+ Sports story with comedy
+ The team is not invincible
+ Character/background art is good
+/ Follows the typical sports story
4 out of 5 · Highly Recommended
Eyeshield 21 Manga Review
Written by: Karthon
Kobayakawa Sena is an incoming freshman to high school. All throughout middle school he was bullied and forced to run errands for other students. As a result, he has become incredibly fast and
adept at making sharp cuts, whether to avoid the bullies or to quickly get the things they ask for. A few days later, the middle school bullies, who've also entered the same high school, decide to beat up Sena.
As he's running away, he catches the eye of Hiruma Youichi, the most feared student in the school.
Hiruma also happens to be the captain of the American Football team (which is known as the Devil Bats).
He's impressed by Sena's abilities and "recruits" him for the team (using rope and machine guns). Sena merely wants to be the manager for the team but Hiruma demands that he become the team's running back. Despite Sena's insistence, Hiruma makes him run a 40-yard dash, which he manages to do in 4.2 seconds. So Sena has been recruited, albeit unwillingly, into the football team. But there are only 3 players on the team. Will they be able to collect the other players necessary to become a good enough team to compete for the Christmas Bowl (the equivalent of the Japanese High School super bowl)?
Like many other sports manga, this story focuses on motivation and drive as it's two main themes. The various players all push themselves the hardest to form a coherent team while they still have time before the tournament. Despite the fact that the plot has been used repeatedly, there are some new aspects to this series. Firstly, the story relies quite a bit of humor, with completely absurd situations befalling the various players during their training. Secondly, this is not a team immune to difficulties. Rather than constantly winning and following each with training, the team actually loses very early on in the series. That failure motivates the members even more, although there is plenty of pain and sadness associated with the loss. Also, each of the players suffers from periods of self-doubt, which allows the reader to explore their motivations more thoroughly,
as opposed to most sports manga where the players' driving motivation is glossed over.
The characters are well developed and the humor is excellent. The background art is beautiful, especially when there are scenes on the fields. Character art is also good and matches their personalities well, although some of the characters are drawn to the extreme. For example, Kurita Ryukan is a lineman who's drawn much like a ball. And various opponents are drawn as if they are 5 to 10 times larger than the Devil Bat players. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a humorous sports manga, but be warned that every sports cliche out there is used here too.
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