Whistle! Vol. #01 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: C-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: C-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 192
  • ISBN: 1-59116-685-3
  • Size: Tall B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Whistle! Vol. #01

By Eduardo M. Chavez     November 24, 2004
Release Date: October 01, 2004

Whistle! Vol.#01
© Viz Media

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Higuchi Daisuke
Translated by:Naomi Kokubo
Adapted by:

What They Say
Banned from his school's soccer team for being too short, Sho Kazamatsuri decides there's only one thing left to do: switch schools!

But even a change in scenery doesn't help the David Beckham wannabe. On campus, he is mistakenly introduced to everyone as a hotshot star athlete. When the truth is revealed, Sho drops out of school to practice on his own.

Alone, the spunky teenager must work twice as hard to make his dreams come true. He wants to play soccer so bad he's willing to hustle day and night to make it happen.

Packed with action, humor and teenage kicks, Whistle! is a must read for dreamers (and soccer fans) of all ages!

The Review
Viz's packaging for Whistle! is pretty impressive. They have kept the original cover art featuring Kazamatsuri Sho in an action scene wearing a Japanese National team jersey. They kept the same font for the logo; even included the soccer ball in the exclamation point. On the opposite cover, they have another character image of Sho (this time he is wearing a uniform he will not put on until halfway through the series) to the right of the volume description.

Inside Viz has included the message from the mangaka that was originally inside the dust jacket of the Shueisha version. They keep the original volume header and all of the chapter headers intact. Most importantly, they have included the short messages from sports writer/manga author Watanabe Tatsuya. These blurbs cover an array of soccer topics - info on the basic positions, contemporary stars, and basic strategy. Viz also keeps the extended ato-gaki, which features two 4-panel comics and three detailed character bios. At the end of the GN there is a one-page preview blurb followed by ads for: the Prince of Tennis, Beet the Vandal Buster, Bleach, Hikaru no Go, Rurouni Kenshin and Dragon Ball Z.

The printing for Whistle is disappointing. Recently I have been praising Viz for their improvement in this area, but this volume has some dark printing. It is really noticeable in the first few pages that were in color (only in Shonen Jump Magazine not in the Shueisha Jump Comics tankoubon) are really bad. Actually there are even a few touch-up issues as well (see page the first page of the manga. that #5 was not there in the original version, that is the page counter used during editing. Moreover, those text boxes were not necessary if they retouched better.)

Higuchi's art is actually really nice for a shonen title. Character designs show quite a bit of variety with different looks, styles, and attitudes. Characters appear to be to scale which is important when you consider the age difference within members of the cast. Higuchi has also well researched the contemporary soccer equipment styles of the time, which gives readers familiar with soccer a sense of when this series was set in.

Backgrounds are great, as they should be in a sports title. As distance, field position and formations are vital to soccer Higuchi draws in background to help the reader feel as if they are in the game. The layout is also very impressive. It properly shows perspective, assists with the pacing and sets up the action through a variety of panel sizes and sight angles.

The translation for Whistle is all over the place. At times, they use honorifics (oji-san and oyassan); a majority of the time they do not. In other titles, they have characters that refer to each other with last names, in Whistle! they use first names instead. Then there is the apparent lack of soccer knowledge by Viz's staff. This series is as much a tool for young soccer enthusiasts as it is a form of entertainment. There is a list of international all-star athletes from the late 90's and most of them were horribly misspelled. A little research would have fixed this as some of these athletes are still playing but instead they have just been left mangled.
The following is the list of errors:
Pattis Torta= Gabriel BATISTUTA (Argentina) pg 67
Raoul = RAUL Gonzalez (Spain) pg 67
Savichevich = Dejan SAVICEVIC (former Yugoslavia) pg 67
Sharrah = Alan SHEARER (England) pg 67
Joel Kaef = Youri DJORKAEFF (France) pg 67
Minami = NANAMI Hiroshi (Japan) pg 166
Serie A team Intel = Serie A team Inter Milan pg 84
Josui Junior High School = Sakura Josui Public Middle School
Hiroyoshi = Slow-poke pg 171 (In the original they are picking on Noro Hiroyoshi because his family name (Noro) is a pun for slow/dumb.)
Jeko feint = Zico feint pg 69 (Zico is the current coach of the Japanese National Team. He was once a famous player for Brazil.)
ball free = loose ball pg 107
man mark = man to man pg 108 (These last two are football, basketball, field hockey... terms. This is embarrassing.)

SFX are all translated with overlays. The retouch is solid and does not compromise the art much. Retouch for signage and aside text is not so good. At times they just used text boxes which would cover up more art than neccessary. Overall a poor production.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Practically everyone dreams of being someone or something at some point in their lives. Kazamatsuri Sho's dream has hurt him recently, but he will not give up on it. To make his dream come true, Sho decided to move out of home, switch schools, and start anew at a public school. At his old school, people judged him for his physical appearance, and gave up on him without giving him a chance. He hoped a change of scenery would do him good. However, he almost lost his chance before even getting on to the field.

Sho left his old soccer powerhouse for a chance to play regularly somewhere else. Having spent months in the third team, he saw no hope for playing time in the near future. He did not expect the team to think he was a soccer star already and he did not expect to have to fight his way onto a bottom level team, either. He partially brought it on himself, but instead of immediately facing up to the false accusations, he runs away.

Under most circumstances, this would be lethal for a soccer player. As soccer is a team sport, being alone without anyone to practice with, skill often diminish quickly. Sho was never very good to begin with, so the time alone proved to improve his lack of basic skill. Most importantly, his determination gained him the respect of some of the team as well. Moreover, that new respect would give him a chance at finally playing soccer. Getting to play ends up being an experience he cannot get enough of. Sweat, dirt, pain and frustration were all good reasons to keep his dream. Soccer to Sho is a marvelous dream, but one that he realizes cannot be achieved without tremendous amounts of practice. Fortunately, practice is plenty fun as well.

In a short blurb from the mangaka, Higuchi-sensei notes that Kazamatsuri’s experiences are her experiences, his words are hers. When reading Whistle! the reader will eventually see this change, but throughout the first dozen volumes, or so, Higuchi tells her story, Sho’s story, from the perspective of a novice with a passion for the game. When this title started, Japan was at the doorstep of the pinnacle of soccer world. In a few months from the initial publishing, Japan was turning blue, working on their sambas and making plans to stay up late to watch Japan's first World Cup appearance. Up to that point, soccer was a fringe sport, as it is in the States. Soccer was game of disappointment where close rivals would often beat them on the way to success on sports biggest stage. In 1998 all that changed and the country became soccer mad! TV shows had soccer on them, there was a new league formed for men and women and this manga popped up supporting the sport and its new fan base. Higuchi draws from her experience and gets the support of soccer pundits and soccer stars with the goal to make Whistle! and the sport accessible to everyone. Soccer is not an individual sport, it is truly a team sport and Higuchi tries to make sure her readers are at least the 12th person on her team, and soccer fan or not can find themselves enjoying the determination and spirit of the soccer lovers she drew up.

If first impressions meant anything, I initially had a hard time with Whistle! I am not a fan of people who run away from their troubles, as their attitudes tend to cause more problems (for character and plot development) than progress. Fortunately, what Kazamatsuri does after a few chapters changed my feeling of the series as a whole. Despite his shortcomings, Kazamatsuri takes his future in his own hands and wins. From that point on, he presents an inner-strength that gives him more respect than those with much more superior skills.

On the other hand, Viz with this first volume gives a poor first impression as well. Printing mistakes, dark printing, poor touch-up, and horrible soccer research really had me wondering where Viz was going with this. I have to say this is possibly the worst Viz presentation I have read in years. I do not want to say give up on Higuchi-sensei and her team, but I would like to wait until these errors are fixed so that readers - casual readers, experienced footies and manga aficionados alike - can experience this good title at its best.


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