Whistle! Vol. #03 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 3 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 7.95
  • Pages: 208
  • ISBN: 1-59116-692-6
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Whistle! Vol. #03

By Eduardo M. Chavez     July 19, 2005
Release Date: January 11, 2005

Whistle! Vol.#03
© Viz Media

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

What They Say
It's the first game of the season and Josui Junior High is matched up against cross-town rival, Musashinomori. Without question the elite private school has the better soccer players, but Shô Kazamatsuri and the rest of Team Josui are hoping to steal win with extra hustle and desire.

But at halftime it doesn't look too good. The kids from Josui find themselves down by two goals. For Shô, losing to his former school is not an option. Even when he suffers a debilitating injury, Shô is determined to lead his team to victory!

The Review
The most dangerous team is one that has nothing to lose. Musashi-no-mori is counting on a big win, Sakura Josui on the other hand is looking to have some fun. Looks like the makings of something exciting.

Viz's packaging for Whistle! is pretty impressive. They have kept the original cover art featuring Satoh Shigeki in his casual wear (what a crazy kid from Kansai). They kept the same font for the logo; even included the soccer ball in the exclamation point. The back cover features an action image of Mizuno-kun in mid kick. The piece is a little green heavy, which is easily noticeable because the Josui uniform is blue not green and his hair is brown, not red.

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 essays cover an array of soccer topics - info on the basic positions, contemporary stars, and basic strategy. I will say they have been translated in "the Engrish" so they might be a little confusing to read. Viz also keeps the extended ato-gaki, which features a couple 4-panel comics and four detailed character bios. At the end of the GN there is a one-page preview blurb followed by an ad for Shonen Jump Magazine.

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 team names and equipment manufacturers; this volume they destroy the names of some of the premier soccer names of history. A little research would have fixed this but Viz seems to not be that concerned about the mistakes. This really frustrates me now that I am reviewing Hikaru no Go, for they have a Go expert help them with the translation for that series and they apparently did not do any research or acquire any assistance for this sports manga.

Name errors:
Jeko = Zico
Mario Kenpes = Mario Kempes
Rynekar = Lineker
Jubiro Iwata = Jubilo Iwata
Chicken Skins = kara-age (aka fried chicken)
Kashiwa Reisol = Kashiwa Reysol
J League (pg184) = Nippon League

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. On the starting line-up for the first game, while almost every character had their last name on the lists, the characters that have not been given a formal introduction have their first name listed. So readers cannot tell what their names or what to call them.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The moment is here when hours upon hours, days upon days of practice have finally been justified. Finally, the young members of the Sakura Josui Middle School Football Club are on the pitch. They are participating in the biannual district qualifying tournament that has put up all of the middle schools in this part of Tokyo in a knockout bracket to determine who will represent this area in the national event is coming. Unfortunately, the tournament draw ended up sealing their fate. With a bad pick, say one against the reigning district champs, could result in what in football is called a "one and out".

One and out would have been a great result for this team, especially if the match ended 1-0. Unfortunately, it is halftime and the team is down 2-0 to local power Musashi-no-mori. Coming from a player's perspective, I have to say Josui has been plain outclassed by Musashi-no-mori's fluid passing game, their counter attack and their top-level forward play. This team is a complete offensive package where 10 of the eleven are playing as one offensive machine. Taught by a proven winner, Musashi-no-mori is set on paper to win in a laugher. 2-0 is only the start, once fitness levels begin to separate the teams further, the score should just blow up from this point on.

Was there ever any comparison really? Sakura Josui is a team completely lacking experience. They are made up of what most teams would consider benchwarmers with the exception of Mizuno Tatsuya and Satoh Shigeki. Even Kazamatsuri Sho is lacking the skills to be a good forward. On an eleven-member team, two good players are nowhere near enough to produce results.

However, these young men would not roll over and give in. To the contrary, these young men actually became more relaxed with the two-goal deficit. The score helped them relax much more than any amount of practice or experience could. Any expectations they had were wiped clean. They are losing already so it cannot get any worse that this. A total blowout would be expected, so why not have fun? Why not shock those present? Why not prove everyone else present wrong too? They should know by now that they are expected to lose big, so why not go all out? What could happen?

A full volume of football and Higuchi seems to know how to push all of the buttons right. Actually, as I read this and analyzed the soccer I could only find one scene that was improbable. The scene where Sho makes his first clear shot, a one-on-one with the Musashi-no-mori keeper that did not go in defied human ability, but everything else seemed to be reasonable. The passes, the defensive schemes, the attack formations and the pacing was all very good giving a proper representation of the controlled chaos that is soccer.

See Higuchi like a good student of the game knows that there is more to the game than those who have possession of the ball. Field position, fakes, traps and triangles are critical to both the offense and the defense in this game. Higuchi is then able to use all of her cast. She can have them worry about their abilities but the little things they do are important. Therefore, a trap or a deflection can be as important as a goal or a save. She even knows that the real heroes are the passers. So she makes sure to give the passers a connection to the forwards in order to create a more personal bond between these players.

Using all of that Higuchi weaved a story where the will of the athletes in this match determined the result. Sakura Josui was not fully in the game early on, but once they were, they were asserting their will and made a game of this match that appeared to be lost at halftime. That is what soccer is about. It is such a low scoring sport. In many ways, even the weakest of teams can take a powerhouse out of their rhythm through determination. That does not mean the weak will always win. Nevertheless, because draws are a part of soccer, a draw can be considered a win in spirit. Anything outside of a blowout would be a loss. Higuchi made that clear from the start and ended up making sure both teams got what they wanted, while making sure that her readers got an exciting match to read about.

This is a great place to finish the action segment of this story, for the next few volumes will go back to practice and preparation for future matches. Moreover, by showing readers how exciting the game can be; by showing the drive and potential this cast has, Higuchi teases her readers to keep them interested for future matches on and off the pitch. I bit, I hope more people do as well.

A little more research from Viz and this could be one of their sleeper hits.


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