Ryoma Echizen (越前 リョーマ, Echizen Ryōma) is the protagonist of the Prince of Tennis series. He is the son of Echizen Nanjirō and Takeuchi-Echizen Rinko. He first appears in chapter 1 when he criticized a high school student for the lesser knowledge of grips. As the main character, he is one of the most popular characters in the series.
Ryoma is a first year student at Seishun Academy (‘Seigaku’ for short), which he attends immediately after his arrival in Japan after formerly residing in the United States. Although only a first year in middle school, Ryoma had already earned notoriety through winning four consecutive titles in the American Junior Tennis tournaments – all in a little over a year. Due to his nearly invincible tennis play, Ryoma has earned the label ‘prodigy’ by the age of twelve. His looks and confidence make him highly popular with ladies, although he seems not to notice, having his focus exclusively on tennis.
He is an all-court tennis player with many special shots and abilities. One of Ryoma’s greatest talents is his ability to learn new techniques after only seeing them performed a few times. He also has an amazing amount of stamina and does not sweat as much as the other players. Along with fellow Seigaku regular Eiji Kikumaru, Ryoma is known to have an exceptional talent for seeing moving objects. He does not go easy on himself and pushes himself more, rather than letting himself rest. He is specifically a singles player, though he did try doubles once with teammate Momoshiro Takeshi. After seeing how bad he was at doubles, Coach Ryūzaki usually placed him in the S3 (Singles 3) or S2 (Singles 2) position. When captain Tezuka Kunimitsu goes away for rehabilitation for his arm, Ryoma and teammate Fuji Shūsuke take turns for the S1 (Singles 1) position. In the Nationals, Ryoma often found himself placed in the S1 position nearly every match.
His catchphrase (and favorite phrase) in the Japanese anime is “Mada Mada Dane,” literally meaning “No, not yet” or “Not good enough,” although the literal translation in Japanese is “You still have lots more to work on.” In the American version, it is translated as “You still have a ways to go.”
In the Prince of Tennis movie Tennis no Ōjisama - Futari no Samurai, Ryoma supposedly has an older brother named Ryōga Echizen, but the latter is later revealed to simply be a child that Nanjirō took in a few years ago.
In the manga, Ryoma goes with his team to the Nationals. In the anime, he is chosen as a wildcard for the U.S. Open and goes to it, eventually beating Lleyton Hewitt in the finals. He comes back in the OVA, and although he says he wouldn’t participate with Seigaku, vice captain Oishi Shūichiro goads him into a match to take over his spot as a regular, which Echizen does. Re-earning his spot, Ryoma leads the team to their first national victory. He returns to America afterwards, and returns in time for the U-17 Selection Camp. There, he learns that there are still more powerful people out there, and strives to become even stronger to defeat the likes of Tokugawa Kazuya.