Friday, November 29, 2013

Rewind: Eyeshield 21

Eyeshield 21 taught me most of what I know about football. That's no surprise, since I can say the same thing about The Prince of Tennis and tennis or Chihayafuru and karuta. In the middle of each episode, framing the commercial break, there's a "football clinic," where a character gives the audience information about everything from how to score points to what a tight end is. It's very educational.

Sena races past an opponent that managed to get him
not just to be angry, but fierce. It was an impressive feat.
Like many shounen anime, Eyeshield 21 mixes suspense and character growth with utter silliness. I enjoyed all 145 episodes when I saw it a couple years ago, but only because I knew better than to take it too seriously. Every character's main traits are exaggerated. The main character, Sena, is a weakling who can run ridiculously fast, a result of years of running from bullies. His team's captain, Hiruma, is a delinquent who runs the high school through intimidation and blackmail. Hiruma has a locker full of guns and always has one on hand to use as convenient. Mamori, Sena's older childhood friend, is ridiculously over protective of him. I barely even know where to start with her, actually. Of all the "childhood friend" characters I've met over the past four years, she's probably the most annoying. Step back and let Sena be a man, for heaven's sake! Scratch that, just give him enough room to breathe. That alone would be an improvement!

The list goes on. Physical and personality traits alike are ridiculous in scope, and you have to accept that in order to enjoy the comedy. Same goes for setting and plot.

I laughed a lot as I watched, but that's not all that kept me interested. I wanted Sena and his team to succeed. I wanted them to grow, to exceed their limits, and to overcome their opponents. I wanted to watch Sena catch up to rival running backs and leave them in the dust. Episodes ended mid-game, leaving me in suspense, and I quickly clicked on the next one.

More came from Eyeshield 21 than humor and suspense. Even the silliest sports anime naturally lends itself to musings about diligence. I ended up using Eyeshield 21 as an example in the second half of this blog post, although I hadn't set out to write about anime. It spurred continued reflection and sports anime analogies, so I had to post the rest of my musings next day, in a post called "Perseverance and Sports Anime." These anime helped me to process something about myself that I already knew, but hadn't dealt with.

It's difficult for me to outright recommend Eyeshield 21. The animation isn't anything special. Nor is the story, for that matter. From what I remember, it's simply fun. If you loved The Prince of Tennis, you'll probably enjoy Eyeshield 21. It has a lot of similarities, which I outlined in my recommendation on Anime-Planet. Beyond that, there's little to say.

1 comment:

  1. I've always wanted to see this story, being a big football fan. But 145 episodes is too much of a commitment for me.


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