An Almost Too Deep Vision of Tennis Hinders Character Development.
Story - 8
Story and characters go hand in hand. What helps or hurts one can also help or hurt the other. This story follows a "I must get better to win" concept that is at the competitive heart of most sports anime.
What it tries to do, it does well, but it doesn't try to do enough. The knowledge of tennis I gained from watching is really incredible. I went from knowing almost nothing to really understanding on a deep level what actual pros might think about during a match.
There are enough surprises and changes of pace
to keep you guessing, but during matches it can get very repetitive. I understand the need to build tension, but watching every single point of a set does get old when you aren't actually there.
The story does go a lot further than the first season, but it spends a bit too long to make each point. If it went a little quicker at some points, there would have been more room for other stories which could have developed the characters.
Character - 8
The enormous cast is really incredibly talented and well-designed. Like the story, the characters are all realistic, and almost every one provides good insights to tennis and life.
Unfortunately, many of the characters change very little. Ei-chan does change quite a bit, but many of the main supporting characters continue to fill the same old roles.
Although not necessarily a bad thing, the fact that the characters are so limited in what they do makes them close to one-dimensional. When a character is allowed to tell a different part of their own story, it is brief. Ei-chan takes too much screen time when others could have taken the spotlight for a while. Some characters are introduced and then completely forgotten, not only by the writers, but even by the characters themselves. The series could continue and make up these problems, but as of this season, it still falls short.
Art - 5
The design of the characters and settings is average. Maruo's notebooks can be quite detailed at times, but that is where most of the detail stops.
Most of the show happens on a tennis court. The players do change shirts between matches, but lots of the other shots are replayed. This is to be expected in a sports anime, but it is still repetitive. Sometimes the ball bounces somewhere it shouldn't - if it needs to be inside a box on a serve, it isn't always there, and some rallies have shots where the ball lands in the doubles boundary. It might be a clever way of inserting different court backgrounds to change the camera angle just enough so that some replayed cuts aren't as noticeable.
There are times where the art really shines, and actually tries to rise to great levels, but these are few and rushed, and lead back into more replayed cuts. One example is when a player is bouncing the ball before a serve, and the ball carries some of the court's dust up with it.
Sound - 7
Voice acting is top-notch. Game and environment sound is very good. There is enough variety in sound that I never thought I heard the same ball bounce twice in the entire show. But the soundtrack is lacking. This season's OP is the same as the first season. More songs could have been written instead of just re-using the same few over and over, but I suppose the budget was tight.
Enjoyment - 8
Overall - 7
As far as sports anime go, this one goes for it all and then some. The story and characters are a solid 8 or 9, doing a fine job to make the time enjoyable, but not quite complete. There aren't many times I actually laughed at a joke, but the character humor, while sparse, does get the job done. There aren't a lot of times that this show pulls your emotions in, but the depth of tennis makes up for it, especially for a sports anime. I hope that this show can get better by adding another season, because this season definitely improved on the first.