|Draws You In With Genuine Heart|
Like I've mentioned before, most sports manga do not often appeal to me. However, every now and then, they managed to come up with something interesting and I found Whistle! to be interesting enough to catch my attention.
The main character is a wannabe soccer player named Sho who is attending a prestigious school that is renowned for it's soccer team and coach. However, he finds that his poor soccer skills, not to mention his short stature makes him less than ideal choice and is regulated to a third-string level; a substitute for substitutes making it unlikely he will play soccer for at least two years when the current players have graduated and moved on, he MIGHT get a shot. And for Sho, that's just not good enough.
Instead, he chooses instead to transfer to another school that isn't quite as good but it does have a soccer team that is more open and begins playing there. As the series progresses, so does his soccer skills. Even though he remains far below many of the higher ranking players, they find themselves following him because he has the strongest will to win that defies the greatest odds. The soccer matches are good and well paced and the supporting characters are all interesting and fully realized ones.
I will say that Sho is a bit of a cliche of the determined young sports hero with a die-hard attitude, but he has a certain charisma that I liked. His skills are the result of hard work and there are others who are just simply overwhelmingly better than he is in raw talent and in some cases, physically gifted with height and strength that he simply cannot overcome.
The big spoiler to the series is the very conclusion which is a shock where Sho collapses at the height of a game, having suffered a major leg injury that leaves him crippled and unable to play soccer anymore. But his love of the game prompts him to find the courage to go to a special clinic abroad to undergo surgery to repair his leg and hopefully return. It's not as whacky as say Eyeshield 21, but this manga is more realistic and is about heart and to never give up on your dreams.
Aside from the extremely captivating storyline, I have to say that I found the artwork to be extremely well done. The backgrounds and sets are very realistic and the character designs are pretty realistic as well, without relying on outrageous or unusual hairdos or other affections to differentiate between the characters. It's pretty easy to tell the various character apart, even though they're all wearing uniforms on the field. I admired the clean lines and action scenes as being well paced and plotted.
Overall, this is a manga that draws you in despite yourself with genuine heart.
RATING: 4 STARS!!!!