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A bazillion episodes shounen? A bazillion episodes SPORTS shounen? Oh my. It's been fun blitzing through it, though. I'll stay away from anything over a hundred episodes for a while (or forever), but still. Anyway, some thoughts about what was good and what wasn't below.
1) It's not really a bazillion episodes. It's just 145. It took me about a week, while watching other shows. However, this is a really weak strong point - it stops at a rather unsatisfying point in the story, and it kind of feels you've sat through 145 episodes for nothing, despite the emotionally satisfying ending.
2) The fights - football matches - don't last too long.
3) The filler is enjoyable. There isn't much of it, and it's usually somehow related to football / practice / skills, but even when it's not, it's okay.
4) The supporting cast - both Deimon's team and all others - are endearing and interesting.
5) Hiruma. Yeah, technically this is 4), both Hiruma is the reason I didn't drop till the end. A great character. It's been said before, but Hiruma is basically an adolescent Toua Tokuchi playing American football in a shounen series (as opposed to the young adult playing baseball in a seinen series).
1) It's sooooo shounen. Lightweight. Bright. Positive. The good guys win. And so on. A touch of evil (cue Judas Priest) would have improved it for me. The closest thing to it was Hiruma's devilish schemes, but that's not quite it. There was also Agon, who is probably the sole exception to strong point 4), but that was a single story arc, and later on the fact that the guy is a rather scary sadist is glossed over, while the fact he is moved to start training is emphasized, in accordance with the light/bright/positive tone of the show.
2) There are two exceptions to strong point 2). The Bando game and the final game against Ohjo. When they defeated Shinryuji, there were 26 episodes till end - I figured they'd burn through Ohjo, Seibu (or the Dinosaurs, whoever wins) and then finish with the Christmas Bowl game. Nope. Some filler then preparation for Ohjo and then 15 episodes of Ohjo. Aaaaaaaaaargh. I nearly dropped it 13 episodes before the end.
3) Supporting cast was good, but the lead was mostly annoying. Sena. Eyeshield 21. Gopher. Crybaby. Constantly making progress and constantly forgetting all about it in the face of new adversity. The matches would go: Sena is confident, Sena is crushed because he stopped running at some point because he was scared, Sena is egged on by everyone, Sena regains balls, Sena doesn't stop running and wins. For 145 episodes. For fuck's sake. I mean, usually shounen follows this pattern just in the beginning and then it's Not Gonna Quit Because X where X is family, friends, treasure, justice, etc. while here everyone except Sena has that attitude, while Sena seems to devolve each time.
4) The football clinic. Annoying, repetitive, immersion shattering. So damn unnecessary.
5) It ends before the Christmas Bowl. In fact, it ends before the finals of the Kanto tournament. I can't say whether that was due to catching up with the manga (for those interested, start with chapter 240, it continues where the anime ends) or they just felt the Ohjo game was a satisfactory ending, but neither is a good enough reason - they could have produced more episodes by now (manga finished in 2009) and dammit, the Christmas Bowl? You'll get sick of hearing those words, it's the prime motivation for the characters, and we don't get to see it. Unbelievable.
Eyeshield 21 is readily available on Crunchyroll in decent quality. That's not the bonus, though. One of the most persistent question asked there was "what's that music at xx:xx?".
To anyone wondering instead of googling a little:
Track: Be Survivor
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