The Prince of Tennis: Futari No Samurai (The First Game)

The Prince of Tennis: Futari no Samurai — First game (also called Tennis no Ouji-Sama) is a movie adaptation of the similarly named Japanese manga series written by Takeshi Konomi. 

The film was released on January 29th, 2005. It was produced by Tetsu Kawaguchi, co-produced by Nihon Ad Systems, directed by Takayuki Haman, and written by Jun Maekawa. This article will tell you everything you need to know about it. 

The Prince of Tennis Manga Series

The Prince of Tennis steps away from the usual trope of coming-of-age anime where the protagonist is a bad player who develops into an ace later on (as can be seen with Midoriya in My Hero Academia). 

The protagonist in this series is already a child prodigy at tennis who is continuously forced to push his limits, even though he’s the best the game has ever seen. 

As fans, you’re left to wonder what he could possibly do better to progress, and the series never disappoints. For every victory in The Prince of Tennis, there is a lot of character development. We watch the protagonist go from an immature, egotistical child to someone who respects his opponents, even when they lose.

Who Are the Main Characters in Prince of Tennis?

Ryoma Echizen

Ryoma Echizen one of the characters in price of tennis

Ryoma is the protagonist throughout the series. At the beginning of the series, he is depicted as a twelve-year-old male with hazel eyes and dark hair that’s tinted green. He is a middle school student who attends Seishun Academy (Seigaku).  

Even though he is just a child in his first year of middle school, he is portrayed as someone with a very confident personality, often coming across as arrogant. 

Drawing another parallel between The Prince of Tennis and My Hero Academia, you can’t help but notice the similarities in character and personality between Ryoma and Katsuki Bakugo. They’re both consumed by their goals to win and remain at the top, and have little room for anything else – not even friendships.

In his first year in middle school, Ryoma won four titles in the America Junior Tournaments. He is a resilient character who doesn’t go easy on himself. His major strengths are his ability to evaluate his opponents, adapt to their style of play, and take advantage of his opponents’ weaknesses. 

Although his father, Nanjirō Echizen (nicknamed ‘Samurai Nanjiro’), was a former professional tennis player, Ryoma didn’t want to be known for copying his father’s style. So, he created his own technique of playing and improved on it. 

Kunimitsu Tezuka

Kunimitsu Tezuka one of the characters in price of tennis

Kunimitsu plays the role of a mentor to the protagonist, and he is the one who encourages Ryoma to develop his own unique style of play. But there’s more to this character than just being a supportive shoulder to Ryoma. 

Kunimitsu is the captain of the school’s tennis team. He is serious and stern when enforcing order, a trait that is clear when he forces his teammates to run laps. He is one of the best national-level tennis players.

He often suffers from pain in his left arm (his dominant hand) caused by an injury two years earlier. But this doesn’t stop him from stepping into his role as the team’s captain and carrying his team to victory.

Much of his background and history is shown through flashbacks in the movie, but it was already known when he first got into Seishun Academy that he was a good tennis player, even better than most of his upperclassmen. 

His character remains the same throughout the story – often expressionless and somewhat stoic. He often repeats the phrase “don’t let your guard down.”

Kunimitsu was finally caught showing emotions when his team became National Champions. 

Sakurafubuki Hikomaro

Sakurafubuki Hikomaro one of the antagonist in price of tennis

This character is the main antagonist in the film. He is a man in his 50s with green eyes and is often seen smoking a pipe. He owns a cruise ship where other people gamble their money on tennis matches. He stands to win a lot of money if the people gambling lose. 

Contrary to how he tries to appear, Sakurafubuki is not actually a wealthy man. Because of the fact that he has a cruise ship, however, people think otherwise. He is also the coach of a tennis team that plays fixed matches. He doesn’t think his team is good enough to win on their own, so he looks for underhanded ways of making that happen.  

Ryoga Echizen

Ryoga Echizen one of the characters in price of tennis

Not much is revealed about Ryoga in this movie, but he was well received by fans, despite not being part of the main manga. Ryoga is Ryoma’s adopted brother who got separated from him.

Ryoga resembles Ryoma in eyes and hair, and they look very much alike. However, Ryoga is at least 3-4 years older than him. His style of play is quite similar to that of his father Nanjirō, but with some twists to it. He is often cool and calm but a bit arrogant, just like his brother. 

Sadaharu Inui

Sadaharu Inui one of the characters in price of tennis

Sadaharu Inui is a third-year regular tennis player for Seishun Academy. He is hinted as being the third-best, third-year tennis player. He is quite intelligent and known for being very analytical of situations both on and off the court.

Shuichiro Oishi

Shuichiro Oishi one of the characters in price of tennis

Shuichiro Oishi is the strict and disciplined vice-captain of the tennis team. He constantly frets about the well-being and success of his team. He’s one of the best tennis doubles players on the team. 

Shusuke Fuji

Shusuke Fuji one of the characters in price of tennis

Shusuke Fuji is a third-year student and the top tennis player at Seishun Academy. His character is cheerful, easygoing, and a bit of a prankster. Despite his penchant for jokes, he can be quite insightful and sweet when his friends need it. Among the other regulars on the tennis team, he (and Oishi) is the closest to Tezuka. They are often pictured together. 

The Plot of The Prince of Tennis: Futari no Samurai

The plot begins when middle school tennis regular players from Seishun Academy are invited on a cruise ship by Sakurafubuki Hikomaro to compete against his team. Unknown to them, he’s a corrupt businessman looking to make money off them.

At first, all seems well on the cruise ship, and introductions between the two teams go smoothly. That is, until a new character comes into play and introduces himself as the captain of the opposing team and Ryoma’s older brother, Ryoga Echizen.

While everyone is still reeling from that news, Ryoma included, they discover an even more sinister plot. The Seigaku team discovers they have been deceived into joining an illegal gambling plot. 

They must deliberately lose their games so Sakurafubuki can win a lot of money from the people who bet on their team. Sakurafubuki also reveals that their life will be in immediate danger if they don’t do as they’re told.

The Seigaku school students realize that they can only trust themselves, because most of the people on the cruise ship are either gamblers trying to reap their illegal profits or are Sakurafubuki’s goons. They begin to hatch an escape plan.

However, their efforts are foiled when one of the students is caught eavesdropping. Now the rest of the team has to remain hostage, while only Tezuka, Echizen, and Fuji are allowed to leave or play.

After witnessing Ryoma’s performance during the match, Ryoga becomes competitive and betrays Sakurafubuki’s orders for a chance to play against his brother to determine who is better. 

Meanwhile, the rest of the team manages to escape in a humorous way. This scene brings comic relief to the plot, and for a minute, you forget they are running away from serious danger. 

Unfortunately, they are quickly recaptured by Sakurafubuki, who then holds them at gunpoint. The mood takes a more somber turn but is quickly lifted when Ryoma sees his team in danger. He realizes the implications of playing against his brother during this dire moment. 

At that point, Ryoga decides that he will no longer be a puppet to Sakurafubuki. He shoots his tennis ball straight into his forehead, giving Ryoma’s team a chance to escape again. Neither of the brothers backs down from the match, so it continues as planned.

Ryoma defeats his brother, who accepts it with grace and remarks that Ryoma’s tennis style has improved since the last time they saw each other. They then escape on Ryoga’s jet ski. 

After Ryoma reunites with his unharmed teammates, Ryoga tells him to find his “grand dream.” The plot ends with Sakurafubuki and his goons getting arrested for fraud, gambling, and the use of illegal firearms. 

Final Thoughts

The Prince of Tennis: Futari No Samurai anime is made for TV, and the movie is very popular in Japan. Fans love the different portrayals of the characters, each with their own weakness and flaws. 

The writer’s ability to also provide comic relief in dire situations is something that stands out throughout the film. A new anime television series, Prince of Tennis II: U-17 World Cup, is set to premiere sometime in July 2022.