In honor of NFL’s 50th Superbowl I present a Special Edition of Reintroduction to an anime. As I tend to watch a decent amount of anime I found that, while there’s plenty of sports anime, there’s not much representation of american football, granted the sport isn’t popular in Japan, so Eyeshield 21 tends to stand out in an ‘under the radar’ kind of way.
“Trying without the winning intent is meaningless.”
The Deimon Devil Bats is the American football team representing Deimon Private Senior High School. The team consists of the main protagonists of the Eyeshield 21 series. Initially formed with just three members, the team gains new members across the course of the series, eventually growing into a complete team.
The team’s chant is “Kill’em! YA-HA!”
Sena Kobayakawa (#21)
The main character of Eyeshield 21. Initially a bullied gofer, his speed was discovered by Hiruma as he was literally forced into joining the football team at Deimon. However, he soon grows to love the game he plays as he masters both the Speed of Light Pace and further techniques as he gains the confidence to become a successful player. At different times throughout the anime and the manga, he will often, through emotions, tap into the Speed of Light Pace, but the problem with this is, every time he does that, he will often overextend himself, causing himself to faint.
Yoichi Hiruma (#1)
The twisted quarterback and captain of the Devil Bats, who is deeper than his demonic face may appear. He even carries multiple amount of guns and a homicidal dog named Cerberus. He is cold and calculating on the field, never falling for tricks or mind games that his enemies may attempt. Though he acts cruel and a little crazy, he really does care about his teammates and friends. He is clever at calculating, always coming up with a maverick plan to pull the team out of dire straits. He is also very brilliant, and is the first member of the “Deimon’s Smart Trio”. Along with Kurita and Musashi, he is the one of the founders of the Devil Bats. His skill as a quarterback are highly recognized, even by Shin, including passes with incredibly high RPMs as well as executing extremely convincing play action fakes. Because he has worked with a poor offensive line in his earlier days on the team, he is very good at dodging and feinting incoming tacklers. His specialty off the field is a combination of blackmail and mind games along with superior intellect which has effectively allowed him to take control of all of Deimon High, including the faculty. There have been several allusions to Hiruma being similar to a demon, if not Satan. His dog’s name, his fondness for heat, his constantly present fangs, a general theme of Hell in his training methods, and his love of violence, explosives, and firearms (which he’ll use at a moment’s notice).
Ryokan Kurita (#77)
The largest and strongest player of the Deimon Devil Bats, Ryokan Kurita is a kind-hearted individual, and the only thing bigger than his body is his heart. He becomes Sena’s second friend after entering Deimon High School. He is somewhat dim-witted, nearly giving away Sena’s identity as Eyeshield 21, but was immediately silenced by Hiruma. When playing, Kurita shouts out “Funurghbah!” (Here I come!) when exerting extreme amounts of effort. His biggest dream is to compete in the Christmas Bowl.
Taro Raimon, a.k.a Monta (#80)
The primary wide receiver of the Deimon Devil Bats. Although he is short in stature, he has remarkable skill in catching. He is observant, recognizing Sena as Eyeshield 21 the first time he saw Eyeshield 21 in person during a practice. He is best known for always going into a pose after a catch while yelling “MAXI CATCH!” His nickname is Monta, which was initially a mistake by Sena, but later accepted when Hiruma tells Taro that the name “Monta” is a play on the name Joe Montana (although Hiruma later admits that was just a fib). He is Hiruma’s primary receiving target on the field, and one of Sena’s closest friends on the team. During the second game against Ojo, Raimon discovered his own special ability, the Devil Back-Fire, which his ability to predict Hiruma’s passes due to trajectory and wind interference. This gives him the ability to rush forward at his target, keeping his attention focused and prepared for any tricks, then catch passes from behind him.
The Ha-Ha Brothers
Three bullies who initially bossed around Sena on their first day at Deimon until joining Hiruma’s hit list. When they try to get back at them, they are unexpectedly recruited to become linemen for the football team, eventually sticking with the team to prove their toughness both to their superiors as well as to their opponents. They are notably poor and inexperienced at the game when they start out, but their eagerness to prove themselves makes them train vigorously and prove to be very capable linemen. Their nickname is from their weird habit of expression, with each one of the trio saying “Ha!?”, progressively louder in sequence. Their jersey numbers are: Jumonji – #51, Kuroki – #52, and Togano – #53.
Kazuki Jumonji (#51)
Jumonji is the apparent leader of the group. In some of the episodes including the NASA Aliens game and the Death March, we see him as a leader who urges the other two to follow. He sports an X-shaped scar on his right cheek, which was originally supposed to be used to get Kurita arrested. He is also the only one of the three to figure out that Sena was actually Eyeshield 21. He seems to be the most thoughtful (in a sort of positive way). He always seems to keep the three-some (includes him) together, and is considered the “eldest brother” of the three. He gets fired up a lot. He is also the only one so far of the three to score touchdown, and probably the only one in Deimon Devilbats who has scored touchdowns from defense aside from Sena.
Koji Kuroki (#52)
Kuroki sports dark hair of medium-length with noticeably longer eyelashes than the other two. He seems to be the most violent, and his usual weapon is his metal bat. He suggests that his specialty is to “Strike only once from behind,” and he has claimed himself to be a coward more than once. When playing defense, Kuroki can sometimes play Linebacker. The other two stick to Defensive Line. He seems to be a prodigy at games, whether it be tossing hoops or an arcade game. (In the first book end-of-the-book character introduction, he is shown to be firing a Kikôha as he yells “HUH-DOE-KEN!!!”) In the arcade when Deimon does their final prep work for facing Seibu the first time, Kuroki is shown to be furiously button-mashing, and a player comments that he is unexpectedly good at video games. Out of the three, Kuroki is the most hot-headed, and willing to fall back on his streetfighting skills when his lineman skills fail him. Later, as he and the others become more distinguished as individuals, Hiruma gives him his own nickname, ‘fish mouth’.
Shozo Togano (#53)
Togano has long spiky blonde hair, and constantly wears orange tinted sunglasses. Can usually be seen reading manga. He seems to be the most quiet of the three. Likes Jump, but puts it aside for a while when going to the United States, saying “Sigh, I guess American comics are alright.” Compared to the others, Togano is fairly laid-back, preferring to read his manga, often just going along with what Juumonji and Kuroki want.
Gen “Musashi” Takekura
The place kicker for the Devil Bats and one of the original three members of the team, along with Hiruma and Kurita. He is often mistaken for an older person, since he initially has a bit of stubble and has a buzz-cut. When he finally joins the team, he grows out his hair and shaves. He leaves the team during the spring season of his freshman year, due to the fact that his father had become seriously ill. As a result, he was forced to drop out of school and take over as the construction foreman of Deimon High. Though he desperately wanted to get back into playing, he refused to rejoin the Devil Bats. However, after meeting with Sena and Monta and seeing how determined they are to get him back on the team, he agrees, but only if they become a strong team. In the manga, he makes his comeback during the game against Seibu, when his father hit him for abandoning his team. In the anime, he does not rejoin the team until the game with the Bando Spiders. He has a one-sided rivalry with the kicker of the Spiders, Kōtarō Sasaki, who according to Hiruma, has NEVER missed
Daikichi Komusubi (#55)
Komusubi is one of the linemen of the Deimon Devil Bats. His given name of Daikichi means ‘Good Fortune.’ His father named him after he had gotten a promotion after his son’s birth. Though Daikichi is not very fast nor tall, but he makes up for it with his indomitable will and power. He decided to join the Devil Bats after seeing the Zokugaku exhibition match. Daikichi was highly impressed by Kurita’s amazing strength and build, and decided that he wanted to become Kurita’s “apprentice”. He was able to join the team after surviving the Hell Tower qualifying test, beating out the Ha-Ha Brothers. Komusubi has taken to bunking at Kurita’s house, and joining Kurita in waking up as early as 2AM to go training. He does not talk much, and apparently speaks (and writes!) only in the language of strong men, that only “truly strong men” can understand, which consists mostly of strange grunts and one-word sentences. It is still confusing as to how people like Komusubi’s father, Kurita, Deimon’s gym teacher, Mizumachi, Gaō of Hakushu, and some of the members of the Nasa Aliens team, can comprehend what he is saying. (It should be noted that Mamori seems to be able to understand him as well.)
Natsuhiko Taki (#37)
A man with an odd and rather foolish attitude, and is apparently quite oblivious to the silliness of his actions. He was first introduced in the series when Sena met him in the San Antonio stadium (Natsuhiko was trying out for the team there). He has a habit of opening his jacket to bare his pecs, making weird poses like rising up his leg 180 degrees and is often portrayed as a ladies-man. His dream is to become a pro football star, even though he didn’t know the rules, nor the positions, stating that he was an all-around super player. He couldn’t play American Football in Japan; he wasn’t qualified, so he went to America to apply for a position in the San Antonio Team by taking all the savings in his house to fly to America. He failed; however, the coach did praise him on his potential and asked him to try out again after gaining some experience in high school football. Sena, feeling sorry for him, sensed that Natsuhiko had potential and that his talent shouldn’t be wasted, asked him to join the Devil Bats back in Japan as a Tight End. He manages to qualify as a Devil Bats team member after undergoing the rest of the Death March.
Manabu Yukimitsu (#16)
Yukimitsu is the bench player of the Deimon Devil Bats. He makes his first appearance after watching the Zokugaku vs Deimon exhibition match. He has a big forehead with a prominent widow’s peak, which appears consistent with the first signs of male pattern baldness. He initially combs his hair back, emphasising this even more. His mother wants him to be a studious person and makes him study from day till night in addition to going to cram school (even his name means “study”). Yukimitsu has missed many festivals and games throughout his childhood and youth, and regrets it terribly. After watching the match between Zokugaku and Deimon, he decides to join the Japanese Football club to fulfill his dreams; to be a winner, to be part of a game, rather than studying all day. He wanted to have sweet memories of his high school that didn’t have anything to do with studying, even if he just played once.
Mamori is Sena Kobayakawa’s overprotective and motherly childhood friend. Mamori joined the American Football club to watch over Sena and prevent any bullying by the other members. Despite her “joining the American Football club just to protect Sena” claim, she eventually proves to be an excellent manager who knows the rules inside and out and makes up strategies for the team.
Doburoku Sakaki first appears during the Beach football match in the United States. He was a coach to Hiruma, Musashi, and Kurita, and taught them how to play American football. He later ran off to the United States since he owed some loan sharks two million yen after gambling. After Hiruma gambles in Las Vegas, and pays off Doburoku’s debts, he becomes the Deimon Devil Bat’s coach and personal trainer. Doburoku loves drinking sake.
Suzuna is a cute blue-haired girl who’s always wearing rollerblades. She came to the United States and hitched a ride with one of the bikers of a bike gang. Sena first met her when she was hired to discover the true identity of Eyeshield 21. During her competition with Sena, she nearly falls to her death off a cliff, where Sena luckily saves her. Her second encounter was when Sena got lost halfway through the Death March and was surrounded by a whole lot of American bikers – Sena being Sena, he couldn’t really communicate with them. However, one biker mentioned the words ‘Japanese girl’, ‘Football player’, and ‘Japan’, and Sena assumed said biker was talking about Mamori, and immediately went off in search of the aforementioned Japanese girl. The ‘Japanese girl’ term was actually referring to Suzuna, and ‘Football player’ Natsuhiko, her brother. Suzuna was looking for her brother, and in that same respect, met up with the ‘Football player’ assuming that it was Natsuhiko. The bikers then assumed they were boyfriend and girlfriend (cheering them on with “C’mon, hug! Kiss! Hug!”, but the fact was that Suzuna and Sena were not in a relationship). She eventually finds her brother and jumps and rolls her skates across his back while still on her feet as punishment for taking the family savings to fly to America. She also witnesses Sena in action as Eyeshield 21. It’s been hinted that she may have a crush on Sena.