough level and the plot is clean and solid.
All in all, it is worthy picking up this series if you’re into sports manga, however, I wouldn’t recommend it as your first manga in this genre.
First of all, how I do even start?
I have to question whether you even read the same manga that the rest of us did. To begin with, how could you mix up a minor character's name with the name of the protagonist's school? That's unforgivable. Sengoku is an overhyped, but actually poor, singles player (he loses to an injured Momo and to the pretty lackluster Kamio) from a relatively insignificant school named Yamabuki that Seigaku plays in the Tokyo Prefectural Tournament Finals.
The name of Echizen's school is Seigaku. Get it right, and don't just go off base from the very, very, very, very, very beginning.
You dislike the first 150 chapters because it's not superpowered enough for you? I mean, a lot of character development occurs in those chapters, and it's where the team first truly bonds. Later on, we get the Tezuka Kyuushu arc, Sanada's flashback about being massacred by Tezuka 6-0 6-1, and then watching (from Sanada's perspective) that Tezuka may possibly be better than Yuki. Fuji gets his flashback against Niou. There are the early Echizen flashbacks of his match against Tezuka under the bridge. You didn't even discuss the similarities between Tezuka and Echizen, some of which even occur early on. There is a significant amount of character development and depth to the characters in the first 150 chapters, which you somehow missed.
Anyway, why do you want something to be overly shounen? You trashed PoT for not being superpowered enough in the early going, and in some ways, it became more shounen over time. The first 150 chapters are some of the most entertaining and well done chapters, because it's not all about the superpowered aspect. Echizen's match with Shinji is quite well done, and that features really no special shots at all. Yes, the art was a little deficient in the beginning, but it improved over time. There are some entertaining plot twists, such as both of Tezuka's losses, although you could say that there are other people who needed to win their matches for Seigaku at those points, so, and there are reasons that he had to lose. I was disappointed that Tezuka lost to Atohe, after having outplayed him and been up match point, because of the arm injury from hell, just so that Echizen could beat down a poor player in Hiyoshi.
You totally missed the comedy, such as Prince of Bowling, Prince of Beach Volleyball, Prince of Yakiniku, as well as the bits with the numerous Sasabes.
On other matters, you haven't even read Eyeshield 21, yet you read Kuroko and think it's really quite good? Kuroko's dialogue is stiff, the art's questionable, and in the first matchup against one of the five, we see Midorima do the one thing that no basketball manga should ever do...That would be having the ability to hit a full court shot at will. I don't know how you can pass over such obvious problems and say that it's better than PoT. Now, you named two basketball manga in your review, and while I agree that Slam Dunk was great, it would seem that you may think that basketball may be a better sport than other sports, which harms your review as well.
There's so much more than I can say, and trust me, it'll happen...
Last edited by FrostyMouse; March 18, 2012 at 06:27 AM.
For me, PoT has one of the best art I've seen (together with DGM, Bleach and The Breaker). Yes, in the beginning it was not as pleasant for the eye, but it's only a trend of recent days that mangaka have good art right from the beginning. 95% of old manga had not so great art in the beginning. That's like I'd take off points from Bleach because the art was once crappy (and that wasn't Kubo's debut, where PoT is AFAIK).
Hmm, I don't really think I found first 150 chapters to be worse, but anyway. I didn't find it that predictable, and it took me a lot of time time I realized (I think someone had to flat out point it out to me) till I realized that Seigaku WON'T lose and Echizen WON'T lose, ever. That's what I would criticize (because they could have lost and still proceed to the next tournament). I think PoT is great in every character's backstories, goals, motivations and stuff, I didn't miss any of it in it.
I don't really remember where exactly this 150 chapters end, but were there no side stories, their different motivations and feeling before? Nanjirou for Echizen (which continued to evolve thanks to Tezuka and not only him), Tezuka for Fuji, The inherited dream for Tezuka and Oishi, Eiji's relationship with Oishi and how they were dealing with the moments when they couldn't play together, Kawamura... Kaidou was right from the start the one who won't give up, his rivalry with Momo and what they could make possible thanks to that. And that's only Seigaku. I didn't find it to be "empty" at all.
Here I found much more. Every character has different theme about them.
What I think you missed to mention is the most significant theme IMO, what is "Tennis is fun". The key to becoming the strongest, the thing Konomi teaches kids that read this. You have to keep trying to win to the end; BUT it's not only winning what is the big fault of Rikkai [Yuki particularly]. I guess Yuki is top2 player at the end of PoT, but he'll never become the strongest now, the only chance he has is that he'll change. Because tennis is not fun for him, it's all about winning (talking about how he won't ever acquire TnK)...
I found that each team Seigaku (and other teams) encountered had a theme. Rikkai with their 'everything for winning'. Higa was hurting others. The foreigners' team learned respect.
Fuji was particularly interesting...
I don't know what to say about this.
Lol, so you liked Kuroko more?
Just btw, the overall score is higher for PoT by 2 points (art and originality higher for PoT), but I don't know if that matters.