Growing up, I was engrossed in Prince Of Tennis, a tennis animé that focused on a team’s journey to becoming the best in Japan. Its central themes were friendship, teamwork, and perseverance. Of course, I only watched for the fun, 2D boys, and to fuel my childhood fantasies of shipping and daydreaming of being part of that world. Along with Naruto and Detective Conan (Case Closed), this animé was the start to my many childhood fanfictions which kickstarted my love for writing and borne terrible stories which I’m upset that I didn’t save. After being exposed to more sports animé, I came to realize what I enjoy seeing in these shows.
Sports animé often focuses on a single team’s endeavour to win the big championship. However, what made Prince of Tennis special to me was its balance between sports and slice of life.
Since Echizen Ryoma (the animé’s main character), joined Seigaku, the team dynamic began to change. While Ryoma is essentially a tennis genius, he learned the importance of having team support and unity to make a team successful and vice versa. However, strengthening their relationships isn’t just achieved on the court, it’s also seeing their dynamic on other occasions that exclude tennis. It made the characters more relatable, fun, and interesting. It was also a nice breather from the intense tennis matches. While I will always enjoy rewatching Prince of Tennis, it was natural that I would check out the newest season, a season that transformed tennis into a literal battle on the court with none to little meaningful interactions between characters.
The newest season was heavily focused on tennis: the middle school tennis teams were invited to participate in the latest training camp to weed out the participants that will make Japan’s All-Star tennis team. From the synopsis alone, it’s evident that it’ll be heavily sports-centric. Additionally, with so many characters, it’s difficult to give screentime–let alone depth–to the ones you’ve come to love. Some characters were also reduced for comedic purposes which were sad to see. The tennis matches were also heavily exaggerated if they weren’t already in the first season. People were literally flying across courts due to a blow from an incoming tennis ball and sustaining serious physical injuries.
Regardless, Prince Of Tennis will always be a childhood favourite. It sparked my creativity and gave me characters I’ll always love. If you’re looking for a sports animé to watch, I would also recommend Prince Of Tennis (first season, of course). Though the animation is a bit old and don’t mind the length (over 170 episodes), give it a shot.
Let me know what sports animés you enjoy and what makes them so likeable.