The third set of The Prince of Tennis starts the show's second
season. Though the inaugural season was successful in Japan, that popularity
didn't translate into a larger budget for the show. Still filled
with pretty wretched animation, flat characters, and amazingly bad tennis,
this show has little appeal.
Ryoma Echizen has just started going to Seishun Gakuen (aka Seigaku),
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 is an exceptional tennis
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.
The focus of this set is the Metropolitan Tournament. Seigaku
is one of the favorites, but it's still a tough battle. Their main
rival this time is St. Rudolph. This strong club is lead by Mizuki,
a teen who has studied the Seigaku players extensively and knows each of
their weaknesses. Fans of the show (both of them) will enjoy seeing
Momoshiro and the hissing Kaido teamed up for doubles. The two opposites
actually compliment each other very well, trying to out-do not only their
opponents, but each other as well.
When all is said and done however, this set plays out nearly the same
as the last one. The tournament dominates the collection, with only
a couple of shows at the beginning and end devoted to other matters (mainly
training.) These episodes seem to blend together with what's gone
on before, and writing this review it was really hard to recall what actually
happened in this tournament as opposed to the previous tournament that
took place is set two.
It's no secret that I'm not a fan of this series. I gave
the first set a 'rent it' rating and dropped the second set to a 'skip
it'. I held out a sliver of hope that the show would improve with
the second season, but that's not the case. There's a lot that
doesn't work in this series, the animation is done on the cheap with as
little movement as possible, the characters are stereotypes, and the main
character is very unlikable. I could ignore that if the stories were
engaging, but they aren't. The real reason I can't enjoy this show
though is because it doesn't capture the sport of tennis. They make
up idiotic shots that defy the laws of physics. It's not just Ryoma
that has this magical ability, but every player has a signature shot that
just wouldn't be possible in the real world. If any player could
hit a fast lob across the net, have it hit the other side of the court,
and stop without bouncing or moving at all, they'd have Federer and Nadal
shaking in their tennis shoes. That's just par for the corse for
The Prince of Tennis though.
In addition to that, it's nearly impossible to relate to any of the
characters. Ryoma is cocky and arrogant, and since he's already one
of the best players on the planet it's hard to connect with him.
The things he goes through aren't like anything that I went through in
junior high, and I'm sure that goes for everyone else who watches the show.
With monotonous and repetitive stories and no one to relate to, this series
is not worth watching.
This set presents episodes 27-38 on three discs. The discs come
in a fold-out case which is housed in an attractive slipcase.
As with the previous sets, it isn't possible to chapter skip past the opening,
which is really irritating.
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.
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.
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.
Like Dan Doh did for golf, The Prince of Tennis manages
to suck any enjoyment or excitement out the game of tennis. The episodes,
which are very similar, tend to run together and none of the characters
are likeable or easy to relate to. There are so many good anime shows
out there, there's no reason to waste your time on something this poor.