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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Prince of Tennis, Set 2
The Prince of Tennis, Set 2
VIZ // G // July 24, 2007
List Price: $39.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted November 30, 2007 | E-mail the Author
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The Series:

The first season of The Prince of Tennis comes to a close with this second set of episodes.  Though the series is incredibly popular Japan, with manga volumes, CDs, stage plays, and even a weekly radio show, the end of the first season of the anime left me cold.  With horrible animation, not much of a story and frequent flashbacks, the show loses most of the charm it had in the first half.

Series background:

Ryoma Echizen has just started going to Seishun Academy, a junior high (7th -9th grades) renowned for its strong tennis club.  As a 7th grader, he's supposed to spend his time with the club picking up tennis balls and running drills, but Ryoma is no ordinary pupil.  He's the son of Nanjiro Echizen, a former tennis pro who mysteriously quit at the playing while at the top of his game, and an exceptional tennis player himself.

The regulars (the members who get to play in tournaments) of the Seishun Gakuen tennis club are not slouches themselves however.  They take tennis very seriously and play to win.  Having earned a slot on the regular team by performing well in the first school tournament, Ryoma is ready for first real tournament of the year.  Seishun does well in the early rounds, but winning the tournament isn't going to be as easy as they hoped.

This set:

For the final round, Seishun is pitted against an unknown school, Fudomine.  They pulled out of the tournament cycle last year, for mysterious reasons, but now their back and tearing up the court.  With a strong will to win and the skill to make their dream a reality, Seishun is in for a tough time.  With Ryoma scheduled to play the second to last match, he'll have to play his best to beat Shinji Ibu, a player who has a kick serve just like Ryoma's.

That tournament takes op the first half of the set.  Afterwards the show relaxes a bit and has a couple of comic episodes, including one about a serial purse snatcher who keeps knocking down Kaido who is out jogging.  The pace picks up again as the team starts to practice for the next tournament.  The season ends with a two-part duel when the head of Seishun's Tennis Team challenges Ryoma to a match.  Will the pint-sized player be able to beat Seishun's best man?

Like the first boxed set, this group of episodes has a lot of problems.  The worst thing about this show is the animation.  For such a popular manga I was really surprised that the animation was done on the cheap.  There is very little movement, and every economy has been taken.  When Ryoma or an opponent enters the court, they pan across a still image of the player.  When people are walking, only their heads are shown with a moving background.  What's worse is that this show about tennis doesn't show many volleys.  Instead of watching the ball go back and forth over the net, the camera will focus on one player hitting the ball.  While the background consists only of colored streaks the player will hit the ball, (sometimes they won't even animate that movement and just have a still image in an action pose) and then they cut to the ball landing on the court.  Yes, it saves money but it sure looks bad.

Another money saving technique that is often used is to replay scenes from earlier episodes as recaps.  I don't mind this every once in a while, but nearly every episode has a one to two minute replayed scene, often coming from the previous episode.  This was really too much and got to be ridiculous by the end of the set.

As for the show itself, there's not much meat here.  Ryoma is arrogant and aloof, and he doesn't even have to work to be a good tennis player...he just is one.  The mystery about his father's retirement from tennis at the top of his game was intriguing in the first half of the season, but it's barely mentioned in this half.

The tennis itself is absolutely stupid.   Players jump straight up 6-9 feet in the air, the ball magically gains and looses momentum at will, and the techniques employed are flat out impossible.   Kaido has his "Boomerang Snake" shot where he hits the ball off the court, but once the ball has passed on the outside of the net pole it curves back in.  The team captain has a shot where the ball lands on his opponent's side of the court and doesn't bounce, it just rolls away...towards the net!  It is impossible to suspend ones disbelief when idiotic things like that are commonplace.

While the first half held some promise, this section doesn't build on that at all.  If anything the show has gotten stupider and any of the charm that the earlier shows contained has been eliminated.  It's not quite as gripping as other sports anime and lacks excitement both on and off the court, which made me wonder more than once why I was watching it.

The DVD:


This set presents episodes 14-26 on three discs.  The discs come in a fold-out case which is housed in an attractive slipcase.  Also included with the discs is a small 'poster' of Ryoma and his cat Karupin.

Audio:

Viewers have the option of watching this show with the original Japanese soundtrack or an English dub, both in stereo.  I alternated between languages and found that I enjoyed the Japanese track better, but not by a whole lot.  The English dub is good though I found the voices of the girls to be rather annoying.  Neither soundtrack was very dynamic, but then again tennis isn't the most aural of sports.  The quality of the audio was fine, though nothing to write home about.  There are optional English subtitles, though signs (and written match pairings) are not translated.

Video:

The full frame image looks pretty good, which isn't too surprising since the animation is so basic and sparse.  The lines are tight and the colors are solid.  On the digital side things also look good.  Aliasing isn't a problem and neither is macro blocking or cross colorization, the flaws that plague animation the most.  Overall the disc reproduces the show well; it's just a shame that the animation wasn't better.

Extras:

The extras are pretty slim in this set.  The only bonus items are clean versions of the original Japanese opening and closing and a couple of Japanese promo spots (without English subs.)  There are also trailers for two Shonen Jump anime series and a slide with information on how to subscribe to the magazine.

Final Thoughts:

This show, which started off pretty weak, has gone downhill.  The animation is just as bad and the characters are still paper thin but the tennis has gotten much worse.  What's more, the little charm that the first half of this season had has pretty much been eliminated.  This show has gone from "not bad if you're really bored" to "painful to watch."  Skip it.

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