Kobayakawa Sena is a freshman in high school. Despite his previous decisions to change his life, he finds himself in the exactly same place he was in during elementary school and junior high: a push over and an errand boy. However, this changes when Hiruma, the most feared person in his school and president of the American Football Club, notices Sena and forces him to join the American Football Team. Now Sena will become Eyeshield 21, a mysterious running back with lighting fast speed.
Number of Chapters Available: 333 [series complete] Score: 5 out of 5
[Eden of the East is an ongoing series showcasing the best from the Land of the East.]
In a nut shell
Eyeshield 21 is your typical sports manga. It over dramatizes the action of the sport it portrays, American Football. You heard right. A Japanese manga about American Football. Amazing isn’t it? Kobayakawa Sena is a hero you can get behind. A person beat on all his life, discovers he has talent. And at first he is not sure of himself and then, slowly as the series progresses, he becomes aware of his own ability. That is the general premise of Eyeshield 21. Not just for Sena. Unlike some other sports mangas, everyone hit’s a wall; a moment when their own skill is no longer enough. This is something I felt was greatly missing in the Prince of Tennis, where there were characters who seemingly came up with new techniques with seemingly no training involved. Which is in stark contrast to Eyeshield 21 where you see how hard the characters labor to become better. Hard work, that’s what the soul of Eyeshield 21 is.
Eyeshield 21 has a standard sports manga pacing. For one, its heavy on the speed lines. I am always impressed on how easily all of the panels seem to flow into each other. I have one main complaint about this manga, and its maybe something to be said about the sports manga genre in general, is the oddity of the passage of time. Its hard to understand how a whole play seemingly takes a whole chapter. Then you come to realize that only 3 yards was gained in the process. It seems a bit much. Maybe that is just me.
This is the big question. How accurate is Eyeshield 21 American Football to actual American Football? Well, that is tough to say. I mean, it is hard to say because of the fact that it is a manga. Mangas have to dramatize things to make them interesting to read. Example, Sena’s trademark move is the Devil Bat Ghost. It is a maneuver in which Sena makes a cut that creates an illusion of himself. He splits in two and passes by his opponent. In actuality, the Devil Bat Ghost is nothing more than a really good cut. This is similar to a lot of moves in Eyeshield 21. However, that is the beauty of the series. There is no magical impossible techniques. Instead in Eyeshield 21 you moves that are real, that are just over dramatized. Like, Apollo’s Shuttle Pass. Its nothing more than a long pass. But how much cooler does Shuttle Pass sound? As for rules, Eyeshield 21 is fairly accurate. There are few things, such as Bud’s Karate Bump and the HaHa Brothers’ Delinquent Deathblow, that can be viewed as unnecessary roughness. Other than that, the series is pretty realistic and true to the sport it idolizes.
Eyeshield 21 has some unique character designs and almost every character is recognizable. From Hiruma’s sharp teeth and elfin ears to Kurita’s inhuman proportioned body, all of the characters have some sort of unforgettable trait. Also, as I mentioned earlier, character development is key to this series. There are two stand out examples. Haruto Sakuraba by the media was herald as the ace of the Ojo White Knights. In actuality, he was far from it. However, as the series continues, through hard work Sakuraba begins to be recognized as one of the top receivers out of all the Japanese American Football clubs, no longer because of his height alone. Hard work, that is how he becomes recognized. For Sena, it is the opposite. Sena was recognized as force to be reckoned with. However, he always had to face the fact that to some players, Sena was nothing but a fraud. He was not the real Eyeshield 21. But bit by bit, Sena becomes recognized as the one worthy of the title of Eyeshield 21. Not only that, but Sena becomes a stronger person in personality. Which, was one of his biggest but most understandable character flaws. His lack of self confidence does not last the entire series, which is appreciated. No one wants to look up to whinny kid with no self confidence.
I am giving Eyeshield 21 a 5 out of 5. Why? No, its not just because I thoroughly enjoyed the series. It is because, in more than few ways, Eyeshield 21 goes against the norms of the sports manga genre. On top of that, it has amazing story telling. The arcs in between football matches were as compelling as their more action filled counter parts. That is key to a series. If no one wants to read the slow parts, then how good is it really?