The Prince of Tennis - a sports-driven anime that debuted back in 2001, depicts the story of Echizen Ryoma and his experiences in the world of tennis. Along with Hajime no Ippo, the Prince of Tennis helped start the rave with sports-driven anime craze, and its not really a wonder why a lot of those anime use many of the elements from the Prince of Tennis - its so good that its still being animated (in OVA form) this very day.
Normally, with sports anime, you see the rise of a certain young star from not being a very good player to being the ace of their sport. The Prince of Tennis pulled something out of the ordinary and made Echizen an amazing tennis player right from the start. Now you're probably thinking, "Well, where's the fun in that?" Well, Echizen is always going up against top-notch opponents and throughout the show, you'll witness him going from a cocky, immature kid to one who actually respects his opponents (well, sort of anyway) and development of new, exciting skills. Echizen join the Seigaku high school tennis team and participates in tournaments with them. And of course, the overall theme is to aim for the top of the tennis world.
The art is pretty good. It starts off so-so, but before you know it, it gets to that level where you're impressed by it. As for the animation, you'll see a lot of repeated frames throughout the show (as usual with sports anime), but the way they animate all of the new skills and tennis matches is just so amazing, that after some of the matches, you just stare in awe at its magnificence.
The sound, I would say, is probably the weakest point of the show. Although the music presented in the Prince of Tennis does suit the mood and is pretty upbeat at times, there really isn't a score that will stand out to you, where you'll be saying, "Ah!! I need that on my computer/ipod." Nevertheless, its relatively enjoyable
Since the stories are pretty much the same throughout all sport anime (overall), in order for an anime to be amazing - especially the case with sport ones - characters and unique personalities need to be there. And Prince of Tennis does not disappoint in that category. This show unveils so many different memorable characters, that you'll undoubtedly have trouble picking your all-time favorite one from the lot because they are so unique. And the best part about it is that the creators were able to somehow give each character a unique way of playing tennis. With the amount of characters and opponents they present, you'd think that they would have to repeat somewhere. But that's definitely not the case.
With amazing tennis matches, a plethora of unique and lovable characters, and a cocky main protagonist that will get on your nerves at times but you'll respect out of necessity because of his skills, the Prince of Tennis is an amazing sport anime. The best part of this anime is that you will have a hard time knowing who will win matches. Surprisingly enough, all the main characters experience losses matches at times, which makes it interesting to see how each one responds to the agony of defeat.
If you are looking for a sport-driven anime and are in for the long haul - meaning 170+ episodes, the Prince of Tennis is exactly what you're looking for.