Eyeshield 21 Collection 4 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, February 02, 2011
Release Date: Tuesday, February 08, 2011
The fight to make it to the Christmas Bowl is in full swing and the Devil Bats have quite the challenge ahead of them.
What They Say
the Deimon Devil Bats' continue to evolve and grow their own unique version of American-style football, Sena has a major breakthrough: a revolutionary technique called the Ghost, combining speed and illusion to fool the opposing players. However, when Hiruma forbids him to use it outside of a "real" game, it throws Sena's plans of competing in a side league for practice into a tailspin. With Shin once more pitted against him, will he be able to resist the temptation? Meanwhile, Taki is proving unfortunately worthy of his nickname of "the Idiot," as besides being incredibly challenged about getting on the correct bus, he also seems to be unable to pass his crucial exams. Will he be able to break the dreaded cut-off barrier of 200 so he can play? And then, what is this rumor about another Eyeshield 21? There's a whole pile of trouble waiting to tackle our fearless heroes in EYESHIELD 21 - COLLECTION 4!
Sentai’s release of Eyeshield 21 is fairly standard for the company at this stage with just the Japanese language track included. Some of the series was dubbed when it was on Toonami Jetstream, but that stream had edits to it and it likely didn’t make sense to include it here or it wasn’t available. The stereo Japanese mix here is encoded at 224kbps and what we get is a fairly standard center channel kind of series where there’s no real directionality or placement in it. There are no problems with the audio encoding but it’s fairly lifeless in a lot of ways as it lacks impact during the big action sports scenes. Dialogue is decent throughout though as it’s clear and problem free but it’s all coming from the center channel.
Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The thirteen episodes here are spread over two volumes in a six/seven format. Eyeshield 21 has a pretty bright and colorful approach to its animation so it has an almost plastic-like feel to some of the animation. The transfer for the show is good as it captures the look of the show very well with a clean look where the colors have a solid feel to them. There’s a bit of cross coloration popping up in a few areas and a noticeable amount of line-noise during some of the panning sequences, but overall there’s little to take serious issue with here. This is a fairly average budget show and there are times where it ups the ante in animation quality and detail, but most of the time it’s about what you’d expect from a sports series.
Eyeshield 21 gets a standard single sized keepcase with two discs inside that uses a hinge. The front cover artwork is decent as it has a grouping of the Devil Bats players, including the new cheerleader, which looks good overall as it has a bit of an action component to it and a lot of smiles. The background is pretty eye-catching with the green of the field which is also nicely contrasted by the logo which has the vibrant reds and more of the green. Selling a sports show can’t be easy in general and this one does a decent job at it with what they have. The back cover uses more of the field layout, though it feels a bit darker because of all the text from the summary but I do like the overall color and feel of it. Several characters get a nice pose shot along the left side and there’s a fair number of shots along the bottom in a star shaped grid that's really too small and busy to show much. The production credits and the technical grid rounds out the rest of the bottom of the cover though this is a release where you feel like you can take issue with the runtime as the episodes are shorter, about 23 minutes even with translated credits, making this a 300 minute title total. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reverse side cover.
The menu design for the release uses the same elements as the cover with the gridiron in the background and character artwork in the foreground. It looks brighter and more vibrant in the menu than the cover and the detail is a bit more apparent. Underneath the character artwork and logo we get the individual episode selection as well as the special features selection which is all laid out in a simple but easy to navigate fashion. It still feels odd to not have a language submenu, even just for subtitle only shows, but that’s what twelve years of conditioning will do to you. Everything loads quickly and navigation is a breeze here.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As Eyeshield 21 moves along, now with everyone fully back in Japan and ready to deal with the Christmas Bowl, the team continues to come together pretty well. While I have my issues with the show, some of those things have fallen away for the most part with this set of episodes since there's less of a problem with people figuring out that Sena is Eyeshield. The previous set of episodes pushed my buttons a lot with the things I don't care for with the show, that particular aspect was rather strong in fact, but with this run the focus is more on the game itself and the variety of opponents that they're facing.
One of the main focuses of this set of episodes is on Sena with his discovery and formalization of a move that's being called the Devil Bat Ghost. His speed is increasing heavily with all of the training he's been through with the death march and the opponents he's faced have had him really work out a new method of getting around them. Each new team he goes up against brings something new to the table that teaches him something new. Hiruma for his part wants to keep this move a secret as much as possible, but he also already knows its weakness and he's intent on working through it with him. Of course, Sena can't keep it completely secret as he gets involved in a game that has him bringing it out but that ends up forcing him to adapt and understand his weaknesses better than Hiruma could do it.
Over this set we get to see a few more teams alongside the Ojo White Knights which expands the whole range of teams that are involved in the Christmas Bowl. The first one that they deal with are the Amino Cyborgs which is a team that's heavily focused on sports medicine and training to build the best team. Of course, that gets them only so far which is really difficult for them to fathom. They do provide a challenge, which is definitely good for the Devil Bats as they need that in order to grow, but it's a pretty easily telegraphed match up which is where most of my problems with this set comes in with regards to the actual games. There are teams you know where it's going to be more intense, but those don't really occur here and even if they make it by the skin of their teeth, they're going to make it.
A couple of the Devil Bats end up participating in a corporate league team practice, the Elephants, and that leads them to really seeing just what they're up against in the future if they go pro. They're definitely a very different league both in skill and size, which both intimidates them but also shows them just how much more they can progress as well. It's actually good to see them holding their own a bit, more so when Eyeshield finally makes it onto the scene, but when a couple of key Ojo players make their way onto the field, it all gets far more personal. But even when it does that, it's more that Shin wants to see what Sena will be bringing to the table. They're facing off in the midst of this larger practice and it's something that allows Sena to try and bring out his new skills in full.
A curious team that takes up a ice bit of space is when the Devil Bats come across the Yuhi Guts. This team has been practicing hard for three years and have really built a solid team around themselves and it's kind of inspiring for Sena and the others when they see just how much they've put into it. There really aren't any outlandish personalities on the team, which I found to be a plus, and the team is a whole is really put into a rough place since it's their last chance to make a play for the Christmas Bowl and they find that the school administration wants some of the all stars from other sports of the school to come in and play instead. It's all basic stuff and you know how it will play out, but it's good to see the kind of guts these kids have when it comes to going after what they want.
There's a pair of character driven stories that make up a couple of episodes here that are worth noting. One of them involves Kurita who has some real fond memories of a fellow player named Yamamoto that showed him what he was lacking early on in his football career. Yamamoto's team is coming up in the matches for another team so they want to go see them play so that Yamamoto's skills can shine. Seeing the flashbacks is really good since it shows how Kurita has changed some as well as what it was like at the beginning of the Devil Bats. Another good story that comes out involves Sena learning that there was a real Eyeshield 21 that hiruna based naming him off of and there's a team they're getting closer to playing that has some knowledge of that man from playing overseas themselves. Giving Sena something to look up to and aspire to at a time when he's struggling with his own weaknesses is just right.
Eyeshield 21 has a good run of episodes here that focuses more on the actual game itself than training or other events. With a variety of teams at play here, it keeps things fresh on a regular basis and it helps to show the growth of the Devil Bats since their death march back in America. The majority of the focus is on Sena which is not a surprise, especially as he's gained a lot of confidence and skill since that training. The things that bothered me in the previous set are certainly still a part of the series, but they're largely muted in this particular set of episodes as Mamori is kept out of the picture or dealing exclusively with game related material. With the stronger focus on the game itself and some good training, Eyeshield 21 hits a pretty good run here.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: C+
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Running time: 325
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Eyeshield 21