Eyeshield 21 Vol. #04 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 7.95
  • Pages: 200
  • ISBN: 1-4215-0074-4
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Eyeshield 21 Vol. #04

By Jarred Pine     October 23, 2005
Release Date: October 04, 2005

Eyeshield 21 Vol.#04
© Viz Media

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

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 Devil Bats face off against the Chamelons - a team of ruthless delinquents. But when fragile Sena goes up against the Chameleon's sinister ace linebacker, who will be intimidating whom?

The Review
Comedy and/or sports manga fans can’t go wrong here with the latest volume of Eyeshield 21, consistently entertaining me at a high level for four volumes strong.

VIZ once again uses the original cover from the Japanese tankoubon. The illustration on this cover does a nice job at showcasing the energetic action artwork that is found inside, with the colors really popping it off the page. The English logo again appears at the top, which looks almost identical to the Japanese version. The print reproduction is very solid here, with the tones looking really sharp which highlights the artwork nicely. Extras include chapter inserts of Mamori’s Deimon Diary and “Deluxe Parent Biographies” in the back of the book, both of which are quite amusing.

Murata-sensei’s artwork is a real treat and fits Inagaki-sensei’s story perfectly. The panels are extremely energetic, with flashy action sequences and creative perspectives. The character designs are wonderfully detailed, with some great line work for shading and highlighting of facial features. The strong realistic designs are balanced with some exaggerated ones that add a nice comedic effect. There is also just a lot of little things in the backgrounds that matches the overall slapstick humor and energetic style that helps give this manga its own personality. Great work.

SFX are translated and retouched, which looks really nice and doesn’t feel obtrusive like other Shonen Jump titles. The dialogue translation reads really smooth and matches all the character personalities quite well, although it is debatable if Hiruma’s “Damn fatty” is a harsh enough translation. All the humor comes across very nicely as well, which is key for this title. I did notice one oddity where the “Hah Brothers” also was written as “Ha Brothers” on one occasion.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
For three volumes, Eyeshield 21 has consistently met my expectations and actually has gone above them in surprising me with an energetic and hilarious story. It has become one of those titles that immediately must be read multiple times when a new volume arrives. It is also one of those titles that draws weary eyes from fellow bus riders as I sit in my corner seat laughing hysterically at Hiruma’s antics and the over-the-top characterizations.

The humor ranges from outrageous slapstick to more subtle background gags, all of it very funny. Hiruma continues to steal the show with his devilish nature and unexpected trickery. When a piece of practice equipment is deemed no longer needed, Hiruma does not just simply throw it in the trash but instead lights it up with a round of machine gun fire. This in turn encourages the others to join in with bazookas and flamethrowers, turning this memorial of sorts into a pyrotechnic pep assembly right before the game with Zokugaku. And if that wasn’t enough to get the student body, Hiruma also tricks Sena into flashing the middle finger, which ends up as a gigantic billboard ad for the game, all courtesy of Hiruma. There is no escaping his madness.

One of my favorite aspects of this title is how Inagaki-sensei characterizes not only the sport of American football, but also the common clichés and common character archetypes found in manga. The best example in this volume is the last half of the books which features the standard recruitment arc of a sports manga. However, why just go through the simple procedures of interviews and skill tryouts when you can punish them all via the Tower of Hell, an intense gauntlet that takes place in the Tokyo Tower! As designed by Hiruma, recruits will have to carry bags of ice up to the top of the Tokyo Tower, where Kurita will be waiting to make snow cones with whatever ice is left in the bag. If all the ice melts, the recruit will have to go back to ground level and start over. If that wasn’t hard enough, along the way are obstacles including the rabid Hound of Hell (Cerberus) and the armed Guardian of Hell (Hiruma with his guns loaded dessicant bullets). The whole scenario is completely over-the-top and that is why it works. It progress the story by adding in some new recruits to the team, but does so in a very energetic and outrageous fashion that had me laughing the entire time.

Amid all the insanity, there is an actual game played here against the Zokugaku Chameleons. Zokugaku is a rundown, shoddy, teacher-less school run by yanki, who of course show up at the practice game on their roaring motorcycles instead of a team bus. The game finally allows Monta and Hiruma to shine, as Hiruma finally has a receiver worthy enough of catching his bullet passes. Zokugaku drew up the wrong defensive plan, thinking that Deimon High only had the running game with Sena. It is Hiruma’s strategic play calling that puts the Devil Bats on the road to victory. The portrayal of the sport is still kept pretty simple, but fans of American football should recognize all the bootlegs, play-actions, and screen passes used by the Devil Bats, and the strategic play calling by Hiruma is very realistic.

Now being 4 volumes into this series, I can safely say that Eyeshield 21 is not only the best sports manga title in the English translated market right now, but also the most consistently entertaining manga period. It never fails to send me into fits of laughter on a handful of occasions throughout the book. I’m personally usually more of a fan of more dramatic storylines and multi-dimensional characters in my sports manga, but the wonderfully scripted humor and clever characterizations are so well done that I can’t help but be entertained. To top it all off there is still a good story progressing underneath all the insanity with enjoyable characters and stylish artwork. Highly Recommended.


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