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Yoichi Hiruma
Eyeshield 21 character
Yoichi.jpg
Yoichi Hiruma
First appearance Episode 1, Chapter 1
Created by Riichiro Inagaki, Yusuke Murata
Voiced by Atsushi Tamura
Shinichirō Miki (Jump Festa)
Derek Stephen Prince (English)
Profile
Aliases Control Tower of Hell
Age 17 in beginning of manga, 19 at end
Gender Male
Date of birth Unknown
Occupation High School Student (previous), College student (current), Football player
Known relatives Yuya Hiruma(Father),Mother(Unknown)
Height 176 cm
Weight 67 kg
Information
Position Quarterback / Strong Safety / Punter / Placekicker / Holder
Current team Saikyoudai
Previous team Mao Devil Bats, Deimon Devil Bats
40 yard dash 5.1 seconds
Bench press 75 kg

Yoichi Hiruma (蛭魔 妖一 Hiruma Yōichi ?) is a fictional character in the anime and manga series Eyeshield 21. His Japanese voice actor is Atsushi Tamura (listed in the anime credits as Atsushi Tamura of London Boots #1 and #2).

Contents

Overview

Hiruma threatening Sena Kobayakawa with his machine gun

Yoichi Hiruma, usually referred to as Hiruma, is a protagonist and major driving force of the plot of Eyeshield 21. At the beginning of the series, he witnesses Sena Kobayakawa's running abilities and forces the boy to join the team as the ace running back, and hides his identity during games by having him use the codename "Eyeshield 21". He captains and plays quarterback for the series' protagonist team, the Deimon Devil Bats, but also serves the duties of a coach, as the team lacks one. He is responsible for arranging all of the Devil Bats' matches between the Spring and Fall Tournaments, and also devises the majority of the team's practice sessions. His major goal throughout the series is to form a complete team and win the Christmas Bowl with his first two teammates, Ryokan Kurita and Gen "Musashi" Takekura.

Hiruma has a deliberately demonic appearance that is even further accentuated by his daredevil attitude at both in and out of the football field, and is a subversion of the standard sports hero character archetype. In fact, his last name is spelled with a kanji meaning "leech demon," and his first name is spelled with a kanji meaning "bewitching one." His name can ultimately be read as "demon in broad daylight." He has dyed, spiky blond hair, fanged teeth, and pointed ears with multiple piercings. For various reasons, Hiruma is an intimidating person. He possesses a vast array of firearms, including but not limited to automatic rifles, flamethrowers, and bazookas. He frequently fires his guns into the air to intimidate others or simply when he is excited. He also tends to shoot at his teammates to make them practice harder, but it is implied that he does not use live ammo in these circumstances (Mamori once deflected a shot from Hiruma using nothing more than a clipboard). Despite his status as a protagonist, Hiruma is often described as "evil" by the other characters, including his comrades, and he has a reputation as a terrifying person throughout Deimon High School. This is not undeserved, as Hiruma has, through blackmail on virtually every person in the Tokyo area, acquired tremendous resources, including nearly complete control over Deimon High. He also seems to enjoy having his prized running back, Sena, to gain a fearsome reputation as Eyeshield 21 in the football field, as well as to some extent, outside of it. To this end, Hiruma often resorts to methods, that are hardly vied as legal (illegal hacking, disguising himself in the Eyeshield 21 attire, etc). In spite of this reputation, Hiruma's influence and behavior are frequently portrayed humorously, due to the fact that his actions tend to be over-the-top and presented lightly.

Conception and development

Inagaki said that he developed Hiruma as a character that does not follow the Japanese concept of emphasis on sportsmanship and effort in the game; instead Hiruma is "only concerned with winning." Inagaki intended to make an "anti-hero" or, as he refers to the concept, a "devil-hero." Yusuke Murata, the artist, said that every character he design has to have a distinct quality as many characters are in groups and each one has to stand out; Murata chose to portray Hiruma as looking "close to being a demon" since he heard from Inagaki that Hiruma had "the personality of a demon."[1]

Story

Agon Kongo vs. Hiruma
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Backstory

Seven years prior to the start of the series, Yoichi Hiruma, then ten years old, snuck into an American military base, where he witnessed a group of soldiers playing American football. Intrigued by the game, he soon caught on to its rules and later began studying its tactics. Hiruma became a regular spectator of the soldiers' games by sneaking through a hole in the wire fence surrounding the base. With his deep understanding of the game, he managed to successfully gamble on the winning teams, accumulating a large amount of money by the time he entered Mao Junior High, during which he dyed his hair to its current blonde color. Soon after Hiruma entered junior high, Ryoukan Kurita accidentally came across a series of scribbled plays that he had drawn up, and encouraged Hiruma to actively participate in the game. Although Hiruma at first had no interest in playing the game himself, he participated in one of the soldiers' games along with Kurita to replace two players who collapsed from heatstroke. While Hiruma and Kurita's team lost, along with all of Hiruma's winnings which he had gambled on the team, Hiruma became interested in starting his own American football team, with the ultimate goal of reaching the Christmas Bowl.

In order to establish an American football club, Hiruma created an expansive information network to acquire blackmail on virtually everyone in the Tokyo area, which allowed him to threaten the vice principal of Mao into allowing the creation of the club. During this time, Hiruma briefly acquired muscle in the form of Agon Kongo, set up a surveillance system with a large supply of hacked cellphone cameras, and recorded the information he acquired in a 'threat notebook' which remains on his person to the present day. After the reestablishment of the American football club with Doburoku Sakaki as club adviser, Gen "Musashi" Takekura decided to join the club because he thought Hiruma and Kurita were "fun," perhaps due to their unusual and persistent methods of attempting to persuade him to join. Together, the three new friends made a pact to reach the Christmas Bowl.

Kurita looked up to the Shinryuuji Naga, a team that had won every single Kanto Fall Tournament since its creation, so the three decided to join the team. Because Kurita could not hope to pass the Shinryuuji High entrance exam, Hiruma signed him up for the school's sports merit program, which would have permitted him to join the team. However, Agon applied for the program as well, because he believed the three to be "failures," and so Kurita was not permitted into Shinryuuji. Rather than leaving their friend behind, Hiruma and Musashi applied for Deimon High School, and together with Kurita established another new American football team, the Deimon Devil-Bats, with Hiruma as the quarterback, Kurita a lineman, and Musashi the kicker. Despite their lack of any other members, Hiruma remained enthusiastic about reaching the Christmas Bowl, simply recruiting members of other sports clubs to fill up the roster. Despite this measure, Deimon failed to win a single game, even losing 99-0 against the Ojo White Knights. Additionally, Musashi's father fell ill, requiring Musashi to take a greater role in his family's carpentry business and leave the team for an extended period of time.

Eyeshield 21

At the beginning of the series, Hiruma and Kurita, now in their second year of high school, aggressively attempt to recruit new members to the Deimon Devil Bats from the newer students. At first their only successful recruit is the reluctant Sena Kobayakawa, as Hiruma witnesses his incredible running speed and agility and forces him to be the team's running back. Hiruma additionally hides Sena's identity by making him wear an eyeshield and adapt the moniker 'Eyeshield 21'. Hiruma enters the Devil Bats into the Spring Tournament, where the team is eliminated early by the Oujou White Knights in a one-sided match, though Sena's potential as an ace runner appears briefly. Following their defeat, the Devil Bats search for members and prepare for the grander Autumn Tournament. In the meantime, Hiruma did all his best to make Eyeshield 21 appear badass, possibly in an attempt to prevent people from linking the facts together that he and Sena are one and the same.

Hiruma, through intimidation, blackmail, cyber terrorism, and other similar methods, plays a crucial role in the development of the young Devil Bats team. He single-handedly devises the team's recruitment drives and game plans, as well as all of the training routines until Doburoku returns to the team and instructs the team on some occasions. Among Hiruma's many accomplishments in the series include circumventing the selection process to face the Nasa Aliens, using the Aliens' return trip tickets to the United States for the Devil Bats' training in North America, and winning 20,000,000 yen (approximately $200,000) at Las Vegas to pay off Doburoku's debts.

Unlike many of the members of the Deimon Devil Bats, Hiruma does not explicitly experience a great improvement in ability over the course of series, instead acting as a reliable "control tower" for the team. Hiruma's insight and strategic mind, especially his knack for devising trick plays, are critical in the Devil Bats' various matches. As the Devil Bats advance into the Kanto Tournament, Hiruma's relation to his teammates visibly changes, as he seems to place more faith in their abilities. His demonic facade is also seen through by the team manager, Mamori, whom he shares a deep understanding with, despite constant bickering and teasing. Over time, this faith becomes critical in many of Deimon's victories, as several critical plays, such as an unexpected onside kick against Shinryuuji and a silent midplay huddle on the last play against Oujou, are based around the team members' ability to understand and believe in each other. Additionally, contrary to Hiruma's typically tactical mindset, he accomplishes several feats seemingly through sheer willpower, including recovering from a broken arm in just a few weeks prior to the Christmas Bowl against the Teikoku Alexanders. Eventually, in the final game against the Alexanders, Hiruma discards his objective outlook, putting faith in his teammates even when victory against Teikoku appears statistically impossible, which ultimately leads to the Devil Bats winning the championship.

Following the Christmas Bowl, Hiruma is selected by Shin to be one of Team Japan's two quarterbacks due to his knack for trick plays, and Hiruma quickly settles in as the main strategist on the team. Even before this, Hiruma spies on Team USA to acquire information on the ace American players, who are considered by far the favorites to win the tournament. In typical fashion, Hiruma refuses to permit players on the team out of sympathy rather than merit, including his Devil Bats teammates, but does agree with the decision to hold a final tryout as a method of enlisting bench players.

During the World League he mentioned in a conversation between him, Kid and Agon he would "struggle to death" to become the tournaments MVP and join the NFL, not caring about the 300 million yen award.

In chapter 318, it is revealed that Hiruma's father, Yuuya Hiruma, was an amateur chess champion, and Hiruma had likely inherited his insight from him. Yuuya had used an aggressive style of chess, and had tried to move on to the pros, but then he kept losing and was forced to move to a defensive style. Losing too many matches, he quit altogether and retired. This might have spurred Hiruma's "winning is everything" motto, and his aggressive attack play.

In chapter 333 the plot has skipped ahead two years. Hiruma, now in college, is part of (and, as Jumonji put it, 'controlling from the shadows') the college's American football team, Saikyoudai. .

Reception

When a Weekly Shonen Jump popularity poll of the Eyeshield 21 characters was conducted, Hiruma ranked number 1, unusual in a Jump manga, where the main character usually ranks first. In a following poll for the Dream Eleven, in which a team of eleven was created via a popularity poll of characters and their positions, Hiruma was the only character to receive not only over twice as many votes as the second-place finisher, Kid, but more votes than all the other candidates combined -- Hiruma with 9196 votes, and all the other quarterbacks with a total of 6971 votes.[2]

The latest ES21 poll, to form All-Freshmen and All-Seniors (and in Deimon's case, All-Sophomores) teams, saw Hiruma come out on top here as well, with a total of 3968 votes.[3]

Riichiro Inagaki, writer of Eyeshield 21, said that "all the characters" were his favorite characters, and that Hiruma is "especially" his favorite.[1]

Techniques and Strategies

Of the myriad of weapons at Hiruma's disposal (both physical and psychological), possibly the most devastating of all is his steel-trap mind. An expert strategist with a clever and cunning demeanor, he is a force to be reckoned with, both on and off the field. He can also think up to 17 strategies quickly, no matter the scenario, and even if he is under harsh conditions, he manages to stay focused. His game plans often appear insane. He is a well-rounded quarterback, possessing a strong throwing arm, mobility, fast reaction time, and the ability to notice details quickly. He's also one of the more perceptive characters in the series, having immediately noticed Shin's steady uneasiness at Sena's growing fearlessness in the football field. According to Ichiro Takami and Musashi, Hiruma lacks the body type for American football, but makes up for it with his cunning mind and force of will.

  • Devil's Handbook - Not really part of the arsenal he uses on the field, though one can say that it's his most potent weapon, aside from his cunning mind. At the beginning of the series, he uses it to force students from other clubs to become support players for the football team. This book is not limited to the secrets of students and teachers at Deimon; Hiruma has been known to blackmail city officials, work crews and storekeepers (in one case he even used it to commandeer a JSDF tank).
  • Psychological warfare - By using rumors, bluffs and threats, Hiruma can unnerve the opposing teams, as well as to bolster morale among his own teammates. The most famous example of this is the network of lies he makes up about Eyeshield 21, Sena's alias. He even use spectators to cheer to the team as distraction, while he is busy creating a play.
    • The Gargoyle - A tactic only possible due to his reputation as an unpredictable, dangerous player, Hiruma takes up his position normally when he is injured beyond the point of being able to play effectively. Against the Dinosaurs, this has the effect of Hiruma not being seen as a weakness on defense, and in fact his position is directly avoided.
  • Computer Skills - Hiruma has shown to quite a skilled hacker from time to time, often being able to override various systems using nothing more than his trademark laptop and is also adept at photoshopping images
  • Disguising - Hiruma is also a master of disguise, often being able to gain access to secured locations in this manner. So far, he has disguised himself as Eyeshield 21, Yukimitsu's instructor, a reporter and etc
  • Play action pass (Fake handoff) - Hiruma is a master of making the football disappear from sight, fooling many different defenders into believing he has handed off the ball, usually to Sena, while he actually sets up for a pass. Prior to the Autumn Tokyo Tournament this was the only physical technique that Hiruma employs in games, but it develops a reputation for even deceiving the cameramen who records the game against the Aliens.
    • Wishbone - A formation in which one full back and two halfbacks line up in a "Y" shape behind Hiruma. Hiruma has the option of handing the ball off to one of the three running backs or keeping it himself, utilizing his talent for fake handoffs. The running backs who don't receive the hand-off are additionally used as lead blockers. Due to Hiruma's ability to make snap decisions, this strategy is extremely adaptable, and the player who runs the ball is not determined until the middle of the play.
    • Quarterback draw - Fundamentally, the opposite of the play action, as rather than pretending to execute a running play to set up a pass, Hiruma pretends to set up for a pass in preparation for a run. In the most prominent example of this, Hiruma has his receivers line up in the 4-wide Shotgun formation and run pass routes, shouting "4x DEVIL LASER BULLET!" He then keeps the ball and runs himself.
    • Clock Play - Hiruma appears to have the offense line up in preparation for a spike to stop the clock, and Monta pretends to line up late, while actually going in motion. While the defense still expects Hiruma to spike the ball, Kurita snaps the ball to Hiruma, and Monta runs a long pass route, getting a head start because of the defense's confusion. The play was originally devised by Miami Dolphins quarterbacks Dan Marino and Bernie Kosar, and implemented to great effect when Marino hooked up with a game-winning touchdown pass to Mark Ingram against the New York Jets.
    • Direct Snap - Hiruma pretends to be preparing to take the ball as quarterback to draw the defense's attention to him, but Kurita snaps the ball to Sena instead. Sena can either run the ball or pass it, in either case the defense tends to be caught off guard.
      • Devil Dragon Fly - A variation of the Shinryūji Naga's Kongo Brothers' Dragon Fly, using both Sena and Hiruma as quarterbacks. Using Hiruma's ability to use real and fake hand-offs and laterals and Sena's mobility, the two have a number of options to run and pass on each play.
    • The Lonely Center - Hiruma lines up behind Kurita, who is the only offensive lineman. This forces the defense to send only a single defensive lineman against Kurita or else leave the sides of the field unprotected and allow Hiruma to quickly toss the ball to Sena. A far more effective variation was used in the match against the American team in which the Hiruma and Agon are the quarterbacks
    • Christ Cross/Evil Cross - The 'Christ Cross' is a play in which Sena and Monta line up as running backs, and run crossing routes with Hiruma as their point of intersection. Similar to the Wishbone, Hiruma can choose to hand the ball off to either running back, or keep the ball himself. The play relies upon the defense not knowing which of the three keeps the ball, as whoever receives it will keep it hidden from plain sight. However, this deception-based strategy is a decoy for the 'true' form of the cross, called the 'Evil Cross', in which Hiruma hands the ball off to Sena who then pretends to accidentally reveal he carries the ball. This draws the defense in, and Sena then laterals the ball back to Hiruma, who throws a pass. The trick play presents several options for Hiruma, since the defense will likely have moved forward to stop Sena, leaving one or several receivers uncovered. Sena also runs a receiving route after returning the ball to Hiruma. Against the American All-Star team, the Christ Cross was combined with the Dragon Fly in which Hiruma and Agon act as both quarterbacks and running backs.
    • Air option - By adding Yukimitsu as the second wide receiver, Hiruma has three options to pass the ball to: Monta for long passes using his great catching ability, Yukimitsu for mid-length passes using his ability to read defensive formations, or Taki for short passes using his tall build and flexibility.
    • Devil Laser Bullet - Hiruma's signature pass, a powerful throw that puts a tight spiral on the ball. The pass has an unusual trajectory - a straight line, even regarding harsh weather conditions and gravity. Only Monta is capable of catching this pass out of Deimon's players.
      • Hail Devil Pass - A very fast, long and low-altitude version of the Devil Laser Bullet. Because of its tight trajectory, it does not rely on chance to succeed like the more common Hail Mary pass.
    • Shotgun - The same tactic used by the Seibu Wild Gunmen, Monta, Sena, Taki, and Yukimitsu all line up as wide receivers. The tactic gives Hiruma a wide number of passing options by forcing the opposing defense to spread out and cover the various receivers.
    • Hail Mary Pass - A very long forward pass commonly used near the end of a half or game where there is no possibility for any other play to score points. This play is unlikely to be successful, because of the general inaccuracy of the pass and the defense usually being prepared for it.
    • Blind Passing - Due his ability to store the position of both the offense and defense in his mind in a split second he is able to throw passes while not looking at the field, even after being tackled. He's also able to throw passes to the side while running.
  • Killer Hornet - After the Devil Bats receive a kickoff, Hiruma calls various runners into a makeshift huddle. This hides the ball from view and prevents the opposing team from seeing who is carrying it. The players then scatter in various directions, each pretending to carry the ball. This confuses the kicking team momentarily, allowing the true ball carrier to advance more easily.
    • Quarterback Blitz - Hiruma instructs a number of players to blitz the quarterback, or blitzes himself. The strategy is bolstered by the team's ability to decide the number of blitzing players with no huddle, using a series of signals sent by Mamori, Yukimitsu, and even Cerberos from the bench.
    • Sign Language - Hiruma communicates with Mamori on the sideline using a system of hand signals. Unlike the codes most sports teams use to communicate, the signs Mamori sends are long and complex, and described as "telling a long story" by Wakana, Ojo's manager. Because of their complexity, however, Hiruma and Mamori can communicate any intended thought necessary from across the field.
    • Audible - A no-huddle strategy employed in situations where the Devil Bats must catch up quickly, wherein Hiruma calls the play as Deimon is lining up. The plays coded with two-digit numbers, and Mamori devises a system to make the code harder to crack. Hiruma calls a three-digit number, preceded by the name of a team the Devil Bats previously faced. Depending on whether Deimon defeated, lost to, or tied with that team, the first, second, or third (respectively) digit is eliminated from that number, leaving the two-digit play number. The strategy also has Mamori using hand signals to communicate the hut count to the team, making the code harder to crack
      • 21 - Rather than a play decided upon beforehand, this is an audible call whose meaning can vary from game to game. The Devil Bats execute a play that they have been preparing for the whole game.

Sources

References

  1. ^ a b Shonen Jump. Volume 4, Issue 2. February 2006. VIZ Media. 15.
  2. ^ Eyeshield 21 manga; 211th Down, pg. 1-2.
  3. ^ Eyeshield 21 manga; 258th Down, pg. 1-2.

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