|December 17, 2007|
Eyeshield 21 is a Japanese anime series based on the manga series of the same name, written by Riichiro Inagaki and illustrated by Yusuke Murata. The series tells the story of Sena Kobayakawa, a introverted boy who joins an American football club as secretary, but after being coerced by Hiruma, turns out to play wearing an eyeshield and the number 21, under the pseudonym of "Eyeshield 21". Inagaki chose American football as a central theme for Eyeshield 21 after realizing that it fit perfectly with his idea for the series.
The Eyeshield 21 anime adaptation was co-produced by TV Tokyo, NAS, and Gallop, and was directed by Masayoshi Nishida. The series of 145 television episodes aired in Japan from April 6, 2005 to March 19, 2008 on TV Tokyo. Initially, Viz Media and Cartoon Network planned to air Eyeshield 21 on "NFL Rush" and on the internet video streaming service Toonami Jetstream, but the anime was eventually posted only on Toonami Jetstream, with the first episode being available on December 17, 2007.
In December 2008, the video streaming service Crunchyroll announced that it would begin to stream Eyeshield 21 on its site on January 2, 2009, offering the first eight episodes for free while providing a higher quality, advertising-free version for paid members. On February 26, 2010, Section23 Films announced that Sentai Filmworks has received the license to the anime and would release the series on subtitled-only DVD on May 18, 2010. In Japan, Bandai Visual distributes the anime in DVD format; thirty-six volumes were released between July 26, 2006 and June 26, 2007.
The manga was originally serialized in Shueisha's Weekly Shōnen Jump from July 2002 to June 2009. The series consists of 333 chapters collected in 37 tankōbon volumes. In North America, the manga was released by Viz Media from April 2005 to October 2011.
The plot of Eyeshield 21 revolves around a weak, unassertive boy named Sena Kobayakawa who enters the high school of his choice—Deimon Private Senior High School. Sena's only remarkable physical abilities are his running speed and agility, which is noted by the school's American football team captain Yoichi Hiruma who forces him to join the Deimon Devil Bats as its running back. To protect his identity from other teams who want to recruit him, Sena is forced to publicly assume the role of team secretary and enter the field under the pseudonym of "Eyeshield 21", wearing a helmet with an eyeshield to hide his features.
The protagonists of the series are part of the Deimon Devil Bats, an American football team based in Deimon Private Senior High School. The Deimon Devil Bats are originally founded by Yoichi Hiruma, Ryokan Kurita, and Musashi under the name of Mao Devil Bats. After its inaugural year, they need to move the team to Deimon. However, its membership was further reduced with the departure of Musashi due the his father's accident. This remains the case until Hiruma discovers Sena Kobayakawa and his amazing running ability.
Sena Kobayakawa — Sena is the protagonist of the Eyeshield 21 series. During his childhood, he was a timid boy who was bullied, and needed to be protected by Mamori Anezaki. Seeing this, Riku Kaitani, a young friend of Sena's, taught him a running technique he referred to as the "explosive run", for Sena to defend himself. However, Sena used this run to become a gopher for others instead of getting rid of bullies. In his first day at Deimon High School, he is chased by three bullies known as The Ha-Ha Brothers and his speed is discovered by Hiruma, who literally forces him into joining the football team at Deimon.
Yoichi Hiruma — Yoichi is the twisted quarterback of the Devil Bats, who is more complex than his devilish face and personality may suggest. He carries multiple firearms at all times and often pulls them out at random in order to threaten others in a comical flurry of bullets. Despite this front of a violent and dangerous hoodlum, Hiruma is a genius in maverick trick plays and mind games, both on and off the field. Along with Kurita and Musashi, he is one of the founders of the Devil Bats. His skills as a quarterback are highly recognized, even by Shin, including making passes with incredibly high RPMs as well as executing extremely convincing play action fakes. Because he has worked with a poor offensive line in his earlier days on the team, he is very good at dodging and feinting incoming tacklers. His specialty off the field is a combination of blackmail and mind games along with a superior intellect, which has effectively allowed him to take control of all of Deimon High, including the faculty.
Ryokan Kurita — Ryokan is the largest and strongest player in the Deimon Devil Bats, Ryokan Kurita is a kind-hearted individual, and the only thing bigger than his body is his heart. He becomes Sena's second friend after entering Deimon High School. He is somewhat dim-witted, nearly giving away Sena's identity as Eyeshield 21, but is immediately silenced by Hiruma (in the manga, he did it by electrocuting Kurita with a stun gun, whereas in the anime, he simply did so by tossing the much larger teammate contradictory to Kurita's overall weight). When playing, Kurita shouts his kiai "Funnuraba!" (Here I come!) when exerting extra effort. His biggest dream is to compete in the Christmas Bowl.
Monta — Monta, whose real name is Taro Raimon, is the primary wide receiver of the Deimon Devil Bats. Although he is short in stature, he has remarkable skill in catching. He is observant, recognizing Sena as Eyeshield 21 the first time he saw Eyeshield 21 in person during a practice. Monta was originally a member of the baseball team, where he was an effective fielder due to his intense focus on catching. However, he was cursed with terrible throwing abilities, making him fail to be on even the backup lineup for the club. When the baseball team explained that they needed balanced players, Monta is approached by Sena and decides to pursue his dream of becoming a master catcher as a football player instead. He is best known for always going into a pose after a catch while yelling "CATCH MAX!" He also adds "Max" to nearly anything he describes while excited or determined. His nickname is Monta, which was initially a mistake by Sena, but later accepted when Hiruma tells Taro that the name "Monta" is a play on the name Joe Montana (though Hiruma later admits that was just a fib).
Mamori Anezaki — Mamori is Sena's overprotective and motherly childhood friend (actually, Mamori's name is meant to be a pun, as her name means protect). Mamori's mother met Sena's mother in a cooking class, and Mamori and Sena have been friends ever since. Her mother is half-Japanese, half-American which makes Mamori 25% American and 75% Japanese. Mamori has been protecting Sena from bullies since primary school, to the point that Sena has grown up never having to stand up for himself. Mamori joined the American Football club to watch over Sena and prevent any bullying by the other members (particularly Hiruma). Despite her joining the American Football club just to protect Sena, she eventually becomes an excellent manager who knows the rules inside and out and makes up strategies for the team.
Other Devil Bats MembersEdit
The Ha-Ha Brothers — The Ha-Ha Brothers are three bullies who initially bossed around Sena on their first day at Deimon but joined the team after Hiruma's blackmailing. Their nickname is from their weird habit of expression, with each one of the trio saying "Ha!?", progressively louder in sequence. The gang is formed by Kazuki Jumonji, considered the group's leader, Koji Kuroki, and Shozo Togano. They are unexpectedly recruited to become linemen for the football team, eventually sticking with the team to prove their toughness both to their superiors as well as to their opponents. They are notably poor and inexperienced at the game when they start out, but their eagerness to prove themselves makes them train vigorously and prove to be very capable linemen.
Manabu Yukimitsu — Manabu is the bench player of the Deimon Devil Bats. He makes his first appearance after watching the Zokugaku vs Deimon exhibition match. He has a big forehead with a prominent widow's peak, which appears consistent with the first signs of male pattern baldness. He initially combs his hair back, emphasising this even more. His mother wants him to be a studious person and makes him study from day till night in addition to going to cram school (even his name means "learn"). Yukimitsu has missed many festivals and games throughout his childhood and youth, and regrets it terribly. After watching the match between Zokugaku and Deimon, he decides to join the American Football club to fulfill his dreams; to be a winner, to be part of a game, rather than studying all day. He wanted to have sweet memories of his high school that didn't have anything to do with studying, even if he just played once.
Daikichi Komusubi — Daikichi is one of the linemen of the Deimon Devil Bats. His given name of Daikichi means "Good Fortune". His father named him after he had gotten a promotion after his son's birth. Although Daikichi is not very fast nor tall, he makes up for it with his indomitable will and power. He decided to join the Devil Bats after seeing the Zokugaku exhibition match. Daikichi was highly impressed by Kurita's amazing strength and build, and decided that he wanted to become Kurita's "apprentice". He was able to join the team after surviving the Hell Tower qualifying test, beating out the Ha-Ha Brothers. Komusubi has taken to bunking at Kurita's house, and joining Kurita in waking up as early as 2 am to go training. He does not talk much, and apparently speaks (and writes!) only in "Power-Go," or the language of strong men, that only "truly strong men" can understand, which consists mostly of strange grunts and one-word sentences. It is still confusing as to how people like Komusubi's father, Kurita, Deimon's gym teacher, Mizumachi, Gaō of Hakushu, and some of the members of the Nasa Aliens team, can comprehend what he is saying.
Suzuna Taki — Suzuna is a cute blue-haired girl who's always wearing rollerblades. She came to the United States and hitched a ride with one of the bikers of a bike gang. Sena first met her after he got lost halfway through the Death March and was surrounded by a whole lot of American bikers - Sena being Sena, he couldn't really communicate with them. However, one biker mentioned the words "Japanese girl", "Football player", and "Japan", and Sena assumed said biker was talking about Mamori, and immediately went off in search of the aforementioned Japanese girl. The "Japanese girl" term was actually referring to Suzuna, and "Football player" Natsuhiko, her brother. Suzuna was looking for her brother, and in that same respect, met up with the "Football player" assuming that it was Natsuhiko. The bikers then assumed they were boyfriend and girlfriend (cheering them on with "C'mon, hug! Kiss! Hug!"), but the fact was that Suzuna and Sena were not in a relationship. She eventually finds her brother and jumps and rolls her skates across his back while still on her feet as punishment for taking the family savings to fly to America. She also witnesses Sena in action as Eyeshield 21. Later, Suzuna follows the team back to Japan after her brother accepts Sena's offer to join the Devil Bats (he didn't get picked for the American football team he was trying to enter). She then becomes a cheerleader for the Devil Bats even though she's not from Deimon High School.
Doburoku Sakaki — Doburoku first appears during the Beach football match in the United States. He was a coach to Hiruma, Musashi, and Kurita, and taught them how to play American football. Doburoku loves drinking sake; he has many different gourds, all of which look the same, but each contains a different kind of alcoholic beverage. He and Ojo's trainer and coach, Gunpei Shoji, were teammates at Sengoku University's American football team, and were known as "The Twin Japanese Blades", where he played as a tight end.
Natsuhiko Taki — Natsuhiko is a narcissist man with an odd and rather foolish attitude, and is apparently quite oblivious to the silliness of his actions. He was first introduced in the series when Sena met him in the San Antonio stadium (Natsuhiko was trying out for the team there). He has a habit of opening his jacket to bare his pecs, making weird poses like rising up his leg 180 degrees and is often portrayed as a ladies-man. His dream is to become a pro football star, even though he didn't know the rules, nor the positions, stating that he was an all-around super player. He couldn't play American Football in Japan; he wasn't qualified, so he went to America to apply for a position in the San Antonio Team by taking all the savings in his house to fly to America. He failed; however, the coach did praise him on his potential and asked him to try out again after gaining some experience in high school football. Sena passed the pro-tryouts as Eyeshield 21, (though he and the Taki siblings left before his name was announced). Sena, feeling sorry for him, sensed that Natsuhiko had potential and that his talent shouldn't be wasted, asked him to join the Devil Bats back in Japan as a Tight End.
Musashi — Gen Takekura, better known as Musashi, is the place kicker for the Devil Bats and one of the original three members of the team, along with Hiruma and Kurita. He is often mistaken for an older person, since he initially has a bit of stubble and has a buzz-cut. When he finally joins the team, he grows out his hair and shaves. He leaves the team during the spring season of his freshman year, because his father had become seriously ill. As a result, he was forced to drop out of school and take over as the construction foreman of Deimon High. Though he desperately wanted to get back into playing, he refused to rejoin the Devil Bats. However, after meeting with Sena and Monta and seeing how determined they are to get him back on the team, he agrees, but only if they become a strong team. Despite the title of "The 60-yard Magnum" being a lie fabricated by Hiruma to scare the opponents, this arouses the rivalry of Kotaro Sasaki, and it becomes true when Mushashi converts a field goal of 60 meters against the Teikoku Alexanders.
Tetsuo Ishimaru — Tetsuo is the Devil Bats' second running back. Ishimaru was recruited from the track team by Sena who took over half of his paper route for him. He played in the Koigahama match, but was injured due to Sena being unable to discern between the types of cleats. Ishimaru continued to play for the Devil Bats, even though no one notices his presence in the team. However, his obscurity works to his advantage when playing since no one notices when he is handed the ball. Many teams curse to themselves in front of him after the play, usually saying that, "he has no presence", or that, "We didn't notice him". He's the track and field captain, which is why Hiruma usually refers to him as "Track Star".