The Prince of Tennis Volume One is a manga by Takeshi Konomi, and it was released in North America by Viz Media’s Shonen Jump imprint in 2004. The series is rated “A” for all ages; after reading this volume, I would say that I agree with this rating.
The main character of The Prince of Tennis is Ryoma Echizen, a 12-year-old tennis prodigy. He is the son of Nanjiro Eichen, a former professional tennis player.
At the beginning of the volume, Ryoma enters a tennis competition in the 16 and under group, rather than the 12 and under group. He has to prove himself against the older boys who are at the competition.
After this, the story moves ahead a few weeks later, where Seishun Gakuen Junior High is holds its school entrance ceremony. Ryoma is one of the new students entering the school, and he goes out to be part of the school’s tennis team.
Traditionally, seventh graders like Ryoma only chase after balls and aren’t officially members of the team. However, after Ryoma gets into a competition with one of the other classmen, some of the older members of the team feel threatened by him. The ranking matches for the team start in the final chapter of the volume, but are not concluded.
My first real exposure to The Prince of Tennis came through watching the first episode of the anime series on YouTube; if I recall correctly, the episode I saw had the English dub audio. I just remember not being terribly impressed by what I saw, thinking that Ryoma came across as a rather cocky character and wondering why the audience was supposed to be rooting for him.
Reading the manga, however, I could tell that Ryoma didn’t come across nearly as cocky as when I saw the first episode of the anime. While he may be confident in the manga, he’s not overly cocky or conceited. This did help improve my initial perception of Ryoma as a character.
However, I have to say that while I found The Prince of Tennis to be a fast read because of the action going in in the tennis matches, I also found it to be a little on the boring side. This could be due to the fact that I’m not much of a tennis fan. While some of the character interactions are interesting, it just wasn’t quite enough to make up for the strong focus this series has on the game of tennis.
The Prince of Tennis isn’t necessarily a bad manga, but I think it would be best enjoyed by readers who also enjoy tennis or are able to enjoy reading manga series that focus on sports.