Aug 7, 2010
MacAnkkuli (All reviews)
First time writing a review but since this manga didn't have that many I thought I could try

I think this is quite a realistic manga. Of course it's not that realistic in comedy and with what happens to the characters, but the focus, American football, is realistic. At least I think. It's hid under the veil of shounen, where all attention is given to single persons or groups at a time, where time seems to stop as people discuss about what's happening and sometimes seem to read each others thoughts while doing that. Even with all that the game is not supernatural or anything. But sometimes it's hard to remember what's REALLY happening, as in if the reader could zoom out and see the field like it's seen on television. Especially the formations get a bit too little attention since you can't help but sometime think "where the hell did he come from?", "what was happening in the center?". But I believe the writer knew what was happening, he just did a conscious decision to not share everything in order to make it more shounen like.
But boy does the shounen bring out some of the most epic moments. Sometimes the despair in front of practically certain loss makes you want to just give up and check how it's really going to end. Every point the enemy makes feels like someone is pulling YOUR stomach and you start to question "it's just football. It's not like you're gonna die." But that's just a fleeting thought before you remember that emotions really are powerful in sports if you're playing seriously.
The power-ups are a bit unrealistic in the sense that there is a quite strict weak-strong scale between some people. And even when it isn't that strict it's hard to notice, since those many "normal" plays aren't shown. Nevertheless, no one can change physical attributes like muscle strength with some super training overnight, often it's all about mind, will and technique. What one can do when it's just impossible to win in physical prowess.
On a side note I was a bit disappointed the hints of relationships and drama never bore any fruit.

The art is very clean and good. I guess it sometimes feels bland since it's not that unique, but the quality is unyielding.
The action scenes burst with athlete's anatomy and speed, and the comedy is highlighted well with different stylizations

The characters are different and there are quite many of them. Everyone have their own struggles and motives when playing football. And it's not just the protagonist's team members, Deimon Devil Bats, but other teams as well. And even those supporting characters whose stories aren't told stay true to themselves. Especially Devil Bats' quarterback Hiruma uses in a genius way his team mates and enemies personalities in his unbelievable schemes. That wouldn't work if the characters' personalities didn't work.
The Devil Bats, who are a hastily collected ragtag team, face more and more fierce enemies often so they mostly try to cope with their own weaknesses and become stronger. But still the these personal struggles often times manage to be unique and even tearjerking. And with the other characters included they'e stories are nicely versatile.

In one or two matches the switching from hope to despair happened so many times it was starting to get a bit too agitating. And I thought this manga might have given more if I had played football, since it was sometimes hard to get the whole picture.
Other than that it was very enjoyable and I wanted to keep on reading.

The ending made it clear that these people will keep on playing astonishing and unbelievable matches in their universe. It's not like it ended midway but you just can't help but have a bittersweet, heartrending feeling when you think that you can never hear those stories. And that is a testimony of a fantastic manga.