On Friday, April 2nd, Funimation served up a big license announcement in the form of the entire Prince of Tennis anime franchise!
In the announcement, Funimation revealed that the tennis action will start with the subtitled version of The Prince of Tennis II Hyotei vs Rikkai Game of Future Parts 1 and 2 on April 16th. Previous seasons will be added monthly after that until the entire anime franchise is up on the site. In addition, they revealed the series will receive a brand new English dub (release date and cast members will be announced at a later time). The stream will be available on Funimation in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Mexico, and Brazil; on AnimeLab in Australia and New Zealand; and on Wakanim in France, Germany, Russia, and Scandinavia.
The full list of Prince of Tennis anime that will be added reads as:
The Prince of Tennis
The Prince of Tennis OVAs
The Prince of Tennis II
The Prince of Tennis II OVAs
The Prince of Tennis II OVAs vs Genius 10
The Prince of Tennis II Hyotei vs Rikkai Game of Future Part 1
The Prince of Tennis II Hyotei vs Rikkai Game of Future Part 2
The Prince of Tennis: Futari no Samurai
The Prince of Tennis: Atobe Kara no Okurimono
The Prince of Tennis Eikokushiki Teikyujo Kessen!!
The Prince of Tennis Best Games
As you might have guessed by the rather direct title, the star of this story is a young tennis prodigy named Ryoma Echizen who attends Seishun Academy. In his first year on the school's tennis team, Ryoma is able to defeat multiple upperclassmen and earn a spot as a regular on the team. Seeking to escape the shadow of his father and make a name for himself on his own merits, Ryoma continues his quest to become the best tennis player in Japan.
Originally a manga created by Takeshi Konomi, the original series ran in Weekly Shonen Jump from July 1999 to March 2008 and was collected into 42 volumes. Trans Arts produced the first anime adaptation, which aired for 178 episodes from 2001 to 2005. Interestingly, the anime series has gone on far longer than the manga with tons of movies, seasons, OVAs, and specials. The series has even reached beyond the television screen and has been adapted into over a dozen stage musicals, video games, and live-action movies in Japan!
This is an interesting license for Funimation. Viz Media once handled the distribution for this series in North America (this was back in 2006) but gave up on the series after only 50 episodes. Crunchyroll also licensed a couple of iterations from the franchise over the years, but let those licenses expire as there's now hardly any trace of the series ever being on the site.
With any luck, this time will be the charm for this series to find its footing and audience outside of Japan because you have to assume that they do exist somewhere.
Source: Funimation Blog