I don't care much for tennis, nor any sports for that matter. Never liked sports, sports games, sports shows, sports movies ( well, some movies ), sports fashion... none. I don't care if some sport is considered particularly lame compared to another.
Sports are - in my opinion - incredibly boring.
But I've watched the whole thing and enjoyed every second.
There's a lot of tennis. With very few exceptions, there's no episode that wouldn't have at least one short match of tennis in it. Of course, it isn't just any tennis, it's anime-tennis, which has been made exaggerated and humanly impossible.
I understand quite well if someone dislikes that and I find it a bit bothersome too from time to time but I guess I've learned to overcome it. Those who think that it's completely okay to make 13-year old boys jump 10 feet up the air in anime, think of it this way in this case: PoT is in our world. It's not in some weird Ninja Country or some Alternative Dimension that resembles ours. It's not even in the Far Future nor Long Long Time Ago. It is not fantasy per se. So it's a bit 50/50 situation; on the other hand, it's just an anime and it's okay to exaggerate but on the other hand, sometimes people should think when it's ok to exaggerate and how much. I think in PoT, they have over-done it a bit, but it's nothing you couldn't overcome with a bit of quirky sense of humor ( try to imagine real life players shouting out the names of their special-serves and whatnot like that, it IS hilarious ).
Also, I don't know how the Japanese normally talk about tennis but with my limited understanding of it, I noticed that the matches are usually talked about as "battles" and the players are "warriors" ( this doesn't show in the fansubs )... which is a bit... ehh... lame. Then again, Japanese are a weird and passionate bunch in my books anyway so I wouldn't be surprised if they really *did* talk about sports with words like that.
So, the tennis in PoT, got the name of Ninja-Tennis from me. That's also the reason to why the matches aren't THAT boring in PoT, even while they are a bit predictable and repetitive. Heck, I have grunted "drat" after Seigaku does bad in some match ( or the hell with Seigaku; if the characters I like do bad, I cuss ).
So what of the story? Apparently, it's just about how the main character's team Seigaku makes it's way to the National Tennis Tournament. However, 170+ episodes fit alot of other stuff as well. Personally, I don't mind the little side stories. I don't mind at all to see an ep with almost no tennis at all. Actually, I wish there was more eps like that because I'm very interested in many of the characters, and the characters are so much fun. They are what keeps me watching.
Also, while this is certainly not an *obvious* shounen-ai anime, it's certainly veeery slashable.
Thar be Fanservice.
Well, even if you aren't into shounen-ai, there's nothing stopping you from watching. Everything for now has just been little jokes and I doubt it would get any different ( otherwise the anime wouldn't be so popular, sad but true ).
The animation and style is... well. Okay. I can't really say much about it because it hasn't really struck me as really good or really bad. It's general good, the look doesn't change in every other episode and it's easy to follow. Maybe it could have been a bit "cleaner" somehow, but it might be that I'm just fooled because of the quality of the fansubs. I was slightly amused by the fact that the animators have often taken care to draw a lot of detail in the shoes of the characters, heh.
This is the first time I've paid so much attention to the sounds of the anime, not counting in voice-work. I will have to say I'm surprised: they used REALLY old sound effects. A lot of the SFX are familiar to me from an old anime called Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin ( Silver Fang ). According to this page, it's from the year 1986. And dude, you can hear the quality. Well... I kinda like it on the other hand that PoT constantly reminds me of Ginga ( I've loved that anime since I was a kid... I've watched it countless of times, that's why I recognize the sounds ) but I really think they could've used a *bit* newer SFX.
The music of the anime is nothing great either. I'm reminded of some sports games my bro used to play on Amiga 500. Also, beware if you hate that kind of music: it's repetitive.
Aheh... but I do have to admit that I've so far watched the ending song only once. Opening I haven't watched... ever. They just didn't strike me so I've skipped them. At some point, they sounded ok but I was eager to see more of the anime.
Voice-work then again is really good. The voices fit the characters really well and none of them sound too awkward.
The characters. Absolutely wonderful. First of all, there's gazillion of them. Secondly, they are all unique. Of course, there are only few main characters but of course there's a lot of characters that pop up in the matches through out the anime. Though I must say I'm really having hard time remembering all their names ( then again, my name-memory is really bad anyway ). I'm actually a bit jealous to the person who drew the manga ( I haven't read it ) because with tennis, he got to make up so many characters without having them clogging up the story. Only two things bother me with the general setting of the characters:
1st: quite many of the teams Seigaku has to play against, are full of a-holes. It's a bit unbelievable, because it gives the impression that if they are Seigaku's opponents, they must be evil... which is just stupid. Plus the fact that it's not like few members of the team are a-holes; the whole team is. Thankfully there are few exceptions, and they bring more fun characters around too.
2nd: the characters are SUPPOSED to be like... 12-16 years old or something... right? Excluding the Freshmen, almost all of them look more like 16-20 years old, if not older. I'm 21 and I'm having a bad conscience because I coo over anime-kids.
Well, some individual characters then...
I wish SO bad that the main character, Ryoma was better. Because... he is a horrible character. Well, first of all he is an annoying person I can't really like much at all and secondly he is just a bad, bad character. He is TOO good at everything, tennis, English, ping pong, friggin' bowling. He is so good at all of that stuff it's just not funny or entertaining. It's boring and annoying. He has some mild weaknesses, mostly concerning tennis but other than that he is nearly perfect all the time. Know of the name Mary Sue ( or the male-version of it, Gary Stu )? I'd almost dare to claim Ryoma is a Perfect!Stu. I mostly wanna smack him all the time. Also, he says "mada mada dane" ( "not quite yet" ) waaaaay too often, even when I don't really see how it fits the dialogue.
Horio, the freshman with 2 years of tennis experience. Well........ it's pretty obvious that he is meant to be incredibly annoying character. And they damn well succeeded.
Tomo(?) and Sakuno(?), those two little girls. Why are they there? What is their purpose ( except be annoying and provide the obligatory anime-chicks even while they are just kids )? So far I really really don't see any point what so ever to the existence of those two. Both of them are just annoying, Sakuno being unable to friggin' say a word to Ryoma because omg, she is SOOOO in love with him. It's not cute, it's frustrating. Someone in the reviews here called Tomo a rodent. Rodent is almost right. I prefer vermin ( because rodents are cute ).
But yeah, if you don't like the first ep and think the anime is doomed because of the characters that were introduced in that ep, do watch more. There's a lot of characters to be showed yet and I'm pretty surprised if you don't find some you like.
Since I watched AnimeOtaku fansubs, I might as well say a word about them, though it's not gonna be nice. First of all, I really REALLY hate it when fansubbers don't translate everything but sometimes sub some words or phrases untranslated ( in PoT, it's often "mada mada dane" ). I've seen worse than this ( ie. in some Furuba-subs ) but it's still annoying. Get over it, translate it ( even if a bit inaccurately ) or just forget it but don't friggin' write Japanese into the subs. I know that ie. word like "desu" is pretty impossible to translate because it really doesn't mean anything but if you can't figure something out, just drop the word. No anime-fan is going to die because of that ( besides if it's a big anime-fan, she can probably pick up that "desu" from the speech ). That one guy said "dane" at the end of every sentence. You can't help but pick it up. But subbers could've translated that "right" or something.
The way the color-border of the subs changes when the speaking character is in or out of the picture is pretty useless. For a good while I was wondering why the text changes color and then I realized what it was. Yet not once had I been confused about who's talking.
The encoding could've been better from here and there. Some of the eps are of pretty bad quality, though honestly I'm not the type who has to have everything in HD.