The Prince of Tennis 40-42 by Takeshi Konomi

Although the final three volumes of The Prince of Tennis contain many ridiculous things and are, objectively speaking, really not that good, I still think the story wraps up reasonably well.

Volume 40 begins with the tail end of the set between Seishun’s captain, Tezuka, and Sanada of the Rikkai team. Tezuka is dragging things out to buy time for absentee Ryoma to arrive, and ultimately ends up losing. Then Momoshiro and Kaidou lose, but not before we get this sentence that has never been written before at any time in the course of human history: “The tornado snake won’t work against a player with red eyes.” Good to know, that.

Fuji is up next, taking on a player with the ability to mimic anyone’s ability. And who should he emulate but Tezuka, so we get a match that is drawn like the two of these guys playing against each other. Somehow I think this was intended to appeal to the fujoshi, but I’m certainly not complaining. “Maybe we’ve both been avoiding facing off against each other. Because we’re afraid of finding out who’s better,” Fuji thinks at one point. Too bad the promise of a real face-off between them is not realized before the end of the series.

Fuji wins, so we move briskly on to the second doubles round, and somewhere around here Ryoma arrives with, and I am quoting the back cover here, “a wicked case of amnesia.” It’s completely stupid, and while Oishi and Eiji stall for time, various players (including rivals) go reacquaint Ryoma with his tennis memories by playing him off-camera. Why even employ an amnesia plot if it’s going to be cured so simply? It just makes me shake my head.

Anyway, it should be no surprise to anyone at all that Ryoma regains his memory and, though he starts off his match at a disadvantage, he soon summons the ultimate skill—“the pinnacle of perfection”—with which to vanquish his opponent. (Everyone can tell that he has achieved this because white light bursts from his body. As it often does in tennis.) And Ryoma’s dad drops by to tell everyone this is happening because Ryoma is playing simply for the joy of the game, and so that everyone can finally learn that Ryoma is the son of the famous Samurai Nanjirou. So, Seishun wins and there’s a montage while the lyrics of a song penned by Takeshi Konomi scroll by. It’s all very silly. There’s also a brief prose epilogue depicting the third years’ graduation.

I just really don’t know what to say about The Prince of Tennis at this point. In the pursuit of ways to make games even more exciting, Konomi crossed my personal “suspension of disbelief” border with all these physically observable glowy states. Somehow, I was willing to accept Inui making instant probability calculations or Tezuka being able to control his spin so well that all return shots come directly to his location, but make a guy sparkly and have someone in the stands cry, “L-look at that! All his aura’s concentrated around his left arm!!” and it’s suddenly too much for me to take. Still, it’s not like the series was ever so fabulous that I’m actively disappointed. Just resigned.

Anyway, thus concludes The Prince of Tennis. The sequel, Shin Prince of Tennis (“Shin” means “new”), is currently serialized in Jump SQ magazine. The fifth collected volume came out in March of this year. It lamentably remains unlicensed for US release.

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  1. I have seen the anime but haven’t read more than one volume of the manga. It’s definitely not the best sports series but it was fun while it lasted. Also, it is one series that could get away with not having romance. It is pretty common to have a love story in sports series but Prince of Tennis is fine without it. Actually that girl Sakuno annoys me and I cannot see her being Ryoma’s partner. They’re so different and there’s definitely no chemistry. I’m not sure if Konomi-sensei will decide to make them a couple in the sequel but hopefully not.

    Most of the characters are likable with the exception of the annoying girls.

    I’m a huge fan of sports anime and manga and I’d be so happy if more good series to be available for the English readers. Too bad this genre is not popular in America and so the companies don’t seem to want to take the risk of bringing more titles in the genre in.

    • The manga and anime do some things differently—most notably the endings and that whole part with the blond-haired kid—but I can’t really recommend one over the other. I like the more streamlined approach of the manga, but I miss some of the music from the anime. 🙂

      Sakuno doesn’t annoy me, but I don’t see her being Ryoma’s partner, either. He is totally not thinking about girls in that sense yet. That said, Konomi does feature her rather prominently in the prose epilogue, so I’m pretty sure that they’ll be together at some point, chemistry or no.

      I’m also a huge fan of sports manga. I’ve got some more of it to read in English—like finishing up Eyeshield 21 and Whistle!—but I also have been buying Mitsuru Adachi’s Katsu! and Rough in French, so reviews of those will be coming at some point in the future. I continue to hope that Kodansha will announce the release of the Ookiku Furikabutte manga, but I might have to content myself with the anime on that one.

      • I did notice that Konomi did feature Sakuno prominently in the prose epilogue, which also made me somehow sure they will be end up together.

        I have seen Whistle! but haven’t picked up the manga for it. I want more sports manga but there doesn’t seem to be anything interesting to me at this point except for Slam Dunk and Cross Game.

        I don’t know much about Eyeshield 21 but I heard a lot of good things about it. As for Ookiku Furikabutte, I have seen the first season of the anime only. It was good but nothing I am crazy about. Sports manga I would love to see licensed are Captain Tsubasa, Major, and Touch.

        • Slam Dunk and Cross Game are definitely my favorites of the sports manga that’s currently available in the US. (Note: I say this without having yet read Takehiko Inoue’s Real, but I’m not sure that’s sports manga so much as a really good and really serious series involving basketball.)

          I got five volumes in to Whistle! about four years ago then wandered away and never came back. It was decent enough (if a bit sappy) that I bought the rest of the volumes. So I really should finish it. Eyeshield 21 is very silly (here are two reviews) but fun. And I love Komusubi.

          I was just talking about Ookiku Furikabutte on Twitter yesterday, and the general consensus seemed to be that the anime is better than the manga. And I’m with you on wishing for those three classics, though I think Major (at 78 volumes) is probably not gonna happen. I really, really hope Touch happens, though. If VIZ put it into omnibus editions, they could shrink it to nine volumes or something.

          • I read all the 9 volumes of Takehiko Inoue’s REAL that have been published and I would say that it is a great piece of work as well. It is a sports manga but it is also more of a slice of life. I actually love how realistic it is. Wheelchair basketball is really something. I mean, it is great to see disabled people pursuing their goals in life. While it is still ongoing and volume 10 just recently came out in Japan, I think it is a must-have for Inoue’s fans.

            I also don’t think Captain Tsubasa happening as it is a long series and I don’t think any company will take the risk of licensing series that might not sell, given how unpopular the genre is in the U.S.

            • I’m glad to hear you like Real so much. I’ve been buying it as it has been released, and hope to catch up on 1-9 soon so I can feature volume ten in an Off the Shelf when it comes out. 🙂

              And I think you’re right about Captain Tsubasa. I did see it recently in Spanish, so I might acquire it one of these days, but that will have to wait until I finish procuring all of the Mitsuru Adachi available in French. I’ve got all of Katsu! and half of Rough, but there’s still the lengthy Touch and H2 to go. 🙂

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