Eyeshield 21And They’re Called the Devil Bats: Sena faces a brick wall in the form of hulking uber-athlete Shin, of the White Knights. Rather than run away, Sena runs full speed, straight at this exciting new challenge! But will Sena’s frail body hold up to all the brain-jostling tackles that Shin dishes out?

Wimpy Sena Kobayakawa has been running away from bullies all his life, but when the football gear comes on and the persona of Eyeshield 21 emerges, it is a whole different ball game. Sena’s amazing speed and uncanny ability to elude big bullies may just be enough to make him one fine schoolboy American Footballer and as the main playing card for the rather rubbish Deimon Devil Bats led by the demon-like Hiruma and loveable meat tank Kurita, Sena has already led them to their first ever victory!

However, things aren’t going quite as well in their second game against the mighty Ojo White Knights, and try as he might, Sena can’t seem to break through the unbelievably talented and powerhouse that is Shin. The game is already out of their hands, but if they are to go out in a blaze of glory, then somehow the Deimon Devil Bats need to produce yet another touchdown against the unbeatable White Knights.

And of course the Devil Bats will never grow if they do not ever attract new blood, as hard as it may be. Enter Raimon Taro, the baseball player who has bet his life on his catching glove but still can’t make the team…

Eyeshield 21 is a popular sports comedy shonen manga title that has been running since 2002 and is currently still going strong at 28 volumes consisting of 272 chapters or so. The series has proved to be a surprise hit for creators Riichiro Inagaki and Yusuke Murata and spawned a well received 145 episode long TV anime series that kicked off in 2005 and ended in March 2008.

As with the previous two volumes, Riichiro Inagaki continues with his non-stop action, drama and comedy mix that he does so well, kicking off this volume with the completion of the White Knights game and the subsequent growth of Sena’s character. The story then shifts gears down a little to the aftermath of the game and the hunt for new Devil Bat blood as Sena gets to meet an unlikely comrade who may just become one of his best friends in the future. This plot line pretty much dominates the second half of this volume until an explosive last chapter which sets us up for an exciting fourth volume that is to come.

As formulaic as the story is, Riichiro’s smooth writing and impeccable sense of humour, be it physical or situational captures your attention and he is as adept at capturing some of the more serious and poignant moments as he is at pulling a laugh from you.

Yusuke Murata continues to handle the art chore on Eyeshield 21 and as always all of his panels are absolutely jam-packed with detail. He tends to put a lot of line work in and although sometimes his perspective and proportions let him down a little, his artwork is always clear and focused enough that you have to be a complete moron not to follow what is going on. His characters are all marvelously unique in their design and presentation, no matter how exaggerated a feature he needs to employ to get there. He is also a genius when it comes to facial expressions and his grasp of displaying the comical whether it be through deformed imagery or simple exaggerated expressions is masterful.

Of course, it isn’t just his grasp of the comical that is his main strength as he is just as adept at portraying the more poignant and dramatic sequences as well as the plentiful action sequences that litter the book. Visually Eyeshield 21 does not disappoint and will keep your eye from start to finish.

Volume 3 of this typical sports comedy about the talented loser who grows in stature and ability as the series progresses is as enjoyable a volume as what you will find anywhere else in the sports genre and Riichiro Inagaki and Yusuke Murata look like they can’t put a foot wrong. Humorous, serious and action-packed, Eyeshield 21 is a must read for all sports loving manga fans and should be picked up ASAP.

(Besides, it revolves around American Football in Japan. I mean, how crazy is that!)

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