In case you're wondering what the hell the title means, I picked up PoT at Eiji's match with Kai in the OVA, and started the manga when Ryoma first got MnK. So rather than get the buildup to all the insanity we see in the series now, I jumped right into it. I always wondered what the preceding volumes were like, since I'd heard a few people say it was actually grounded in reality. So between yesterday and today, I read the first 22 volumes of the series.
Now that I've seen everything, here are a few of my thoughts:
- What disoriented me the most was the stark contrast in gameplay between the first few volumes and the current stuff. Back then, the Moon Volley and the Jackknife were actually useful moves, Kikumaru couldn't use ninjutsu, and you could play without the risk of manslaughter by the opponent. MnK wasn't even a factor in the matches; Tezuka Zone wasn't accompanied with the "Nightmare Geese ring-of-fire" effect. It was actually...reserved. Believable, even.
Personally, I thought it made for a better read.
It was nice to see people utilizing strategies actually used in the pros, since it seemed far less arbitrary and whimsical. Just being able to take the matches seriously made them a lot more readable. We've gotten in way too deep to go back to that now, but it was still refreshing while it lasted.
- I was surprised at how they de-emphasized Kawamura's "transformation" in the later chapters/OVA. I thought Kawamura was a cantankerous Engrish-shouter 24/7.
- I had no idea that Kirihara played a role in the series so early. It felt like it came out of nowhere when I saw him in, what, the second volume? Jesus. I thought he was just some punk that Konomi had thrown in once Seigaku vs. Rikkaidai began to loom over the horizon. He didn't seem to have much bearing on the story until then, anyway.
- And while we're on the topic of punks, Akutsu was one hell of a bastard. I thought that Kirihara was bad enough, but Akutsu didn't fuck around with tennis--he just beat the shit out of you, and that was the end of it. It was certainly a switch from all the tennis pseudo-punkness I've gotten used to seeing.