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! ;)

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