For the first volume, Eyeshield 21 is a nice mix of absurd, silly slapstick humor and exciting, extremely energetic football action. Most of the humor is delivered by the demon child Hiruma. He coerces Sena to join by shooting at him with an automatic rifle, hacks the field sprinkler system in order to waterlog the opponents side of the field, shoots bazookas, is obsessed with fireworks, and sends his dog Cerberus chasing after Sena in order to get him to run a faster 40yard dash. It so completely overthetop and out of left field that I couldn help laughing. Hiruma is rude, crude, and completely unpredictable, which makes his character so damn enjoyable. There were a couple moments where I had to put the book down and keep myself from developing a hernia from laughing so hysterically.
The portrayal of the sport is simplistic enough for novices, but offers enough action for the more hardcore fans of the sport. There isn a lot of training for Sena, although the bazookas and rabid dog make it fun, so it doesn get to technical. The team pretty much gets whipped up over night as an after thought, using other club athletes, as the football team really doesn have much respect. However, they do have Hiruma, who seems to be pulling a lot of strings (some illegal) and is the master strategist. Their first game is against Koigahama Cupids, another bad football team who seem to be more concerned with their girlfriends, which enrages the members of the Deimon Devilbats. The characters have their own personalities and are instantly memorable, especially Hiruma. While some may find Hiruma personality a bit too strong, it is his unpredictable nature that makes the story so enjoyable. The sport is kept pretty light, allowing for novices to enjoy the action without getting bogged down in technical details, but also has enough great action artwork and sports drama for the more hardcore sports fans. Seeing Sena make his debut on the field was a memorable one, as it was both intense and hilarious.
Sports drama, cheerleaders, guns, bazookas, fireworks, blackmail, torture, fights, demonic references, and exciting football action. Yeah, it was that much fun. This first volume was really enjoyable and I can wait to see what more Eyeshield 21 will offer in the future. Recommended.