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Title The Prince of Tennis: Volume 1
Author Takeshi Konomi
Publisher VIZ Media, LLC
Year 2004
ISBN-10 1-59116-435-4

Teaser/Reader Annotation Ryoma Echizen is no ordinary kid trying out for the school tennis team, but he has a number of obstacles to overcome before he can make it into the starting line up.

Plot Summary The Prince of Tennis manga follows Ryoma Echizen, seventh grader at Seishun Gakuen Junior High School, and his adventures on the school tennis team. After winning the American Junior Tournament four years in a row, Echizen returns with his family to Japan where he is enrolled at Seigaku, the same school his champion father attended as a youth. Despite his record in America, his Japanese rivals show little respect for him due to his small size and age. Before school begins, Ryoma is convinced to enter a local tennis tournament by the coach. Determined to prove himself, the twelve-year-old signs up for the sixteen-and-under group but arrives late and is disqualified, only to play an unofficial match against a teenage bully. At school he once again faces off in tennis matches when upperclassmen are harassing the other students, upsetting his new team captain. Echizen must overcome all of these difficulties if he hopes to qualify as a team regular.

Critical Evaluation While this manga series chronicles the story a twelve-year-old main character it is one which will all ages will enjoy reading and has a major teenage following. One of the reasons for this is how much older the characters are drawn and act than the ages that they are supposed to be, excluding the seventh graders who are purposefully portrayed as significantly smaller and less emotionally stable. The non-seventh grade characters all have the looks and maturity of high school students, which could be because of the age difference of students between American and Japanese junior highs. Konomi's drawing style is highly detailed, giving movement to the action sequences of the tennis matches. As for the tennis itself, this manga does a good job at explaining to those unfamiliar with tennis jargon what is happening in the panels without taking away from the action. What was most interesting was the emphasis on bullying throughout the volume. There are multiple cases of older students bullying those younger and weaker that Echizen purposefully goads into a humiliating match. It would be interesting to see if this theme continued in the following volumes.

About the Author Takeshi Konomi (June 26, 1970) is a Japanese mangaka – that is, a manga comic artist and author. He made his manga debut in the magazine Weekly Shonen Jump after graduating from college in 1993. He began releasing The Prince of Tennis in this magazine beginning in 1999. It was not published in America until the first volume was released in 2004.

Along with writing and drawing The Prince of Tennis manga, Konomi has been an avid tennis player and was a member of his own junior and high school tennis teams. This interest and these experiences helped in the formation of this series. The popularity of The Prince of Tennis put Konomi in the top ten highest income tax payers in Japan in 2004.

Primary Genre Manga

Secondary Genre Sports

Curriculum Ties Physical Education

Booktalking Ideas

1) Though Ryoma never says so, it is obvious by his actions that he does not like bullying. What other ways could he have dealt with these situations?

2) Did the mangaka succeed in making the action sequences engaging rather than simply having actions drawn on paper?

Reading Level/Interest Age This is a low-grade manga but one that all teenagers could enjoy, especially those interested in tennis.

Challenge Issues None

Why is it included? I greatly enjoy the series, even as an adult, and know a number of teenagers that have read the every volume.