Eyeshield 21 vol. 36 by Riichiro Inagaki and art by Yusuke Murata (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

September 13, 2011 by  

The final two volumes of “Eyeshield 21” are left and with vol. 36, the matchup between Japan vs. the United States in the World Youth Cup begins.  Does Japan’s high school all-stars have what it takes to defeat the heavily favored American team, the Pentagrams?  An all football volume that fans of the series will definitely enjoy!

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

MANGA TITLE: Eyeshield 21 vol. 36

STORY BY: Riichiro Inagaki

ART BY: Yusuke Murata



RATED: T for Older Teen

RELEASE DATE: July 5, 2011

Tensions are at an all-time high as players from both the Japanese and American teams butt heads prior to the big game. Seeking to prove his physical superiority, Rikiya Gao on the Japanese team tracks down Team USA’s Mr. Don and challenges him to a one-on-one match.

Sensing the monstrous capabilities of the American juggernaut, Agon Kongo attempts to intervene in their dustup, but to little avail. If Mr. Don truly is the strongest lineman on Earth, capable of laying Gao out cold, what hope do Sena, Hiruma and the rest of their Japanese teammates have?

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.  “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?

In volume 35 of “Eyeshield 21”, the Youth World Cup begins as Japan’s best takes on America’s best.   But can Japan’s best have a chance against American players Mr. Don, Clifford D. Lewis, Tatanka, Bud Walker and Patric Spencer (Panther)?

The game begins and it’s a pit between Japan’s best football strategist Hiruma vs. America’s Clifford D. Lewis.  But also, we finally get to see the matchup that people have been waiting for… Eyeshield 21 vs. Panther and Shin vs. Panther.

Here is a spoilerless summary of “Eyeshield 21” vol. 36:

  • CHAPTER 316: King Craft- Rikiya Gao confronts America’s Mr. Don
  • CHAPTER 317: The Cards I Was Dealt – We learn about Takeru Yamato, the original Eyeshield 21’s background.
  • CHAPTER 318: COUNTDOWN 13 – 13 Hours until the game begins and the Japanese team can’t wait to get on the field.
  • CHAPTER 319: THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – The game begins and America’s defense are intent of hurting Hiruma, who can protect the QB?
  • CHAPTER 320: A Country of Ability – America may have great cornerbacks but they have not went against one of the best wide receivers from Japan….Monta.
  • CHAPTER 321: I Am No. 1 – Can the Monta and the Japanese offense catch a ball when America’s Tatanka is on the field?
  • CHAPTER 322: SENA vs. PANTHER – It’s the matchup that everyone has been waiting for…SENA vs. PANTHER.
  • CHAPTER 323:  Double Ace Runners – With Panther playing excellent coverage against SENA, can the reverse happen when Shin takes on Panther?
  • CHAPTER 324: Poem of Rebirth – America is ahead but with Kurita back, Hiruma will unleash the dragon.  Does the Japan team have any chance in coming back?

The volume before the final last “Eyeshield 21”.  The matchup between Japan vs. United States begins with vol.  36 and concludes in vol. 37 and the question that is on the minds of the Japan team, does Japan’s best have any chance of winning against the heavily favored American team – The Pentagrams?

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. 36 and this is the ultimate build up of all the chapters we have read in the manga series.  The special abilities of certain players of various Japanese high school football teams have now become a collective and together, they must work as a team if they have a shot at beating the stellar American team.

And as Hiruma tries to learn the team’s strength and weaknesses, he tries to find a way to penetrate the American team, who also has an excellent strategist with Clifford D. Lewis.

And as for Eyeshield 21, he maybe one of the best running backs from Japan but we have known that the rivalry between he and Panther would take place someday…and that day is here!  Sena vs. Panther…but also, the reverse with Panther on offense and Shin must take him on.  Will these two Japanese players who have worked so hard, have any chance of defeating Panther?

And with the excellent America team easily dismantling the Japanese team, does Hiruma have a trick up his sleeve in order for the Japanese team to come right back?

With vol. 36, the focus in this volume is all about football, seeing the special abilities of each character for both opposing teams going against each other.  For fans of the manga series, this volume favors more of the in-action football matchup, and this volume leading to the final volume does not disappoint.

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.

There is only one final volume left of “Eyeshield 21” and we will find out who will be the true victors in the World Youth Cup…Japan or America?

If you are looking for a sports manga series, “Eyeshield 21″ is definitely a series worth checking out!

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