Seinen – Sports
2 Volumes of 17 Volumes (ongoing)
It’s the first day of the new school year, and students at Kanagawa High are teasing the new students: one because of his large height and apologetic nature, the other because he’s short. But there may be a sport where they both can shine — if only one knew how to play and the other could get over his past trauma!
I’m going to use all family names here for consistency’s sake.
So, on the first day of school, Gion flips out Edward Elric style upon being called a shrimp. Iwashimizu was also being teased because of his timid nature and for being tall, but he beats the heck out of the locker area, carrying Gion with him. The two are then spotted by Iwashimizu’s senpai and teammate from middle school, and Hachiouji invites them both to take a look at the rugby club at Kanagawa High (nickname Jinkou). Gion is enthralled at the idea that this is a sport where he can play, and he drags Iwashimizu into the club. Iwashimizu, despite having played before, is still dealing with the fact that he accidentally injured his friend (and team captain) in middle school. Gion, meanwhile, is determined to play despite knowing very little by the game, and he wants to hurry and be able to tackle bigger players. Players the size of Jinkou’s team captain, Sekizan.
So, I didn’t read much of All-Out!!, but my first thought when I looked at the cover of Volume 1 was, “Is it just me, or does that short guy look psychotic?”
“Nah, he’s probably really friendly.”
*flips the page*
“… OK, he’s psychotic.”
Many protagonists of shounen manga tend to have one-track minds and are often disrespectful to those around him. And Gion is a loudmouth. For a guy who didn’t even know rugby existed before the first day of high school, geez, at least learn the basic rules, dude. Fortunately, we do see him working hard in these opening volumes: trying to help Iwashimizu, getting a coach, doing weird exercises. This somewhat negates his hot temper. Still, Gion is going to need more besides yelling that the team’s going to win and that he wants to play. Plus, I think in team mentor/helper is also a loudmouth, SO I EXPECT A LOT OF YELLING IN THIS MANGA. LIKE THIS.
Speaking of rules, there’s a tongue-in-cheek joke where the manga winks at readers and basically says, “Don’t bother with the rules!” The second volume is when more explanations are given, but even then, it feels a little late. Rugby is not exactly the most popular in the world, and I wish we could have set up the game better before the scoreboard starts registering points. All I knew about it was that it was similar to football (like cricket to baseball), but from what I’m picking up, it has less in common than I expected. I didn’t even know that each team has 15 players. And for a game with that many participants having weirdly named positions like “lock” and “winger”, All-Out!! isn’t the greatest at explaining the rules.
However, what the second thing I thought about this series was that it seemed to be reaching out to the BL lovers right from the start. Tall guy bursting into tears; a short, rude guy trying to help get him over his trauma; really large pecs… I wasn’t surprised to find out it was a woman writing this. Iwashimizu is very unusual for a lead character in a series like this, so that’s a point in All-Out!!‘s favor for being unique. But the relationship between him and Gion — heck, even him and Miyuki, his old friend or delinquent teammate Ebumi and Sekizan — is different from most sports manga. Is it because this is a seinen series? From a woman’s perspective? Or is it really as ho-yay as I’m seeing it? Heck, Sekizan looks like he came from a bara manga with his wild hair that looks like Yugi from Yu-Gi-Oh! grew it out and got a perm.
So far, Jinkou has already had their first practice match. Mostly, it serves to develop Iwashimizu’s character and to give the players the first taste of what they’re striving towards. The — well, presumed — coach makes his debut at the very end of the second volume, so I imagine the next arc will be getting the players to acknowledge him as coach.
Otherwise, the manga is shaping up to follow the usual sports manga patterns. Gion’s going to be the unassuming member of the team who is going to have one special skill, we have the cool genius player, the passionate captain, etc. Iwashimizu, as I mentioned before, is probably the most unusual, as he’s rather sensitive and emotional. Now that his issue is mostly tackled (get it?), I don’t know if he’ll be as important as before or if he’ll be stepping away to let Gion’s relationships with other teammates give him the experience he so desperately needs.
The art is also… something. I already mentioned the BL and bara influences. But I’m going to be blunt: the ugly guys — which make up the majority of the non-important players on the team — are ugly. I mean UGLY. Like you know how most manga characters have bad art? That kind of style where heads can look like pineapples, potted plants, or hourglasses. The author puts a lot of passion into the tackling scenes, and the main characters look good despite some funky hair. But a lot of the side characters have very awkwardly-angled faces. That’s my biggest complaint so far, and the frequency of the lackluster side characters affects my enjoyment of the series. It’s much like Yowamushi Pedal in that aspect, so if you like that manga’s art style, then the beefy guys of All-Out!! will look similar.
Honorifics are used. Translation notes are included to explain things like the Kyoto/Gion joke and Kanagawa High’s nickname. Jinkou is spelt with and without the u. Gion’s nickname for Iwashimizu is “lummox”.
All-Out!! is shaping up to be a fairly typical sports series, but with added levels of fanservice and unattractive guys. I think part of the problem for me is that rugby features a whopping 15 guys on a team. That many people — not including instructors, managers, back-ups, and rival schools — makes it harder to connect with the hero school versus most other team sports manga. Despite Iwashimizu being unique, I don’t know how long he’s going to stand out among the crowded cast.
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