The Japan Anniversary Association has officially designated 14th August as “Happy Summer Valentines Day”, thanks mostly to Takeshi Konomi’s “Prince of Tennis” series. As many fans of the series know, 14th August is the day when the staff of “Prince of Tennis” release the results of the annual “Valentine Choco Ranking”.

© Takeshi Konomi / Shueisha・NAS・New Prince of Tennis Project

The tradition started in 2004, when “Prince of Tennis” fans would send chocolate to their favourite character by way of POT’s publishing company Shueisha. From an initial collection of only 313 packages, the volume has risen exponentially, and by 2014 they had received over 180,000 packages — burying the Shueisha staff in sweets!

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© Takeshi Konomi / Shueisha・NAS・New Prince of Tennis Project

To prevent all that food being wasted (as well as earning a pretty penny for the company), Shueisha has since bundled a voting coupon with their comics, so fans can send paper stand-ins instead of actual chocolate to their favourites. However, this did not mean that fans stopped sending in real chocolate. The Shueisha staff still receive thousands of packages every year, which they collect and ship to POT author Konomi.

It’s interesting to note that in all the years the “Valentine Choco Ranking” was being held, 2018 is the very first time that series protagonist and the eponymous “Prince of Tennis” Ryouma Echizen has topped the ranking. With a few exceptions, rival team Hyotei Gakuen’s leader Keigo Atobe has topped the ranking since 2005.