Mania Grade: C-
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- 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
- MSRP: 49.98
- Running time: 325
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Eyeshield 21
Eyeshield 21 Collection 3
Eyeshield 21 Collection 3 Anime DVD Review
By Chris Beveridge
December 21, 2010
Release Date: December 21, 2010
Eyeshield 21 Collection 3
© Sentai Filmworks
Nothing says training like going to America for a Death March.
What They Say
As if the Demon Bat's training couldn't get any more bizarre, Hiruma drags the entire team to Houston, Texas for a bootcamp from Hell. But that's the least of the team's problems, as things go unpredictably (or actually, at this point, rather predictably) awry. Not only does Cerberus get "borrowed" by a little girl, but the team must face a grueling death-march, the NASA Aliens are back with a sly and cunning plan to outmaneuver the Demon Bats, and somewhere in the middle is an epic battle over a thousand dollars and a whole lot of barbeque. And then everyone realizes that Las Vegas is "reasonably close" to Houston and the trouble really begins! American style football takes Japan by storm and Japan returns the favor by sending the Demon Bats back to the ranch in EYESHIELD 21 - COLLECTION 3!
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 mixture of the Gunmen players along with Sena and Monta, though they're in regular clothes, which provides quite the contrast to the Gunmen's uniforms. 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. Yukimitsu gets a nice action 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)
Eyeshield 21 has certainly been a challenging show to watch on a couple of levels and the third collection actually adds a few new ones. Sports shows are a favorite of mine but the ones that go for over exaggerated moves and outlandish costumes tend to be less interesting because things can change for no realistic reason at the drop of a hat. It also suffers heavily from the whole hiding who Eyeshield 21 is. While I can understand the idea in general, presenting it as he'd get scooped up by other clubs and Mamori would stop him from playing since she sees him as just a child, it's an incredibly frustrating angle because it asks us to believe that Mamori and many others are stupid. Very, very stupid.
With this set of episodes, we spend the bulk of it in America, though Japan's eyes and through the wacky view of this particular series where anything goes. The gang has come over for some special training but there's a lot of things that happens along the way. That it opens with wanted posters of jewel thieves that Sena and Monta have to deal with as it involves Hiruma's dog is swapped out for a stuffed one that has a jewel. And the two international thieves are bright and garish, enough so that you could easily point them out in a huge crowd. That they match the wanted posters only adds insult to injury. While I don't look for huge amounts of realism in certain shows and this is one that wants to play loose with reality to begin with, but any post-9/11 show has to deal with things a little better. I mean, the manga even started in 2002, so it's not like it's dated in that regard. It's a small thing but it's enough to make you roll your eyes.
Naturally, the gang gets separated at different times and it's mostly a chance for Sena and Monta to get involved in football related activities in strange places. They end up walking the streets of Houston and cause plenty of trouble (with some very rude cops, even for America) and there's some local football game they get involved in. There's also the truly terrible sequence where a pregnant woman needs her doctor as she's about to have her baby, but he's out on the dock a ways away fishing. And the hospital apparently doesn't have any other doctors. So rather than send a cab, take a cab or call him, the only option is for Sena to run to the dock, tell him what's going on, and carry him back.
While there's a lot of tomfoolery with the American adventure, where it goes even more off the rails is that when it's time to leave and fly back home, Hiruma makes them an offer to stay and train with him and others if they want to give up their vacations back in Japan. What they're going to do if they stay is perform a Death March, something that certain players did quite a few years ago to build up their bodies and go through something amazing. The main group of players stay, including Jumonji and his two cohorts. The training is definitely brutal, running from Houston to Las Vegas with a truck that doesn't always run so they have to push it. The whole point is to bring them up to the next level so in forty days when they return to Japan, they can start the school year and be primed to tackle the new season so they can make it to the Christmas Bowl.
There are some good moments, mostly focusing on Sena as he starts to master some of the things that he has as weaknesses, but it also goes off the rails once or twice. The big one comes when he ends up going through some tryouts for a professional football team. The tryouts are pretty much a disaster since the other people trying out are so obvious in how they're trying to screw him and a few others over. It's not exactly that I'm intimately familiar with how tryouts are done at this level, but the whole thing lacks even the basics of what you'd think reality would be like that you're constantly shaking your head at it.
You're also shaking your head to the point of it popping off when you realize that Mamori has decided to stay in America as well and go on the Death March, though she's riding in the truck. How she goes the whole distance, spending the forty odd days traveling with all these guys, and never figuring out that Sena is Eyeshield really doesn't do her or the writers any favors. Even Jumonji and the others figure it out after a bit. It's the kind of story idea that really doesn't help anyone and it only makes the whole thing look worse the longer it goes on. When they're back in Japan and on the path again with the line-up being laid out and practices starting again, it's like nothing has changed in this regard. The team is definitely much stronger and more intense than before, but Mamori and Sena play the same awful game.
Eyeshield 21 is a show that plays life large and goes over the top with what it wants to do and it has its own sense of self. I can see easily why people get into it and why it's popular, but the way it handles things are all cliches that completely push me away from it. When it's one or two cliches like that, it's not that difficult to overlook. But Eyeshield 21 hits so many of them, so regularly, that it's pretty much boggling. It has a good solid story idea, showing a young man finding his way through sports by finding friends and realizing he has potential, but it's so sidelined so often that it's frustrating to see it deal with situations as it does.
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.
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