Prince of Tennis Vol 10 by Takeshi Konomi Manga Review

Title:  The Prince of Tennis Vol 10

Author:  Takeshi Konomi

Publisher: Viz

ISBN: 9781421500706

May Contain Spoilers

Oh, goody, another guy to despise!  When Ryoma spends his day off antagonizing the competition,  he steals the thunder from the ruthless Jin Yamabuki.  Jin is trouble with a capital T, and he quickly pushes all of Ryoma’s buttons.  Jin loves picking on everyone, and he’s tough enough to not get his butt kicked by bullying the wrong person.  He and Ryoma quickly come to an understanding – they can’t stand each other, and each is eager to bring the other guy down.  Who will win this war of intimidation?

The scenes with the troublemaking Jin were awesome.  He is going to cause some major problems for Ryoma, and I can’t wait for their tennis match.  Both of them are masters at intimidation, though Jin is willing to injure other people to prove just how strong he is.  Ryoma just thrashes them in a cold-blooded game of tennis.  After being a victim of Jin’s game of manipulation, Ryoma changes tactics and gives back a little of the grief that he’s received from Jin.  Ryoma is much more subtle and calculating when he dishes out a little of the bad attitude that Jin throws his way.  I’m not quite sure who one-upped the other here, but I think that maybe Ryoma has the advantage.  Jin isn’t used to anyone fighting back, and he gets thrown for a loop by Ryoma.

The last half of the book doesn’t deliver as compelling a story.  The Seishun team is training for their next match, with their usual grueling practice methods.  Sadaharu whips up another noxious concoction that nobody wants to drink, and the usual team dynamics are at play.  Tezuka is finally going to play another match, and I hope that it take up more than the few panels given to his previous outing.  I like him, a lot, but with so many other charismatic characters to compete against, I don’t feel that he gets a fair shake when it comes to getting his share of plot time.

Grade: B

Crimson Hero Vol 9 by Mitsuba Takanashi Manga Review

Title:  Crimson Hero Vol 9

Author:  Mitsuba Takanashi

Publisher: Viz

ISBN:  9781421515663

May Contain Spoilers

Oh, my!  What have we here?  Is there finally going to be some progress in Nobara and Yushin’s relationship?  Maybe!  Then again, maybe not.  There was the typical relationship tease, and the shojo fangirl in me was doing a little dance part way into the book.

Nobara has earned a temporary place on the Eagles volleyball team, and they are battling it out against the Sokai team to prove that sheer will and determination can overcome physical disadvantages.  Ryo has been mocked for wanting to be an attacker, all because he hasn’t attained the magical height of more than six feet.  Nobara wasn’t even given the time of day by the arrogant Sokai team, so they both have something to prove.  Athletic ability and heart have more to do with winning or losing than a person’s height or gender, but will they be able to show the haughty Sokai players that there’s more to winning than they think?

Nobara earns herself some much needed self-confidence, both with her playing and with herself.  She learns to deal with the pressure of competing against physically stronger opponents, and even when the Eagles are struggling, she never gives up and doesn’t second guess herself.  That is the best thing she could have learned by heading off on her road trip.  She’s not going to let other players intimidate her, and she’s not going to quit.  She’s learned a killer attack, and she’s going to continue to perfect it, and more importantly, she’s going to go down fighting.  Keeping a positive attitude and staying in the game, even when it seems unlikely that a victory will be gained, is something that Nobara was lacking.

Yushin shows up just in time for the game, and Nobara is able to put her feelings aside and concentrate on the task at hand.  Yushin, on the other hand, is having a tough time dealing with his emotions.  It’s about time he gets to sit in the hot seat and squirm about how he’s feeling.  Now, if I was Nobara, I’m not so sure how I would deal with Yushin’s sudden change of heart, after being so bluntly rejected not so long ago.  It’s a good thing that she is so forgiving.

This volume of Crimson Hero managed to reel me in more than previous installments.  Nobara has a lot to think about, from rivalries on her own team, to trying to keep the peace in the dorm.  Not everyone is going to be happy that Yushin’s attitudes have softened, but will it be enough to cause conflict for the boys volleyball team?  I’m interested in what is going to happen between Haibuki and Yushin, and I think that they aren’t going to stay buddy-buddy for long. Theirs was a contentious friendship to begin with, and Nobara’s presence is not going to make it any friendlier.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by Viz

The Prince of Tennis Vol 8 & 9 by Takeshi Konomi Manga Review

Title:  The Prince of Tennis Vol 8 & 9

Author: Takeshi Konomi

Publisher: Viz

ISBN: 9781591168539 & 9781591169956

May Contain Spoilers

The  City Tournament continues, and the carefully crafted strategy of St Rudolph’s Hajime seems to really be paying off.  Seishun is on the run, and each player’s weakness is being capitalized on.  When Ryoma is up against the lefty killer, Yuta, even he is on the defensive.  Will Seishun be knocked out of the competition?

Having just returned from a weekend sports competition, I thought it would be fun to sit down with a few volumes of PoT to unwind before real life starts again tomorrow morning.  That first day of work after a show is always kind of rough.  Then I started wondering what would happen if someone from a rival barn was cut-throat enough to  observe each of our weaknesses.  The thought isn’t pretty – there would be baby strollers, umbrellas, and golf carts trundling about the warm-up rings, all with the sole intention of unnerving high strung horses and higher strung riders.  The dust would get kicked up with all of the bucking and spinning, and  riders eating dirt.  I will have to make sure none of our opponents ever discover the wonderfulness of this comic series.

Seishun is down and out when Ryoma has to face the intense Yuta.  Yuta is Fuji’s younger brother, and this guy does not like to be reminded of that fact.  He wants to be acknowledged for his own playing ability, and he has had it up to here being compared to his talented brother.  So determined to be free of his brother’s shadow, Yuta transferred to another school and started taking lessons somewhere else, all so he could craft his skills for his ultimate goal – defeating Shusuke.

First, though, he has to make it through a tough match with Ryoma.  Yuta is lugging around a lot of excess baggage, which is only slowing him down.  He thinks that his burning ambition to defeat Shusuke is giving him an edge, but in truth it’s a drag on his game and worse, his life.  He can’t can’t get over his jealousy of Shusuke and he feels like he’s trapped by his brother’s phenomenal skill.  It’s like he’s only playing the game to get back at Shusuke.  Still, his determination is giving him an incredible energy and has helped him to perfect his lefty killer move.  Does Ryoma have a chance against all of this pent up resentment?  

Grade:  B+

Crimson Hero Vol 8 by Mitsuba Takanashi Manga Review

Title: Crimson Hero Vol 8

Author:  Mitsuba Takanashi

Publisher: Viz

ISBN: 9781421515656

May Contain Spoilers

Nobara has set off on a road trip, and she’s headed to Central Sokai University.  Coach Shima has sent her there to drill with the university’s volleyball team, which is one of the best in Japan.  When she arrives, her greeting is less than encouraging.  The team has no intention of letting a girl train with them, and they quickly dismiss Nobara as nothing but an uppity pain in the rear.  What was Coach Shima thinking, sending her all this way?  Will her journey be in vain?

Of course it won’t be!  What Nobara learns is that Coach Shima’s younger brother, Ryo, is on the CSU team.  Sort of.  While the coach thinks he shows some promise, the rest of the guys diss him because of his small stature.  Ryo wants to play attacker, but he’s too short to play that position on the CSU team!  Now both Nobara and Ryo have something to prove, so the two of them dive headlong into training.  Ryo has been working hard, practicing on a beach volleyball team.  With the support of the other team members, Nobara struggles to push her skills to the next level.  

I didn’t get completely caught up in Nobara’s adventures in this volume.  Some of the events felt a little stale, and new plot points that were tossed in to the story didn’t seem convincing.  Still, I’m a sucker for underdog stories, and it was hard not to be charmed by Ryo’s dusky good looks.  He recognizes that she doesn’t have anyone to confide in, and he tries to impress upon her how important it is to let your guard down enough to make friends. He was so accepting of Nobara and her dreams to play volleyball that I think she should consider giving up on Yushin and just stick with Ryo.   Though it looks like Nobara’s absence has possibly made Yushin’s heart grow fonder?

Grade: B-

Review copy provided by Viz

The Prince of Tennis Vol 7 by Takeshi Konomi Manga Review

Title:  The Prince of Tennis Vol 7

Author: Takeshi Konomi

Publisher: Viz

ISBN:  9781591167877

May Contain Spoilers

The tennis battles continue!  It’s Kaoru and Momo, and Eiji and Shuichiro playing doubles against St Rudolph.  Personally, I didn’t think that a team named after a reindeer with a brightly glowing nose sounded very intimidating, but these guys are good!  They did their homework, and they have developed fool proof strategies to take down Seishun Academy.  There’s always that unpredictable human element that gets tossed into the mix, but it seems that St Rudolph’s manager didn’t take that fully into consideration.  But will the Seishun guys adjust quickly enough to get back into the game?

What I want to know is what the heck was Coach Ryuzaki thinking??  She puts Kaoru and Momo together for a doubles match, but they hate each other!  Merely breathing near each other sets them on edge.  They can’t stop bickering amongst each other, so how can they ever settle down and start playing tennis?  Their fierce rivalry has even the St Rudolph players taken aback.  They came to play tennis, not referee a boxing match.  While Kaoru and Momo never actually came to blows, it got darned tense a few times.  Once again the Seishun team is at a disadvantage because two of their players just can’t put their differences aside and cooperate! They are playing singles on a doubles court again, and things are looking ugly.

Eiji and Shuichiro get along better, and they have their game honed.  Their problem is that St Rudolph manager!  He’s studied their moves, and he’s devised a sure-fire way to win the match.  He did make a tactical error, though, by putting Akazawa in the doubles match against them.  He may have a magic swing that makes the balls look like they are multiplying, but Akazawa’s more of a snake than Kaoru.  Teamwork isn’t a word he’s familiar with, either! All of these athletes and their gianomous egos are getting out of hand.  They need to lose a game or five so their big heads will fit through doorways again.  It’s a good thing that they spend so much time outdoors, so they probably haven’t noticed that they are now a bunch of fatheads.  Eiji’s having some serious concentration issues, though, so I wonder – will Seishun lose the match?

It looks like Ryoma is in for some trouble in the next volume – he’s going to play against a lefty killer!  But he can play with either hand, so maybe this won’t be a big challenge?  Nah, then it would get boring.  Ryoma has to be on the edge of defeat, find his inner strength, and pulverize his opponent.  That is the magic ingredient in PoT.

Grade: B

The Prince of Tennis Vol 6 by Takeshi Konomi Manga Review

Title:  The Prince of Tennis Vol 6

Author:  Takeshi Konomi

Publisher: Viz

ISBN:  9781591164401

May Contain Spoilers

The team is training hard in anticipation of the upcoming City Tournament.  Even Ryoma is showing a new intensity after his match with Tezuka.  He’s all fired up to improve and to stretch his skills, much to his father’s delight.  Will Ryoma’s new enthusiasm carry him to victory in the City Tournament?

Man, the art just keeps getting better in this series.  The book is chock full of attractive, athletic guys, posing in dramatic, eye-catching illustrations.  They sweat and move and attack the ball with a ferocity that borders on obsessive.  The motion is convincing and exciting, and I can’t help bringing it up every time I review this series.  Like the story, the drawings of the characters sizzle with energy and barely contained excitement.  I just love the art.

Ryoma gets to taste a little humble pie in this volume, after his match with Tezuka.  I was disappointed that the match was shown only through fleeting flashbacks.  It had the desired effect that Tezuka was seeking, though, and it’s got both of them full a renewed determination to give their all to the game.  Tezuka is itching to get out there an play with everything he’s got, and he’s been given the all clear to do it.  He’s been chafing at the bit, and he’s been given free rein to get out and bash the ball at his opponents to his heart’s content.  Nursing an injury was obviously a very difficult thing for him to have to endure, and I can hardly wait to read about his matches later in the tournament.

Seishun has breezed through the opening round of the City Tournament, and now I’m worried that they will be overly confident as the matches continue.  There are a couple of teams poised to knock them down a peg or two.  Will they succeed?  All of these guys take tennis very, very seriously, and they are not going to go down without a fight.  Bring it on, St Rudolph!  Seishun doesn’t shy away from any challenge, and it’s going to take more than your cunning and clever manager to derail this team!

Grade:  B

The Prince of Tennis Vol 5 by Takeshi Konomi Manga Review

Title:  The Prince of Tennis Vol 5

Author: Takeshi Konomi

Publisher: Viz

ISBN:  9781591164395

May Contain Spoilers

It’s the showdown of the century! Or at least the showdown of volume five.  So far every volume of PoT has delivered a tense, exciting match up, and this one is no exception.  Ryoma is up against Shinji, and both of them have some annoying little habits.  Ryoma taunts every player he’s playing, and Shinji is a mumbler.  I think the taunting would give bigger edge over the mumbling, but both ploys prove to be distracting.

When Ryoma is injured during the match, resulting in a heavily bleeding cut above his eye, he refuses to forfeit his match.  Coach Ryuzaki tends to his wound, telling him that the bleeding will only be stopped temporarily.  Tezuka gives Ryoma ten minutes to finish up the game, or he’ll forfeit it for him.  Now Ryoma has a couple of challenges to surpass – his eye is bandaged, affecting his vision, and he has a set amount of time to beat his opponent.  Not to mention that having your head sliced open must hurt like a S.O.B.

I couldn’t stop reading this once I started. At first, Ryoma was dominating Shinji, but his lead was soon reduced to nothing, and then he had to battle his way out of a hole, with a huge disadvantage.  The time limit gave the match an added sense of urgency; if Ryoma didn’t play all out and turn the momentum back around, he was going to suffer a very heart wrenching defeat.  I love how he plays with his opponents and changes his strategy during the games, offering no quarter during the match.

The reporters from Pro Tennis Monthly pay a visit to Ryoma’s father, and what they get isn’t quite what they expected.  Inoue finally gets to meet his idol, and the guy is an utter slob.  When he’s invited to play a casual game of tennis with Nanjiro, he couldn’t be more delighted.  He also learns that judging a book by its cover opens you up to being utterly humiliated.  No wonder Ryoma is so brutal with his opponents; his dad leaves no survivors after a game of tennis!  I really like Nanjiro and hope we get to read more about him.

Grade: B+

The Prince of Tennis Vol 4 by Takeshi Konomi Manga Review

Title:  The Prince of Tennis Vol 4

Author:  Takeshi Konomi

Publisher: Viz

ISBN: 1591164389

May Contain Spoilers

It’s time for the Fudomine showdown!  These punks think they are the masters of intimidation, but they haven’t met Ryoma, Kaido, or any of the other Seishun Academy players yet.  They have a slightly sad sob story, so we don’t totally hate them, and I gave a little nod to their determination.  Bullied at their own school, they formed a tennis team and they have the ambition to go all the way to the Nationals! They are just as dedicated and serious about the game as the Seishun players, but they do they have the heart to go toe to toe with opponents who won’t back down from their bravado?  All of these egos make for some fun, fun matches!

I love the intensity of this book.  The non-stop action sucks you in, and the battle techniques of the tennis moves keep you glued to the pages.  Fuji and Kawamura show Momo and Ryoma how doubles are supposed to be played, but even their coordinated play can’t prevent a run of bad luck.  Still, they are the meaning of the word “team” and they protect each other and don’t feel any need to hog any of the glory.  Working together, they push each other to play to the best of their abilities.  What a great match – too bad it ended a little early.

Then it’s Shuichiro Oishi and Eiji Kikumaru on the center stage.  I love Eiji!  He accepts every challenge thrown in his direction with confidence and ease.  It takes more than what the Fudomine players have got to rattle him.  Oishi kind of fades into the background during the match, stepping up when Eiji needed some backup. 

Next up is Kaido, and the self-styled rhythm master, Kamio.  Snake charmers have worked their magic on vipers for centuries, and Kamio feels he’s up to the challenge with Kaido.  The tense match up was riveting, and my earlier indifference to Kaido has been replaced by admiration.  This guy just doesn’t know how to quit.  He wouldn’t give up, even though things were looking very grim for him.  His nickname should be the bulldog, because he was like a dog after a bone – he pursued his goals with a single-mindedness that earned my respect, and he proved that the game isn’t over until it’s over.  Kamio was so confident in his skills that he didn’t have the drive to see the game to it’s conclusion.  Great, great stuff.

The next volume features Ryoma’s match with Ibu, and I must say that I am looking forward to sitting down with volume 5 of the series.

Grade: A-