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I hate to say it. But it really needs to be said.
This manga has jumped the shark.
We have main heroes that are more antiheroes at best, the main cast has taken a back seat, and we get steamrolled into a new section that just seems forced into a Rocky moment.
I'll explain exactly why I feel the way I do about the manga and how it could have gone better.
1) Teikoku match - I explained it once, I'll go over it again. The perfect team, filled with the very best of the best in all of Teikoku. Deimon kicked their asses. Here's where the problem started:
Marco basically told us about the Top. I couldn't have cared less about Teikoku because they gave Marco at LEAST a few chapters long before we saw him. Hell, they were put in as a dark horse when they had the rankings. NOTHING pointed to Teikoku but tack on at last minute. Yes, old hat, I'll move on.
2) World Cup - Where the heck do I start...? I'll divide this up in order of priority:
A) Unsui/Mummy controversy - That mummy hasn't done one damn thing the entire match. If you're going to have a secret weapon, then you should do a better job of hiding him. I want one badass moment from this guy and yet, his entire thread and reasoning is gone... He's not catching over Tatanka, he's not going for the long passes... What the hell is this mummy man doing? And if it IS Rui instead, what's going to happen? Basically, Inagaki did a poor job of working this plotline to a conclusion so far.
B) World Cup - Over too. Damn. Fast. This was the perfect time to allow us a chance to build a rep with USA. We could learn some of Panther's teammates and see if they were people we like or don't like. We could learn more about Clifford and Panther, their friends etc. OR show Team Japan watching the slaughter similar to how Gaou slaughtered Taiyo! You could have given us something to work with. Instead we got "Nothing can stop us" Determinator power. What a ripoff...
C) Panther - Look, I'm a black man myself. I come off as fairly intelligent sometimes (even if I'm long winded in a post like this. ) But hey, I'm fair about genetics here. I can understand that Panther is gifted. Not denying the slight nod to adaptive science. But seriously, you just said 4.2 was it, Inagaki... Then you go and change that for your main character to have a challenge? AND he runs slower with the ball? *sigh* Here's what also butters my biscuits when we get down to this guy.
The Gonzales brothers are gone. We don't even get to see Homer, who Panther fought for. We get to see NOTHING of Watt no matter how much of a character he was. It's as if Inagaki had to bumrush good character buildup for a pigeon holed story. Whoever the editor is, he needs a new day job. >_<
D) USA - They. Are. Assholes. Every last one of em except Panther. We see Bud, the flashy guy that looks just like Kid for some reason. Hmmm... Clifford. Nuff said. Mr. Don - someone we can hate but damn, tone his condescension down a bit... Tatanka only got one kickass moment and he's been scrubby since the beginning. Can we at least get ONE character that isn't all "I'm better than you" from USA? The coach? A sideline player? Someone that acts a little like Kobanzame but is gifted? Point being, there's only main eventers here and not enough side show.
E) Rivalries - Bud got owned. Sakuraba has yet to take out Tatanka and there's other rivalries that just aren't panning out. Panther vs Shin, I am SO disappointed. Sena vs Panther, again, we need something to happen short of a miracle. Agon vs the world, funny, but he's a chaotic character to begin with that isn't using his brain. Why should I care what he does when he's getting predictable?
This goes back to my other point about the World Cup, we didn't get a buildup to it, it was thrust upon everyone when we got nothing on Panther. How he worked and trained was just a two second panel then off we go back to Japan. If Panther were built up as a second rival from the start, I'd be okay. We'd have a fairly decent rivalry with an American and a Japanese guy. Now I just want to see this to the end, since it's coming soon.
I find it sad, we started this manga with schools with certain themes, learning more about football as we go. Now, near the end, someone fumbled, believing that pigeonholing the plot would somehow get us to appreciate characters we don't know about. I for one hope for the best, but it's kinda hard when we've forgotten some characters and the rivalries just aren't top notch like they used to be.
Last edited by JC123; April 25, 2009 at 12:16 PM.
I think you mean to say Taiyo and not Bando for the 2B).
One of the problems for me was the anti-climatic last chapter of the Teikoku match that suddenly transferred the championship win into the next arc immediately.
The mummy made his last appearance 12 chapters ago. He isn't even shown in the background making comments or getting any face time.
As for Team USA not having the Gonzales brothers? I would have thought that the big Gonzales would make the team since Inagaki said he had more upper body strength than Kurita (much like Gaou). Watt I'm not too surprised about because Kakei schooled him easily in middle school, but you would think these characters would at least show up for a chat.
One of the main weaknesses of this arc is the fact that it was rushed. I mean the match with Russia looked as if it would actually be a good match. The Militaria match was also built up and looked like they would put up a little bit of a fight. But the main buzzkill was the skipping of Japan vs Germany. You could totally tell this match was to be a serious one. They scored on Japan multiple times, Sena was caught by an equally fast player, and they introduced two lineman that looked as if they were to be serious rivals to Gaou and Kurita. Since passes were blocked that match, Schultz must have scored a few touchdowns (getting past Shin, Agon, and the rest of the defense).
India vs USA was hinted at from the get go more than Japan vs USA really was. But that match was skipped entirely. We didn't even get to see their uniforms. I thought that India vs USA would go by in a chapter while Russia vs Japan would go by in 5 to 10 chapters.
There's also the whole premise of America vs Japan. There should have been more rivalry and more interaction between the two groups from the start of the arc. The build up wasn't bad, but it could have been better. I mean Team USA just lacks any kind of flare. All of the characters are just too similar and we've really got no idea about any of the Pentagram's backgrounds other than Panther. The rivalries were set up on the spot. Monta vs Bud isn't as intense as Ikkyu vs Monta or Taka vs Monta. Sena vs Panther isn't as great as Agon vs Sena or Sena vs Shin. Gaou vs Don is not as great as Kurita vs Gaou. Clifford vs Hiruma is probably the best rivalry in this game and even then I think Kid vs Hiruma was much better. Tatanka doesn't really seem to have much of a purpose as a linebacker.
This arc has spanned 8 chapters and we're already past half-time. I'm sure it'll have some high moments but as an overall arc it's been a sloppy, mish-mashed, disaster.
I know there's better sports manga out there. Inagaki just needed more time to allow us to really like all the glitz and glamour that he was promoting. I guess there's another manga waiting for his spot in SJ or something and he's on his way out.
And I loved it right until the Teikoku arc which is where I see the rushing began.
That whole 4.1 thing really got to me. Inagaki stressed 4.2 the entire series then through the 4.1 speed in just to make Panther a challenge, which is lame.
The entire World Cup has been nothing but a roller coaster ride where we get highs like last week's chapter, but then get poorly planned lows like this weeks. Schultz, the guy we got the most interaction with in the WC, was out in 7 pages.
I'm not sure Inagaki could mess up his own work this bad. He could be getting bad info from his Editor. It really makes sense when you consider the whole "Running for a year and a half more" thing. Still, he should be a little disappointed at himself for what he's doing to his own work.
I agree that these last two arcs have been the worst of the series, especially this last one. I keep hoping and praying that things are going to slow down, but they just aren't. There's been a scene or two here and there that gave me hope, but for the most part I'm really sad to see this series ending (I assume and hope it's ending) on a terrible note.
I agree with pretty much everything you've said. It feels like Inagaki was planning on doing way more with this last arc than he was allowed to do. We were introduced to so many characters and shown matchups that had the potential to be really cool, and they were all blown by in a couple of pages (and some weren't even shown on-screen!).
The mummy thing seems like it was intended to be a big deal, and it was just kind of dropped into oblivion (we haven't even seen the mummy in ages..). Most of the American Pentagram has amounted to absolutely nothing (I'm looking at you Bud and Tatanka), and .. where's the Panther/Sena matchup? Sena, in fact, has done pretty much exactly nothing this entire match.
For this being the final arc, there has been, in my opinion, way, way too much focus on Gaou and Agon. We get it, Gaou is strong and Agon is a tool. They've shoved almost everyone else to the background in favor of those two for pretty much this entire arc, even those that are supposed to be the main characters.
Chuubou seemed like he was going to be a big deal in the beginning of the arc too, but he's amounted to absolutely nothing except teaching Gaou the DD. Is that really the only reason he was introduced?
I can't imagine this clusterfuck of an arc has been entirely Inagaki's doing. It definitely feels like he's being rushed to finish it and he's trying to smush all the leftover pieces together as quickly as he can and wrap things up. :/ It's really frustrating for the reader, and I can only imagine it's really frustrating for him as a writer, too.
This arc had potential, but every week I kind of find myself wishing more that they had just ended it after the Christmas bowl... And I seriously hope there isn't another arc after this one.
Last edited by Altrian; April 25, 2009 at 02:21 PM.
I'm wondering if they were given some kind of deadline for the manga to end and Inagaki had to make a lot of adaptations to shorten it. This arc has lasted 22 chapters, which is pretty close to half a year almost. D: I think the World Cup arc should have gone over 50 chapters to really make it worth reading.
The match itself has been around 8 chapters so far and it'll probably go on for 10 more at the most. I really feel it should have been given 30 chapters but eh... I think Inagaki just ran out of cool trick plays and ideas. Thinking about this arc so far we haven't really seen anything new other than the Gatling formation and the combination of the Dragonfly + Chris Cross (though we've seen Dragonfly twice before this and the Chris Cross in the last arc). There's been very little emphasis on originality.
It's just interesting to know that they chose to only make a few characters key to this arc and still haven't done that great a job. Yamato should have played a bigger role given his history and the fact that he's been in the series for a while now as THE original ES21.
Shin was chosen as one of the main characters as well but he got very little face time. His only shining moment was hitting Clifford and was destroyed in the next chapter (I won't complain about that but at least make it the climax).
Gaou is cool and everything, but his character is stale to me. It makes sense for him to get the spotlight, he's just that kind of guy who sticks out. But without any background info on him I think we're missing some kind of character depth needed for him to be a key player.
Agon and Hiruma to me are the only ones who have really made this arc a little bearable (though Agon as a main character for more than a few chapters is a bit iffy).
Sena, despite being Japan's "best runner", has played an almost invisible role. He just seems to be comedy relief for the most part.
Monta? They decided to give him the victory within the first three chapters of the match. Now he's just another background guy.
Taka has completely gone under the radar and seems more like a commentator. Despite being one of the four players given the power to recruit players he hasn't made any real presence throughout the match.
The one player that I think had some potential was Akaba. He's supposed to be among the elite, up there with Shin and Agon arguably. Even if he decided he only wanted to play special teams, we haven't seen the kick team in action. He was Sena's first legitimate rival for the title of ES21 and the guy has been nearly invisible after the Bando match.
I think that, given all the characters in the ES world we've seen there should at least be some kind of homage to them in this game. Riku, Akaba, Kakei, and Marco for example played a big role in making Sena a better player and were really seen as great obstacles to the Deimon Devilbats. But in this arc they've all been reduced to being nobodies. It's kind of like a kick to the balls from one of the last arcs to the manga.
Last edited by Rsatori; April 25, 2009 at 03:25 PM.
i hope i don't sound mean but it's manga. you know its not a book. a book takes one page describing the character's facial expression and whatnot, where manga just takes panel. So yeah. relax and read for what it is. I personally think eyeshield is still awesome. and yea the match is a bit fast paced but maybe its cuz there will be a over time game .
Book or manga, there is still pacing to consider. Just because things aren't being described with paragraphs of words, there is still such a thing as going way too fast and not allowing the plot to develop correctly. You still have to tell a story at a pace that a reader can enjoy it. Leaving out huge details and plot points is a no-no no matter what medium you're working in.
Again, this arc obviously wasn't planned. It seems like Inagaki was given a brief period in an attempt to lengthen the series but it just couldn't compare to any of the previous content. What we got was fan service; which explains all the heavy Gaou and Agon exposure. Still, I believe he gathered enough material to give us quite a treat before the rug got pulled from under him. Quite an unfitting ending for such a great series. :[
what plot points? What huge details?? Do we really need to see how awesome the japanese team is by watching them defeat every other team in the tournament? com'n be real. if the author showed that, then people would just be complaining about how japan just plows through everyone. though i do agree with the panther debate. i mean wtf wasn't sena faster than riku by .3 seconds and still got caught? wtf is it with sena that he can't touch panther. that faster by .1 makes it seem like its more like a whole second rather than a fragment.
umm I said panel not picture so no I do not like bleach
Last edited by mugen; April 25, 2009 at 03:31 PM.
You really need to look at story elements and take them into consideration. This arc is being shoved down our throats rather than allowing us to really enjoy it to its fullest potential.
We didn't need long detailed matches with Team Japan in all the prior matches, but we should have given the matches a little more time. Give them some kind of purpose other than a tournament knock out. All of the other matches we have seen in this series gave us some kind of drama and depth (even the Yuhei Guts match). This arc's matches for the most part were just devoid of any kind of tasteful presentation. In short this arc's matches lack any value.
It's not like we want Inagaki to stop and explain to us the sweat on Sena's brow or how loud the arena is, but some immersion would help. I used to reread matches and get drawn into them while these matches I just skim over. There's a big difference.
Books and manga have the same formulas. They share them with movies as well. Protagonist, antagonist, drama, pacing, ups and down, twists, climax, etc. You have to masterfully use all of these to make a good book/manga/movie. I mean, there's a reason why they hired a writer for this manga and an artist. Because both elements are necessary to make a manga work well. :\ If the writer flops on this then the manga falls apart because he's not upholding his end of the work.
Three events I'd have liked to see in this arc:
1) Round table discussion between the smartest all-stars (Akaba, Agon, Hiruma, Marco, Kid, Takami).
2) A team encounter between Japan and USA before the match.
3) Kind of an orientation of all the Japanese all-stars working with one another (Kakei talking to Yamato).
Last edited by Rsatori; April 25, 2009 at 03:39 PM.
Then we get Team USA, which is pretty much just "I'm better than you". Even Panther's character has been downplayed in this arc.
Last edited by cHaotix8; April 25, 2009 at 04:40 PM.
To me, ES21 ended in the Teikoku match. This is just a fanservice match.
The only thing I hope is that they make some SenaSuzuna/HirumaMamori moments before the manga ends.
The problem with this arc is what used to be ES21's strong point.
It has too many developed characters.
A manga just isn't long enough to give so many characters enough space.
The whole arc would be better if Japan was just Deimon.
Oh well...I hope it ends nicely. Make Hiruma get MVP, go out with Mamori or something. And stuff.
And maybe a sequel with a timeskip would be interesting.
If Hiruma and co can't play for deimon anymore, would they go to another school? And end up facing Sena and co? That would be cool.