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Eyeshield 21 – Volume 3 (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

December 31, 2010 by  



Japan’s wild, crazy and popular football (American football) anime series”Eyeshield 21″ is entertaining and fun! “Eyeshield 21” has been one of my favorite anime series to watch on DVD in 2010! Definitely recommended!

Image courtesy of © Kome Studio-Villiage Studio/Shueisha-TV Tokyo. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Eyeshield 21 – Volume 3

DURATION: Episodes 27-39 (325 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, Japanese 2.0 Stereo, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks/Section23 Films

RATED: TV PG V

Release Date: December 21, 2010

Originally created by Riichirou Inagaki and Yuusuke Murata

Directed by Masayoshi Nishida

Series Composition by Nobuaki Kishima

Character Design by Hirotoshi Takaya

Art Director: Satoshi Shibata

Music by Ko Otani

Sound Director: Yuuki Matsuoka

Anime Production by Studio Galllaop

Featuring the following voice talent:

Miyu Irino as Sena

Atsushi Tamura as Hiruma

Aya Hirano as Mamori

Kappei Yamaguchi as Raimon Tarou

Kouichi Nagano as Kurita Ryoukan

Rikiya Koyama as Musashi

Shoko Nakagawa as Suzuna

Daisuke Hirakawa as Akaba Hayato

Daisuke Ono as Kengo Mizumachi

As if the Demon Bat’s training couldn’t get any more bizarre, Hiruma drags the entire team to Houston, Texas for a bootcamp from Hell. But that’s the least of the team’s problems, as things go unpredictably (or actually, at this point, rather predictably) awry. Not only does Cerberus get “borrowed” by a little girl, but the team must face a grueling death-march, the NASA Aliens are back with a sly and cunning plan to outmaneuver the Demon Bats, and somewhere in the middle is an epic battle over a thousand dollars and a whole lot of barbeque. And then everyone realizes that Las Vegas is “reasonably close” to Houston and the trouble really begins!

In Japan, American football may not be too popular compared to the international futbol (soccer), but there are a few high schools that have football teams and the NFL does have a game played in Japan, helping to spread the game’s popularity.

But in 2002, writer Riichiro Inagaki and illustrator Yusuke Murata introduced American football to a broader audience through their manga “Eyeshield 21” which has been featured on the very popular Weekly Shonen Jump, has led to several videogames and also a 145-episode anime series which lasted from 2o05-2008. With American exposure to “Eyeshield 21” for the translated Shonen Jump manga, now the popular anime series has made it way to American shores courtesy of Section23 Films/Sentai Filmworks with the first volume of “Eyeshield 21” featuring the first 13 episodes.

“Eyeshield 21” revolves around a young teenager named Sena Kobayakawa who has passed his entrance exams at his local high school, Deimon Private Senior High School. The school where his childhood friend Mamori Anezaki attends. Both Sena and Mamori are close because all throughout his life, Sena has been bullied and Mamori has been there to protect him.

Living his life as a gopher for other friends, Sena hasn’t had any true friends until he meets the devil-looking Yoichi Hiruma and the very huge Ryokan Kurita who try to get Sena to join their football team.

Of course, Sena doesn’t know how to play football but being the new kid at school, once again, he gets bullied but this time, the huge Kurita ends up taking care of them. Out for revenge, the bullies start to pick on Sena once again but Sena is sick and tired of getting beaten up and when they go after him, he demonstrates a skill which he has had for a long time, speed. Because Sena has lived his life running away, he is very quick and immediately, Hiruma wants to utilize him on the Deimon High School Devil Bats football team.

Sena just wants to become a team manager but Hiruma wants Sena to be the team’s running back. And because Hiruma wants to make sure that no one can steal him for their high school, he plans on a disguise that no one but he, Sena and Kurita will know and that is putting an eyeshield on a football helmet and giving Sena a #21 jersey and the nickname “Eyeshield 21”.

In the first season, we watch as the Devil Bats accomplish the impossible by beating major teams but also getting a spot to go against an America high school football team known as the NASA Shuttles.  In volume 2, Hiruma has a bet with the coach that if they come within seven points, the NASA Shuttles would have to stay in Japan.  If the Devil Bats lose, they would have to leave Japan and go to America.  NASA wins but because the Devil Bats were able to come within the seven points, the NASA Shuttles have to stay in Japan and the Devil Bats must go to the United States.

But this was part of Hiruma’s plan all along as his goal was for the team to meet with a former Japanese football player and train.  In volume 3, we see the Devil Bats come to America and take part in training but to also to take part in the Death March, a treacherous training regiment in which the players must train by traveling from Texas to Las Vegas on foot.

The linemen are forced to push a truck from Texas to Las Vegas, Sena must kick a rock (and not lose it) and the others must jog and sprint.   They may not know it but this march will enhance their football playing abilities.

The Death March will test the player’s patience but also test their group as being teammates and facing adversity together.  Meanwhile, volume 3 also shows how other teams are preparing for the upcoming football season, each with their goal to make it to the Christmas Bowl.

The main characters of “Eyeshield 21” are:

  • Sena Kobayakawa – The main character. Short, shy and clumsy. Sena has been bullied throughout his life and now wants to stand up for himself. Especially since he has made friends on the Deimon High School football team. So, outside of football, he is seen as the manager, but when he’s on the football field and disguised as Eyeshield 21, he is a running back that dazzles the audience and his teammates with his impressive speed.
  • Mamori Anezaki – Sena’s childhood friend and a girl who has always protected him when he was getting bullied. Scared that Sena is hanging out with Hiruma and team, she decides to become a manager of the team alongside with him and oblivious that Sena is disguised as Eyeshield 21.
  • Yoichi Hiruma – The captain and quarterback with devlish looks and is always up to something that is typically up to no good. Either gaining intel on people at school, taking care of his devil dog Cerberus or trying to make his football team better by pushing them (and taunting them with his machine gun).
  • Ryokan Kurita – Despite his huge size and being a great lineman, he is also shy, softspoken and kind. Also, loves to eat a lot!
  • Tarao Raimon (Monta) – Had dreams of becoming a baseball player but when the Deimon High School baseball teams kicks him off, the football team utilizes his fantastic catching skills and makes him a wide receiver. Has a monkey-like appearance.
  • The Ha-Ha Brothers – Bullies who are constantly tormenting Sena, the members consider of Kazuki Jumonji, Koji Kuroki and Shozo Togano.  Hiruma blackmails them into joining the football team.  At first they want nothing to do with the team but now they realize that they are becoming better people and tougher individuals.
  • Manabu Yukimitsu – Known for his balding head and a student that has always been focused on cram schools because of his strict mother, Yukimitsu wants to prove himself that he can do more than just study and wants to become a member of the Deimon Devil Bats and will do all he can despite not being an athlete.  He may lack athletic skill like the others but he is very smart.
  • Daikichi Komusbi – A linemen and a short, stocky member who looks up to Kurita as a mentor.  Although short, he is strong and has dedicated will power.
  • Natsuhiko Taki – A man who loves to dance and thinks he can do anything by himself.  He is the brother of Suzuna and tried to become an American football player, now he is a tight end for the Devil Bats.
  • Tetsuo Ishimaru – Although not a main member focused on in the series, he does pop up once in awhile as the second running back and a member from the track team.
  • Yohei Satake and Kenta Yamaoka – Members of the basketball team who are blackmailed by Hiruma to become wide receivers and linebackers for the team.
  • Suzuna Taki – The sister of Natsuhiko and often rollerblading.  She works as part-time reporter and is also the cheerleading captain for the Devil Bats.
  • Cerberus – Hiruma’s ferocious dog that likes to bite people.  Used for training on the football players who try to run their fastest away from the dog in order to avoid being bitten. Cerberus has a large appetite.

Here is a brief spoilerless summary of episodes 27-39 for “Eyeshield 21” included on two DVD’s:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 27 – The Devil Bats arrive to Houston for bootcamp.  Meanwhile, two thieves try to dognap Cerberus.
  • EPISODE 28 – Sena and Monta end up at the football field where Panther played and meet with his grandmother.
  • EPISODE 29 – The Devil Bats go to the beach and Sena, Mamori and Monta join members of the Seibu Wild Gunmen and take part in a beach football game.
  • EPISODE 30 – The Devil Bats rest at the Wild Gunmen ranch and the coach agrees to train them if they all want to take part in a Death March.
  • EPISODE 31 – The Death March begins.
  • EPISODE 32 – Teammates start to complain about the Death March.  Will they last?

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 33 – Sena ends up running into a motorcycle gang (with Suzuna) and ends up trying out for an American Football team with Suzuna’s brother Taki.
  • EPISODE 34 – Sena introduces the Devil Bats to Taki, who wants to become a member of the Devil Bats.
  • EPISODE 35 – Yukimitsu begins to collapse during the Death March.  One player can prevent the others from their goal.  Can Sena leave Yukimitsu behind?  Can Yukimitsu complete the Death March?
  • EPISODE 36 – The Devil Bats truck gets caught in a pothole and then slides into a ditch.  Can the team work together and get the truck out of the ditch.
  • EPISODE 37 – A story about the Oujo Knights and Sakuraba wondering if he can be a part of their team.
  • EPISODE 38 – The Devil Bats return home and players find out who makes it to the team as starters.  Unfortunately, one must get benched.
  • EPISODE 39 – While everyone but Mamori knows the true identity of Eyeshield 21, Suzuna wants to know why Sena hasn’t told her.

VIDEO:

“Eyeshield 21 – Volume 3” is presented in 4:3. Because the series is a comedy, character designs range from being detailed to being simple, depending on the scene. But there is a good amount of detail on the backgrounds at times but the main focus are on the characters and at times you will see really beautiful drawn images, to simplistic images but it captures the wild and crazy style of “Eyeshield 21”.

For the most part, the anime series compliments the manga series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Eyeshield 21 – Volume 3” is in Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0. Voice acting is well-done and for the most part, the audio is clear. For a more immersive soundscape, I chose to have my receiver set with stereo on all channels. But overall, the 2.0 track is good. Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Eyeshield 21 – Volume 3” features trailers for upcoming Sentai Filmworks releases.

I have been a big fan of sports-based anime and in Japan a lot of their sports manga and anime are big hits.  From the soccer-driven series “Captain Tsubasa”, the basketball series “Slam Dunk”, the baseball series “Touch”, the tennis series “Tennis no Oujisama” (Prince of Tennis)  and many of them have this underdog vs. the better team type of mentality.

Yes, there is a banality when it comes to anime series but there is often this side of supernatural element that an athlete has.  A super kick, a special tennis serving or hitting ability and with “Eyeshield 21”, what makes the series so exciting is that every team has its special individuals with unique talents.  But when it comes to the Deimon Devil Bats (the protagonist team), these guys are like a group of misfits put together in hopes to accomplishing their goal of making it to the Christmas Bowl.  But they are surely talented.  Sena (Eyeshield 21) has this special ability of his running and in this latest volume, he hones that talent and makes himself even better.  We also see new characters pop up and joins the team and definitely see how everyone works together, faces adversity together as a team.   And that’s what I enjoyed about volume 3.

Similar to other sports anime in which there is an underdog getting involved with sports and displays a tremendous skill, “Eyeshield 21” definitely showcases that into the storyline but with the characters, in this case the team is more like the “Bad News Bears” and with the “The Devil Bats”, the team consists of characters that are just wild and crazy. Actually, all teams have characters that are wild and crazy and I suppose that is what makes “Eyeshield 21” so interesting and enjoyable.

The latest volume of “Eyeshield 21” is quite special as it features the team working together and bonding.  In the previous season, these individuals were not playing like a team.  Many felt they were all put together because they were blackmailed by Hiruma but in this series, everyone wants to become a better person and feel like they belong.  So, with the events that took place in volume 2, volume 3 focuses on the Deimon Devil Bats are now in the United States and have take on the goal of accomplishing the 40-day Death March from Texas to Las Vegas.

You also get to see other football team players have their own episode as well, so for those who enjoy the storyline with the Ojou Knights or Panther and his American team will find an episode dedicated to them as well.

Volume 3 features episodes 27-39 and for the most part, every episode in this volume is very entertaining.   As for the characters and their skills, where some sports anime series try to emphasize realism and others focusing on a characters super skills, “Eyeshield 21” leans towards the latter and each member does possess a certain skill which eventually builds as the series progresses.

It’s important to let the viewer know that since this is was a popular series in Japan, it was a long running series with over a 140 episodes and with 13 episodes per volume, it’s going to take awhile to complete.  So, this is one series that will attract those who are in it for the long haul, but it’s definitely worth it!

Everything about this series, from its characters, the gags, to the storyline is well-done and for those who enjoy American football or have knowledge about the sport will definitely be entertained by this series.  Even if you don’t know about football, the game also helps the beginners understand the sport.

If you are looking for a sports anime series, “Eyeshield 21” is definitely an anime series worth checking out!

Definitely recommended!

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