A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this sports-centric anime series focuses on a tennis prodigy and his teammates and opponents. The competition in his often-fierce matches can be brutal, with plenty of battle metaphors and mean, grimacing faces. Unlike the other players, the main character is a good sport (though even he can sometimes be sort of snotty toward his opponents). Female characters are usually on the sidelines, and at least one has a giant crush on the main male character (she jumps up and down when he wins and gets googly-eyed).
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What's the story?
THE PRINCE OF TENNIS, an anime series based on the popular manga series created by Takeshi Konomi, follows young tennis prodigy Ryoma Echizen (voiced by David Neil Black) as he starts attending Seishun Academy -- where he soon defeats many of the excellent tennis program's star players. In one episode, for example, Echizen plays a particularly nasty opponent with a famous shot that's known for being particularly difficult to return. Not only does Echizen return most of the shots, but he soon learns how to do it himself, turning his opponent's weapon against him. Other characters include Echizen's team members, a reporter and photographer from a tennis magazine, admiring girls, and others who are awed by the young player's talents. Echizen himself is somewhat mysterious, in that his abilities don't match his enthusiasm for the game; his classmates wonder why he isn't interested in pursuing professional-level tennis, but the answer might lie within his family's history. ...
Is it any good?
Since some episodes focus almost entirely on tennis matches, The Prince of Tennis can be quite dull for those without an interest in racquet sports or anime. The show's action revolves primarily around tennis matches; a lot of screen time is spent showing specific tennis shots and listening to onlookers describe these shots in great detail. Those looking to explore anime might want to start elsewhere, but the show has a loyal following -- so fans have clearly found something compelling about the story.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what sets this show apart from other anime series. Are there other anime programs that focus on things like sports rather than sci-fi and monsters? What do you think the show's goal is? What messages is it sending? What lessons can kids learn from playing sports? Can you imagine a non-anime cartoon all about tennis (or another sport)? How would it be similar to and different from this show?