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Eyeshield 21 – Volume 1 (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

May 1, 2010 by  



Japan’s wild, crazy and popular football (American football) anime series finally receives its US release!  What an enjoyable series “Eyeshield 21” has turned out to be! Definitely recommended!

Image courtesy of © Kome Studio-Villiage Studio/Shueisha-TV Tokyo. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Eyeshield 21 – Volume 1

DURATION: 13 Episodes (325 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, Japanese 2.0 Stereo, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks/Section23 Films

RATED: TV PG V

Release Date: May 18, 2010

Originally created by Riichirou Inagaki and Yuusuke Murata

Directed by Masayoshi Nishida

Series Composition by Nobuaki Kishima

Character Design by Hirotoshi Takaya

Art Director: Satoshi Shibata

Music by Ko Otani

Sound Director: Yuuki Matsuoka

Anime Production by Studio Galllaop

Featuring the following voice talent:

Miyu Irino as Sena

Atsushi Tamura as Hiruma

Aya Hirano as Mamori

Kappei Yamaguchi as Raimon Tarou

Kouichi Nagano as Kurita Ryoukan

Rikiya Koyama as Musashi

Shoko Nakagawa as Suzuna

Daisuke Hirakawa as Akaba Hayato

Daisuke Ono as Kengo Mizumachi

Welcome to the gridiron of the damned! Huge hulking bodies throw themselves at each other, while a tiny lithe body runs between them for the goal! No, it’s not a game of football, it’s Sena Kobayakawa trying to evade the monstrous Ha-Ha brothers down the halls of Deimon High School! But wait! Sena’s incredible skills at not getting caught have been spotted by the devilish (possibly actually demonic) captain of the school’s embryonic American style football team, and when Sena asks to be the teams manager, he gets thrust onto the field as a running back instead!

But there are two big catches – first, to keep the identity of their new “star” player an absolute secret, Yoichi makes Sena wear an opaque visor on his helmet and gives him the alias of “Eyeshield 21. And the second catch? Well, in order to hit his fastest “speed of light” running mode, Sena usually has to be absolutely terrified… not that that will be a problem with the monstrous players that he’ll soon find himself running from!

In Japan, American football may not be too popular compared to the international futbol (soccer), but there are a few high schools that have football teams and the NFL does have a game played in Japan, helping to spread the game’s popularity.

But in 2002, writer Riichiro Inagaki and illustrator Yusuke Murata introduced American football to a broader audience through their manga “Eyeshield 21” which has been featured on the very popular Weekly Shonen Jump, has led to several videogames and also a 145-episode anime series  which lasted from 2o05-2008.  With American exposure to “Eyeshield 21” for the translated Shonen Jump manga, now the popular anime series has made it way to American shores courtesy of Section23 Films/Sentai Filmworks with the first volume of “Eyeshield 21” featuring the first 13 episodes.

“Eyeshield 21” revolves around a young teenager named Sena Kobayakawa who has passed his entrance exams at his local high school, Deimon Private Senior High School.  The school where his childhood friend Mamori Anezaki attends.  Both Sena and Mamori are close because all throughout his life, Sena has been bullied and Mamori has been there to protect him.

Living his life as a gopher for other friends, Sena hasn’t had any true friends until he meets the devil-looking Yoichi Hiruma and the very huge Ryokan Kurita who try to get Sena to join their football team.

Of course, Sena doesn’t know how to play football but being the new kid at school, once again, he gets bullied but this time, the huge Kurita ends up taking care of them.  Out for revenge, the bullies start to pick on Sena once again but Sena is sick and tired of getting beaten up and when they go after him, he demonstrates a skill which he has had for a long time, speed.  Because Sena has lived his life running away, he is very quick and immediately, Hiruma wants to utilize him on the Deimon High School Devil Bats football team.

Sena just wants to become a team manager but Hiruma wants Sena to be the team’s running back.  And because Hiruma wants to make sure that no one can steal him for their high school, he plans on a disguise that no one but he, Sena and Kurita will know and that is putting an eyeshield on a football helmet and giving Sena a #21 jersey and the nickname “Eyeshield 21”.

Now the three are determined to find more players to join the Devil Bats and getting closer to their goal into making it to the high school football tournament championship round.

The main characters of “Eyeshield 21” are:

  • Sena Kobayakawa – The main character.  Short, shy and clumsy.  Has been bullied throughout his life and now wants to stand up for himself.  Especially since he has made friends on the Deimon High School football team.  So, outside of football, he is seen as the manager, but when he’s on the football field and disguised as Eyeshield 21, he is a running back that dazzles the audience with his impressive speed.
  • Mamori Anezaki – Sena’s childhood friend and a girl who has always protected him when he was getting bullied.  Scared that Sena is hanging out with Hiruma and team, she decides to become a manager of the team alongside with him and oblivious that Sena is disguised as Eyeshield 21.
  • Yoichi Hiruma – The captain and quarterback with devlish looks and is always up to something that is typically up to no good.  Either gaining intel on people at school, taking care of his devil dog Cerberus or trying to make his football team better by pushing them.
  • Ryokan Kurita – Despite his huge size and being a great lineman, he is also shy, softspoken and kind.  Also, loves to eat a lot!
  • Tarao Raimon (Monta) – Had dreams of becoming a baseball player but when the Deimon High School baseball teams kicks him off, the football team utilizes his fantastic catching skills and makes him a wide receiver.  Has  a monkey-like appearance.
  • The Ha-Ha Brothers – Bullies who are constantly tormenting Sena, Hiruma blackmails them into joining the football team.

Here is a brief spoilerless summary of episodes 1-13 for “Eyeshield 21” included on two DVD’s:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 1 – Sena is admitted to Deimon High School and is bullied but his new friends of the Devil Bats football team defend him.  Sena’s true skill is shown to Hiruma.
  • EPISODE 2 – Hiruma wants to test out Sena’s speed and see how fast he can actually run.  The team must recruit more teammates.
  • EPISODE 3 – The Deimon High School Devil Bats take on the Koigahama Cupids football team.
  • EPISODE 4 – The Devil Bats must now prepare for their next game against the Oujou White Knights.
  • EPISODE 5 – The Deimon High School Devil Bats vs. the Oujou White Knights.
  • EPISODE 6 – The Oujou White Knights has Shin, the star linebacker who is quick and has been able to stop Sena despite his quick speed.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 7 – With Shin stopping Sena, Sena and team must find a way to get past him.
  • EPISODE 8 – With the Devil Bats far behind against the White Knights, Hiruma feels like quitting.  Can Sena convince Hiruma to stay in the game.
  • EPISODE 9 – Sena meets Raimon Tarou (Monta) who has tremendous catching skills and wants to play for the baseball team but Sena tries to recruit him to the football team.
  • EPISODE 10 – Sena goes to apologize to Sakuraba after what took place during the Devil Bats and White Knights game.
  • EPISODE 11 – The team must plan for their next game…the thug football team – Zokugaku Chameleons.
  • EPISODE 12 – Deimon Devil Bats vs. Zogaku Chameleons
  • EPISODE 13 – The Devil Bats must find a way for their offense to defeat the Chameleons defense.

VIDEO:

“Eyeshield 21 – Volume 1” is presented in 4:3. Because the series is a comedy, character designs range from being detailed to being simple, depending on the scene. But there is a good amount of detail on the backgrounds at times but the main focus are on the characters and at times you will see really beautiful drawn images, to simplistic images but it captures the wild and crazy style of “Eyeshield 21”.  For the most part, the anime series compliments the manga series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Eyeshield 21 – Volume 1” is in Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0. Voice acting is well-done and for the most part, the audio is clear. For a more immersive soundscape, I chose to have my receiver set with stereo on all channels. But overall, the 2.0 track is good.  Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Eyeshield 21 – Volume 1” features trailers for upcoming Sentai Filmworks releases.

I have been wanting to watch this anime series for the longest time!

In fact, I was figuring it would never come out because sports anime series such as “H2”, “Touch”, “Slam Dunk”, “Captain Tsubasa”, etc. are very popular in Japan but yet in America, but unfortunately there aren’t many anime fans who enjoy sports.

Fortunately, we have seen a few sports anime released in the US in the last several years such as “Prince of Tennis” and “Big Windup!” and now we have “Eyeshield 21”, the popular Shonen Jump football (as in American Football) manga series and the anime series courtesy of Sentai Filmworks.

Similar to other sports anime in which there is an underdog getting involved with sports and displays a tremendous skill, “Eyeshield 21” definitely showcases that into the storyline but with the characters, in this case the team is more like the “Bad News Bears” and with the “The Devil Bats”, the team consists of characters that are just wild and crazy.  Actually, all teams have characters that are wild and crazy and I suppose that is what makes “Eyeshield 21” so interesting and enjoyable.

Also, what I liked about this series is that the main character, Sena, is unlike the usual underdogs of sports series.  Where some underdogs are filled with low self esteem and can seem they are whining nearly every episode, despite being bullied all his life, Sena stands up for himself.  Sure, he has moments where he is unsure he can be successful but by no means is his character whiny or brat-like.  So, for the most part, it’s good to see his transformation to Eyeshield 21.

In terms of pacing, the first 13 episodes of “Eyeshield 21” really gets into the action quickly as we see the Devil Bats taking on three football teams.  There are no filler episodes in this volume at all.  In fact, you get into the action quickly.

As for the characters and their skills, where some sports anime series try to emphasize realism and others focusing on a characters super skills, “Eyeshield 21” leans towards the latter and each member does possess a certain skill which eventually builds as the series progresses.

With this first volume, these episodes are just fun and entertaining but it’s important to let the viewer know that since this is was a popular series in Japan, it was a long running series with over a 140 episodes and with 13 episodes per volume, it’s going to take awhile to complete.

But if you are looking for a sports anime series, “Eyeshield 21” is definitely an anime series worth checking out!   Definitely recommended!

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