Eyeshield 21 vol. 35 by Riichiro Inagaki and Yusuke Murata (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

May 24, 2011 by  

Three more volumes left in the “Eyeshield 21” manga series.  This time, Sena, Monta and friends try to get Japan’s top youth football players and form a team and participate in the World Youth competition in hopes in making it to the finals to take on the American all-stars.  “Eyeshield 21” is one of my favorite sports manga and anime series and a series worth reading!

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© 2002 by Riichiro Inagaki, Yusuke Murata. All Rights Reserved.

MANGA TITLE: Eyeshield 21 vol. 35

STORY BY: Riichiro Inagaki

ART BY: Yusuke Murata



RATED: T for Older Teen

RELEASE DATE: April 5, 2011

With the Christmas Bowl finally behind them, Sena and Monta are downright shocked to discover they’ve been selected to join the Japanese team that will compete in the American High School Football World Cup. Plus, they are charged with filling out the roster with other Japanese players, including some of their toughest former rivals!

Meanwhile, in New York, the sponsor of the tournament announces the grand prize that will be awarded to the top participant: a contract with a big-league American football team and three million dollars in cash!

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. And now for 35 volumes, “Eyeshield 21” continues to entertain masses through its manga series currently available from Viz Media as part of their Shone Jump Advanced line.

“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″.

Earlier in the series, we have watched as the Deimon Devil Bats grow as a team and do all they can to make it to the Christmas Bowl.

This time around, the storyline focuses after the Christmas Bowl and in which both Sena and Monta hear about the Youth World Cup.  This is where the best high school football players, the all-stars are grouped together as one team and compete against teams around the world.

With the United States team, known as the Pentagrams, being the team to defeat, Sena, Monta, Hiruma, Shin and others try to recruit Japan’s best, but with some players with major ego’s, can Japan have an all-star team ready to compete at the Youth World Cup?

Here is a spoilerless summary of “Eyeshield 21” vol. 35:

  • CHAPTER 306: WORLD CUP – Sena and Monta with a few friends begin to find those qualified to be part of the Japan all-star team.
  • CHAPTER 307: A Great Gathering!! – Ego’s start to mount when some players are in it for the money and prestige (winner’s MVP of the tournament gets an NFL contract), not for the purpose to represent Japan.
  • CHAPTER 308: TEAM JAPAN – With the Japan team all-stars now selected, now it’s time to put them together and work as a team.
  • CHAPTER 309: THE WORLD IS MINE – The Japan all-stars are now in New York and meet other all-star players from different countries.
  • CHAPTER 310: JAPAN VS. RUSSIA – Japan takes on the Russia team but one of their teammates from Japan sabotages the team.
  • CHAPTER 311: Burn, Rookie! – The team watches the sheer power of the rookie, OL Akira Nakabo, the only jr. high student of the Japan team who must take on Russia’s Rodchenko.
  • CHAPTER 312: Toward a New Generation – The Japan all-star watch the USA team, the Pentagrams in action.
  • CHAPTER 313: Ambition – Tired of Agon’s ego and him not being a teammate, a few members of the All Star team try to talk to him about the importance of teamwork.
  • CHAPTER 314: I LOVE AMERICAN FOOTBALL – Japan’s all-star team takes on the Militia and German team.  The victor will take on the American team for the finals.
  • CHAPTER 315: Pentagram – With the Japan all-star team making it to the finals, the Pentagram all-stars show off their talent to the Japan team.

I have been a big fan of sports-based manga 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 sports manga 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.

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.

Of course, the dynamics of “Eyeshield 21″ has changed since the Deimon Devil Bats accomplished their goal to make it to the Christmas Bowl and winning it.  But one may have wondered, what will Riichiro Inagaki have left?  As many people did read for the overall underdogs to take it all the way.

Well, here we are with vol. 35 and this time, we see the next stage for Sena, Monta and others as they partake in the World Youth competition and form the Japan all-stars with a few of the best football players from Japan.  Sena and Panther’s rival is once again ignited and if anything, this volume does go a bit quickly through the team selection and the actual game which will set up next volume’s match between Japan vs. the USA.  But for the most part, it was cool to see Inagaki have another intriguing story up his sleeve for the characters.

With two volumes left for the manga series, it will be interesting to read how the series concludes.  But for now, I’m going to enjoy this first of the three final volumes left in the manga series and see if Japan can go all the way.

Everything about”Eyeshield 21”, 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 manga series, “Eyeshield 21″ is definitely a series worth checking out!

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