Eyeshield 21 vol. 37 by Riichiro Inagaki and art by Yusuke Murata (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

November 30, 2011 by  

The final volume of “Eyeshield 21” features the conclusion of the matchup between Japan vs. the United States in the World Youth Cup. Strategist vs. strategist, brawn vs. brawn, speed vs. speed and skill vs. skill… These two teams are evenly matched, so who will win the tournament?  A fitting conclusion to this fantastic football manga series, “Eyeshield 21” fans will not be disappointed.

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

MANGA TITLE: Eyeshield 21 vol. 37

STORY BY: Riichiro Inagaki

ART BY: Yusuke Murata



RATED: T for Older Teen

RELEASE DATE: October 4, 2011

Final Volume! Ready Set Hut In this action-packed final volume, Team USA and Team Japan face off in a bid for the title of best youth football team in the world. Rivalries within Team Japan are put aside as Hiruma and Agon execute a complicated formation. Can smart strategy overcome the sheer physical dominance of the American team? Seeing his teammates hurt, Sena bolts in and Team Japan seems set for victory. But the final five minutes of the game takes a surprising course as the earth-shattering rivalry between the two teams continues…

The final volume of “Eyeshield 21” is here!  Japan vs. the United States…who will win in the end?

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 with 37 volumes, “Eyeshield 21” will now commence with this final volume and for one last time, entertain the 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?

With Vol. 36 of “Eyeshield 21”, the Youth World Cup begun with 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.  But so far, America has been to dominant and for some of the players of the Japan team, their ego’s are getting in the way to the point where teamwork is not happening.

Does Japan have a chance against the dominant American team?

Here is a spoilerless summary of “Eyeshield 21” vol. 37:

  • CHAPTER 325: Double Devil- With Japan behind, Hiruma and Agon decide to pull of the “Flying Dragon”.
  • CHAPTER 326: Yoichi Hiruma’s and Clifford D. Lewis’ Lesson in Playing Cards –  America leads 35-13 and Hiruma will get to see Clifford’s upcoming strategy.
  • CHAPTER 327 – If There is a Way – 35-20 and America is still in the lead.   Don calls out Shin.
  • CHAPTER 328 – TAG MATCH – Gao vs. Don, can Gao overpower America’s mighty Don?
  • CHAPTER 329 – One Scum Star – With Shin’s injury, the mummy must take his place…and the mummy reveals his true identity.
  • CHAPTER 330 – The Eyes of a Man – America leads 42-34 and can Sena stop Panther?
  • CHAPTER 331 – My Dream – With two minutes left, can the Japan team score a touchdown and get a 2-point conversion to tie the game?
  • CHAPTER 332 -Do you want to kiss your sister? – The conclusion of the game.  Who won?
  • TOUCHDOWN – READY SET HUT – A look at what the players have done since the Youth World Cup and now preparing for college football.

The end of the manga series “Eyeshield 21” has come and gone and as I reflect on the journey, I can tell you that the time invested in this manga series (including the anime series and video games) was all worth it!

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.

The final volume of “Eyeshield 21” was a battle between strategist, a battle between brawn and it was a true athletic competition that had an intriguing conclusion.  While the majority of the chapters did focus on the Youth World Cup, I’m gladd that Inagaki left the final chapter to explore the characters one final time as they prepare for college football.

If anything, it made me wonder if Inagaki and Murata would return once more maybe for a “Eyeshield 21” special because with college football, the players from high school now went on to different schools and suffice to say, that means that the team members we watched on the Deimon team are now rivals in college football?  That would have made an intriguing story but for the manga series conclusion, it was rather fitting.

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.

But for those who have stood with the manga series from beginning to end, “Eyeshield 21” was an awesome and entertaining series from beginning to end and for those who are curious if they want to start reading the manga and also have a love for U.S. football, then definitely check out this sport manga series, “Eyeshield 21”.

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