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Friday, August 22, 2014

Prince of Tennis Filler Guide:

Prince of Tennis is pure filler after episode 95 of the tv series, until the beginning of the oav's.  The match against Rikkai Dai in the Kantou region in the tv series is completely different from what actually happens in the manga, and all for the worse.  The match against Rokkoku in the tv series is slightly wrong as well.  It could be skipped without much loss for the viewer.  Previous to the match against Rokkoku, Prince of Tennis is also filler.  Instead of the real match they had against Midoriyama, they play a fake team called Josei Shounen.  Obviously, that too has to be skipped.

In other words, after the match with Hyoutei at the beginning of the Kantou tournament, all of Prince of Tennis is essentially filler.  Sometimes it glances upon what happens in the manga, but it always deviates far enough away that it doesn't really provide the content it pretends to provide.  Watching the tv series up until the end of the match with Hyoutei is a reasonable choice.  IE, episode 69 is the last true episode of Prince of Tennis.  After that, people should read the manga, until the National Tournament begins, after which point it's safe to watch the anime again.

That's the bad news.  Prince of Tennis is actually much shorter than the tv series pretends to be.  The good news is that a new oav season, of around 10 episodes, will carry on the story of Prince of Tennis II.  It's called 'vs. the Genius 10,' and should pick up right from where the Prince of Tennis II tv series left off.  (The anime changes some scenes in Prince of Tennis II from the manga as well, but it isn't nearly as bad as Prince of Tennis' original series.)  Beginning this September and moving on into 2015, there will be lots more actually good Prince of Tennis to watch.

Prince of Tennis is ostensibly a sports series, but it's more like a shonen action show, caring about special moves and power levels.  Thankfully, the latest chapter of the manga has settled for good what the power levels of all the best players from all the best teams are:

The 14 middle schoolers chosen from the U-17 camp to participate in the Jr. World Cup are:

Atobe Keigo, Yukimura Seiichi, Shiraishi Kuranosuke, Sanada Geni'ichirou, Akutsu Jin, Tooyama Kintarou, Marui Bunta, Fuji Shuusuke, Niou Masaharu, Ishida Gin, Oishi Shuuichirou, Kite Eishirou, Kirihara Akaya, and Echizen Ryoma.

Tezuka Kunimitsu quit the U-17 camp and decided to go pro instead, so he's out of the picture.  We can assume he's at least on par with the chosen representatives if not better than everyone else in the series.  Ryoma quit the U-17 camp and decided to play for America so he's also out of the picture.  I assume some other player will be picked for the 14th slot.  I wonder who?  How about Kikumaru Eiji?  He's always looked awesome to me. . .

But in any case, right now Hyotei has only 1 representative, Shitenhouji has 3, Yamabuki has 1, Higa has 1, Seigaku has 2, and Rikkai Dai has 5.  It's a miracle Seigaku beat Rikkai Dai in the nationals, but then again Seigaku is now missing both Ryoma and Tezuka so it only makes sense this would happen.

Anyone who didn't get into this list isn't really strong and any rumors about their strength are just hype.  This includes people like Inui, Yanagi, Sengoku, Tachibana, etc.  Fuji, however, is the real deal, something that's often been questioned but the author has put to rest for good.  Marui Bunta really is the genius he describes himself as, no one can call that vanity anymore.  And Kirihara Akaya really is the rising star of Rikkai Dai.  Aside from Kintarou who's on par with Ryoma while just being a freshman, Akaya is the only non-3rd year to participate in the world cup.  You'll note Momoshiro and Kaidou, also 2nd years, are nowhere to be seen.  Akaya is officially better and stronger than them now.

I'm sure the World Cup will be full of exciting tennis matches in the years to come as this manga slowly serializes, but the climax really was this selection, because it told us all we needed to know about our cast of characters.  Who's in, who's out.  Who's the real McCoy, and who's just blowing smoke.  Who's a winner and who's a loser.  Isn't that what drove our curiosity all the time up until this point?  The latest chapter of Prince of Tennis may as well be the last, it's so deliciously strong in its climactic impact.  At last, all remaining questions have been solved.  The list the names were announced equals the relative strength of the characters mentioned.  The strongest is Atobe, then Yukimura, then Shiraishi, then Sanada, etc.  All questions are put to rest.  All the facts are in.

Here's looking forward to more real Prince of Tennis anime.  May there be many more oav seasons after this one.  I'm sure the manga will reach a fitting conclusion someday, and we can draw the curtain on this immortal and epic franchise, but it doesn't look to be coming any time soon.

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