What They Say:
You can’t make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear, but you can make a football. And apparently with enough finagling and a little finesse, you can make a football star as well! By both hook and crook, Sena Kobayakawa’s unnaturally strong sense of self-preservation and even more extraordinary skills at fleeing have turned him into the star running back of his school’s admittedly unusual US-style football team. And even more amazingly, the Deimon Demon Bats are actually starting to be taken seriously! But can Machiavellian manager Himura pull an even bigger trick and build the team into a serious challenge to the awesome might of the Taiyou Sphinx? He’ll have to if they want to have the privilege of tackling the NASA Aliens! Sena’s biggest challenge and greatest rival are about to take the field by storm in EYESHIELD 21 – COLLECTION 2!
The audio presentation for this series comes with just the original Japanese language track encoded in stereo at 224kbps. Some of the series were dubbed when it was on Toonami Jetstream, but that stream had edits to it and it likely didn’t make sense to include it here or it wasn’t available. The Japanese mix here is a fairly standard center channel kind of series where there’s no real directionality or placement in it. There are no problems with the audio encoding but it’s fairly lifeless in a lot of ways as it lacks impact during the big action sports scenes. Dialogue is decent throughout though as it’s clear and problem free but it’s all coming from the center channel.
Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The thirteen episodes here are spread over two volumes in a six/seven format. Eyeshield 21 has a pretty bright and colorful approach to its animation so it has an almost plastic-like feel to some of the animation. The transfer for the show is good as it captures the look of the show very well with a clean look where the colors have a solid feel to them. There’s a bit of cross coloration popping up in a few areas and a noticeable amount of line noise during some of the panning sequences, but overall there’s little to take serious issue with here. This is a fairly average budget show and there are times where it ups the ante in animation quality and detail, but most of the time it’s about what you’d expect from a sports series.
Eyeshield 21 gets a standard single sized keepcase with two discs inside that don’t use hinges. The front cover artwork is decent as it has Sena in his uniform along the right while two of his rivals on the field make up the other positions and generally taking dominance over him. The background is pretty eye-catching with the green of the field which is also nicely contrasted by the logo which has the vibrant reds and more of the green. Selling a sports show can’t be easy in general and this one does a decent job at it with what they have. The back cover uses more of the field layout though it feels a bit darker because of all the text from the summary but I do like the overall color and feel of it. Monta gets a nice action shot along the right side and there’s a fair number of shots along the bottom in a star-shaped grid that’s really too small and busy to show much. The production credits and the technical grid rounds out the rest of the bottom of the cover though this is a release where you feel like you can take issue with the runtime as the episodes are shorter, about 23 minutes even with translated credits, making this a 300-minute title total. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reverse side cover.
The menu design for the release uses the same elements as the cover with the gridiron in the background and character artwork in the foreground. It looks brighter and more vibrant in the menu than the cover and the detail is a bit more apparent. Underneath the character artwork and logo, we get the individual episode selection as well as the special features selection which is all laid out in a simple but easy to navigate fashion. It still feels odd to not have a language submenu, even just for subtitle only shows, but that’s what twelve years of conditioning will do to you. Everything loads quickly and navigation is a breeze here.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Eyeshield 21 essentially set itself up easily in the first collection in terms of setting expectations. Sports shows are definitely a favorite of mine but some of them less so than others. Eyeshield 21 goes for the less appealing route as it’s all very comical and exaggerated in a way that really does make me roll my eyes. It’s reminiscent of some sports related superhero comics books Marvel Comics put out back in the 80’s that still leave a bad taste in my mouth. This set of thirteen episodes takes what we saw in the first collection and expands upon it by going in the same direction with no real surprises.
The team has grown fairly well since it was just Kurita and Hiruma as Sena has definitely drawn in a few more people that are interested in the whole idea. The team is still using a lot of ringers though which isn’t a surprise since American football isn’t high up on a lot of peoples lists. While they’re used to ringers, they definitely want to get some new players. Monta’s finally on board in full so they hold a series of interviews that lead to try-outs which Hiruma designs to be pretty intense. His whole point is to get the best of the best into his ragtag little group and he does just that after having them run up and down Tokyo Tower several times before some ice they have melts. It’s pretty standard fare for Hiruma to come up with this and he challenges Sena to it as well as he tries to shake down all the potential candidates to the real thing.
The addition of a couple of new members works well as we get two characters who flesh out the team a little bit but aren’t utilized all that much on a regular basis. They add a touch more to the team in getting it so we have fewer ringers showing up though which helps give it all a little more consistency while drawing everything together better. The real interesting part is in watching the three “Ha-Ha” brothers who are still doing their best to get out of what they’ve become involved in. The trio has a run of trouble with some rather punk members of another team and they find themselves being beaten up rather easily. Taking a never-again approach, they throw themselves into the game to become better than they have been and, in turn, find the strength they really needed. It’s all done very plainly and bluntly, but it’s a piece that’s welcome to see playing out since it was forecast from practically the start.
There’s a fair amount of game playing going on during these episodes when the team isn’t training or recruiting new members. Unfortunately, they’re continuing with the outlandish nature that we saw a bit of in the previous set by having one team that’s all about being cowboys, which means their uniforms have the colors and the feel of the old west. The theme is used more than it should as the players are all cowboyish in their nature and it just feels very forced. What feels even more forced though is when the Devil Bats take on the Sphinx team. That has a huge Egyptian theme to it and their field is set up with towering structures and practically has the look of a desert about it. Add in that more and more of the opposing character are making Kurita look small, both in body and the size of their head, and it’s just becoming more outlandish in an unenjoyable way.
Eyeshield 21 takes football and plays it in a rather exaggerated way, which was pretty evident from the start of the series. This second set of episodes continues on with that by introducing a couple more characters and bringing in some new teams to play against, including an American high school team that easily takes down a Japanese college team. The characters, at least on the Devil Bats team, continue to be the main draw as they’re fun to watch work through various situations while trying to improve their lot so they can get to the Christmas Bowl. But the suspension of disbelief is still the hardest thing to deal with here, whether it’s the absurdity of the opposing teams or the way Mamori continues to be fooled about who Eyeshield 21 really is.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: July 06th, 2010
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.