Eyeshield 21 is a Japanese manga series 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 a 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 subject of Eyeshield 21 after realizing that it fit perfectly with his idea 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. An anime adaptation consisting of 145 television episodes was directed by Masayoshi Nishida, and co-produced by TV Tokyo, NAS, and Gallop. The television series first aired on Japan's TV Tokyo network from April 6, 2005 to March 19, 2008. The Eyeshield 21 franchise has spawned two original video animations, audio albums, video games, and other merchandise.
In North America, the manga was released by Viz Media from April 2005 to October 2011. The anime series was later licensed in North America by Toonami Jetstream as a joint effort with Viz Media, and aired on December 17, 2007 on its site, but before its completion, the streaming service was shut down. The whole series was streamed in English by Crunchyroll, while Sentai Filmworks licensed the series, with distribution from Section23 Films on DVDs.
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Kobayakawa Sena is a little guy who always get picked on by the bullies in school. Since elementary school, he always play the role of the 'errand boy' to the extent that he has become swift and fast in his movements. Coincidentally, Hiruma Youichi and Kurita Ryukan are looking for a fast running back for their American Football team (Amefuto) and want to put Sena in the team. To hide their new 'star' player from the eyes of other High Schools, Hiruma encases Sena in a Amefuto helmet with a dark visor and name him Eyeshield #21.
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I admit that I had zero knowledge about American football before reading the manga that this series was based on. Yet it intrigued me almost immediately and helped me familiarize myself with the sport. The main factor that allows it to achieve this effect was the likable and hilarious characters. They're all weird, goofy, and funny, yet not annoying like many other manga characters. Seeing them interacting with each other is really cute and heart-warming. I also like how the teams all have fun an distinctive themes that they base their plays around, since it makes every game more memorable. These strong points are mostly retained in the anime, though I feel the Japanese voice-over is too tame for some of the larger-than-life characters (like Hiruma).nnHowever, my main complaint is about the art quality. The original manga has its art done by Yusuke Murata (also known for One Punch Man), a manga artist that I personally think is the best currently, yet this series doesn't really show his brilliance. The characters seem much less expressive than they are in the manga and their movements are limited due to the low frame rate and constant animation recycling. Overall, the art in this anime just feels very lazy, which is especially bad for a series about sports.nnAlso, like its manga, the anime includes a few silly filler episodes that serve no real purpose and I personally think should have been left out.
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