An Objective Eyeshield 21 Review
So we are pretty much close to the end of Eyeshield 21 week (sad I know). I’ve covered most of the things I wanted to but you must be wondering, “How good is this manga really if the poster himself is so biased?” While I can’t provide you with anything without my sweet rose-tinted shades on, I can acquire the help of another (for my review, you can check out this post).
In this post you will find a FULLY objective review of the series, from mysterious former-Sekijitsu-writer-who-never-was Fuu. I can assure you, he has had an extensive background of reviewing anime/manga/movies for Nihon Review, so you know he isn’t just some hack. So here, I leave you in Fuu’s very capable hands. Enjoy.
Eyeshield 21 – A (Hopefully) Complete Review
So, after just coming out of a manga/anime-related malaise, I wanted to test the waters again. Perhaps just a toe or two. Having caught up with Bass a while back, I asked for some recommendations and for the umpteenth time, he sang high praises of Eyeshield 21. At that point, all I knew was that it revolved around American football, a sport I knew very little about.
Nevertheless, I took heed of Bassun’s (See what I did thar? :P ed. Lolol that was awesome) advice and dipped a toe into the expansive waters of Eyeshield 21. And boy am I glad I did. In this review, I’ll evaluate several core elements of the aforementioned manga and give it a totalled score ranging from 1-10.
Kobayakawa Sena is a timid, shy and almost chronically passive boy who begins his first year of secondary education at Deimon High. Thanks to some comically unforeseen circumstances, he winds up on the American football team. Gradually, his interest in the aforesaid sport and bonds with his newfound team members begin to strengthen. Together, they face the trials and tribulations of competitive high school football in order to achieve their unanimous dream, the coveted Christmas Bowl championship.
Art: Clean, crisp and consistent.
Characters: A colourful array
Plot & Pacing: Consistent and not completely predictable.
Ability to reel in newcomers to the sport: Very high.
To many, the visuals would be an initial pull to pick up Eyeshield 21. Even in the early chapters where mangakas’ drawings are usually less refined, the art is refreshingly clean and neat. In addition, Mr. Murata’s art progresses a great deal, with sceneries becoming more well-rendered and characters’ faces and physiques being more chiselled and realistic. Besides that, scenes with a lot of motion are treated with plenty of detail to ensure readers have at least a decent idea of what is going on.
Another key aspect that makes ES21 such an interesting read is this. Ranging from classic shounen underdogs to humorously psychotic miscreants to buxom beauties, the types of characters are aplenty. It’s no easy feat increasing the number of characters without typecasting the newer ones into fodder or neglecting the older ones. Nevertheless, in my opinion, Mr. Inagaki pulls this off quite well indeed.
The two characters that play the biggest roles are admittedly my very same favourites. Kobayakawa Sena is the initially timid but good-natured young man that finds his calling in American football thanks to some underhanded tactics by Hiruma Youichi. The latter is a slightly deranged lad who takes pleasure in trickery, threats and psychological warfare which all oddly enough, contribute to his prowess as an American footballer. Without giving away too much, the others all have their individual appeals that result in an often hilarious dynamic between the mass of characters.
Ability To Reel in Newcomers
My biggest hurdle to pick up this manga was firstly because I had hitherto, no foundation in American football. With me being a football (or soccer to some of you) person my whole life, it felt a bit jarring attempting to read something that I didn’t have very much knowledge or passion in. Nonetheless, I proceeded to pick it up. What truly pleased me was the numerous tutorials and guides that simplified the process of understanding this complex sport. I can’t attest whether or not one will be able to watch the NFL after this manga but virtually anyone should be able to understand what is going on, both on and of the field.
Plot & Pacing
One thing shounen manga are (in)famous for are their predictability. However, ES21 manages to circumvent this fatal flaw with some interesting plots and twists. Let’s just say, the Devil Bats Don’t always win. Also, whilst there is some amount of bravado and clichés, it’s never to the point where readers feel exasperated. Past the dramatised feats of athleticism, ES21 keeps itself grounded by giving precedence to several basic elements we can all relate to; hard work, passion and trust.
Moving on to the pacing, at a massive 333 chapters, I’m certain it’s a daunting task as an author to keep the story interesting without banging on the “Jump The Shark” button repeatedly. Mr. Inagaki does a commendable job here. With a gradual crescendo as the storyline becomes more intense, he still peppers the flow of ES21 with the right amount of light-hearted humour (sometimes even during climactic events!) without making the overall feel of it disjointed. Admittedly, towards the end, it does feel a little rushed but full credit goes to Mr. Inagaki for concluding Eyeshield 21 with an apt denouement that ends on a high note.
In summation, both Mr. Murata and Mr. Inagaki manage to weave an appealing story together with polished visuals and a great entourage of characters into a well-made product. This results in a fine package that anyone with a penchance for sports, good shounen or light-hearted comedy would want to get their hands on. For that, ES21 gets a solid: