Cover of Eyeshield 21 Viz vol. 1
|Genre||Sports, Comedy, Drama|
|Written by||Riichiro Inagaki|
|Illustrated by||Yusuke Murata|
|English publisher||Viz Media|
|Magazine||Weekly Shōnen Jump|
|Original run||July 23, 2002 – June 15, 2009|
|Volumes||37 (List of volumes)|
|Original video animation|
|Eyeshield 21: The Phantom Golden Bowl|
|Directed by||Tamaki Nakatsu|
|Released||September 2003 (Jump Festa Anime Tour)
2004 (Jump Festival)
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Masayoshi Nishida|
|Licensed by||Sentai Filmworks|
|Network||Animax, TV Tokyo|
|English network||Toonami Jetstream Toonami Jetstream, NFL Rush|
|Original run||April 6, 2005 – March 19, 2008|
|Episodes||145 (List of episodes)|
|Original video animation|
|Eyeshield 21: Christmas Bowl e no Michi|
|Anime and Manga Portal|
Eyeshield 21 (アイシールド21 Aishīrudo Nijūichi?) is a Japanese manga series written by Riichiro Inagaki and illustrated by Yusuke Murata. The series tells the story of Sena Kobayakawa, a introvert boy who joined the American football club. Initially he joined the club as secretary, but after being coerced by Hiruma, turns out to play wearing a eyeshield and the number 21, under the pseudonym of “Eyeshield 21”. Riichiro Inagaki chose American football as a central theme for Eyeshield 21 after realizing that it fit perfectly with the idea he had in mind for the series.
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 for Viz Media from April 2005 to October 2011. An anime adaptation consisting of 145 television episodes was directed by Masayoshi Nishida and Shin Katagai, and co-produced by TV Tokyo, NAS, and Gallop. The television series originally aired on Japan’s TV Tokyo network from April 6, 2005 to March 19, 2008. It was later licensed in North America by Toonami Jetstream as a joint effort with NFL Rush and aired on December 17, 2007, but no more episodes was dubbed, as the Toonami Jetstream video-streaming service shut down. The anime series was streamed in English by Crunchyroll. The Eyeshield 21 franchise has spawned two original video animations (OVAs), audio albums, video games, and other merchandise.
In Japan, the Eyeshield 21 manga has been popular, selling over 20 million volumes as of June 2009. The manga and anime have been featured, at various time, in Top Ten of their respective media. The Eyeshield 21 anime has been watched by a large number of television viewers in Japan. Publications for manga, anime and others have commented on Eyeshield 21 manga. Positive response have focused on the artwork and characters from the series, while negative responses concern the non-football scenes.
The plot of Eyeshield 21 revolves around a weak and non-assertive boy named Sena Kobayakawa who enters the high school of his choice, Deimon Private Senior High School, where his childhood friend Mamori Anezaki attended school the year before. His only remarkable physical abilities are his running speed and intense agility, the result of a school life spent complying with the demands of bullies. It was revealed later that a friend, Riku, taught him how to run fast to help him against bullies. His abilities quickly catch the eye of the high school’s American football team captain Yoichi Hiruma, who forces Sena 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 wearing a helmet equipped with a green-tinted eyeshield in order to hide his features under the pseudonym of “Eyeshield 21.” The makeshift team initially takes part in the spring football tournament hoping to win with through the strength of their new “secret weapon.” However, the extremely weak team is eliminated early on by the Ojo White Knights, a powerhouse football team that focuses on defense.
After Deimon’s defeat, the spring tournament is revealed as secondary in importance to the fall tournament, where the teams compete for the chance to play in the “Christmas Bowl,” the high school football league championship. Hiruma, Kurita, and Sena regroup and slowly build a real team from other misfits and students looking to define themselves, such as Tarō “Monta” Raimon, a baseball player who can only catch, and the Ha-Ha Brothers. Other characters slowly join the team, and the series follows the building and growth of the Deimon Devil Bats and its members as well as various rival teams as they all strive to achieve their goal of playing in the Christmas Bowl.
Following the Christmas Bowl, Japan begins to gather the best football players to form a team that will represent Japan at the American Football Youth World Championship, where an MVP will be rewarded an NFL contract and $3 million. Team Japan manages to make it to the final against Team America. The result is that a final touchdown by Sena at the buzzer ties the score, and both teams are declared winners, since no one expected anyone to win against America; however, the two teams are unsatisfied with this and tear straight back onto the field for their own improvised “overtime,” causing chaos with officials. It is unclear which teams won the unofficial extra period but Panther of Team America won the MVP trophy aloft, winning the pro contract with the San Antonio Armadillos.
The series concludes with Sena becoming the captain of the Devil Bats when Hiruma and Kurita go off to college. In his final year of high school, Sena is invited to Notre Dame High School by Clifford, therefore fulfilling Hiruma’s proclamation at the beginning of the series: the famous Eyeshield 21 of Notre Dame High has been born. All of the main characters are shown in the final chapter to be in college or playing amateur-league football while maintaining a job.
Before the series starts to be published regularly in the Weekly Shōnen Jump, Inagaki and Murata published two one-shots, called Eyeshield Part 1 (前編 Zenpen?) and Part 2 (後編 Kōhen?) for 14th and 15th issue of the magazine. Despite having never played American football, Riichiro Inagaki chose this theme after deciding that he wanted to create “a protagonist that was wimpy at the beginning, yet could perform outstandingly in a sports game” and with this premise in mind he decided that American football would be “a very suitable material.” When originally creating Eyeshield 21 he said he was wary because he didn’t want that his manga becoming “a simulator of football”. Inagaki said that Eyeshield 21 is set in Tokyo, specifically, “but perhaps not in the center of the city—more in the suburbs.” He added that this is “not very significant” and that aspects of the hometowns of the two creators are reflected in the setting.
During the Eyeshield 21′s original run in the Weekly Shōnen Jump, Inagaki went several times to the United States. He went to see college football matches; he went to a space center for some reference materials that would serve as the basis for creating the Nasa Aliens. He went also too a military base as he needed to draw one when the Hiruma’s background is revelead and watching a NFL game he noted that the players “passed an intimidating and powerful sensation” and said that they “were facing dinosaurs”, and created Rikiya Gao.
Before being asked to work in Eyeshield 21 manga, Yusuke Murata had read some Inagaki’s manga and noted that “had many cool design concepts of uniforms and equipment” and he stated “it could be turned into a great manga story”, and he will “be happy to take the challenge”; eventually he was chosen. While illustrated chapters, Murata was used to make a lot of mistakes and his pollen allergy used to hurt him because whenever he made a mistake he inhaled dust from eraser. To drawn the characters’ sketchs before sending them to the publisher, he used a mechanical pencil, which he considered special because it was given to him by Masanori Morita.
The Eyeshield 21 manga series was written by Riichiro Inagaki and illustrated by Yusuke Murata and originally serialized by Shueisha in the Japanese magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump from July 2002 to June 2009. The manga consists of 333 chapters spanning 37 tankōbon (collected volumes) with the first one being released on December 20, 2002 and the last one released on October 2, 2010. Eyeshield 21 has also been published as part of the Shueisha Jump Remix series of magazine-style books. Fourteen volumes were released between July 28, 2010 and February 14, 2011. An English translation of the Eyeshield 21 manga was serialized in North America by Viz Media under the Shonen Jump Advanced label.
Original video animations
Two original video animations (OVA) based on the Eyeshield 21 manga series were developed. The first one, named The Phantom Golden Bowl (幻のゴールデンボウル Maboroshi no Gōruden Bouru?), being developed by Production I.G and shown in Jump Festa Anime Tour on September 2003 and in Jump Festa 2004. The second OVA, with the subtitle Christmas Bowl e no Michi – Minami no Shima de Tokkun da! YA-HA!! – (アイシールド21 クリスマスボウルへの道 〜南の島で特訓だ! YA-HA-!!〜?), was shown in Jump Festa 2005. The two OVAs, were later released on DVD. The first was released along with the second OVA of Naruto in a compilation called Jump Festa 2004 Super DVD. The other were released as an extra track in the sixth DVD of Eyeshield 21 by Bandai Visual.
The Eyeshield 21 anime adaptation was co-produced by TV Tokyo, NAS, and Gallop and directed by Masayoshi Nishida until the episode 103 and by Shin Katagai from there. The series, consisting of 145 television episodes, aired from April 6, 2005 to March 19, 2008 on TV Tokyo in Japan. The English dub aired on the free on-demand Toonami Jetstream as a joint effort with NFL Rush on December 17, 2007, but was dropped before its completion, video-streaming service shut down. In December 2008, the video streaming service Crunchyroll announced that they would begin to stream Eyeshield 21 on their site on January 2, 2009 by offering the first eight episodes for free while providing a Higher quality ad-free version for paid members. As of November 2009, all 145 English subtitled episodes have been uploaded to Crunchyroll website. The English subtitles and translation is produced by MX Media LLC On February 26, 2010, Section23 Films had announced that Sentai Filmworks has received the license to the anime and will be released on subtitled-only DVD, May 18, 2010. In Japan, Bandai Visual distributes the anime in DVD format. A total of thirty-six volumes were released between July 26, 2006 and June 26, 2007.
Konami appears to have the rights to produce Eyeshield 21 games for Sony video game systems. They have released Eyeshield 21: Portable Edition (アイシールド21 Portable Edition?) for the PlayStation Portable on March 2, 2006 and Eyeshield 21: Let’s Play American Football! Ya! Ha!! (アイシールド21 アメフトやろうぜ! YA-! HA-!!?) for the PlayStation 2 on December 22, 2005. Nintendo secured the rights to the Eyeshield 21 video game license for their systems in December 2004. They have released Eyeshield 21: MAX Devil Power for the Nintendo DS on February 2, 2006 and Eyeshield 21: Devilbats Devildays for the Game Boy Advance on April 6, 2006. Another game was scheduled for release on the Nintendo GameCube, but it was later canceled. Nintendo published an Eyeshield 21 game for the Wii, entitled Eyeshield 21: The Field’s Greatest Warriors (アイシールド21 フィールド最強の戦士たち Aishīrudo 21: Fīrudo Saikyō no Senshi Tachi?). It was released in Japan on March 8, 2007. Two non-football games have featured characters from the series, both on the Nintendo DS: Jump Super Stars and Jump Ultimate Stars. Various Devil Bats as well as Shin and Sakuraba from the White Knights appear in support cameos.
As of 2009, Eyeshield 21 manga has sold more than 20 million copies in Japan alone; individual volumes frequently appeared on the lists of best-selling manga there. ICv2 has listed it as the top manga property from North America several times. In 2011, the Japanese website Ameba conducted a “Top 10” online web poll of the “Best Shōnen Jump Manga of the 21 Century” and Eyeshield 21 placed seventh, although in another pool that asks what good titles of Shonen Jump the readers dropped reading, Eyeshield 21 ranked 20th. As well as several sports anime and manga influence your readers to practice certain sport, Eyeshield 21 has exponentially increased the number of Japanese teens playing American football.
Critical response to the Eyeshield 21 manga has generally been positive. Carlo Santos from Anime News Network stated the manga would be a “typical sports story” but the “well-defined cast of characters and strong artwork” pushes the series above average. He also commented that “anyone who’s ever found actual American football boring… may change their minds after seeing the action sequences in Eyeshield 21.” Eyeshield 21 was considered the Best Continuing Shōnen Manga of 2007 for Deb Aoki from About.com, along with Bleach, praising the “well-written characters, dynamic artwork, nail-biting cliffhangers” and “a winning mix of comedy, action and drama”. The humor was praised for Jarred Pine from Mania Entertainment as it can “ranges from outrageous slapstick to more subtle background gags”. He also stated the humor is a “scripted humor” and that the creators can “bring out the energy and excitement of the game for the readers”. Carlos Santos did another review, this time not so favorable, he said Eyeshield 21 uses “a lot of familiar clichés” and that the storyline becomes “a sloppy job”, making it “even less believable than it already is”. Writing for School Library Journal, June Shimonishi praised Murata’s artwork, saying the art “is similar to Akira Toriyama’s style, with every inch filled with details and no gag left unseen” and said that Eyeshield 21 delivers “all the standard sports cliché.” Zac Bertschy from Anime News Network commented that Eyeshield 21 “defies convention” and manages “a really ridiculously bad idea” into “something most everyone would be able to enjoy.”
The anime adaptation featured several times in the Japanese TV ranking, with the first episode having a rating of 7.5. In 2006, Japanese television network TV Asahi conducted a poll for the top one hundred anime, and Eyeshield 21 placed 47th. Daniel Marks, Senior Vice President, Strategy & Business Development from Viz Media said that one of the main reasons to bring Eyeshield 21 for the United States was that the series is “an action-packed drama with a positive message, teaching the importance of teamwork, overcoming obstacles and having goals”.
The anime adaptation of Eyeshield 21 has received positive and mixed responses. Bobby Cooper from DVD Talk praised how the rules of American football is “explained to a foreign audience that has no clue what it’s all about”, adding that instructions at the commercial breaks “were informative and similar to the Go lessons of Hikaru No Go.” He also said the explanations was “hilarious”, but that “Eyeshield 21 is an excellent introduction to football”. The on-field action was also praised, with he saying the sports action is “where Eyeshield 21 truly shines”, although he criticized the scenes away from the football field, “the pacing slows to a crawl and the storyline gets a little boring”. Erin Finnegan from Anime News Network noted this too, and she said the non-football game episodes “suffer from Initial D syndrome.” In another review, Finnegan stated “football is hard to understand, but Eyeshield 21 explains the Byzantine rules as it goes in an entertaining way.” Chris Beveridge from Mania Entertainment said that Eyeshield 21 has “a good solid story idea, showing a young man finding his way through sports by finding friends and realizing he has potential, but it’s so sidelined so often that it’s frustrating to see it deal with situations as it does.”