A member of the tennis club in junior and senior high-school, Konomi submitted his work to Weekly Shonen Jump after graduation from university and was debuted in a special edition of the magazine in 1993 with TETSUJIN SEKAI ICHI KATAI OTOKO. In 1997, his COOL ~ RENTAL BODYGUARD manga became serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump, followed by THE PRINCE OF TENNIS in 1992. Because of THE PRINCE OF TENNIS, the number of children in Japan who have taken up tennis as a sport has increased exponentially, and the tennis club has become one of the more popular school clubs in junior high today, creating a huge boom for the game. An anime version of THE PRINCE OF TENNIS was created in 2001, and is still going strong.
This popular sports manga explores the difference between practiced technique and innate power. Ryoma is a former U.S. junior tennis champion who attends a Japanese academy, where his skill and natural talent make him nearly unbeatable. The younger students are inspired by him, but he's ruffling the feathers of the older tennis team members. Then the journalists appear, trying to discover the next champion, adding to the pressure. There's lots of tennis action, dramatically illustrated, and the characters, already pretty boys, are made even more attractive with their intensity. Stamina and strategy are significant, with occasional digressions from the story to teach particular moves. One of Ryoma's competitors succeeds with a scary special trick shot; another spends a lot of preparation time predicting his opponent's moves by watching tapes of his play. But Ryoma always manages to figure out his opponents' weaknesses and beat them. There's much more action than characterization, and without careful attention, it's hard to keep the different players straight. The sports manga genre is known for long sequences of sports action that can go on for hundreds of pages; here the matches are shorter, making this a better introduction. It's captivating in small doses, although Ryoma's battle to demonstrate his mastery drives another 20-plus volumes. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.