How I got to understand american football by watching Eyeshield 21.
If you're a close friend or family, you would know I don't care for American Football. Whenever my buddies and I get together and they change the channel to ESPN ( Entertainment and Sports Programming Network) , I get dizzy from nausea and I am suddenly overcome with a strong need to cut the meeting short. I don't know what it is, but something about watching most sports (except UFC) drains me of energy. I'd rather play sports than watch sports.Watching sports numbs my mind. I have nothing invested in the participants or the event itself, so it feels like a colossal waste of time to me.
American football is one of my least favorite sports, both to play and to watch. I hate playing american football because I tore my ACL playing it for the very first time! If you have ever torn an ACL, you would know that the pain is something you don't forget. It also doesn't help that I have very little understanding of the game. So even while watching it, I have no idea what the heck is going on. The only thing I get, is the moment a touch down has occurred. I don't even know what most of the players on the field are called, or what their primary duties are.
Interestingly enough, I noticed something rather odd. This oddity is the fact that lately, I have been watching a lot of sports related anime LOL. Currently I am keeping an eye out for every new episode of Hajime No Ippo that comes out on Crunchyroll. And when the next episode is another seven days away, I tend to sift through the sports themed anime collections in Crunchyroll. One that I was hesitant to check out but finally figured I'd give a try, was Eyeshield 21.
Eyeshield 21 is about a rather timid main character Sena, whose only redeeming quality is his ridiculous agility and speed. He reluctantly agrees to join the football team at the behest of the team's resourceful captain Hiruma, who saw his hidden potential. Over time his participation in american football allowed him to grow and mature into a dependable character. But all that stuff isn't really what attracted me to the show. If you've read my previous post, There needs to be an anime show about Chess, you'll see that I really appreciate the detail in the story telling. Not just the story, but the way the story, however weak it maybe, is told. And Eyeshield 21 is no different, it delves greatly into a lot of strategies in football. They even have segments just to educate the audience on football. Then there is that classic anime exaggeration of the most mundane thing. The main character Sena is a rather fast runner by human standards. So keeping in mind that he is fast by average human standards, the animators still manage to make his sprints appear like Shinigami Shumpo or Hollow Sonido (I am assuming you've seen Bleach). Hilariously dramatic but very entertaining non the less.
caption: Wasn't able to find a Japanese version. :(
Having encompassed american football in anime, I was able to slowly understand football. Normally you couldn't get me to maintain focus for more than seven seconds during an actual game. But Eyeshield 21 managed to get me to spend hours watching episodes after episodes and learning a lot about football while doing so. Eyeshield 21 shows off different characters who played different positions on the field and surrounded them with the usual depth anime gives their characters. For example you have the protagonist's rival Shin, who plays the linebacker position. He is just as fast and tremendously strong. He also represents Sena's ultimate challenge. There are episodes where they duel in the context of american football. In classic anime fashion, the linebacker and the running back have a football style duel of speed. Awesome stuff.
This duel and race to the championship, makes Eyeshield 21 a very entertaining sports themed anime. If you haven't seen it, and you don't mind sitting through a lot of generic story telling, I'd say Eyeshield 21 is a very good watch. There is also the added benefit that whenever I watch it, I feel pumped to hit the gym B-) .
While it hasn't completely cured me of my disdain for the game, it has given me a sense of appreciation for the difficulty and discipline in the game itself.