Reviews: Eye Shield 21

The greatest sports manga ever... for 27 volumes.

For the first 27 volumes (up until the end of the rematch against Ojo), Eyeshield 21 is simply the best sports manga ever. It's gripping, exciting, hilarious, packed with great characters, and contains more fist-pumping "hell yeah!" moments than any other manga I've ever read. It has a fantastic cast, not only major characters like Sena and the infamous Hiruma, but also lesser supporting characters like Juumonji, Yukimitsu, Panther and more. Every match is engaging, but the awesome clashes against the undefeated gods of the Shinryuuji Nagas led by Jerk Jock Agon and the Devil Bat's long-awaited rematch against their personal nemeses the White Knights and "Perfect Player" Shin are the absolutely pinnacle. It is seriously a masterpiece of the genre.

Then the match against Ojo ends and it all falls apart. I could write essays about how dull, unsatisfying and implausible an opponent Hakushu are, or what a friggin' insufferable Mary Suetopia the Teikoku Alexanders are, especially the series' most appalling Marty Stu Yamato Takeru, a flawless superman who is also presented as a perfect Nice Guy despite the fact that he's frankly a smug, arrogant ass. And by the time you get to the World Youth Cup the entire series has collapsed- while there are some good ideas there like a Japan all-star team containing all the best players we've wanted to see team up for ages, The Reveal of the Mummy Man, and the return of Panther, it's a mess of pointless Filler, terrible racial stereotypes and boring one-note Villain Sues like Clifford and Mr Don (the son of the President of the USA, supposedly strong enough to nearly kill Gaou, a man strong enough to roll a car with his bare hands, with a single blow). By volume 37 you just want it to end and stop tainting your memories of how great this manga once was.

Still, there's really no reason you have to go along with it. While I read the entire series scanned as it came out, I only bought the releases of volumes 1-27 so I could relive the thrills, laughs and tears. I'd recommend you do the same and do what the anime adaptation did- pretend the series ended after the Ojo match.

Oh, but skip the anime itself, though. Adaptation Decay incarnate. It reeks.

My Review! Ya-Ha!

One of the best Manga's I've ever read. Hands down. While nothing will be able to beat strong runners like Death Note, or Kenichi The Mightiest Disciple, (Check that one out if you like fighting manga,) this series is nothing less than spectacular. While some of the characters get on your nerves at times, wether it be Tactless Mizumachi, or Jerk Jock Agon, the series strongest selling point is the characters. The author has put a LOT of work into the characters, and their development, and boy does it show. Not surprising, considering the main characters; Sena, dogged Nice Guy with a passion to live life without much trouble who comes to love football and the people playing with him, and Hiruma. Oooohhh... Hiruma... Sadistic, grinning, Crazy Awesome Hiruma, who happens to be the runner up for biggest Manipulative Bastard behind poster boy Light Yagami. Besides character interaction, there's beautiful art, and of course, the Shounen trade mark. Badass scenes everywhere. You'd really be surprised at how epic a pillow fight can be. Eyeshield 21 shows us just how awesome it is, can be, and will be. My only complaint, which I realize is necessary, but bothered me. Each play gets to feel like it's 5 minutes long, as opposed to the usual 5 seconds in real football. Of course, how can the characters provide commentary if the play is over so fast? This bothered me solely to the fact that I'm a pretty hard-core football fan myself.

Either way, this story is amazing, with moments and characters you won't forget for a long time. The anime is on Crunchyroll, so if you can't feel bothered to read the Manga, the anime is always available.


What the hell are you waiting for!? DO IT!! YA-HA!!

The Unexpected Touchdown

At its surface, Eyeshield 21 doesn't feel all too distinctive from most sports series. Like its brethren, it has a spastic sense of humor, a spineless kid protagonist who wants to be a real man, and overall bleeds teen testosterone from every pore. It's stranger still when the series is about American football, something that only would really catch on in the states, where the concept has already been done to death.

So it comes as all the more surprising that this is hands down my favorite shonen manga, and this is coming from an after-school hermit with the build of a 5-foot chopstick. Perhaps what's most impressive about it is that for me, it did what a sports series should be able to do: create a story that can attract both fans and non-fans of the featured sport without turning into a manual. At times the story does stretch itself a bit thin (especially the ending arc, which is fairly enjoyable, but still mostly fan panderinng), but overall the action in the manga is very well-paced and dynamic, coupled with some of the best art you'll see for a shonen sports manga. The high quality of the art also stretches into the characters: each character is distinctive, even from a distance, and incredibly entertaining (even it they may be bit stereotypes, but hey, it's shonen). The series' madcap sense of humor is bound to leave you ROFLing at least once a volume, but Eyeshield 21 is not just loony high school hijinks; you feel for the underdog team of Devil Bats every step of the way, and even when the drama gets a little over the top, it overall doesn't matter because the story has such a strong heart. While the matches themselves are very well done, the story focuses more than just the end goal of winning the tournament: most of its characters want the championship title for different reasons, and the matches ultimately matter in what they signify rather than just watching kids tackle each other to a pulp. Simply put, it's a bright, light-hearted, and gorgeous-looking manga that embraces its genre as a shonen sports title with passion, and if that's your type of entertainment, this series definitely isn't one to miss out on.

The Gurren Lagann Of Sports Manga

The best way to describe this show. It's over-the-top and proud, basically high concentrations of everything that's fun about its genre with very little of the substance. The actual plot of the show is pretty typical, a team of misfits who want to win the championship of their chosen sport (in this case American Football). Sounds cliche right? Well, in premise, yes, but it's presentation that really count, and in that area, Eyeshield 21 is an expert. I mentioned the series is basically the TTGL of manga and I mean it. Despite how cliche the plot is, it compensates by being filled to the brim with passion, over the top but lovable characters, and absolutely gorgeous action scenes. It also has a great learning curve for those unfamiliar with football, the series really knew how to sell the game as one of both strategy and violence. If Eyeshield really DID inspire a generation of Japanese kids to pick up a football, I would not be surprised. If you want a series with pure entertainment value, Eyeshield 21 is a great choice.

Crazy Awesome

When I first heard of Eyeshield 21 from a family member, I was lacking interest. A manga about (American) football? Eh, not really my sport. If it was Baseball, I would've looked at it right away. I read through a few pages, maybe a full chapter, and then just left it.

A while passed, and I ran out of other manga to read. I decided, "Hey, might as well try Eyeshield 21". The first few chapters were not all that interesting, but the pace quickly picked up and I was hooked. The art style remains iffy for about 50 chapters or so but it gets a LOT more stable once the main arc starts up and is brilliant the rest of the way through.

The exact appeal of the manga is difficult to point out. A part of it is Hiruma Youichi, the best manga character ever conceived of. I'll let a quote speak for me:

''"As it is right now, it's over. Turning the tables is already nothing but physically impossible. At least, in memory of the fact that we managed to come to the christmas bowl, even if we lose in the end, it'd be great if we could at least get a touchdown. At least let's end this by destroying Yamato's absolute prediction of keeping us from scoring a single point. THERE'S NO ****ING TRASHES THAT WOULD THINK LIKE THAT IN THE DEIMON DEVILBATS, RIGHT!!?"
Hiruma Youichi and teammates,

And of course, that's only a tiny bit of his awesomeness which includes being able to blackmail any person on the planet, his insane plans and his personality.

Another greatly enjoyable aspect of the story is its over the top humour. Sena's extremely frail body being the butt of many jokes, the hah-hah brothers, Monta and his resemblances to monkeys, etc, etc. The series has plenty of moments of comedy that will get you laughing more than School Rumble.

Of course, since it's a shounen series, it has to have drama, but it's really well done. There's not much more to say in praise other than it's just excellent.

As someone whose never really liked sports stories, Eyeshield 21 was a definite break from the mold. You have to read it through to figure out how great it is but regret it you won't.

Without exaggeration, my favorite manga.

I'm not good with words, so I'll put it as plainly as possible: This manga is wicked sick and radical to the max.

There's nothing about it I don't like (except for the fact that it's not openly shippy, but it's a shounen manga so whatever). And as stupid as it might seem, it inspired me to become more active and to improve myself physically so I could be an athlete again someday. Also sparked an interest in football and a greater interest in sports in general than previously.

But it's not just about that. The art is wonderful and energetic, the visual metaphors are thrilling, the action is tight, the characters are well-defined... Hell, the characters. So many of them. Ancillary characters get fleshed out in the collected editions, making the world of the series that much more realized.

I don't know. This is my kind of series. It's funny, action-packed, and inspiring. Oh, and it's also the straight dope, like, on the rill, son. Word.