Prince of Tennis: Futari No Samurai (2005)
Anime blends dinosaurs, tennis, to create perfect harmony
Being a graduate of the Dom DeLuise School of Film Studies and Air Conditioning Repair, I consider myself to be somewhat of a cinema buff, or even connoisseur. I’ve explored many different genres over the years – westerns, musicals, hardcore Slovakian pornography – but the one genre I have never really examined is anime.
Anime, a popular style animation, has inspired legions of diehard fans across the globe. In fact, these ani-maniacs are so rapid about their devotion to the genre, that they often attend anime conventions, dressed up as their favorite characters. These enthusiasts of all ages have a great time, mingling with people who share their devotion, until the sad moment when all of their moms arrive to bring them back home.
These same fans are said to live vicariously through the characters in these epic films. These characters do things these fans may never get to do, such as battle space goblins, control killer androids, and see a real, live naked lady.
So after receiving a recommendation from one of my loyal readers, I decided to check out the anime flick Prince of Tennis: Futari No Samurai. I figured there must be something to this anime stuff. Boy, was I right!
Translated to English, Futari No Samurai means Two Samurais, The First Game. I still didn’t think that made any sense, so I had it translated to German, where it came out as Futari Keine Samurais. One thing is for certain – translators charge an obscene hourly rate.
The film focuses on a group of players from the Seigaku tennis club, who are invited to play an exhibition tournament on a cruise ship. Little do they know that the owner of the cruise ship, an evil millionaire, expects them to throw their matches against his own team as part of a betting scheme.
This betting scheme involves the evil millionaire threatening the lives of the Seigaku players so that he can make a fortune. Presumably he will use this money to either develop an evil weather machine, or bulldoze an orphanage and build a brothel in its place.
The tennis action in the film is quite simply breathtaking. One of the players even has the ability to summon a herd of dinosaurs to help him topple his foe. I’d like to see Maria Sharapova or Martina Hingis try that! Those stuffy Wimbledon folks would surely not invite them back the following year, and they might be subject to a stiff fine from the WTA.
Prince of Tennis: Futari No Samurai is not your typical sports flick. Instead of being lazy, and relying on clichés, the creative team behind this one decided to “think outside the box” (and yes, I did do the finger quotes as I typed that), and utilize some fresh ideas.
The betting storyline, a subplot involving the two feuding brothers on opposing teams, and the stampeding freakin’ dinosaurs all contribute to my belief that one day people will speak about this film in the same breath as Bull Durham, Raging Bull and The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island. In fact I just did. That’s how good this film is! Prince of Tennis: Futari No Samurai truly captures a Grand Slam.