Eyeshield 21 Vol. #02 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, June 02, 2005
Release Date: Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Writer/Artist:Riichiro Inagaki / Yusuke Murata
Translated by:Allison Markin Powell
What They Say
Wimpy Sena Kobayakawa has been running away from bullies all his life. But when the football gear comes on things change - Sena's speed and uncanny ability to elude big bullies just might give him what it takes to become a great high school football hero! Enjoy all the bone-crushing action and slapstick comedy that this heart-warming coming-of-age story has to offer.
The second game of the season finds Sena and the Devilbats lined up against the champion White Knights. Big and ferocious, the Knights feature a squad of the toughest kids in high school. Will Sena wimp out of this one or will he break through the Knights' defense to see daylight? And what's the deal with the Devilbats' center? Will we ever find out why his head is shaped like a chestnut?
The cover artwork is the same as the original Japanese release, featuring a great illustration of the Ojo White Knights with an interesting perspective that really highlights the sports aspect of this title. The colors are lively and extremely bright, creating an energetic cover. The English logo is in the same place as the Japanese, along the top, and it looks almost identical to the Japanese text, with just a couple stars rearranged. The bottom of the volume has the volume number, creators, and SJA tagline.
The print job is much improved in this volume, which is a huge plus. Inside there is a volume header and a two-page spread with a story summary and a character guide, featuring a lively smorgasbord of character illustrations. A fun little addition are the chapter end pages called “Sports-A-Go-Go” which are interviews with various characters, done by the female reporter from the game. The back of the book has 7 pages of extra, with supporting cast biographies and a mini-comic done in a high school newsletter format. Overall, I am very impressed with the presentation and the improvements made in the printing.
Murata’s hyper, energetic, and over-the-top artwork is a real treat and fits this manga perfectly. The action scenes are intense with clean illustrations and great panel work that makes the football action explode off the page. The excited facial expressions keep the energy high and offer some laughs. When the action isn’t in full swing, the background artwork is very detailed, especially the crowd of Sakuraba fangirls in the stands at the game.
Despite the over-the-top feel of the manga, the character designs remain quite simple, yet effective. Really clean line work and some really nice etching for shading that really highlights the characters’ faces. There also is a lot of attention to detail on the football uniforms and other clothing, with nice tone work. Overall I just get a feeling that Murata loves doing his work, and it shows.
SFX are translated and retouched, with the English SFX mimicking the look of the original text. The retouch job looks really nice and doesn’t feel obtrusive like other Shonen Jump retouch jobs. The football terminology feels dead on, but it is not that thick to begin with, which fits since most of the members of the Deimon squad aren’t even football players to begin with. The school grades keep the Japanese system, using 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year titles, which is a nice plus. The dialog reads very smoothly, capturing the personalities of each of the characters quite well.
Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
Sena has always been the kid who has to rely on others to take care of him and help him out when he’s in a tight situation. He’s weak, timid, and most definitely not the type that fits the typical high school running back. When Mamori once again comes to his aid when she sees Hiruma supposedly bullying Sena, he decides that he finally must make his own decisions and take care of himself. His teammates are relying on this Eyeshield 21 character to help them win, and now Sena must step into the role of the hero and do his best. This volume is definitely a stepping stone in the growth of Sena. He is an easy character to root for, so seeing him take control of his own life and start to become stronger is an enjoyable experience. A good sports manga needs that lead you can cheer for, and Sena fills that role quite well.
After their first win, Deimon High must now play one of the top high school programs in the region, Ojo White Knights, who defeated Deimon last year 99-0. The White Knights feature the fastest, most brutal linebacker in the history of Japanese football, Seijuro Shin. Sena has his moments to shine, but in the end his inexperience and lack of fundamentals get the best of him, as Seijuro is just too good of a football player. However, Hiruma seems to be drawing up a plan at halftime which might give them a chance, and I can’t wait to see what crazy strategy he has come up with.
The great thing about the game is that there are so many secondary events surrounding the game that it makes for a really entertaining read, especially for readers who aren’t big sports fans. In the crowd you have the legion of Sakuraba, Ojo’s boy idol wide receiver, fangirls who are constantly screaming and yelling and have no idea how the game is played. In the crowd are also members of the rival team Shinryuji Nagas, who offer some commentary and already you are getting a sense of their personalities. On the sidelines is a female reporter who also is only concerned about Sakuraba, and knows nothing about the game, but through her naiveté the reader learns more about how the game is played. There is just a whole lot going on off the field that the action on the field does not feel like it is dragging along. Not that it would drag, because the in-game action is done extremely well and it’s great to see Hiruma’s crazy, yet somewhat plausible, strategies.
To go along with the football action is a lot of hilarious, unexpected, sometimes slapstick humor, usually with Hiruma as the instigator. His devilish, sadistic tricks had me in stitches on many occasions, like his “Free manual labor” comment after tricking Mamori to be the manager. He also has such an array of weapons, gadgets, player hair samples for Cerberus, all sorts of bizarre things that are just too funny. I almost lost it when he came into the strategy meeting with a box of miniature models of the players, extremely detailed models, and then lets known his great plan. The humor is also used quite nicely during the instructional moments of the manga, providing some really clever and creative ways to explain the rules of the game.
Eyeshield 21 is the most entertaining sports manga being released right now. It’s mix of unexpected, slapstick humor and energetic, well-illustrated football action perfectly compliment each other, creating an exciting experience that had me in stitches and glued to my seat enjoying the intense action. The actual sport is handled quite well, not too simple for the experienced, and not too technical for the football novice.
The characters are very likeable and having Sena as the lead makes it easy to have someone to root for, especially with his growth in this volume. The game is extremely fun, not just the football action, but there are so many other events going on during the game that keeps it fresh and entertaining. Then of course there is the humor provided mostly by Hiruma, which is a complete riot and is funny no matter how many times I read it.
After two volumes, Eyeshield 21 is easily becoming one of my favorite releases at the moment. It’s entertainment value is high, and the fact that it is a sports titles makes it even sweeter. I dare anyone to pick up these first two volumes and not be entertained. Highly recommended.
Mania Grade: A-
Art Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A-
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
Orientation: Right to Left