39 (The Prince of Tennis)
Captain (Junior High) -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.
Nanjiro has hazel-brown eyes, which his youngest son, Echizen Ryoma inherited. He keeps his black-brown hair in short and messy style; he had the same hairstyle during his junior high years. He is typically seen wearing a traditional Buddhist monk's uniform in an unkempt fashion.
Sometime after graduating from Seigaku, Nanjiro allowed his hair to grow out to reach his shoulders. He maintained this hairstyle throughout his stay in America. During that time, whenever he would play seriously or with Ryoma, Nanjiro would tie back his hair in a high ponytail.
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 junior high 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, it's 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 opponents 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 junior high 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 complete Grand Slam 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 Techniques
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 overall tennis style, although he has shown incredible skills when he is shown to play, despite not playing to his fullest in all of his appearances. He was shown to defeat Ryoma and George Smith (a player who was formerly ranked #86 in his prime) without putting any effort and was undefeated during his time as a pro, having 37 consecutive wins worldwide and was just 1 win away from reaching the #1 rank before suddenly retiring.
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 in the anime, 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, seeing that his shot broke through Inoue's racket during a match easily from some easygoing swings from Nanjiro's part, along with possessing superhuman dexterity, shown by his creation of Nitoryu at a young age along with the Samurai Zone. 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 Samurai that 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, Nanjiro 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 to the fullest. 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 or years of experience) 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 can use Teni Muhō No Kiwami to hit balls at a speed that cannot be seen, unless one reviews it on a video monitor.
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. Despite being the first notable person to attain Teni Muho, Nanjiro is the only player who achieved Teni Muho that has never been shown to use it.
- Nanjiro and the Echizen family own a rather large truck (in the anime they own a compact car).
- He is not interested in blondes.
- "That was so slow, I could return it with my eyes closed."
- "Mada mada dana."