Many sports anime have had long-running franchises but very few have matched the longevity of The Prince of Tennis. Originally created in 1999, The Prince of Tennis started off as a manga and would become everything under the sun from a successful 178-episode anime series, video games, musicals, numerous movies, and even CDs. The Prince of Tennis isn’t done delivering either as we now have a new 2022 anime film titled after the main character Ryoma Echizen. Titled Ryoma! The Prince of Tennis <Decide> which is an original tale—as you’ll quickly deduce—set just before the finale. Does our ace player return in perfect form or would it have been easier if Ryoma just retires from the sport? Let us find out in our review of Ryoma! The Prince of Tennis <Decide>!
Ryoma is Back…BACK IN TIME!?
Many The Prince of Tennis fans might have expected Ryoma’s return to be an unseen match or maybe a future arc. Not surprising, we here at Honey’s Anime even thought the same thing ourselves! Strangely though, Ryoma! The Prince of Tennis <Decide> is like an OVA episode extended. Ryoma is in America and he runs into his female friend Sakuno Ryuzaki. Our cute Ryuzaki gets into a bit of trouble with some foreigners and Ryoma comes in to save the day. But for reasons we won’t spoil, Ryoma and Ryuzaki end up passing out after two colliding tennis balls hit and send them into the past when Ryoma’s father was still a star player. The story is a bit far-fetched and is quite laughable but seeing Ryoma return in this strange new set-up was a nice twist! Plus, watching Ryoma play against his dad was really cool…well at least for the few moments they play without the strange interruption which will make sense soon.
Seeing Where Our Pro Gets It From
As we noted before, as Ryoma! The Prince of Tennis <Decide> takes place in the past, we get to see Ryoma’s father—who was once a legendary tennis star himself, and see his skills on the court. We also witnessed more of Ryoma’s past which alludes to some themes not explored in the anime series. Don’t fret though, we get several cameo appearances from characters to make sure the story doesn’t focus entirely on Ryoma for the entire 1 hour and 40-minute duration. Ryoma! The Prince of Tennis <Decide> doesn’t really give you a deep narrative but maybe that is why even non-fans can still get some enjoyment from the film.
Get Those Musical Vibes Out There
When Ryoma! The Prince of Tennis <Decide> begins, the opening scenes will no doubt please fans as several big characters—we won’t spoil who for you fans out there—make an appearance and begin to…dance and sing?! You might believe this will be the only time they do this dance/musical routine but if you want more or less, you’ll be happy/sad to know Ryoma! The Prince of Tennis <Decide> has numerous dancing/singing scenes in it. It can be a bit goofy to see your favorite characters begin to sing and dance like they have become part of a J-Pop idol band but there are some cute moments that we didn’t dislike. One scene has Ryoma and Ryuzaki singing in a church and we just had smiles plastered on our faces during this moment. Again though, fans might tilt their heads in utter confusion at seeing their beloved tennis prince go from star player to dancer.
The CGI…Just Why?
Okay, we’ve been avoiding the biggest elephant in the room but we need to finally talk about the CGI that is used to animate Ryoma! The Prince of Tennis <Decide>. Unlike the traditional animation used before for the series, Ryoma! The Prince of Tennis <Decide> is entirely 3D—or better known as CGI—which isn’t bad but will no doubt turn off fans and CGI haters alike. As fans of the original anime, we won’t deny seeing this new art style threw us off. It didn’t take us extremely long to get used to the CGI but we didn’t really love it either. We kind of wish Ryoma! The Prince of Tennis <Decide> utilized the original style but in the end, it was good and we have still seen way worse CGI films out there.
Ryoma! The Prince of Tennis <Decide> is a movie that we doubt newcomers will really enjoy but fans might. While more akin to an OVA than a continuation of The Prince of Tennis narrative, Ryoma! The Prince of Tennis <Decide> has just enough of the series’ feel to make us smile while watching this mixture of a sports/comedy/drama musical. We highly doubt Ryoma! The Prince of Tennis <Decide> will be loved by all due to the directions it takes with animation and story but it's still a fun film that brings back one of our favorite sports series and mixes it to make it feel different so it’s not just another The Prince of Tennis movie. Plus, with a second movie–Ryoma! The Prince of Tennis <Glory> we can only wonder where else the series will take us fans!
Are you still going to watch Ryoma! The Prince of Tennis <Decide> when it releases in your local theater? Let us know your thoughts! Make sure to keep stuck to our tennis-orientated hive here at Honey’s Anime for even more anime reviews and news!