39 (The Prince of Tennis)
Captain (Middle School) -presumed
Professional Tennis Player
Takashi Matsuyama (Japanese)
Nanjirō Echizen (越前南次郎, Echizen Nanjirō) is the father of Ryoma Echizen. He is known as "Samurai Nanjirō" (or "Samurai from the land of the Sakura") for his invincible tennis skills during his earlier years as a professional tennis player. With Ryoma and Tezuka Kunimitsu, he is the only player to have reached the "Pinnacle of Perfection" and master it. He is trained by Sumire Ryūzaki during middle school and eventually goes pro after leaving Japan.
Nanjiro's hairstyle when he first went to america to fullfill his "big dreams" seemed to be similar to that of Ryoma's but he ties it to his back when he showed Smith his true tennis skills which may imply that he ties his hair to back when he plays seriously. But Nanjiro's hairstyle has changed to that he had during his years at seigaku now.
In the beginning, Nanjirō is shown to be a very outspoken, eccentric, a shameless flirt, brash, perverted, and almost childish at times. He is very bad at lying and is often seen laying around his house reading gravure magazines. However, he appears to be quite the Ladies' Man during his youth, as during the flashback episode reflecting upon Nanjirō's past, many women seem to be attracted to him. His personality in middle school was similar to Takeshi Momoshiro in a way; loud, carefree and somewhat rude.
Nanjirō often criticizes Ryoma and considers his tennis to still be child's play. However, he loves Ryoma a lot, shown by how he quit attaining the Grand Slam title to raise and mold his son into the Tennis player of his dreams, saying that "standing in the stands and watching your son play, its a thousand times better than any career". So despite his initial first impression, Nanjirō can be quite loving and sweet.
Like Ryoma, Nanjiro also enjoys provoking his opponent's by undermining their tennis techniques and style. While Ryoma uses "Mada Mada Dane", Nanjirō uses "Mada Mada Dana", which in reality has the same meaning.
Nanjirō was trained by Sumire Ryūzaki during middle school and eventually goes pro after leaving Japan. In America, he meets Coach Smith, the coach of the Spartan Tennis Club and a pro tennis player himself, who recommends pros in order to let them play tennis. When Coach Smith attempts to molest a girl named Rinko Echizen, an attorney, Nanjirō steps in and saves Rinko while making fun of Smith, earning his dislike.
While riding around town with a bunch of girls, Nanjirō once again spots Rinko, playing tennis, to whom he explains that he came to America to accomplish a "big dream", and jokingly comments that she has a very small chest to fulfill those "big dreams". This angers Rinko and she throws a tennis ball at his head, which Nanjirō's catches with his racket without even trying, shocking her.
Nanjiro upsets Michael, a student of Coach Smith, who dislikes Nanjiro for flirting with his girl, Arisa. They have a match, and Michael loses gaining injuries from the match as well. Though the results are not shown, Coach Smith is angry that his student lost to Nanjiro.
Later on, Coach Smith, the coach of the Spartan Tennis Club injures Rinko while playing tennis when she attempts to save a boy from getting seriously wounded by a ball. Nanjirō notices this and asks Michael what happened. Nanjiro then comes and challenges Coach Smith, defeating him without even trying. It is then revealed by Michael that he was the Japanese person who has been winning tournaments all over America and is dubbed "Samurai Nanjirō".
Rinko and Nanjirō ride off together and later get married. Rinko gives birth to Nanjirō's son Ryoma Echizen, while Nanjirō continues with his tennis career. He remains undefeated and was only one more opponent away to earning a Grand Slam title before he unexpectedly decided to retire because he had defeated all world class players out there by then and wanted teach Ryoma tennis so he can play Ryoma as an equal rival sometime in future, saying that he had now gotten a "new big dream", which was to mold Ryoma into the player who would accomplish Nanjirō's big dreams.
In the animated movie Tennis no Ōjisama - Futari no Samurai (Prince of Tennis: The Two Samurai - The First Game), it was revealed that he had briefly taken in a child named Ryoga Echizen, whom he taught tennis with Ryoma.
Nanjiro was mentioned to have played and won 37 straight international title tournaments, and he may have won even more unmentioned non-title tournaments. He was just one game away from grand slam title before his untimely retirement from tennis. In the manga, it is unsure whether his retirement is due to an injury or because of his interest in teaching his son, Ryoma.
Playing Style and TechniquesEdit
From the mentions about his tennis prowess throughout the series by various characters, It can be assumed that Nanjiro is the best player to have appeared in the series. Not much is known about Samurai Nanjirō's tennis techniques, In addition to being one of the few players to ever achieve the "Pinnacle of Perfection", Nanjirō sports a tennis style that uses the "Nitōryū" position of playing ambidextrously (according to Sumire Ryūzaki, he had the "worse backhand on the planet" which is the reason he invented Nitōryū to begin with) and uses Samurai Zone to cause all of his opponents shots to return straight to him. Another of his more famous techniques is his ability to play with his eyes closed, a technique passed down to his son Ryoma Echizen. He also possess superhuman strength that surpassess all the other most powerful shots in the series seeing that his shot broke through Inoue's racket during a match, a feat that no other players or shots achieved with the relative ease Nanjiro done it. But this feat makes the series look a bit supernatural. Nanjiro was described by Sumire Ryuzaki as a monster that surpassed all her expectations.
Twist Serve (ツイスト サーブ)
A serve that tends to be hit with the opponent's dominant hand. It is heavily implied by Ryoga Echizen in the movie Tennis no Ōjisama - Futari no Samuraithat Nanjirō Echizen also knows this serve, which is typically considered to be Ryoma's signature move. It is meant to shoot towards the opponent's face, making it difficult to return. In the English dubbed version of Prince of Tennis, the twist serve is referred to as the kick serve, which is similar to the twist serve, but is considered to be less powerful and easier to perform than the twist serve.
Nitōryū (二刀流, |lit. Two Sword Style)
The name given to Ryoma's ambidexterity because he can play with either hand. It is a technique inherited from his father, Nanjirō Echizen. During a match, Ryoma can switch his racket to either hand, making it easier for him to return a ball, especially when his dominant hand is unable to quickly reach it. In the anime, Nanjirō was shown to create his ambidextry due to his backhand being weak, so he used both arms to use forehand shots to overcome his lack of reach.
A (nearly) impossible technique, only 2 people are known to use this technique. Nanjirō used it during his match with Inoue from Monthly Pro Tennis. This technique forces any shots the opponent hits right back to Nanjirō. The reason any of the opponent's returns are "sucked" into his hit zone is due to the large specific amount of spin that is required for Nanjirō to add to the ball, which is freely controlled. Nanjirō does not even need to move a step; all he needs to do is pivot one foot around the area he is standing in without lifting that foot from the ground, and putting a specific rotation on the ball with every hit. With every return, Nanjirō can (presumably, due to deduction) add a new heavy spin to the ball.
Muga no Kyōchi (無我の境地, Muga no Kyōchi, trans. State of Self Actualization)
A state in which the user naturally intakes all techniques he sees and can perfectly copy them. However, its weakness is that the ability to copy the opponent comes from the body, not the brain, and as a result, wears out one's body out further than usual since most techniques are beyond what a person can execute.
The Samurai's Eye (侍の目, Samurai no Me) is the anime equivalent of Muga no Kyōchi. It is first used by Nanjirō's son Ryoma in his match against Sanada in the Regional Finals, with Inoue commenting that this "the eye of Samurai Nanjirō". It gives Ryoma a very dynamic play style because he is able to switch between many other player's techniques.
Muga no Kyōchi has three doors:
Hyaku Ren Jitoku no Kiwami (Pinnacle of Hard Work) (presumably)
Nanjirō can use Hyaku Ren Jitoku no Kiwami to focus all his energy into different parts of his body, increasing the capabilities of that body part. He is never shown to use this technique, nor it is mentioned, but it is presumed since Chitose had mentined Nanjirō to have opened the "final door of Muga," possibly hinting that he had also unlocked Hyaku Ren Jitoku no Kiwami.
Saiki Kanpatsu no Kiwami (Pinnacle of Great Wisdom) (presumably)
With Saiki Kanpatsu no Kiwami, all the power is sent to the brain and Nanjirō is capable of predicting the number of shots he needs to win a point. He is never shown to use this technique, nor it is mentioned, but it is presumed since Chitose had mentined Nanjirō to have opened the "final door of Muga," possibly hinting that he had also unlocked Saiki Kanpatsu no Kiwami.
Teni Muhō No Kiwami (Pinnacle of Perfection)
This is the ultimate door and final door of Muga no Kyōchi. In this state, the user's hair and eyes turn permanently green, along with most of his hair spiking upwards. Nanjirō then uses Teni Muhō No Kiwami to hit the ball at a speed that cannot be seen, unless one reviews it on a video monitor. Nanjirō Echizen, Ryoma Echizen, and Tezuka Kunimitsu are the only three players known to have unlocked the Third Door.
According to Nanjirō, there was no such thing as Teni Muhō to begin with. It was simply the feeling that one has when they first enjoy playing tennis. However, when people become too absorbed in winning and losing in tennis, they eventually forget that feeling.
- Nanjiro and the Echizen family apparently own a rather large truck (in they anime the own a compact car).
- According to the manga, he is apparently not interested in blondes.