Anime That Teaches You to Football? Eyeshield 21 First Impressions (ep1-25)

Video version on my Youtube channel: https://youtu.be/h5MAd4NI63o

Sports anime can be a divisive genre.  I’m making the bold assumption that many anime fans are not the kind of people who tend to watch sports all too often in real life, so why bother watching it in anime form? This argument I sort of understand, as I usually avoid mech shows because I don’t really find robots all that amusing.  Am I missing out on some cool anime? Sure. But if you are the type of person that skips anime solely because it is tied to a sport, I think you can make a similar mistake.

I played football for years, and I consider myself to be sort of a rare “athletic” anime fan.  I played sports all my life, and continued through my college years.  In many cases I found myself to be different from my sporty bretherin as they did not often seem to like anime or stuff I was into, so it was always hard to really discuss it back then.  Does this show break that barricade? No. But it’s pretty enjoyable.

Eyeshield 21 is based off a manga by Riichiro Inagaki and Yusuke Murata that began in shonen jump back in 2002.  It had a seven year run, ending with volume 37 in 2009, and an anime adaptation aired from 2005-2008, lasting 145 episodes.  The story revolves around a teenager named Sena, who has amazing natural speed he usually uses to escape bullies, as he is rather small in stature.  Sena is kind of a wuss, and he is often in need of protection from his friend and love interest Mamori, who he has known since childhood.  While escaping bullies one day Sena’s speed gets noticed by the football team, and he is recruited to the team by the demonic looking quaterback Hiruma, and gentle giant lineman Kurita.  Sena struggles to hide that he plays football though, as he does not want Mamori to worry about him, thereofre he wears a visor, or an eyeshield and goes by “EyeSHield 21” when on the field. He is kind of like Zoro in this weird goofy sense.

25 episodes into the show, I have stuff that I like and stuff I don’t.  The biggest plus for this show for me was how they are dedicated to teaching the viewer (likely a Japanese young boy) the game of American football.  Commercial breaks are segmented by the Ameto Clinics, where Mamori reads off some of the games basic rules. As a former player a big football fan, I found these funny and enjoyable to listen to, and I’d imagine they were successful in the points they were trying to get across.  The games are also enjoyable and wacky with power moves such as the spear tackle. There’s also a bad news bears vibe as this team is not great, but they have Eyeshield, and hope of course.

The show also has a cool opening song, and some of the characters I really enjoy, in particular Mamori and Hiruma.  I love Mamori’s protective nature and man would it be nice to have a girl care about you that much in high school.

Hiruma is just wild.  He shoots guns, yells a lot, sics dogs on people all in order to grow his football club. While very brash, he’s loyal, and definitely has a softer side that I hope I will see in the future.

Sena on the other hand is lame. While he is sort of loyal, he reminds me a lot of Shinji from Evangelion and is a baby far too much of the time.  I also dislike how the show is paced, with games taking several episodes at times. The animation is not great either, and many characters have one liner that they say way too often.

Will I continue this series? Yes, just to see more anime football. I know this manga is even more popular and goes past the anime, which bums me out a little as I am worried we won’t get a solid ending, but I will enjoy the ride.  This series is definitely a slow burner for me, something I would not binge.

If you have never seen a sports anime, i’d maybe check out something shorter first.  145 episodes can be a big task.  But if you like sports and or sports anime check out Eyeshield 21, and check out my review someday down the road.

 

 

 

Maturity, Love and Melancholy: Eureka Seven

 

video version of this post: https://youtu.be/HpjBzwFV45M

 

There are many times in life I wish I had superpowers, and finding a gem of an anime like Eureka Seven from the past that I overlooked is an occurrence that brings back that desire. I wish I had infinite time or time travel abilities not really to live forever but to experience enjoyable things at times when they were most appreciated. Much like I’d love to experience star wars when it was originally released I’d also like to be able to bring myself back to the days when things like Bebop and Evangelion were new and the zeitgeist of their influence was still fresh. I also wish i had infinite time for the selfish purpose of watching all the anime i could possibly see as I sadly know I will leave this world missing something.

 

Eureka Seven likely needs little introduction to most, but it was a 50 episode epic coming of age story blended together with mecha, romance and action genres. Studio Bones produced it back in 2005 and it was an anime original. The heart of the story takes place far in the future and revolves around Renton Thurston a boy who lives in the shadow of his father who died as a hero to mankind, a belief shared by much of society but not quite by Renton as he never got to know him.

In this future there is a popular action sport called lifting which is basically sky surfing and it is Rentons favorite activity. Lifting similar to skateboarding today is sort of a rebellious act and rentons hero Holland leads a rebel group called Gekko State that is on constant run from the military and the organized government. Renton eventually becomes a member of Gekkostate and at first sight falls in love with a crew member named Eureka and this spirals out to an incredible tale of maturity. The series shows the struggle toward finding one’s individuality  and self worth, both with and without people always being physically there supporting you.

 

While i’m not a huge mecha fan, action romances are my favorite genre, and they in my opinion are far too rare. Inuyasha and chrono crusade, my favorite anime and manga respectively have elements akin to Eureka Seven, but the latter has more flair and futuristic wonder that can only come with the sci fi setting it has. I love when a relationship is battle tested both literally and through experiences the main characters go through. Eureka is not typical on any sense and Renton struggles to understand both himself and a girl who possesses great power and a sense of mystery. His emotions are all over the place as he in many ways has to raise himself through life’s struggles.  and One of the most intriguing aspects of romance to me is how the characters act away from one another. How do they think? How do they act? How do they change? Do they grow or fall apart?

Now in Eureka Seven’s case it has those elements in spades, but it is not just one romance but several overlapping ones.  Eureka and Renton are the stars, but my most appreciated the relationships between Holland and Talho as well as Dominic and Anemone.

Holland is the leader of the rebel group and has a tragic past. He is at times brash and unapologetic but is loyal and committed to his crew. His backbone is supported by the tough love of Talho, his second in command. Her tsundere attitude provides comedy at times but the show has several scenes dedicated to her expressing her true feelings although she does have difficulties expressing them to the man she loves most, Holland.

Anemone is, for the majority of the show, a major antagonist used by the military as a weapon. She is looked after by Dominic, a young but high ranking military official who seems to have an unrequited love of Anemone and hates how she is used as a tool. Anemone denies needing Dominic and treats him like crap a lot of the time but just as the show also develops  Renton and Eureka’s relationship, we see how being apart affects Dominic and Anemone as well. Anemone slowly realizes she at times is not strong and needs Dominic who supports her no matter the cost.  

The relationships in this show felt real.  You do not always understand everything about your partner in life, but you do your best to support them and be there when they need you, and these characters did that. None of the romances are perfect, and I loved that.

Eureka seven is a journey. I wouldn’t say it’s perfect for everyone, the journey is long with a slow start, and the sci fi element can get a little convoluted at times but it successfully throws genres and character archetypes onto what became an amazing roller coaster ride. I wish I could see this show back when I was closer to Renton’s age and I wish time were infinite that way the ride wouldn’t end.  

  • Thanks for reading, – Miasma