I’m not going to bother to actually research this, but I’ve got a strong hunch that football isn’t too popular in Japan. Well, the football that we know here as “soccer” is huge there, certainly - - but I’m talking about the American Gridiron variety that get such a hyper-active shonen treatment here in EYESHIELD 21.
Actually, hold on a sec…
Just a little search engine use reveals that there is, in fact, a Japan American Football Federation, and it’s won half of the American Football World Championships.
Well, call me surprised. I only played football in high school - - I never followed it - - and now there’s even more that I apparently didn’t know about it. Who says anime can’t teach you something about the world?
I love sports anime and don’t get to follow them as much as I’d like to on here. In terms of seeing ones inspired by Western sports, I still can’t quite shake off the novelty of watching this like I could for the likes of GIANT KILLING, SLAM DUNK, DIAMOND GIRL and PRINCE OF TENNIS. Putting that aside for a moment, EYESHIELD still bears some distinction among the ones I’ve watched for its greater cartoonishness. Even just the hairstyles make this seem more like some one-off episode of YU-GI-OH where the gang opts to thrown on some pads and cleats.
And, weirdly enough, I think I kind-of like it a little less for that cartoonishness. Don’t get me wrong - - the whole ridiculous touchdown chase that reveals our lead's quarterback abilities is fun and cute. However, the “friendzone” relationship he’s in with the older girl seems less unusual or cleve and more… obfuscating? Maybe it’s just because this isn’t at a precise point on the ABSURD/GROUNDED scale that pleases me, but my gut response is that I’d be down to watch another episode of BAMBOO BLADE over a second episode of this.
And that says something, since I played fooball for four years, but have never picked up a kendo stick in my life.
Watch this episode, "The Man with Lightspeed Legs" here and decide for yourself.