There's kabuki, noh, butoh, bunraku, regular plays, glitzy musicals and Japan's unique all-female Takarazuka musical theater troupe — but another home-grown performance-art genre has for some time been carving a niche in this country's diverse entertainment world in the shape of so-called 2.5-D musicals.

Among the biggest hits in the "2.5-dimensional" field — whose productions draw on manga, anime and computer-games content — have been three "Prince of Tennis" series, each with different directors, comprising in all 26 different musicals based on a 1998-2008 manga comic of the same name by Takeshi Konomi.

On March 22, indeed, the latest installment, "The Prince of Tennis: Sigaku vs. Fudomine," registered the series' 2 millionth ticket sale — a stunning tally in Japan, where there are no systems encouraging long-running shows as there are in many countries.