The Prince of Tennis is a long-running sports anime and manga series, and has spawned a live-action movie, video games and over a dozen musicals. What's it about? Well, "boys playing tennis" ...duh!Okay, but seriously, folks... the story's about this kid named Ryoma Echizen, a pre-teen tennis prodigy who transfers to Seigaku (a shortened form of Seishun Gakuen, used by everyone in the series), a school renowned for its rich tennis tradition. In the next ranking tournament he beats some of best players in the school and secures a place on the regular tennis club. From then on, the series follows the Seigaku tennis club's progress towards the middle school National Championship, facing a new rival team in each new story arc. The characters develop their own styles of play (complete with increasingly bizarre and complex shots). Even the sometimes hard-to-approach Echizen eventually learns what the game means to him as time goes on.The manga has ended in Japan (where it was wildly successful), with over 40 volumes and 40 million copies sold in that country alone. The sequel, Shin Prince of Tennis, is currently ongoing and now also has the anime airing. A Live-Action Adaptation Movie was also made. Two animated movies have also been released in cinemas: The Two Samurai: The First Game, co-released with short movie A Gift from Atobe (2005) and The Battle of the British City (2011).Also! The Prince of Tennis Character sheet has just been added. PLEASE, if you've got new tropes for the characters of the series, add them there.Also there is the Musical Series page, so you can add tropes related to the stage plays and actors.
Tropes found in The Prince of Tennis:
Aerith and Bob: In the 2011 movie, most of the Clack Team have suitably Western sounding names like Keith and Peter... apart from Xiu. Though in his defense, he is implied to hail from a different foreign country.
Adaptation Distillation: Each installment of Tenimyu does a great job of condensing an entire arc of the manga into a two hour musical.
Also, the OVA's have been praised by lots of fans for re-telling situations from the manga in quite a better light and portraying some characters more sympathetically. A clear example is the resolution of the Atobe vs. Ryoma match in the Nationals, where Ryoma's borderline Jerkass Stu-ish behavior is quite toned down and Atobe even gets to cut his hair himself.
Adaptation Expansion: The anime pretty much completes characterization of secondary characters (gives the rival schools more spotlight and extras like Sakuno or the Freshmen Trio have more roles) and gives more context for many of the miniarcs.
Against the Setting Sun: Oishi and Eiji, Chitose and Shiraishi. Also Ryoma and Tezuka, who always end up playing by the sunset, or staring at each other in the beach volleyball episode.
Even Ryoma and Sakuno get one in the anime, walking home as the sun sets.
Adapted Out: All the female characters are not included in the Musicals. Partially Averted in the Shitenhouji Musical, where Sakuno does appear... played by one of the actors in drag.
All There in the Manual: Some of the most interesting, funny, quirky data bits on the characters are in the fanbooks. Specially the 40.5 one.
Definitely, Apparently Ryoma wants a DS, and apparently Kirihara Akaya still believes in old St. Nick.
Always Someone Better: With each arc, the new team that's introduced is always perceived to be a bigger challenge than the last. Shitenhouji, for example, is introduced by having them wipe the floor with Fudoumine. Word of God enforces this, stating that Gin and Kenya were created specifically to be more powerful than Tetsu and even quicker than Kamio.
And then there's the sequel series, where some of the high schoolers outclass the middle schoolers by far. One of them plays — almost literally — like he's from another dimension.
Artistic Age: Lampshaded more than once. "What, are these kids REALLY 15?!"
Blatant Lies: Higa's excuses for being in England in the 2011 movie, which include mastering Chinese martial arts and rescuing a princess from a demon lord. In reality, they somehow managed to get lost while returning to Okinawa and ended up in England instead. Never mind the two places are on different sides of the planet...
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Yuudai Yamato, Seigaku's ex-Captain: He looks and acts like a Cloud Cuckoo Lander, but has a razor-sharp intuition and can give you really good advice if you're willing to listen to him. Eiji Kikumaru acts child-like and happy, but has an extremely sharp vision that not even Ryoma can keep with AND scaringly good reflexes, on top of his flexibility and high jumps.
But Not Too Foreign: Jackal is half-Brazilian, half-Japanese. Makes some sense: Brazil does have a rather large Japanese colony.
Atobe is also hinted to be of mixed descent. It's more noticeable in the manga, as coloured pages depict him with blond hair and blue eyes while almost everyone else has brown, black or grey eyes.
Butt Monkey: Kaidoh, during the "slice of life" episodes. Inui, whenever he tries to escape from punishments or challenges.
This is almost subverted in most cases, actually. After a move has had its dramatic debut, the character usually refrains from calling out his own move. Naturally, this does nothing to deter the random people standing around watching the match from wildly belting it out each and every time its used.
Canon Discontinuity: A minor one. When the Emerald Pair first forms, Inui tells Kaidoh that his Data Tennis started out in his first year of middle school as trying to get more info about Tezuka in order to beat him. Later on, it turns out that his friend from elementary, Yanagi, was the one who taught him Data Tennis.
Canon Foreigner: The American Team and other minor characters in the anime.
Subverted with Jousei Shounan. In the manga, Seigaku beats Midoriyama Gakuen instead, while the anime made Jousei Shounan take their place instead. The team members, however, are anime originals, since they never appeared in the manga. Their coach Hanamura Aoi is stated to be the team coach in the manga, despite not appearing herself there.
Canon Immigrant: Echizen Ryoga, originally created for the film, he makes his canon debut in recent chapters of The New Prince of Tennis manga. His history is retconned to be Ryoma's older half-brother.
Catch Phrase: "Mada mada da ne!", "Yudan sezu ni ikou", "Ore-sama no bigi ni yoi na!", "Gekidasa daze!", "Tarundoru", "Yukimuraaaaaaa!". "BUUUURRRRNIIIING!", "Hoi hoi!", "Gekokujou", "Motto Tonde Miso", etc...
Censor Steam: While the camera lovingly pans up Atobe Keigo's body while he takes a shower.
Charles Atlas Superpower: The series starts off within plausibility, with real life moves like the Twist Serve, Buggy Whip, and Jackknife. Towards the end it moves straight into fantasy land with auras, Improbable Aiming Skills, teleportation, sense-dampening, and other moves with no physical explanation. The anime takes even less time getting into fantasy.
Instead of returning to normality, The New Prince of Tennis series wastes no time on physical limits with X-ray vision, ball-duplication, and other-dimensional shots.
Chick Magnet: Echizen (who barely notices), Atobe (who notices and LOVES it), Wakato (likewise) and Oishi (who hates it).
Chivalrous Pervert: Yuushi Oshitari, but very slightly (it's more played up in the dating sims, no matter what Fanon says).
Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Jirou, when not playing. Shinji, when mumbling. Yamato seems to be one of these, but it's just a cover.
Coat Cape: Yukimura, when we see him after he gets out of the hospital. In fact, the last match makes a point of noting that Ryoma is able to knock his jacket off while playing. Atobe is also guilty of this.
The Coats Are Off: In the 2011 movie, Sanada, Tezuka and Shiraishi make a point of flinging their uniform jackets off before getting down to business.
Combat Commentator. Come ON, what's a sports manga without them? Main culprits are: The captains and coaches of each team, Inoue, Shiba, the first year Seigaku students, Nanjirou and Inui.
Contemplate Our Navels: Parodied with Shinji Ibu's long, odd mumbling rounds. The voice messages in his single CD's are all composed of random mumbling about practically anything.
Contrived Coincidence: The 2011 movie has a lot. Clack's Big Fancy Castle hideout turning out to be an old home of Atobe's and Higa appearing out of nowhere to offer a boat rental service are prime examples.
Curb-Stomp Battle: Chitose's defeat at Tezuka's hands, after the former was established as one of the very best players in Japan.
Fuji allows Mizuki a 5-0 lead before wiping the floor with him. Never mess with the people Fuji cares about.
Dating Sim: The series has spawned several of those with the player in the role of a normal schoolgirl who gets to interact with the Tennis Boys. Some are official and can count as sort-of spin-offs or Alternate Universes (Gakuensai no Oujisama, Rush and Dream, the two Doki Doki Survival), others are fan made (Orange Heart, a Hyoutei-only one made in Flash).
Deadly Upgrade: Kawamura and the Ishida's Hadoukyuu, the Zero-Shiki Drop Shot, and Yuuta's Twist Spin Shot.
Ryoma and all the other middle schoolers learning how to rally 5+ at once in New Prince of Tennis.
Byodoin's Deadly Upgrade after losing to Oni sent many players around the world into retirement.
Ryoma learning the Shining Shot from his brother in N Po T. Cue a double-page spread with fallen trees and craters all over the surrounding area.
Ryoma learning how to rally FIFTEEN balls with ease, in addition to mastering inter-dimensional tennis.
Defeat Means Friendship: The Seigaku and Fudomine tennis teams become friends after their match. The Rokkaku tennis team sort of counts as well, except they become friends with Seigaku before ever playing against them. It certainly helps that their vice-captain, Saeki, is Fuji's Forgotten Childhood Friend.
Do You Trust Me?: Inverted. At the U-17 camp, during their doubles match against Kimijima and Tohno, Kite betrays Marui, but later recommits to playing as Marui's partner for good. Naturally, Marui has to ask if he can trust Kite.
Double Standard: Sakuno and Tomoka are vilified by the Estrogen Brigade for being fangirls, but Jirou and Dan's fanboyishness is seen as adorable and sweet.
Face-Heel Turn: Ryoma gets kicked out of the N-17 camp for protecting another player. So he gets an offer from Ryoga, his half-brother, to join him in the American N-17 team and face the japanese team.
Fangirl: Tomoka Osakada and Sakuno Ryuzaki in Seigaku, An Tachibana in Fudomine. Subverted with Kotoha Kitazono from Tsubakikawa: she pretended to be a fangirl to spy on Echizen and Atobe, but they weren't fooled and either ignored her, or called her out on it.
Game-Breaking Injury: Tezuka, Tachibana and Oishi are victims of this Trope while Kirihara is a proud user. Also, Chitose, in his backstory. Who gets one of these from Tachibana and almost loses sight in one of his eyes.
Subverted when Shuusuke sustains a concussion while playing against Kirihara, causing him to be stricken with temporary blindness. He plays BETTER!
Not to mention Momoshiro in the anime, who sees Nanjirou following Ryoma and Sakuno around and ends up calling him a Lolicon. "He must be following her!"
Konomi actually created a character named "Urashima Shiita". Crowned by the fact that his hair has a swirl on top and his favorite food are ice cream flavored of chocolate, coffee and chestnut. Ha ha, Konomi.
Gratuitous English: Rare manga example: Ryoma's "Mada mada dane" is rendered on his speech bubbles as "You still have lots more to work on...".
Many characters frequently use English phrases as well; some have named their tennis moves in English, ("Moon Volley", "Laser Beam", "Speed Bullet"), while others use them regularly. For instance, Kawamura's BUUUUUUURNIIIING, BABYYYY!!!, and "Lucky" Sengoku.
Sengoku is actually interesting. While he often says "lucky", he also uses minor phrases like "thank you". His pronounciation is slightly better than most other in the series, but he still claims that he is no good at English.
What about the Invitational Members arc? The American players spoke Japanese to each other, but a very deformed version of English to their opponents. The same goes for their fangirls paparazzies and coach.
Its possible that the reason they speak Japanese is simply because the show was made for Japanese viewers, most of which probably wouldn't be able to follow the conversions in English and thus had them speak Japanese to one another and using the bad English talking to imply that they are speaking two different languages.
Handsome Lech: Kiyosumi Sengoku; his first apparition has him oggling the Seigaku female tennis team, and in the manga that scares the crap out of them at first. Nanjirou also counted in his younger days, right before he hooked up with Rinko; he's more of a Lovable Sex Maniac now.
Heterosexual Life-Partners: Oishi and Eiji, Momoshiro and Echizen, Fuji and Tezuka (Ho Yay ahoy, some say). On ther female side, Sakuno and Tomoka, and maybe Sakuno and An.
Heavy Sleeper: Jirou. Also Akaya Kirihara, in his very first appearance (he fell asleep on the bus while going to school and woke up near Seigaku). This is notable because Seigaku is in Tokyo, and Kirihara doesn't even live in Tokyo.
Hoist by His Own Petard: Mizuki, who was defeated in a really humiliating manner by Fuji after he treated Fuji's beloved younger brother Yuuta like an expendable pawn.
Horseback Heroism: Fuji'sBig Damn Hero moment in the 2011 movie has him leaping over a closed drawbridge on horseback in order to provide backup to Kite. Kite immediately lampshades the effect of such an entrance.
Kite: "That was a sickeningly magnificent arrival, Fuji-kun."
Hot-Blooded: Kawamura when in Burning Mode, Momoshiro, Tomoka. Outside of Seigaku: Shishido and Mukahi (Hyoutei), Kirihara (Rikkaidai, mixing it with Blood Knight), Kamio (Fudomine) and Kintarou (Shitenhouji).
Hot for Teacher: Played with in Reiji Shinjou's obsessive loyalty to his coach, Aoi Hanamura. Hanamura herself practically ogles and fangirls her own pupils when she's in really high spirits, both in the Jousei and the Senbatsu arcs, though that's more of a Running Gag than anything.
Hypocritical Heartwarming: Atobe berates Tezuka for sacrificing his arm in his latest match against Yamato. Ahem, what was his plan during their first match?
I Am Not Left-Handed: Ryoma sometimes uses his left hand to play, when in fact he can use both. In this case it's I am not right-handed; Ryouma's a lefty who can play with either hand.
Furthermore, in this series, it is apparently more common to be left-handed, for some reason. Still, the opposing characters always have the same "GASP!! He's left handed!!" reaction. Almost half of the cast is left handed, while approximately one quarter of the real-life population is.
Among those lefties, we might just find some of the best players as well. Ryoma, Tezuka, Shiraishi, Chitose, Niou, Saeki, Zaizen, Fuji Yuuta, Mukahi Gakuto, Kite and Kai are all using their left hand. And considered to be some of the best.
Most tennis players have to be ambidextrous to a certain degree, in order to hit their backhand properly.
Kai from Higa Chuu actually has one of these moments; up to a certain point of the game, he uses his right hand. Then he changes not only to his left, but also with a reversed "stabbing" grip
Important Haircut: Shishido, Tachibana. Atobe, later (although it can be considered subverted in this case, because the haircut doesn't change him and he has a wig made to look exactly like his old hair in a day or two.
Improbable Aiming Skills: Common amongst many characters. Atobe signature move is to knock the racquet out of other player's hands with the ball and have it return to him for a smash. Tezuka is able hit a can with the ball, and have both of them ricochet to hit two more separated cans. Fuji can hit net balls with his eyes closed.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Several characters—more specifically Ryoma, Atobe, post Yamabuki matches Akutsu, Shishido, Mukahi, anime!Kirihara, Kevin and Kaidoh (though the latter can be argued to be a male Tsundere).
Lampshade Hanging: The most recent New Prince of Tennis chapter has Yamato commenting on Tezuka's constant need to sacrifice himself for his team, complete with a montage of all the incidents. It's about time someone actually convinced him of his recklessness.
Large and in Charge: Played with. With the exception of Sanada from Rikkaidai, the captains and/or subcaptains rarely are the tallest in their teams. In fact, Kevin is both the shortest player and the captain of the American team.
Only partially. Akazawa of St. Rudolph is actually the tallest on his team, and still their captain. Though, when that is said, it's Mizuki who is their de facto leader.
Yamabuki and Fudomine also has questionable heights on their respective captains.
The main reason for this is probably those large power players every team so conveniently happens to have at least one of.
Master of Disguise: Hiroshi Yagyuu and Masaharu Niou. More the former than the latter, though (unexpectedly, since Niou is known as a trickster, but it's later revealed to be something Yagyuu does with at least one other character).
Actually, during Niou's match against Fuji during the Nationals arc, it is shown that his abilities to imitate others, or disguise himself, far succeeds those of any other copy player in the series, including Yagyuu. The OVA "Another Story" also shows that he can impersonate his team members perfectly, and independant of anyone else.
Atobe's method of getting to school, base jumping off a stealth bomber.
The Musical: Collectively referred to as Tenimyu by fans. The musicals focus on various arcs in the manga but have differences. Female characters are omitted from the musicals and certain changes have been made to the stories.
My Kung-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours: A lot of the characters, what with this being a sports series. Seigaku is often seen training, specially Kaidou, Momo and Kawamura. Fuji secretly develops his fourth and final counter when he realizes his "Triple Counter" won't be strong enough to win at Nationals. Hyoutei's Shishido's initial story arc was all about training to become stronger after being humiliated in a match against Fudomine's Tachibana. Atobe develops Koori no Sekai after Hyoutei's loss at the regional tournament.
Obfuscating Stupidity: Nanjirou. He looks like a perverted, lazy monk with a stubble... until you ask him for a tennis match, where you can see that despite being retired for more than a decade, he's STILL a badass tennis player.
Another exaple is Mikiya Banda aka Banji from Yamabuki; under his always smiling face we have a razor-sharp mind and admirable wits which STILL make Ryuzaki and Nanjirou mad after 25 years and have helped him outsmart Akutsu to make him join the team without getting a punch to the face.
The Obi-Wan: Tezuka's grandfather towards his grandson. Tezuka himself towards Echizen, because he's always telling him to become Seigaku's pillar of support (particularly dramatic after his potentially career-ending injury in the match against Atobe, which forced him to temporarily leave his team to get treatment. Also, Tezuka towards Miyuki, and possibly the Rikkai Troica (Sanada, Yukimura, Yanagi—specially the latter) towards Kirihara.
Pet The Kitten: Karupin, Echizen's cat, serves to humanize Echizen as he's shown to genuinely care for the animal. Kaidou, who's got the In-Universe nickname "The Viper", is the one who finds Karupin when it wanders off and can be seen playing with it.
Playing Cyrano: Subverted. Momoshiro attempts more or less to have Ryoma notice Sakuno a bit more, but always fails.
Power of Trust: Zig-Zagged in a doubles match in The New Prince of Tennis. Marui is betrayed by Kite during their doubles match against Kimijima and Tohno, turning the match into a 3-on-1 situation. Then it's revealed that the betrayal is a ruse set up at the suggestion of Kimijima to create an opening for Kite to put Tohno out of commission by attackinghis right knee when the chance presents itself. Confused yet?
Rescue Romance: Parodied at the beginning. Ryoma didn't even know he was rescuing Sakuno from Sasabe: He's a Heavy Sleeper who, right then, only wanted his nap back.
His parents play it straight: Their relationship starts as Love at First Punch, only developing some more and going into Slap-Slap-Kiss when Nanjirou rescues Rinko from her abusive coach.
Averted with An and either Momo or Kamio. The guys rescue her from having to date Atobe, but there's no Relationship Upgrade with any of them.
Retired Badass: Nanjirou, despite being younger than the standard. In fact, Nanjirou was only a match away from winning Wimbledon and earning a Grand Slam when he decided to retire to be able to teach Ryoma tennis.
Rule of Cool: Was always present in Po T, but come New Prince of Tennis, no one knows how to act. Lets see, there's torture techniques, players that rally 10 balls at once, a guy that uses TWO RACKETS, and that's just scratching the surface.
Say My Name: "Echizen!" "Echizen!!" "Echizen!" "Ryoma-kun!" "Echizen!" "Ochibi!" "ECHIZEEEEN!"
Screen-to-Stage Adaptation: The first installment of Tenimyu back in 2003 was the first of a ridiculously popular series of musical adaptations of the manga. Each consecutive musical focuses on the matches against each of the rival teams that Seigaku faces, and is surprisingly faithful to the original story. To date, Tenimyu has had over a dozen different installments, several Dream Lives (concerts that are outside the sequence of the story), and has helped launch the careers of a plethora of Japanese pop-culture idols.
Serial Escalation: The special tennis moves become increasibly more improbable as the series progresses.
Then there's this. It's so over the top the creator of the manga laughed his ass off at the scene.
Serious Business: Who knew the world of Japanese middle-school tennis was so competitive? Taken to even more serious extremes in the sequel, New Prince of Tennis, where the strongest of the strongest players use what is called "Inter-dimensional Tennis," a surreal, unexplainable style of play which revolves around shots that can literally shatter walls, summoning illusionary creatures such as pirate demons, creating black holes, and using an infinite number of tennis balls. And all this in a series where, at a time, the most dangerous thing to worry about was a kid who can take away your five senses.
Sixth Ranger: Chitose for Shitenhouji, Hiyoshi for Hyoutei, Kirihara for Rikkai and Ryoma for Seigaku (although both Kirihara and Ryoma are completely assimilated, with Ryoma obviously being the Designated Hero).
Shorttank: Tomoka and Kurumi in the anime. Rinko was one when she was younger.
Team Dad: Ojii. Tezuka and Sanada counts as much younger versions.
Team Mom: Again, Oishi. You don't get the "Mother of Seigaku" nickname in canon for anything, don't you? And he's not the only one: Jackal Kuwahara from Rikkaidai is also Team Mom for his team, having to frequently take care of Kirihara.
Also, Ryuuzaki-sensei sometimes acted like a surrogate mother for her pupils.
Unlucky Childhood Friend: In canon, Akira Kamio in regards to his crush on An Tachibana. In yaoi fanfics, either Yanagi or Saeki.
Unstoppable Rage: Kirihara (more exactly, his Devil Mode) and formerly Tachibana. Subverted in the latter's case since Tachibana doesn't use violence anymore after he almost caused Chitose to lose an eye.
Victory By Endurance: The bout between Kaoru vs. Ryoma. Kaoru's tennis style is to force his opponent to run from one side of the court to the other, making them too tired to return his volleys. Ryoma turns this around on him by forcing him to keep his knees bent during the whole game, using up twice as much endurance, instead.
Kaidou himself often wins matches by outlasting his opponents, specially when playing doubles with Inui; he often plays the opponent pair on his own, while Inui collects data on them. One notable example of this strategy achieving victory was against Hyoutei's Mukahi & Hiyoshi team in the Nationals.
A favorite tactic of Atobe. His match with Tezuka ends up in a 37-35 point tiebreak (tiebreaks usually are to 7 points), and his match with Ryoma later in the series goes to 117-119. This tactic gets reversed on him by Irie in Shin Prince of Tennis, where their tiebreak goes to 187-187.
Wax On, Wax Off: In The New Prince of Tennis, Mifune sends Tanishi, Kenya, and Ryoma on a "special mission" to get more sake for him, which seems completely irrelevant to tennis. Kenya later reflects that navigating the cave and maneuvering through the laser tripwires during the errand actually helped improve his terrible balance.