Inspired by his tennis champion father, Ryoma is determined to train in the US after winning a championship in Japan. He runs into his classmate Sakuno right as she is getting into trouble with street gangs, and Ryoma accepts a tennis match against the villains to save her. During the intense tennis battle, the shock of two tennis balls ramming into one another disrupts the flow of time! Ryoma and Sakuno suddenly find themselves transported back into the past, decades before, when Ryoma’s father challenged his last match at a championship in the US.
For in-depth thoughts on Ryoma! The Prince Of Tennis, please see my colleague AJ Fairnot’s review from its original theatrical release here.
Ryoma! The Prince Of Tennis comes to Blu-Ray with a detailed and vibrant 1080p transfer in 1.78:1. The most impressive aspect of the presentations are the colors, which are practically leaping off the screen with the wide range of hues permeating the frame. This vividness is where the film truly shines as you get a lot of nuance from the different environments. Black levels are pretty strong with not much in the way of compression artifacts or digital anomalies of the sort. The animation style lends itself to very fluid character movements, but the distinct detail and texture of 2D animation is missed. Although it is not as detailed as the traditional hand drawn animation, it is quite striking nonetheless. There are some bouts of banding against some harsher gradients, but overall this is a transfer free of major encode issues. This is a lovely Blu-Ray presentation that should please fans of the film.
This release boasts a pair of immersive DTS-HD 5.1 and 2.0 Master Audio tracks in the original Japanese and English dub that really pack a punch. While you should listen to your personal preference, we always advocate listening to the original audio track with subtitles. One of the standout details of this feature is the importance placed on music throughout. The tunes in the film are very effective in stirring up deep emotions that make the film feel more immediate and alive. There is also a significant amount of activity in the low-end due to the various music sequences and other kinetic moments on the court. Dialogue comes through clearly without getting overwhelmed by any competing sound effects or score. The track engages all of the channels with panning effects and environmental sounds that provide a fully fleshed-out world. Shout! Factory has delivered a top-tier audio presentation that brings this story to life quite nicely. There are optional English SDH and English subtitles provided.
- <Glory> Edition – Full-Length Alternate Cut: As mentioned at the beginning of the main feature, there are two versions of the film, <Glory> and <Decide>. The spotlight feature is the <Decide> Version (1:40:14), but you also have the option to view the <Glory> Version (1:40:04) featuring different scenes featuring Hyotei Team Captain Keigo Atobe and Shitenhoji Team Captain Kuranosuke Shiraishi. This is presented in Japanese DTS-HD 5.1 and 2.0 Master Audio with optional English subtitles.
Ryoma! The Prince Of Tennis is a film which seeks to distance itself from the source material which made it so beloved by many in an appeal to reach a different, potentially larger audience. The results are a bit of a mixed bag to be sure, as you wind up with characters that seem more like caricatures rather than anyone that is easy to become invested in. Yet, you do have those classic moments that come through where character development is moved to the forefront and you do feel something. The 3D animation is not the most visually pleasing, especially for those with an affinity for the classic hand drawn style. While adults can still enjoy this story, it has been more specifically designed to appeal to a younger audience in a way that may alienate certain older viewers. Shout! Factory has provided a Blu-Ray with a very strong A/V presentation and an alternate version of the film which does not seem to have been released in theaters.
Ryoma! The Prince Of Tennis will be available to purchase on Blu-Ray + DVD Combo Pack on July 5, 2022.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Shout! Factory and Eleven Arts have supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.