Hello and wecome to the first part of Decon Versus.
For those that didn’t see the intro, this is going to be a comparison and deconstruction of two shows: Eyeshield 21 and The Prince of Tennis. I’m going to be doing small chunks of each show (3-4 episodes, depending on the plot going on) and I’ll be giving my thoughts on the main character, supporting cast, and general show as we go along.
So, let’s get this started with a bit of synopsis on the story I’ve seen so far in each show.
Eyeshield 21: Sena Kobayakawa finds out he’s passed his entrance exam into Deimon Private Senior High School. Since Sena’s been taken advantage of as a go-fer in every other phase of school he’s been in, his friend (and possible potential love interest) Mamori Anezaki insists that he tries to make actual friends. It is also now that we get introduced to Ryokan Kurita and (my personal favorite) Yoichi Hiruma, the latter of which is said to be ‘nothing but trouble’ by Mamori. He gets into the same pattern. The team only consists of Hiruma himsef, Kurita, and now Sena. While he initially only wanted to be the team manager, Sena is forced to take the moniker of Eyeshield 21. He later scores the winning touchdown against the Koigahama Cupids.
The Prince of Tennis: Ryoma Echizen, a child tennis prodigy, ends up being late to his match because of bad directions from Sakuno Ryuzaki, the girl he helped ont the train before arriving at the station. He gets disqualified for being late, but gets into a match with one of the high-school students. Since Ryoma’s 12, it seems obvious that the older student would win. Instead, Ryoma shows off several complex tennis moves and wins the match. Sakuno’s grandmother mentiones that Ryoma is the son of a famous tennis player and is going to Seishun Academy. Later, he gets into two more matches with the regular players of Seishun Academy’s tennis club, winning them both as he strives for a regular spot on the team.
Yeah, a lot of info dumping in the first couple of episodes. Don’t worry, those synopsis parts will be getting a good deal shorter as the shows get into their respective strides. Now to get into the breakdown. We’ll start with the main characters:
Eyesheild 21 is quick to give us an idea of how Sena’s life has been so far. He’s not exactly the most intimidating figure: because of his good nature and lack of confidence, he’s easy to push around. Even his friend Mamori tends to dismiss him as being weak-willed and spineless. It isn’t until the end of the first episode that we see any positive traits outside of his willingness to help others. This is in stark contrast to Ryoma, a character who is so confident in his abilities that he comes off as arrogant and condescending. Granted, he starts out dealing with what is obviously a loudmouthed jerk. You get a few moments when he seems like he’s doing things to care, but they never really pan out. Either he had some other alternate reason for doing a good thing or he’s really just showing off.
The supporting cast for each show is small right now (counting characters that have been introduced, not just glimpsed). For Eyeshield, we have Sena’s childhood friend Mamori, the devil captain of the Deimon Devil bats Youichi Hiruma, the linesman Kurita, and the track player Tetsuo Ishimaru. They’re pretty varied for only the first three episodes, with Mamori being protective and not seeing that Sena might be able to fend for himself, Kurita just liking that others are joining the team and Hiruma who, um, is complicated but mostly very mercenary. I’ll be going into each of them as we actually learn a bit more about them, but so far it’s nice to see where they could be comflict. Prince of tennis… it introduced a good amount of characters, but they don’t seem nearly as dynamic. Honestly, outside of two of the upperclassmen Momoshiro and Kaido, none of them get much in the way of characterization. Ryoma’s classmates are… not really important as far as I can tell, and we really haven’t learned much about much of the cast at this point for me to comment on.
Overall, it seems that Eyeshield 21 is the story of Sena meeting these people and possibly forming a large team that will go on to greatness. You get the idea that each character you see more than once will be important, either as a hinderance or a boon, to the story as a whole. Prince of tennis is, by contrast, the story of the main character and how good he is at tennis. I’m more inclined to like the former so far, but we’re only a couple of episodes in, so here’s hoping.