The Prince of Tennis Can Suck My Balls

ghostlightning cosplay as atobe keigo halloween 2008Yes, that’s me cosplaying as Atobe Keigo, Captain of the Great Hyotei Gakuen Tennis Club

Hate is not the opposite of love. I hate The Prince of Tennis. I can no longer watch it without hurting myself. The most honest rating I can give it is about 3-4 hard facepalms per episode (the kind that leaves a mark) along with occasionally 6-10 facepalms of the regular kind. Hate is not the opposite of love. This is because I care about The Prince of Tennis. My wife loves both the show and the manga. I care enough to say how much it blows and yet be such a big deal in our household.

The first thing to acknowledge is that The Prince of Tennis anime played its part in getting me into tennis. I had been a casual spectator over the years, watching the odd grand slam every few years. After sybilant and I got married in December 2006 we were looking for shows we can enjoy together. Nothing too serious, something light and comedic. We had enjoyed Yakitate! Japan but found it a bit too… stupid, for lack of a better word (doesn’t mean that it isn’t AWESOME). Neither of us were particularly inclined to like sports anime, but both of us are big fans of the delightful Slam Dunk, so when I got hold of The Prince of Tennis we decided to give it a try.

We watched 170 episodes in like three weeks LOL.

I can’t explain it well, but the thing was so damn addicting. So hell, Legend of the Galactic Heroes at 110 episodes was a piece of cake for us. The Prince of Tennis was fluffy, lighthearted fun — with charming slice of life episodes spaced in-between long training arcs and tournament arcs. As sports anime goes, matches are always dramatic and every match had that gripping, cliffhanger feel. Every new opponent was a new problem to solve for the boys of Seigaku. Here are a few of our favorite moments:

  • The first match between Atobe Keigo and Tezuka Kunimitsu. This was really awesome, being true to my feelings at the time we watched it. Tezuka battled a tough elbow injury to stay in the match. Gripping stuff.
  • Inui and Kaidoh training to become a formidable doubles pair (admittedly, even the fujoshi-baiting parts which were lulz).
  • ‘The Prince of Bowling’ (and most of the alternative sposts episodes except ‘The Prince of Volleyball’)
  • Tezuka’s welcome party by the all-Japan team. Tezuka’s team mates and rivals, did all sorts of performances, including a musical number.
  • Sanada and Atobe doubles pair: ‘Tango no Destruction.’

A Prince of Tennis fan would notice that all of these are from the TV series. We weren’t able to watch any of the OVAs until much, much later. And therein lies the problem. Sometime between these viewings, I actually learned to play tennis. Dear old mechafetish was a varsity player in the high school and college levels, and was only too happy to find someone to play with to get back into the game after not playing for 8 years — and a fellow mecha fan in the bargain!

DSC00183“I have taught you well ghostlightning, but now I must test your might!”

DSC00216“GHOSTY INAZUMA FOREHAND!”

DSC00366“HIGHER THAN THE SUN!”

DSC00344“Mada mada da ne…”

DSC00340“But mechafetish, tennis is fun, isn’t it?”

What happened was that alongside anime, tennis has become my primary hobby. In fact a big part of my RL otaku activities revolve around tennis because the people who I watch anime with (and blog anime with) are the people I play tennis with. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time and resources in researching and acquiring the best gear, the best information, the best places to play for the least expense, etc. And yes, I’ve since been following both the men’s and the women’s professional tennis tours; and I now have a good sense of how actual tennis professionals do awesome things in match play.

Also, I started learning to play just before I discovered anime blogs and the vast network of information there is about anime and manga. Within the span of my playing tennis as a hobby, I have also started watching around 100 shows (approx.) and finishing 60 of them, and possibly I’ve read over 2,000 blog posts and have written over 100 myself. Inevitably my discernment and appreciation of shows have been influenced.

So now The Prince of Tennis is quite unwatchable to me. The methods it uses to make matches compelling and dramatic seem so cheap and forced. I mean, they were cheap and forced before, but I was more forgiving of it. The core of the problem I have with this show is that what I see here hardly resembles tennis at all. Basquash seems closer to basketball than The Prince of Tennis seems closer to tennis. I am not asking a high level of realism, NOT AT ALL. It’s just that save for the costumes, the tennis racquets, the tennis courts and balls, and a few of the sports’ rules, this is hardly tennis. Some examples:

  • It has been increasingly difficult for me to stomach the 1-set match system. Play best of three sets, it’s just how it’s done! The Prince of Tennis uses 1-set matches because it will be very difficult for it to make a longer match interesting (so it seems). But matches can occur simultaneously, games can be ‘micro’ time-skipped, and tournaments can go on for more than one day. It is particularly difficult to watch how supremely fit teenagers suffer ridiculous fatigue in the middle of the 4th game of a single set.
  • The show likes overhead strokes. I don’t blame it. Overheads are fun and exciting. I don’t even mind that there’s a whole lot of JUMPING overheads,  (something that raaaaaaaaaaaaarely happens in tennis EVAR), and JUMPING HIGHER THAN IT TAKES TO DUNK A BASKETBALL TOO. What I do mind is that anyone and everyone is hitting overheads when the ball is a straightforward ground stroke. YOU CAN ONLY HIT OVERHEAD SHOTS WHEN THE BALL IS SENT HIGH ABOVE THE NET TOWARDS YOU (from a lob or a forced moon-ball). SO WRRRRYYYY ARE YOU HITTING JUMPING OVERHEADS AGAINST LOW SLICE SHOTS? UNPOSSIBLE! AT LEAST ATOBE SOMETIMES FORCES HIS OPPONENT TO LOB THE BALL TO SET UP HIS ‘RONDO TO DESTRUCTION’ OVERHEAD TECHNIQUE. THIS SETTING UP HAS NO REASON NOT TO HAPPEN EVERY TIME. THERE ARE MATCHES WHEN ECHIZEN RETURNS EVERY SINGLE SHOT WITH OVERHEAD TECHNIQUES. THIS IS UNFORGIVABLY LAZY PORTRAYAL/depiction. See that I am less concerned about realism than simple storytelling/depiction gaffes. (It would be like watching a singer sing with her mouth closed, and see her go silent while her lips move).

prince of tennis echizen vs yukimura I estimate that's at least 3 meters in the air

Part of the reason the above gaffes happen is that in order to make the characters and the tennis interesting, the show fully relies on fantasy techniques to liven up the matches. It’d be like Naruto or Rurouni Kenshin, only instead of martial arts you see tennis. Again I wouldn’t mind this so much if the techniques were thought through a bit more, and were set-up properly to be executed by a player. No. We just get lazy H4xx spam every match. In the final, Yukimura and Echizen did nothing but trade H4xx (and in Echizen’s case, reach the pinnacle of pinaccles of H4xxology).

prince of tennis echizen vs yukimura achievement of flawless unityprince of tennis echizen vs yukimura samurai drive - this is an overhead return lolzThe Samurai Drive split the ball in half by using the net cord. Yukimura RETURNED BOTH HALVES.

prince of tennis echizen vs yukimura final stroke -- yes it's another overhead…But somehow, magically both halves arrived at the same place high up in the air at the same time.

prince of tennis echizen vs yukimura final stroke 02…Because the Nationals MUST be decided by a jumping overhead smash.

prince of tennis atobe tezuka echizen extreme bishonenThese boys are in middle school: Atobe, Tezuka, and Echizen. Echizen, (far right) is 12 years old.

Without the H4xx, and the token shounen messages of ‘believe in yourself,’ ‘trust your friends,’ and perhaps ‘good will overcome,’ and yes “Tennis is fun isn’t it?” what is The Prince of Tennis left with?

If Slam Dunk was claimed by fujoshi who delighted in the subtext of athletic pretty-boys. The Prince of Tennis pandered to them. I have nothing against pandering. It’s just that The Prince of Tennis completely stopped pandering to its core shounen audience; or at least, to me.

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
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56 Responses to The Prince of Tennis Can Suck My Balls

  1. Baka-Raptor says:

    My Balls is far superior to Prince of Tennis.

    (I’m far to blind to read this entire post. I can only assume it’s comparison between Prince of Tennis and My Balls <– link)

  2. loling at your rage and anger. It’s shounen, dude. It’s writen, literally, for the age group of like 8-13. But I’m sure you know that :p

    • ghostlightning says:

      Slam Dunk is shounen, as in Shounen Jump kind of shounen. It’s also a sports manga/anime. It’s also the immediate predecessor of PoT. It’s also ^9000 times better.

  3. bluemist says:

    Hahaha! This started with you liking it saying “POT is awesome” then ended being “POT is yaoifest” crap! Way to burnout! It my case, I could still stomach the first few arcs. They still have a bit of physical realism back then. I stopped watching when I reached the hundred-episode mark though, realizing that the ‘modifications’ to their established techniques are becoming more and more ridiculous. Splitting balls. Oh gawd.

    Nice pics there by the way. More hilarious if you shopped some of them with some flashing lights and you guys emitting strange auras. Remember when you suggested to make a parody-style tennis training video?

    • ghostlightning says:

      I hesitate to re-read/re-watch the first few arcs because I know where they lead. I lack photoshop and video skills (and time) to make a grander production. I wrote this in a fit of vitriol while we watched the finale a few nights ago.

      In the mean time, mai waifu started reading New Prince of Tennis. OTL orz FML

  4. Ryan A says:

    Fatigue in the 4th, LOLOL. I never watched PoT, and never did see it on any stations which aired other Jump series. Still, I’ve enjoyed tennis on and off for quite a while, but I hadn’t watched it regularly until a few years ago. At some point, I think the reality which is the pro tour reaches a level where fiction cannot, and it’s not PoT, but playing and watching real tennis doesn’t nurture the effect of inspiration once received from PoT. You’ve leveled-up!?

    Maybe it’s just that you won’t allow yourself the satisfaction of fiction, because you’ve found plenty of it in your loved hobby 🙂 Good post for thoughts on growing, reality, and such.

    We watched 170 episodes in like three weeks LOL.

    Holy! I feel bad that I gave about 200 episodes of Naruto to my cousin one time. He ended up watching between 30-40/day D:

    Cheers

    • ghostlightning says:

      During that time, we were literally watching one anime marathon at a time hence the speed (this was around 1Q 2007).

      I think that mangaka don’t trust kids enough to get nuance: mental toughness, bad habits, exploitable tendencies. But then again I know of tennis writers who are struggling to write something new about Nadal every week he wins.

      PoT relies on surprises, immediate improvement (i.e. new H4xx), while actual tennis relies on consistency and fitness. It’ll take a lot more creativity I think to portray it.

      I don’t want to characterize my relationship with PoT as tsundere or something like it. But as you can see when we play tennis we pretend to have H4xx powers too. But then again, only when we’re goofing off.

      If there’s anything truly worth seeing, check out this one scene in the movie: where Tezuka makes the dinosaurs extinct with a drop shot.

      • Soral says:

        Ah yess, the H4xx moves that you never see outside of billards or pool. I really like their explination for the Tezuka Zone. Or as I like to call it, the “Run Around”. Cause just about every tennis player with skill, can do this too a less skilled player. I remember one of my teachers doing this to me in middle school. I liked the fluff and the characters, but the techniques were rediculouse.

  5. animekritik says:

    my biggest concern here is the conditions at the court. From what i can see, there’s too much water there. doesn’t it mess the balls up? should play inside somewhere, ghost.

    • ghostlightning says:

      It wasn’t a real game lol, just mugging it up for the cam. Nobody wants to hold the cam during play (save when we really want to take training footage), so we just goofed around and took photos. That day we had already played our turn and were forced to vacate the covered court. ^_^

  6. mjsnoozer says:

    whoa, the tennis courts at Maysilo Circle. Looks like I can do some stalking.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Hahaha yes, we play there every Saturdays and Sundays around 6am. Sometimes, we play at Rizal courts in Manila. If you play, come join us! We’re all into anime.

  7. usagijen says:

    It’s just that The Prince of Tennis completely stopped pandering to its core shounen audience

    hm, my baka anikis still enjoy watching Prince of Tennis up until now, like TOTALLY. Then again these are the very same brothers who still enjoy Yu-Gi-Oh up until now, so I dunno 😐 I enjoy watching Prince of Tennis… a LOT. But I’m a girl, so I guess I’m out of the question 😐

    • ghostlightning says:

      You should’ve completed the statement:

      It’s just that The Prince of Tennis completely stopped pandering to its core shounen audience; or at least, to me.

      Like a disgusting sibling I will always love (but will always find disgusting), Prince of Tennis will always be part of the shows I’m a fan of. Just don’t call me tsundere.

  8. sadakups says:

    If this were the Prince of TABLE Tennis, I’d appreciate it more since that’s the sport that I really play and excel at (although I haven’t played in two years, so I think I’m teh suck again).

    As for the show, yes, I also watched the whole 178 episodes in a span of weeks too, although at the time, I was still unemployed, that’s why. I enjoyed it despite all the hijinks, the face-palm-inducing scenes and the times when I wonder if what I’m watching is Tennis Ball Z.

  9. gloval says:

    I remember my college roommate marathoning PoT. He’s a varsity player in chess not in tennis, and he’s also into shonen (he had been watching DBZ earlier) so yeah. It’s quite interesting that Naruto and DBZ held my attention longer than PoT. Being not into sports anime may be a factor, and I was getting tired of shonen that time (had my serving with Rurouni Kenshin and Yu Yu Hakusho back in high school, and these weren’t complete viewing).

    (Actually, I just visited to see if you have some words on the Second Coming, *wink*wink*).

    • ghostlightning says:

      Slam Dunk is still the standard, despite all its faults re sparseness of episode content and ridiculous cliffhangers. I own all of the manga too so if you haven’t checked out Slam Dunk, do try.

      I’ll watch the show tonight, and let the internet storm pass. There’s a lot of idiocy from both fanboys and haters polluting the tubes. I want to be able to write something entertaining. Always check animekritik’s site for KyoAni posts. I never know what kind of awesomeness to expect from that guy.

      • gloval says:

        I guess you’re right about going to animekritik. Your discussions that turn religious gave me some ideas. I’ll try them out first in the forums then share a refined version when you post.

  10. Owen S says:

    So basically, what they need is a Shigurui Prince of Tennis in order to make it better–complete with real injuries and whatnot.

    …do they even get injuries related to the sport?

    • ghostlightning says:

      Yes they do, hilariously!

      There’s the kind that comes from H4xx you can do only once per match, or else you break your arm. Until, YOU EVOLVE AND PERFORM IT FOR A SECOND TIME FOR THE WINNING SHOT!

      One of the lead characters’ main dramatic conflicts is tending to his injured elbow, and playing injured (Tezuka, who had to serve as ‘coach’ for the All-Japan team due to his rehab. He’s the one those guys sing to in the 1st yt vid).

      Some of the H4xx maliciously ‘create’ injuries in the opponents. You see blood and cuts and all.

      I would find PoT so much better if they set up strokes better. This is soooo simple to do. If they want to hit an overhead shot, make sure that the ball is set up to fly high. When exchanging groundstrokes, players should be behind the baseline most of the time. There, two very simple things that will make a lot of difference; things that tell me that the show/manga actually cares about tennis.

      • Owen S says:

        This isn’t tennis anymore, it’s an RPG: YOU MUST WAIT FOR THE LIMIT BREAK GAUGE TO REFILL AGAIN.

        So the problem doesn’t lie in the crazy moves per se, but how said moves are executed in the first place–in other words, the basis for the moves don’t make sense to begin with, therefore you have a hard time buying the Tennis Kamehameha?

        • ghostlightning says:

          Yes. The basis of the moves — simple, easy-to-follow things that do not require elitism or an obsession with realism; Kind of like the pleasure of watching characters drink their mana potions with the bottle opened, instead of watching them gulp the liquid straight through the cork.

          This will allow me to enjoy the silliness of the ‘techniques‘:tennis serves that make the ball explode upon hiiting the ground (BIG BANG SERVE) sending the opponent flying to the stands; or a stroke that makes the ball *disappear*; or the one that makes the ball roll on the ground like a billiard ball instead of bouncing; or the ball that turns into ^9000 balls; or the lightning bolt ball; or the counterspell ball; or the balls that tap to produce 5-color mana; or my favorite (this was in the movie), the drop shot that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs.

  11. asher says:

    LOL! *shakes head* nice shots, tennistards…^_^v

    I had hoped that PoT was treated in a way like One Outs or even Oofuri(?)–a little serious with the strokes and if they must exaggerate it, only a bit. The saving grace for me is definitely Tezuka story in the OVAs. Other than that, it’s mostly the manga, which I just had to finish for the sake of completing it.

    Oh, and ironically, I find the “evolution” theme of TTGL more sensible compared to how PoT characters “evolved”.

    • ghostlightning says:

      The evolution in PoT is really more a Ryoma fulfilling his destiny thing. The other players already start out very powerful and only add a few things to their game. Can you imagine how Yukimura is so much better than Sanada while they don’t even practice together?

      Just look at Seigaku! You, me, mechafetish, LOLJohn practice more than they do. Their version of practice almost never includes hitting with each other. One wonders how they develop their techniques. Oh right? They practice against waterfalls using rocks as balls and twigs as racquets! At least Kaidoh’s conditioning is provided for since he runs all the time. But think about it, everybody should be hitting with Tezuka!

  12. adaywithoutme says:

    I know exactly how you feel! Except for me its military anime that I cannot enjoy any more, by and large – Valkyria Chronicles has been driving me insane, and I was never able to finish Full Metal Panic (maybe not exactly a military anime, per say, but it irritated me for the same reasons many military-centered shows do).

    On an unrelated note, I never understood the allure of Prince of Tennis, although I did have a bunch of Filipino friends who swore by both it and Slam Dunk because of the slashability of both.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Thank goodness I really don’t know that much about the military. Because if so I think I would turn to a horrible hatred for Gundam and Macross. Gundam more because of how almost every character with a full name just freelances willy-nilly. Zeta… so maddening!

      Slam Dunk was/is slashable. PoT is “PLEASE SLASH US.”

      • adaywithoutme says:

        I must confess that I prefer the slash-begging of Weiß Kreuz to reading into the panderings of things like PoT – mainly because Weiß Kreuz is such a massive piece of crap that it is enjoyable, whereas the endless, shounen-style tennis matches in PoT are really just boring. I’m not sure Weiß Kreuz has much appeal outside of my demographic, though, which explains why PoT got 100+ episodes and WK got forty.

        As for Slam Dunk, I have heard it is a pretty solid show; I just hate basketball, so there’s my excuse for skipping it.

        • ghostlightning says:

          I haven’t seen Weiß Kreuz but I think my wife has back in uni. Slam Dunk is very good, and the manga is top-notch. I think the manga is a better experience, and the anime is unbearable unless marathoned (we bore it because tv was all we had back then) and I will never watch it again while I’ve re-read the manga at least twice.

          • To regress somewhat to your initial response to my first comment, I suspect my inability to enjoy militaristic anime is reflected in the fact that my favorite Gundam incarnation is After War Gundam X – since there is no military, its pretty impossible to get bent out of shape over depictions of such.

            I would honestly say that irritation I’ve had with militaristic shows has more to do with whether they are trying to seem serious or not, as Full Metal Panic , while certainly displaying some comedic flair, took itself pretty seriously (particularly in the Second Raid), and thus pissed me off with moves like having a sixteen year old commanding a nuclear submarine. At the same time, Valkyria Chronicles has been driving me insane despite not being terribly serious because of just how profoundly blatant its errors are in terms of military customs and codes of conduct.

            Anyway, as for the Macross franchise, what has kept me away there is my utter distaste for idol shows – whoops! But I do keep meaning to watch Do We Remember Love? since I have heard it is quite good and it sounds like it doesn’t spend quite so much time rolling around in idol industry stuff as Frontier did.

          • ghostlightning says:

            I feel ya. Macross: Do You Remember Love? is quite idol-centric. Lin Minmei is the idol among idols (as far as I’m concerned) in anime. The whole premise of Macross is pretty ludicrous in that music saves everyone. It doesn’t take itself that seriously at all. Many references in Frontier are to the original series and DYRL. Macross is very silly: a love triangle against a backdrop of a great war.

            That said, the original series is very notable for its rather realistic depiction of post-war reconstruction. The big battle happens 2/3s through the series and the rest of the story depicts how the survivors pick up the pieces and the challenges herein.

  13. Laster says:

    i think you are right Ghistlightning.

    If they start a game you know who is going to win without even finishing though sometime miracle happen like in genius fuji’s last game

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  15. DJ says:

    I hear you. But do they do the overhead smash trend in the manga too? I don’t think they do, but it’s been a while since I’ve read it. I’m a fan of PoT, but I like the manga more. If you thought the anime was weird, the animated movie, The Two Samurai, was even WEIRDER. In fact, the only move the made look real was the Ryoga Echizen’s(Ryoma’s adopted older bro made just for the movie) Twist Serve. After that, the players began turning into ‘tornados’ and all kinds of bizarre hyperbole. Oh yeah, about the 1-set thing. That’s how they play high-school tennis matches in Japan, I hear. I wondered why they did it in the PoT until my Japanese friend told me that’s hwo they do it in Japan.

    Oh yeah, Triple Counter wins the award for most impossible thing in sports ever. Only Fuji Shusuke can hit a ball in the air so high it vanishes out of sight, only to have the win blow it back and bounce back to his court. Way to go buddy.

    • In the Aim for the Ace! live action (I’ve neither seen the anime nor read the manga of this classic), they used a 3-set match system for high school matches.

      Remember, the extinction of the dinosaurs is due to Tezuka hitting a drop shot ^_^

  16. koreangurl86 says:

    i enjoy it purely as crack; the first time i watched it, I was also very much addicted, and watched it pretty much straight through, but after that, I realized that there was no way you could pull any of those in real life, not to mention, these are middle school kids (who are more mature than most boys older than them)!

    But I still love it. 😉

    • Hate isn’t the opposite of love, indifference is. So take all that I’ve said with this consideration. I obviously care enough about The Prince of Tennis to talk about it at length, and it’s certainly an unforgettable thing for me.

      Every time I step into the court, I bring a piece of Atobe into it ^_^

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  19. sakuno says:

    whatever you say,i cant and i will never stop loving prince of tennis! Theyre cool.!

  20. skygrinder says:

    If you ever come up to Seattle man, we gotta hit.

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  22. jack says:

    i guess based on your dislike for prince of tennis, there are absolutely no tennis animes availible in the world. alas, the prince of tennis is the only one.

    • Actually, there’s Ace wo nerae! based on the eponymous manga back in the 70s. I’ve only seen the film version but it’s not bad, unless you mind it being shojo. What would be interesting to you is that its plot is the very basis of the set-up of Top wo nerae! (Gunbuster!), including the direct referencing of much of the main cast.

  23. Strong says:

    I am with you, man. I used to be a big fan of the show, but I also have been a fan of real tennis for even longer.

    As I grew older, the cheap and lazy tricks really pissed me off. The Mangaka really mocks tennis. He does not even follow the rules of tennis. You often see servers serving from the wrong side of the court or games being one with one point being played.

    Running towards a ball to receive a serve is outlandish. No player has enough time to run to the ball. You can only stretch. Being able to his smashes on groundstroke shots is completely fake and lazy. I also hate it when you see the characters hitting ground strokes in the middle of the court. What player would hit such short balls? Aren’t they supposed to be good?

    I also hate all the Cool Drive moves. In order to use that move, you can only use it on short balls. You cannot run a hundred meters into the court without hitting the net, and you cannot run like that if the balls are hit with depth, near the baseline.

    I hate how the pre-teen horny girls eat this shit up.

  24. 101nemesis says:

    Comparing a tennis manga/anime, that was featured in Weekly Shounen, Jump to real tennis is wrong and stupid(no offence). It’s a shounen series made for kids that prefer “battle” style manga.

    Manga are usually an inspiration to kids. Bakuman inspires kids to draw manga and become mangakas. Same way Shokugeki No Souma inspires people to cook by adding recipes in volumes. If this series got you interested in tennis, then that alone shows that the series was successful in its cause. Just cause there were realistic series in the past for different sports does not mean every series will or must fall into that category. I know how to play tennis and I started watching Prince of Tennis much after that, I still found it extremely enjoyable. In fact, it got me more interested into the sport. I certainly ain’t gonna do all these power moves that are shown in the series because that’s there just to give it the extra “shounen” factor.

    PS- I know what you stated was your opinion and I’m just stating mine. No offence meant.

  25. banagherlinks says:

    you think prince of tennis is bad, just wait till you watch kuroko no basket. That show is full of shit that makes my stomach sick

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