Eyeshield 21 (アイシールド21 Aishīrudo Nijūichi?) is a manga about American football written by Riichiro Inagaki and illustrated by Yusuke Murata. It has been adapted into an anime movie in 2004 (shown at Jump Festa), an anime television series in 2005, several video games and a trading card game from Konami. The manga is serialized in Shueisha's Weekly Shōnen Jump. The manga is published in English by Viz Media.
The anime version, produced by NAS and animated by Studio Gallop, premiered across Japan on TV Tokyo from April 6, 2005, and ended March 19, 2008 with episode 145. The anime is sponsored by NFL Japan. The English dub aired on the free on-demand Toonami Jetstream as a joint effort with NFL Rush on December 17, 2007, but no more episodes will be dubbed, as the deal with NFL Rush fell through in 2008. It has subsequently been picked up for broadcast on Crunchyroll in a subtitled format. It is also aired in Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Philippines and South Korea.
The plot of Eyeshield 21 revolves around a weak and non-assertive boy named Sena Kobayakawa who enters the high school of his choice, Deimon Private Senior High School, where his childhood friend Mamori Anezaki attended school the year before. His only remarkable physical abilities are his running speed and intense agility, the result of a school life spent complying with the demands of bullies. It was revealed later that a friend, Riku, taught him how to run fast to help him against bullies. His abilities quickly catch the eye of the high school's American football team captain Yoichi Hiruma, who forces Sena to join the Deimon Devil Bats as its running back.
To protect his identity to prevent other teams in the school from recruit him for his speed, Sena is forced to publicly assume the role of team manager and enter the field wearing a helmet equipped with a green-tinted eyeshield in order to hide his features under the pseudonym of "Eyeshield 21". The makeshift team initially takes part in the spring football tournament hoping to win with through the strength of their new "secret weapon." However, the extremely weak team is eliminated early on by the Ojo White Knights, a powerhouse football team that focuses on defense.
After Deimon's defeat, the spring tournament is revealed as secondary in importance to the fall tournament, where the teams compete for the chance to play in the "Christmas Bowl", the high school football league championship. Hiruma, Kurita, and Sena regroup and slowly build a real team from other misfits and students looking to define themselves, such as Tarō Raimon, a baseball player who can only catch, and the three Ha-Ha Brothers. Other characters slowly join the team, and the series follows the building and growth of the Deimon Devil Bats and its members as well as various rival teams as they all strive to achieve their goal of playing in the Christmas Bowl.
Following the Christmas Bowl, Japan begins to gather the best football players to form a team that will represent Japan at the American Football Youth World Championship, where an MVP will be rewarded an NFL contract and $3 million. Team Japan manages to make it to the final against Team America. The result is that a final touchdown by Sena at the buzzer ties the score, and both teams are declared winners, since no one expected anyone to win against America; however, the two teams are unsatisfied with this and tear straight back onto the field for their own improvised "overtime," causing chaos with officials. The USA team is shown to have won this extra period as Sena reflects on the past three years in the final chapter; Panther of Team America is carried shoulder-high as he holds the MVP trophy aloft, winning the pro contract with the San Antonio Armadillos.
The series concludes with Sena becoming the captain of the Devil Bats when Hiruma and Kurita go off to college. In his final year of high school, Sena is invited to Notre Dame High School by Clifford, therefore fulfilling Hiruma's proclamation at the beginning of the series: the famous Eyeshield 21 of Notre Dame High has been born. All of the main characters are shown in the final chapter to be in college or playing amateur-league football while maintaining a job.
Inagaki said that Eyeshield 21 is set in Tokyo, specifically, "but perhaps not in the center of the city—more in the suburbs." He added that this is "not very significant" and that aspects of the hometowns of the two creators are reflected in the setting.
Eyeshield 21 has been collected into more than 35 tankōbon; spanning 333 chapters, or 'Downs', they were all numbered until the final episode, which was named 'Touch Down'. The series will total 37 volumes when fully collected into tankōbon form, the final volume due to be published October 2009. The story within the manga continues past the end of the anime, which ended after the D-Bats' Kantou semi-final against Oujou. Eyeshield 21 has been published in the U.S. by Viz Media under the Shonen Jump Advanced label.
Eyeshield 21 began airing in Japan in April 6, 2005, with its last episode broadcast on March 19, 2008. It spanned a total of 145 episodes with two OAVs. The series ended with the match against Ojo White Knights during the competition for the Christmas bowl. The English dub aired on the free on-demand Toonami Jetstream as a joint effort with NFL Rush on December 17, 2007, but was dropped before its completion. In December 2008, the video streaming service Crunchyroll announced that they would begin to stream Eyeshield 21 on their site on January 2, 2009 by offering the first eight episodes for free while providing a Higher quality ad-free version for paid members. As of November 2009, all 145 English subtitled episodes have been uploaded to Crunchyroll website. A message from Crunchyroll appears on the official Eyeshield 21 home site stating: " We are currently rolling out ES21 as fast as we can. Unfortunately, we are unable to have a regular release schedule so please check back often for new episodes!" The English subtitles and translation is produced by MX Media LLC  On February 26, 2010, Section23 Films had announced that Sentai Filmworks has received the license to the anime and will be released on subtitled-only DVD, May 18, 2010.
Konami appears to have the rights to produce Eyeshield 21 games for Sony video game systems. They have released Eyeshield 21: Portable Edition (アイシールド21 Portable Edition?) for the PlayStation Portable in March 2, 2006 and Eyeshield 21: Let's Play American Football! Ya! Ha!! (アイシールド21 アメフトやろうぜ! YA-! HA-!!?) for the PlayStation 2.
Nintendo secured the rights to the Eyeshield 21 video game license for their systems in December 2004. They have released Eyeshield 21: MAX Devil Power (アイシールド21 MAX DEVILPOWER!?) for the Nintendo DS in February 2, 2006 and Eyeshield 21: Devilbats Devildays (アイシールド21 DEVILBATS DEVILDAYS?) for the Game Boy Advance in April 6, 2006. Another game was scheduled for release on the Nintendo GameCube, but it was later canceled.
Nintendo published an Eyeshield 21 game for the Wii, entitled Eyeshield 21: The Field's Greatest Warriors (アイシールド21 フィールド最強の戦士たち Aishīrudo 21: Fīrudo Saikyō no Senshi Tachi?). It was released in Japan on March 8, 2007.
Two non-football games have featured characters from the series, both on the Nintendo DS: Jump Super Stars and Jump Ultimate Stars. Various Devil Bats as well as Shin and Sakuraba from the White Knights appear in support cameos.
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The twenty five volumes have collectively sold over 16 million copies in Japan, and the number of children playing American football has almost doubled in the four years since it began. Deb Aoki from About.com considered the series as the Best Continuing Shōnen Manga of 2007, along with Bleach, praising the "well-written characters, dynamic artwork, nail-biting cliffhangers" and "a winning mix of comedy, action and drama".
- "Eyeshield 21". Viz Media. Retrieved 2008-10-19.
- Shonen Jump. Volume 4, Issue 2. February 2006. VIZ Media. 15.
- "Eyeshield 21 The Field's Greatest Warriors". Bozon. Retrieved 2008-10-19.
- Mainichi: American Football Popularity on the Rise
- Aoki, Deb (2007). "2007 Best Continuing Manga List — Top 10 Current Manga Series of 2007". About.com. Retrieved December 13, 2008.
- Eyeshield - official site (Japanese)
- TV Tokyo's Official Eyeshield 21 site (Japanese)
- Animax's official Eyeshield 21 website (Japanese)
- Eyeshield 21 (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia