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.