Eyeshield 21 Vol. #01 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 7.99
  • Pages: 208
  • ISBN: 1-59116-752-3
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Eyeshield 21 Vol. #01

By Jarred Pine     May 19, 2005
Release Date: April 15, 2005

Eyeshield 21 Vol.#01
© Viz Media

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Story By: Riichiro Inagaki Art By: Yusuke Murata
Translated by:Allison Markin Powell
Adapted by:

What They Say
What does a wimpy kid who’s been bullied all his life have to depend on but his own two feet? Sena Kobayakawa is about to start his first year in high school and he’s vowed not to get picked on anymore. Unfortunately, the sadistic captain of the football team already has his eye on Sena and his lightning-fast speed.

With a wacky cast of characters that includes team captain Hiruma, who has an uncanny resemblance to a demon, and a good-natured front lineman who inexplicably has a head shaped like a chestnut, enjoy all the bone-crushing action and slapstick comedy that manga has to offer!

The Review
The cover artwork is the same as the original Japanese release, featuring most of the cast looking up towards the cover where Sena is holding up a football and sporting his uniform. The colors are lively and is really a fun, 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 didn’t come out quite so nice in spots. In the first 30 pages, the tones are way too dark and muddied, making the manga look about 20 years older than it really is. After that it looks closer to the original, although ironically I thought the grays and lighter tones were much too light.

Chapter headers are present, featuring character artwork. At the end of each chapter are the character profiles, which are kind of fun. Each character has a star rating for 3 categories, speed, technique, and strength, and we also get a birds eye view of their bedroom, which usually reflects their personality. The back of the book has 21 pages of extras that features a whole bunch of different stuff, from a high school map to background character biographies to mini-comics.

Hyper and energetic is how I would describe Murata’s artwork. The line work is a nice mix of thin and heavy lines, with shading done with lines and tone work done very nicely. The character designs are pretty simple, but Murata has a lot of fun with over-the-top facial expressions and characterizations. Hiruma looks like a demon, Sena’s face is locked in a continual neurotic state, the designs fit the characters.

The action scenes are really nicely stylized. When Sena comes sprinting by, there is a lot of thick lines and smoke used to heighten his speed and intensity. The football action features a lot of blurred lines that make the action pop off the page. There’s quite a bit amount of background art that is done in the same line style as the characters, which looks clean, but at times the characters seemed to blend in too much with their background.

Overall the artwork is a lot of fun and fits the slapstick humor and hyper action perfectly.

SFX are translated and retouched, with the English SFX mimicking the look of the original text. The football terminology isn’t too thick here, so it comes across okay. There was one mix up where “lineman” and “linebacker” were used to refer to the same position. The school grades keep the Japanese system, using 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year titles, which is a nice plus.

The dialog comes across quite well. Sena feels neurotic, Mamori concerned and calming, and Hiruma loud, crude, and always scheming. For those who read the original JP version, you know that Hiruma tends to use “FUAKKIN DEBU” to refer to Kurita on occasion. In the translation, he now says “DAMN FATTY”, which is still crude and I think gets across his personality. There were a couple instances where Hiruma said “DARN IT”, which I felt didn’t reflect his personality.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
Eyeshield 21 already has a hard road ahead of itself in securing a spot on the shelves of English reading manga fans. The first strike is that it is part of Viz’s new Shonen Jump Advanced label, which has been the focus of the recent censorship controversy with I”s. The second strike is that it is a sports manga about high school American football, in a market that has had little success with sports manga. However, the energetic, over-the-top artwork and slapstick comedy might just win over some new fans of the genre.

Sena Kobayakawa is a small, weak looking 1st year high school kid who has spent most of his life being bullied and acting as gopher, retrieving food and whatever items the bullies wanted. Being a gopher for so long, along with his neurotic personality, allowed him to hone his special talent, speed. His sprinting and cutting techniques are exceptional. So when he passes the exams to enter Deimon High School, it’s no surprise that he is sought after by the football team. The problem is that the football team right now is only made up of two guys. Sena is a familiar sports archetype, the bullied youngster with low self-esteem who has a special talent. He is a bit more neurotic than most sports male leads, which allows for some humorous moments, but he is very likeable and helps achieve a nice balance with the other, more extroverted characters.

The two active members of the football team are Yoichi Hiruma and Ryokan Kurita. Hiruma feels like a demon that has escaped Hell, and now terrorizes his fellow high school students with psychological torture and blackmail. He has pointy hair and ears, sharp fangs, is loud and foul-mouthed, and will do anything possible to get his way. He is a complete riot. Conversely, Kurita is a cuddly grizzly bear with a head like a chestnut. He is sweet, kind, and welcomes everyone with open arms. Together these two must try and convince the other sports club members to join their football club so they can field a team for their first game. The first person Hiruma goes after is Sena, who agrees to join on as team manager, but is eventually tricked by Hiruma and finds himself as a running back in their first game. To keep this speedster phenom a secret from the other clubs, Hiruma gives Sena the codename “Eyeshield 21”, derived from the shaded eye shield on Sena’s helmet and the number on his jersey.

For the first volume, Eyeshield 21 is a nice mix of absurd, silly slapstick humor and exciting, extremely energetic football action. Most of the humor is delivered by the demon child Hiruma. He coerces Sena to join by shooting at him with an automatic rifle, hacks the field sprinkler system in order to waterlog the opponents side of the field, shoots bazookas, is obsessed with fireworks, and sends his dog Cerberus chasing after Sena in order to get him to run a faster 40-yard dash. It’s so completely over-the-top and out of left field that I couldn’t help laughing. Hiruma is rude, crude, and completely unpredictable, which makes his character so damn enjoyable. There were a couple moments where I had to put the book down and keep myself from developing a hernia from laughing so hysterically.

The portrayal of the sport is simplistic enough for novices, but offers enough action for the more hardcore fans of the sport. There isn’t a lot of training for Sena, although the bazookas and rabid dog make it fun, so it doesn’t get to technical. The team pretty much gets whipped up over night as an after thought, using other club athletes, as the football team really doesn’t have much respect. However, they do have Hiruma, who seems to be pulling a lot of strings (some illegal) and is the master strategist. Their first game is against Koigahama Cupids, another bad football team who seem to be more concerned with their girlfriends, which enrages the members of the Deimon Devilbats. The game is pretty uneventful, as is expected from two poor teams, but some last minute heroics from Sena offer some exciting action and drama for the finale.

Eyeshield 21 has a hard road ahead of itself, but it’s a road that I think many will travel due to its slapstick comedy take on the sports genre. The characters have their own personalities and are instantly memorable, especially Hiruma. While some may find Hiruma’s personality a bit too strong, it is his unpredictable nature that makes the story so enjoyable. The sport is kept pretty light, allowing for novices to enjoy the action without getting bogged down in technical details, but also has enough great action artwork and sports drama for the more hardcore sports fans. Seeing Sena make his debut on the field was a memorable one, as it was both intense and hilarious.

Sports drama, cheerleaders, guns, bazookas, fireworks, blackmail, torture, fights, demonic references, and exciting football action. Yeah, it was that much fun. This first volume was really enjoyable and I can’t wait to see what more Eyeshield 21 will offer in the future. Recommended.


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