The Prince of Tennis (テニスの王子様, Tenisu no Ōjisama?, literally: "Prince of Tennis") is a popular Japanese manga written and illustrated by Takeshi Konomi. The title is often shortened to TeniPuri (テニプリ, TeniPuri?), a portmanteau of the two parts in the Japanese pronunciation of the words "Tennis Prince". The manga was first published in Japan in Shueisha's Weekly Shōnen Jump in July 1999, and ended publication on March 3, 2008. A total of 379 chapters were serialized, spanning 42 volumes. As of volume 40, the manga has sold over 40 million copies in Japan. The manga is published in English in North America by Viz Media. According to Anime News Network, the December issue of the manga magazine Jump Square will reportedly announce a sequel that will begin serialization in its April 2009 issue.
The Prince of Tennis was adapted into an anime series directed by Takayuki Hamana, animated by Trans Arts and co-produced by Nihon Ad Systems and TV Tokyo. The anime aired across Japan on the anime satellite television network Animax and the terrestrial TV Tokyo network from October 10, 2001 to March 30, 2005, spanning a total of 178 episodes, as well as a theatrical movie. In April 2006, an original video animation (OVA) continuation of the anime began to be released on DVD. The beginning of the second OVA series was released on June 22, 2007, roughly 3 months after the end of the first. The second OVA ended on January 25, 2008, and the third and final OVA started on April 25, 2008.
The series developed into a media franchise and has had numerous other adaptations outside of the animated incarnation. Since April 2003, more than fifteen stage musicals have been produced for the series. An animated movie was released in 2005, as well as a live action movie in 2006. Also, a 22-episode-long live-action television drama began airing in China on July 25, 2008. The franchise has also had a long running radio show, numerous video games, soundtracks, and other merchandise or collectibles.
The series is primarily set in Tokyo, and centers around Ryoma Echizen, a tennis prodigy who attends Seishun Academy (青春学園, Seishun Gakuen?), or Seigaku (青学, Seigaku?) for short, a private school famous for its strong tennis club and talented players. Ryoma quickly defeats numerous upperclassmen shortly after entrance to secure himself a spot as one of the team's regulars. In pursuit of their ultimate goal of winning the all-Japan junior high school tennis championship, members of the team make new friends while learning and mastering increasingly complex techniques. Ryoma also begins to develop his own style of tennis, and eventually realizes what the sport really means to him.
Note - Names are in Western order, with the given name before the family name.
Main article: List of The Prince of Tennis characters
Ryoma Echizen (越前 リョーマ, Echizen Ryōma?)
The protagonist of the series, Ryoma is the son of Nanjiro Echizen, who was formerly known as "Samurai Nanjiro" during his days as a professional tennis player. Ryoma gains the nickname "Samurai Junior" later in the series. He makes his first appearance when he criticizes a high school student about his tennis knowledge in a subway. He always says, "mada mada dane," which is directly translated as "You still have lots more to work on" in the Japanese manga. Ryoma Echizen is voiced by Junko Minagawa (Japanese Version).
Kunimitsu Tezuka (手塚 国光, Tezuka Kunimitsu?)
Tezuka is the captain of the tennis club and a third year student at Seishun Academy. He is an incredibly talented player and went to Nationals the year before the series took place. Tezuka is serious about everything he does, and he is very strict — one of his trademark phrases is "Don't let your guard down."
Shuichiro Oishi (大石 秀一郎, Ōishi Shūichirō?)
Oishi is a third year student at Seishun Academy and the vice-captain of the tennis club. Along with Eiji Kikumaru, he is part of Seigaku's "Golden Pair," a doubles team that made it to Nationals the year before the series takes place. Oishi is a very responsible character and cares deeply about the team.
Shusuke Fuji (不二 周助, Fuji Shūsuke?)
Fuji is a third year student at Seishun Academy and is approaching fifteen years of age at the beginning of the series. He is given the title "genius" due to his tactical skill on the tennis court. Fuji is often seen with a calm and content expression on his face, with his eyes seemingly closed from lightly smiling. However, when he is excited or provoked, or when playing seriously, Fuji reveals his sharp blue eyes.
Eiji Kikumaru (菊丸 英二, Kikumaru Eiji?)
Eiji Kikumaru is a third year student at Seishun Academy and is part of the "Golden Pair," along with Shuichiro Oishi. Using his acrobatic play, he can return almost any ball, even those that seem out of human reach. Eiji is also known to have the sharpest vision on the team, with an exceptional talent for seeing fast moving objects.
Takashi Kawamura (河村 隆, Kawamura Takashi?)
Takashi is a soft-spoken person off the court, very gentle and shy, though still outspoken and stubborn when he makes a decision. However, he becomes extremely aggressive and loud once he grabs a racket. This change in his personality is marked by him shouting "Burning!!!"
Sadaharu Inui (乾 貞治, Inui Sadaharu?)
Inui is a highly intelligent player. He plays what he calls "Data Tennis," which involves collecting and analyzing data for a player in order to determine their weaknesses. He is even able to determine the exact probability of certain shots being successful. When he is cut from the regulars after the first Seigaku ranking matches shown in the series, Inui creates the training menus for the team. More often than not, this involves contests or races of some kind, with the loser being forced to drink one of Inui's many infamous concoctions.
Takeshi Momoshiro (桃城 武, Momoshiro Takeshi?)
Momoshiro is known as Seigaku's number one rascal. He is an aggressive baseliner. For a short time, he is cut from the regulars after losing to Inui and Tezuka during Seigaku's second monthly ranking matches. As the player who is the most open and friendly with everyone, Momoshiro is connected to everyone on the team on some level.
Kaoru Kaido (海堂 薫, Kaidō Kaoru?)
Kaido's nickname is "Viper," which fits him well as his signature move is the "Snake Shot," a curving forehand that keeps his opponents running. He wears a bandana and often exhales, making a sound similar to a snake. Kaido does not like his nickname, and often reacts badly when called that within earshot. He and Momo are rivals, though they are very competent doubles partners.
 Notable differences
The anime is quite different from the manga version. For example, in the anime Nio and Yagyu did not cosplay each other in the regionals, whereas they did in the manga. However, all the radios, mini dramas, CDs and games make references to this and act as if it had always took place. Thus, someone who only watched the anime might be confused by the different portrayals.
Notable differences include the addition of table tennis scenes and billiard scenes in the anime. Episodes in the anime also deal with Kevin Smith and the U.S. West Coast Team, whereas the American team does not exist within the manga. Events in the anime also take place at a different time than when they take place in the manga; in the tournament where Seigaku is supposed to face off with Midoriyama, they switch the tournament draw in the anime, and put Josei Shonan to face Seigaku instead. Also, Ryoma faces Rokkaku's captain, Aoi Kentaro, in the Prefectural Semifinals, while the manga puts Kaido against him.
Also, while the manga makes an attempt to try and explain how some of the seemingly impossible moves are performed, such as the Tezuka Zone and Kikumaru's Seal Steps, the anime does less and sometimes even exaggerate them to a point where it becomes almost magical. This is possibly also due to the fact that the anime uses animation and naturally some effects are enhanced, but at times the anime seems to deliberately exaggerate the effects in order to parody itself. In the animated movie, Tezuka's skill and power has been compared to that of the meteorite which led to the extinction of dinosaurs in a lengthy clip; even the author found it so exaggerated that it was funny. Another instance is Ryoma's anime-only Cyclone Smash, which blows Sanada away completely, unlike many powerful smashes in the manga series which only blow away the opponent's racket.