Ok, so I left off my last post talking about the main character of Eyeshield 21, Sena. But there are a few other characters deserving of a mention.
There’s this other guy, Raimon Taro (better known as Monta), who also has a good lesson to teach us. He’s a bit of an obnoxious Naruto type but less so, and he illustrates very well one of the topics I’ve mentioned in one of my other post: find something that you have the ability to do. Monta is introduced to the viewer as the ball-boy for Deimon High’s baseball team. Even though he can’t do anything but catch (and seriously, he’s bad at everything else), he’s hopeful that his hard work will eventually help him to make first string. When his fellow teammates see fit to disabuse him of this hope in a rather unkind manner, it hits Monta hard. He’d set all his hopes and happiness and joy in baseball because he loved the sport and he wanted to be like his baseball idol Honjo Masaru. At first, Monta refuses to be comforted by anyone, assuming he’s a complete and utter failure and that his life is over. Sena finally manages to convince him that his astounding catching skills would be useful on the football field. I like this particular event because I don’t recall having seen it in any other movies/shows, at least not recently.
One of the biggest draws, though, is the sport itself. Who makes an anime about football? And for those like me who know very little about football, such as myself, the little football clinics in the middle of each episode, and the explanations within the series, are helpful. Obviously I take their explanations with a grain of salt (sometimes perhaps a whole shaker), considering that, as with all shonen sports anime, this isn’t totally realistic. The jumps that Monta and Sakuraba make would be harmful in real life. And Kakei (dark and handsome though he is) and Mizumachi are not that tall.
Now, the downsides: anime does rely on hyperbole quite a bit, so this isn’t totally unusual, but Sena’s rival, running back for the Ojo White Knights by the name of Seijuro Shin? HE’S FREAKIN’ OBSESSED WITH FOOTBALL!
Sena enjoys football, is passionate about it, wants to do well, and likes the people he’s met and enjoys playing with them. Shin is intense. He may enjoy being with others but he trains as if all that matters in life is football. (He goes to Mt. Fuji. At night.) Since the show focuses on football, that might seem like the case, but I don’t think that’s the point of the show. Football, more than anything else, seems to be something that helps Sena grow and change, a way for Sena to learn about life. Shin doesn’t seem to learn about life from football–he just seems like a football machine. He’s starting to get on my nerves, in case you couldn’t tell.
The biggest problem with the show is Yoichi Hiruma. He’s the quarterback for the Devil Bats and a bubble-gum chewing, blonde-and-spikey-haired, swearing, abusive, manipulative, gun-toting, blackmailing second-year who wants to get his team to the Christmas Bowl before he has to leave the team in his third year. He wants to make it to the Christmas Bowl with his friend, who just happens to have dropped out of high school and left the team. Now, as much as I admire his dedication, I have a problem with the manipulation, abuse, guns, and blackmail. This is not to say that there aren’t good things about him: he’s got guts, he’s an absolutely brilliant strategist, and he’s good at encouraging people to do their best (although I question his methods). And in some ways you just kind of have to…like him. I don’t know if it’s his charisma or the fact that he’s part of the humor of the show. I’m not going to say much more about him here, because he’s going in one of my other posts. Suffice to say that if a kick to the rear is his way of showing that he’s proud of you, he’s got a bit of a problem.
In sum: if you’re looking for a light-hearted anime to watch, with a few good messages, and you accept that one of its main characters does some pretty bad things but you don’t decide to emulate him, then I think you would enjoy this. (And please pardon my lack of concision and flagrant (ab)use of parentheses.)