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I am not a huge fan of anime or manga, I could count the number of animes/mangas I've watched and/or read on one hand. I will however go out of my way to watch/read these if I find them entertaining enough. I was introduced to Prince of Tennis by my friend who raved over it and stayed up to 4 a.m. on a school night watching the anime. When I first heard her description of Prince of Tennis I was unimpressed, why would I want to watch an anime about tennis? How could that be interesting? A few days later was the start of spring break and because I was bored I decided to see what the fuss was all about.
Brief Synopsis: (May contain spoilers.) Prince of Tennis follows the story of a 12 year old boy Ryoma Echizen who won four consecutive titles in the American Junior Tennis tournaments. He's an amazing tennis player and is considered a prodigy. He moved from America to Japan and attends Seishun Academy Middle School or Seigaku as it is commonly referred to in the anime. The anime follows the matches between Seigaku and other middle schools such as Hyotei and Fudomine, and Seigaku's preparations for the matches. There are also a few chibi episodes for fun and other episodes showing character development outside of tennis.
As far as characters go the drawing is good, but there is often complaints about how the characters with a one or two age gap with Ryoma and the other freshmen are so much taller and look much older. I didn't mind this because to me this just symbolized how much of a unique person Ryoma was to overcome odds against much more physically developed players and how much more he had to develop as a person. Prince of Tennis does have a huge girl fan base, so if you are a girl who loves anime with "eye candy" you will not be disappointed. The matches can be drawn out, they can go on for 3 or 4 episodes and sometimes it can be boring to sit through. Some of the characters can be stereotypical, such as Ryoma who has never lost an official match and always makes a comeback, or Tomo and Sakuno as the typical best friend girl fan club. Some of the characters are annoying, I've seen complaints mostly about the freshmen characters that seem to have no other point in the movie than to be cheerleaders and follow the other characters around. The characters are all different though, and it's easy to get attached to them.
The anime is enjoyable, and there are definitely laugh out loud moments. I found myself watching the anime for hours, once a match or one segment of a story line starts DO NOT start any more episodes if you have something else to do if you don't have any self control. Many episodes are clumped together and can cut matches off in the middle. There are cliffhangers at the end of episodes. There are episodes unrelated to tennis, but many are. You however DO NOT have to be a fan of the sport to watch this anime.
The anime continues for 178 episodes, but there is also a movie a movie and 7 OVAs which are to be released on DVD, only one which 1 of has been released, the next is poised for May 2006. There is also one other OVA that is supposed to be watched earlier in the series.
All in all I highly recommend this anime. 7/10
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