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Review: Eyeshield 21 (Volume 7) My Reviews 30 JUN 2011

We continue the story of one wimpy Sena Kobayakawa who has assumed the on-field identity of one “Eyeshield 21” as he comes of age by trying his hand at American Football, thanks to his gift of super fast legs, honed by all the years of running away from bullies and being a gopher in order to avoid getting beaten up.

Volume 7 takes a bit of a back seat from the on field action of an American Football game and instead starts to lay the groundwork for what is sure to be an action-packed volume 8 in the series by focusing on the introduction of the American NASA Aliens football team, covering their rascist coach, Hiruma’s underhanded tricks in getting them on Japanese soil, and their most under-utilized player with the most amazing of abilities, Panther.

Outside of the Americans, time is handed off to the Hah trio of delinquents as the leader Jumonji begins to have more background and motivations pencilled in, and even more time is allocated to Sena and Monta’s mission of identifying and locating the mysterious Musashi, the legendary kicker that the Devil Bats so desperately need back on the team. (Hint, you’d never believe who it actually is, but will most definitely enjoy the soccer-related hijinks in finding that out!)

Writer Riichiro Inagaki is in fine form as he weaves more depth into his Eyeshield 21 universe, and as per usual he has plenty more gags and surprises for us to enjoy. On top of that, he manages to insert the necessary drama and characterization to keep us interested and in the end we have a fairly enjoyable if a little laid back entry into the series thus far.

Artist Yusuke Murata is also once again in fine form, delivering beautifully detailed backgrounds to act as the perfect backdrops for his wonderfully animated and exaggerated caricatures that are always such a pleasure to take in. Again he captures Inagaki’s over the top silliness in a spectacularly humorous way, making for yet again, another fun visual journey.

In summary this is by far one of the more sedate entries in the entertaining coming of age, schoolboy American Football series, but still has the requisite number of laughs that makes it such an enjoyable series to pick up and read for all those young of heart. It entertains, deepens the Eyeshield 21 universe and far more importantly, builds up a strong case for what is sure to be a very action-packed next volume!

Related Link: Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eyeshield_21

Review: Eyeshield 21 (Volume 8) Manga | My Reviews 23 JUN 2011

We continue the story of one wimpy Sena Kobayakawa who has assumed the on-field identity of one “Eyeshield 21” as he comes of age by trying his hand at American Football, thanks to his gift of super fast legs, honed by all the years of running away from bullies and being a gopher in order to avoid getting beaten up.

Volume 8 is devoted in its entirety to the big game with rather big consequences that was being built up to in the previous volumes, that of the Deimon Devil Bats versus the visiting American school, the NASA Aliens. Instantly the boys are up against the wall thanks to the Alien’s quarterback, Homer’s immensely strong “shuttle” passes, and instead of an even race, it quickly becomes an immense uphill battle to contain the fiercely strong and muscular Americans who completely overpower and dominate the Devil Bats in each and every way.

And then of course there is the added threat of the Aliens’ best player by far, the under-utilized Panther with his zero gravity running ability, who has the potential to single-handedly run the entire Devil Bats team ragged! (Thankfully though, the rascist of a coach Apollo doesn’t like the idea of sending in a black kid to play).

Hiruma will have to dig deep within his tactical prowess in order to come up with something that can bring the Bats back into the game. And he had better do it fast because the scoreboard is already racing away from them!

Admittedly by volume 8 of the series I’m beginning to tire a little of the story, which is beginning to feel very much of the same. That said, there is not denying that this is an action-packed volume from start to finish, and properly captures the exciting and tense game between the Devil Bats and the Aliens. As per usual writer Riichiro Inagaki delights in finding a good balance between the serious, the funny and the absurd, and makes for a very entertaining read that should pull more than a few laughs out of even the staunchest of readers.

Similarly, the wonderfully detailed and hilariously exaggerated caricatures and elongated poses flow naturally from artist Yusuke Murata’s pen as he puts forward both delightfully pule-pounding action sequences mixed in with some very laugh out loud imagery indeed.

In summary, a very humorous and action-packed coming of age sports title that will entertain and delight those young at heart – just as the series has done right from the get go – and is definitely another winning entry into what has been up to now quite an enjoyable, if a little silly, title.

(That said, if you have been following from volume 1, don’t be surprised if you are starting to feel like you’ve seen it all before. I’m not all that sure what more they can do in the current format other than keep increasing the roster with over the top characters and taking on teams stronger than themselves and coming out on top. Might be time to let this one go for a bit methinks…)

Related Link: Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eyeshield_21

Eyeshield 21 (Volume 6) Manga | My Reviews 09 DEC 2010

Devil Bats Take Flight: 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!

The Devil Bats are going to feel like dancing for joy if they can beat Banba and his hulking team, the Taiyo Sphinx. Sena and crew have held their own in the first half, but they’re going to have to come up with something really special to defeat this bunch of bruisers. And don’t forget, the winner of this game gets to play against a championship team from the United States!

Writer Riichiro Inagaki and artist Yusuke Murata are back with their smash hit coming of age sports comedy action title, and as per usual Eyeshield 21 volume 6 simply doesn’t disappoint!

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Eyeshield 21 (Volume 5) Manga | My Reviews 20 NOV 2010

Powerful: 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!

The Devil Bats finagle their way into a game against the behemoth-like Taiyo Sphinx. The winners will get a chance to scrimmage against a high school championship team in the United States. Will Sena and crew be able to break down the Sphinx’s invincible “pyramid” front line and send them crying home to their mummies?

Eyeshield 21 is back! As the Ojo White Knights versus Seibu Wild Gunmen championship final wraps up, the Deimon team is back in training thanks to some unwelcome Hiruma plotting that sees them challenge out the might Taiyo Sphinx team, an Egyptian-mad school that is renowned for its power and huge front line players, as well as its impenetrable Pyramid formation!

But first things first, and Deimon need to lend a hand building their reward locker room, never mind the fact that Sena still needs to apologize to Sakuraba who currently languishes in hospital following Eyeshield’s accidental tackle.

Finally, the Hah brothers, who are part of the team for no other reason than those compromising photos Hiruma holds over them, need some extra motivation to continue being a part of the team – something that for a change doesn’t necessarily have to come from Hiruma and all his guns and dirty tactics!

Needless to say, Eyeshield 21 continues with the same format which has made it so enjoyable thus far, an excellent blend of comedy, and sports, combined with that all important hint of drama to add some weight to this fun story. The team is starting to take shape quite nicely and as per usual the exciting football action is loads of fun to take in.

In other words Riichiro Inagaki continues to churn out an enjoyable story that doesn’t seem to drag at any point during the read through.

As for Yusuke Murata, he continues his experiments with some pretty strange body proportions, but in the context these all work and his highly detailed backgrounds and characters are fun to take in. As per usual he slides effortlessly in marrying the super deformed and silly into one, and present a fun visual that you can’t take seriously but at the same time manages to capture the essence, power and speed of football perfectly.

In summary, Eyeshield 21 volume 5 continues the good work laid done by the previous books and this remains an absolute joy to read, both for the laughs and great football action on offer!

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eyeshield_21

Eyeshield 21 (Volume 4) Manga | My Reviews 15 APR 2010

Intimidation: 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!

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

Eyeshield 21 makes its welcome return with volume 4 which sees an equal split across two main storylines, the first being Sena’s Devil Bats taking on the Chameleon team, followed by the Devil Bat’s new recruitment drive to try and draw new players to the rather understrength team.

Of course the team of Kurita, Hiruma and Sena now have the welcome addition of Raimon Taro with his ability to catch (but definitely not pass), and with their usual method of strongarm conscription, have managed to field enough players, including the Hah Brothers gang of bullies, in order to see off the challenge of the insipid delinquents from Zokugaku Chameleons led by the long-armed Habashira Rui. Of course, with the huge amount of money that has someone managed to be bet on this game, this will be a fight to the finish… literally. After all, the Chameleons do have that reputation of being kicked out of the league to uphold you know!

Outside of that, with the new found interest in the Devil Bats football club thanks to the exploits of the mysterious Eyeshield 21 (aggressively publicized by Hiruma of course), the time for a recruitment drive is probably the best. However, joining the Devil Bats is not particularly easy and only the most determined will make it – or at least only those can last Hiruma frankly insane application test!

As per usual Riichiro Inagaki delivers the absolute best in terms of laughs and sport drama, effortlessly tying up a lot of silly gags and humour with a proper heartfelt story of courage and comradeship when it comes to Sena’s slow but sure transformation into a football player. The comedic timing on most of his gags are smooth and manages to pull a ton of laughs, while his well written and paced sporting action is enough to have you flipping from page to page.

In terms of new characters, Riichiro seems to be intent on delivering as many fresh faces as possible, all with a specific talent or flaw and all as over the top as absolutely possible. However, at the same time we continue to get glimpses of the real Hiruma and Kurita, while the great character development of wimpy old Sena continues unabated.

On the art front Yusuke Murata is as talented as ever. He puts a lot of details into his pencils and pays good attention to backgrounds, and then goes and fills these panels up with some of the most over the top character designs you can imagine. Flipping deftly between super-deformed, caricatures and detailed character shots, Murata forces the pages of Eyeshield 21 comes alive with detail and action sequences galore. Tight pencils with a lot of exaggerated facial features and combined with some great gridiron action makes for a really good looking book.

In summary, if you like sports manga, appreciate some good laughs and are willing to enjoy some seriously over the top humour and gags, then Eyeshield 21 definitely does not disappoint. It’s the usual story about a loser working hard to become the best in a sport, but it is delivered in such an enjoyable way that you almost completely forget that’s the main, formulaic storyline that you’ve probably come across a million times before.

It’s fun, it is about American Football and it really does satisfy, meaning there really isn’t a reason for you not to be picking up this book in the first place! ;)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eyeshield_21

Eyeshield 21 (Volume 2) Manga | My Reviews 09 MAR 2008

Eyeshield 21The False Hero: 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!

The second volume in Riichiro Inagaki and Yusuke Murata’s Eyeshield 21 series pits the Deimon Devilbats against the almighty Ojo White Knights. Fresh off their first ever victory (against the Koigahama Cupids), Sena and the boys scarcely have a moment to breathe before being whisked off to their next bone crunching match.

The Ojo White Knights are reigning champions with a fearsome reputation and an almost spotless win record. They feature a number of stars in their ranks, including teen heartthrob Haruto Sakuraba and football sensation Seiiuro Shin. Their name is enough to strike fear in the hearts of Hiruma’s team, with even big old Kurita feeling the pressure.

However, as afraid as he is, Sena is not about to let the rest of his team down – after all, they are all just as afraid as him – and together with some very sneaky plans from the devilish Hiruma, the Devilbats may just have a surprise or two in store for the White Knights! (Of course, it does help that Shin is currently on the bench though…)

If you missed out on Volume 1 of Eyeshield 21, then you missed out on wimpy Sena’s forced introduction to the bone-crushing world of school American Football. Basically years of running to avoid getting bullied has made the lightweight Sena superfast, something the devil-like Hiruma picked up on and got Sena drafted into the team. Lacking in every sporting aspect whatsoever, apart from running of course, Sena now has to prove his worth to the rest of the team – even if he doesn’t want to be playing in the first place!

Inagaki continues this enjoyable sports comedy romp in the traditional manner, sticking pretty much to the established formula but at the same time keeping it fresh, dramatic and full of humour. As always his sense of timing of physical humour is impeccable and he keeps the action on the field moving fast enough so as not to allow you the opportunity to get bored. That said, he now shifts into the dragging a game out mode (a prevalent feature of this genre), meaning that we only get to see one half of this titanic clash in this volume.

Murata’s artwork retains his trademark detailed background work and his lines are as clear and well defined as ever. His cartoonish characters continue to exhibit loads of character and each character becomes pretty distinct and instantaneously recognizable. In fact, this is one of the better drawn sports manga out there and you quickly see why if you bother to pick a volume up.

Overall, Eyeshield 21 continues to be a thoroughly enjoyable, humorous read with all the necessary tension and drama required of a good sports manga. It tells a good story and sets up for a great next volume, so if you are slowly becoming an Eyeshield 21 fan, don’t miss this one.

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eyeshield_21

Eyeshield 21 (Volume 1) Manga | My Reviews 16 DEC 2007

Eyeshield 21The Boy With the Golden Legs: 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.

Eyeshield 21 is a manga revolving around Sena Kobayakawa, a cowardly but good-natured guy who has always been picked on throughout his school years. Years of running around for bullies have made him quick, and it is this speed that catches the attention of his new high school’s American Football captain. Using underhanded tricks, the captain gets him to kind of ‘join’ (he thinks he is team manager) and in order to hide his identity from the other sports clubs, Sena gets given a shielded visor and is dubbed, Eyeshield 21. From this point on it’s a story about how Sena learns the sport of football, grows up and begins to carve his very own mark on this very testosterone dominated sport.

It is written by Riichiro Inagaki and drawn by Yusuke Murata, and proved so popular that it spawned a highly successful, ongoing anime series in Japan. Volume 1 pretty much focuses on introducing the manga’s diverse cast of characters as well as showing Sena’s possible potential for greatness by thrusting him into his first game for Deimon High School.

If you’ve ever read Slam Dunk, Initial D or any other of the plethora of coming-of-age sports manga out there, then you’ll immediately know the story of Eyeshield 21. It has all the aspects of this type of story: the protagonists who has skills he is unaware of who is thrust into a sport not out of his own choosing and who then proceeds to become the best there is, beating a number of unlikely scenarios in order to come up tops. It is a successful formula and Riichiro sticks as close as possible to it. It has all the action and drama such a title needs, but its extremely generous helping of comedy and oddball characters gives it that extra little push to make it to the big time.

Of course it helps when the artwork is as detailed and easy on the eye as Murata’s work is. The characters are distinctively and well drawn, and while much of the comedy employs super-deformed work, the lines remain clean and you are never lost as to what is going on. The characters are all pretty distinctly drawn, and it is quickly apparent that the artist went to a lot of effort to personalise and …cartoonise’ the characters in order to fit in with the tone of the book. Of course, that isn’t to say that Murata can’t hit a feel of realism as you’ll quickly pick up on in the backgrounds of the work.

As I said, although pretty formulaic, Riichiro’s writing is strong and his sense of flow is good. He also seems to understand the passage of time a little better than most, giving us football games that don’t draw out longer than absolutely necessary (anyone remember the agonisingly long basketball games found in Slam Dunk!?). His take on physical comedy and his vivid imagination (just look at the duo of Cerebus and Hiruma – an absolute classic) is refreshing and to be honest, Eyeshield 21 is easy to read and will have you grinning to yourself every now and then, despite the well-tread formula that it so carefully follows.

Of course, perhaps another reason just why the book proved so popular is the fact that it is based on a fairly unknown sport in Japan, namely American Football. Combined with the Japanese’s legendary consumption of all things American (actually, who in the world does not consume American culture by the gallon), Eyeshield 21 provides a brand new playing field for the sports formula manga – and has been justified in its immense which is extremely well deserved.

You can get Eyeshield 21 pretty cheaply online which is always a good thing, and if you are looking for a decent, fun read and have an inkling about what American football is all about, then Eyeshield 21 will definitely not disappoint!

Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eyeshield_21