Whistle! Vol. #02 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: C
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 200
  • ISBN: 1-59116-686-1
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Whistle! Vol. #02

By Eduardo M. Chavez     May 07, 2005
Release Date: October 01, 2004

Whistle! Vol.#02
© Viz Media

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

What They Say
Sho Kazamatsuri and his pals finally hit the magic number 11 and that means they're ready for high-kicking, goal-to-goal soccer action.

Unfortunately, Team Josui's first game is against the powerhouse private school, Musashinomori. Sho's crew may have boundless pluck and enthusiasm but do they have the talent to compete with last season's reigning champions? Maybe not... but this year they have a secret weapon by the name of Tatsuya Mizuno. Not only is Tatsuya the best player on Josui's squad, he's also the son of the opposing team's coach. Soccer action and familial complications collide when father and son meet on opposite sides of the soccer field!

The Review
Viz's packaging for Whistle! is pretty impressive. They have kept the original cover art featuring Mizuno Takuya in the middle of a game setting up the defense. They kept the same font for the logo; even included the soccer ball in the exclamation point. On the opposite cover, they have an action image of Satoh Shigeki in his goalkeeper kit running away the volume description.

The printing has improved a bit. I cannot say it is as clean as Saikano or Hot Gimmick but I did not notice the issues that were evident with volume 1. 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 an ad for Shonen Jump Magazine.

I often find volume descriptions for manga and anime to be off the mark in regards to content. The worst offenders tend to be ADV and Dark Horse. But this one has a funny line in it. "...Ready for high-kicking, goal-to-goal soccer action" stood out because high-kicking is illegal in soccer, but that basically continues to show how little Viz has researched the sport before producing this adaptation.

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 all of this with detail 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. In the previous volume Viz mangled a list of soccer player names; this volume they destroy soccer team names as well as soccer equipment brand names. A little research would have fixed this as all of these brands can be purchased in the US. I can understand the Japanese Football League (J-League) mistakes but those could have been avoided by simply going to their website (its in English).

The following is the list of errors:
pg 4: middle fielder (midfielder. I wonder why this is translated that way when it is written midfielder in Japanese)
pg 28: Batey (Batti as in Gabriel Battistuta)
pg 101: boranch (volante which is Italian for Defensive Midfielder)
pg 136: grapple games (fighting video games)
pg 158: spike (this one I can forgive because the mangaka calls these "spikes". The proper terms are cleats, boots or soccer shoes)
pg 158/180: the player (this is a poor job editing. For some reason this page is translated almost word for word. So in Japanese athletes are referred to by using their name and the word athlete (senshu) as an honorific. IE: Ichiro-senshu). So Viz translated this literally and typed the player XXX over and over on this page.)
pg 158: Diabora (Diadora. This was written in English in the original)
pg 158: Tatsuya (the real brand name is Mizuno)
pg 158: Selesso Osaka (Cerezos Osaka)
pg 180: Jeff Ichihara (JR East Furukawa United Ichihara)
pg 180: Shimizu Espals (Shimizu S-Pulse)
pg 180: Uruwa Lezzu (Uruwa Reds)
pg 180: Hirozuka Belmare (Shonan Bellmare)
pg 180: Nagoya Grandpass (lol!!! Go Grandpas!! Sorry. Nagoya Grampus Eight)
pg 180: Jupiro Iwata (Jubilo Iwata)

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 that would cover up more art than necessary.
I am also having trouble with names. They are very inconsistent with this and it is a little misleading. There is one character named Noro Hiroyoshi. In the original since Noro is a pun on the Japanese word "noroi" or slow, the cast calls him by his last name. It is never mentioned here. Actually even on the starting line-up for the first game, while almost every character had their last name on the lists Noro has his first (along with Mamiya Shigeru and Takai Masato). That makes the dialogue consistent, because Viz still only uses family names for characters whose given names yet to have been disclosed. Then there is the Takuya incident. The use of given names has become so engrained that a joke made by the mangaka was completely changed to support first names only. Like Noro Hiroyoshi, there is a double meaning to Mizuno Tatsuya's name. Mizuno is a major Japanese sports equipment company and Mizuno Takuya only wears Mizuno boots. On the boots listings, Mizuno Tatsuya is said to wear "Tatsuya" brand boots. Why was this changed? Possibly a bad mistake, but one that appears to be connected to policy because a good translator would not change Mizuno to Tatsuya if it were not in the dialogue for the kanji is nothing alike (actually Mizuno the brand is not even in kanji its in kana so to make the pun stick out even more). Why not use what the original text called for?

One of Higuchi's omake pages was not fully translated. In the segment about her going to WC 98 in France, there are details about locations and more on her feelings about soccer only stadium left out (she also says "sil vu ple" instead of "chirp" at the start of that segment).

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Sho and his friends have won him a place on the Sakura Josui Middle School soccer team. Now their real challenge will be having a full team to put on the pitch once the spring tournament begins in a few weeks. There is very little time to train and new players are hard to come by this far into the season. A bunch of second and third stringers are not going be able to bring them in either. These kids are going to have to make a winning squad the hard way. They will go through tons of practice, most of it stamina and tactical positioning to maximize their defense due to their lack of offense talent and experience. They will also have to make due with what they have. Asking around to find the remaining four starters that will complete the squad. This is an enormous task and one that should not be taking likely for any sport, but in soccer this would almost be considered irrational.

The game of soccer is not forgiving. It is a sport where a score of factors can decide a match. Match-ups, defensive schemes, offensive aggression, height, teamwork, field conditions, fitness, yellow/red cards, fan support, coaching and violent behavior can be influential. In many ways those variables can make as much of an impact on the pitch as the athletes and their individual abilities. For soccer is not an individual sport. Yes, a single person does the scoring, but that person is set up by a series of events that lead to those rare tallies. Defense is even more dependent on teamwork. Soccer is a sport where all players on the pitch (except GKs) are always playing offense and defense, for as we see in this volume defense can be offense if properly set up that way. It is a game of mental and physical stamina and as we see in this volume, those with good mental stamina and strength can control matches as much as those with physical stamina and strength. So even when the Josui team looks beat, whether as individuals at school or together on the pitch, if they believe they can win, they have a chance to.

"Live the Game" is the official slogan for the international body of soccer, Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). Living for the game is what the kids in Whistle! are doing. Their life whether it is on or off the field is now focused on soccer. When they are at school, soccer is on the brain. When they are hanging out, somebody is comparing soccer with everyday life is normal. So when the chips are down, they try to solve their problems with the only logical solution - using soccer analogies. Playing to their strengths, defending their goals, countering and working as teams come easy to most people, but Higuchi is able to use these ideas on and off the pitch.
There are few who can do that like Higuchi. She seems to know how to make sports and the athlete's mindset, and place that into real world context. She can take a bout of bullying and spin it into a counter-attack. She can turn around issues on self-esteem and turn it into a piece on teamwork. She can turn a father-son conflict, into a drama of tactics on the field. But this isn't even to good part. She can even make practice seem fun!
If Whistle! was researched as thoroughly by Viz as by Higuchi and Shueisha, this would be a slam-dunk; easily one of the better shonen titles in months. Unfortunately, I have a hard time supporting 8/10ths of a manga. Viz has simply done this title a disservice, but I can almost say that about good number of Viz’s Shonen Jump titles. My suggestion is waiting for future printings and hope these problems are corrected. I know Viz can do better. After reading Rurouni Kenshin, Blue Spring and Excel Saga they have shown how good their translations can get, but this is nowhere near that level. Shame because all of their titles, good or bad deserve their best.


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