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Characters / Eyeshield 21 Taiyo Sphinx

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Renowned for the "Pyramid Line", the Taiyo Sphinx had the heaviest linemen of any Japanese high school, which usually guaranteed them a place at the Kanto Regional Tournament. Their greatest weakness was their lack of decent players for the backfield. Nominally led by Quarterback Harao, the team was in truth under the control of Centre Banba, whose cool-headed leadership held the team together.

  • Achilles' Heel: If the linemen can be worked around or someone stronger than Banba comes around, there isn't much Taiyo can do with its rather subpar backs.
  • Ambiguously Brown: The students of the Taiyo Highschool looked Middle Eastern despite all of them being ethnically Japanese. Somewhat justified, in that many of them were only tanned from all the surfing they did due to their school's proximity to the sea... although that didn't explain the facial features.
  • Ancient Egypt: Their Motifs. They've taken it to such a ridiculous level it's not even funny.
  • Battlecry:
    Harao: One dare ask thou. Twenty and two legs in the morning, twenty and two legs at noon, twenty and two legs at night, eleven warriors who shall never fall... What may be the name of this team?
    The Whole Team: THE TAIYO SPHINX!!!!
  • Combination Attack: Their "Pyramid Line" and "Tutankamon's Mask" both revolved around using their heavy linemen to almost perfectly shield the quarterback.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Taiyo's main strength was its top-class line with heavyweight linemen who specialized in tight formations that use their build to make a nearly impenetrable shield for the quarterback. However, because Taiyo lacked good receivers or runners and had no strong defensive backs to speak of save for Kamaguruma, if the line was overpowered, Taiyo would fold very quickly.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: At the receiving end for three times.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: In the anime, they got to at least show how awesome their "Tutankamon's Mask" formation was since, for some reason, Gaou wasn't there to crush it on the first go.
  • Dumb Muscle: All of the linemen, except for Banba.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • The Giants: Their main gimmick. They weren't only tall, but also very bulky.
  • Guyliners: Most of them have this, presumably to go with their Egyptian theme.
  • Jerk Jock: Towards the Devil Bats during their match. They got better.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": When Gaou made his first appearance as their opponent.
  • Mighty Glacier: The team had tremendous linemen, but a lackluster backfield, meaning that they had to advance down the field slowly while shoving their opponents out of the way.
  • Mythical Motifs: Sphinx.
  • Planet of Hats: The Taiyo Highschool was arguably the worst offender in the entire series:
    • The students of Taiyo, as mentioned, looked Middle Eastern. The other highschools had their quirks too, but still, at least their students wouldn't look like they belonged to somewhere on the other side of the planet.
    • Their campus buildings looked Egyptian. While most of the other highschool campuses could be excused (e.g., the Ojo's European campus may not be that out of place if they're a Christian school; the Shinryuji's Buddhist campus was not that implausible given Japan's long Buddhist heritage), there really was no excuse for an Egyptian-themed campus in Japan. Side materials reveal that the founder of Taiyou High School was an Egyptian otaku.
    • Some of the students were said to worship the Sun God Ra like Ancient Egyptians did. Not even modern Egyptians do this, folks.
  • Training from Hell: In the summer training montage, there was a scene where the Sphinx were seen doing push-ups while stacked on each other to form a pyramid.
  • The Worf Effect: The Sphinx were portrayed as quite formidable in the Devil Bats' match against them. Afterwards, however, it became rather clear that the Sphinx were not by any mean a real threat as they ended up regularly routed by stronger teams, i.e., the Wild Gunmen, the Naga (off-screen), and then the Dinosaurs. Lampshaded by Doburoku when he declared the Sphinx to be in the same stable as the Devil Bats while the White Knights, Wild Gunmen and Aliens were in an entirely different league.

    Mamoru Banba (番場 衛)
"One minute is too long."

The imposing, stone-faced (de facto) ace player of the Taiyo Sphinx, Banba held the team together with his leadership and astonishing insight in football strategies. Despite this, Banba preferred to stay out of the limelight and let his friend Harao be the team's apparent leader. Being Japan's record holder in squats, he was widely regarded as one of the country's finest linemen and the Devil Bats' main obstacle during their match. After tying against Kurita and the Devil Bats at both personal and team level, Banba came to view Kurita as an Worthy Opponent and looked forward to a rematch in the Kanto Regional. His dream, however, was stopped short when the Sphinx lost badly against the Dinosaurs in the first round.

  • Position: Centre / Defensive Tackle
  • Jersey: 50
  • 40-yard dash: 5.5 seconds
  • Bench Press: 145 kg (330 lbs)
  • Birthday: June 25
  • 3rd Year Student (Grade 12)

  • Academic Athlete: Implied, as he was shown to be in the Saikyodai University in the epilogue, with the Saikyodai being a very good university.
  • The Ace: Apart from apparently having very good grades and being Japan's record holder in squats, Banba was also notable for being the only Sphinx player to be recruited into Team Japan during the World Cup.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Much like the rest of his team. Banba, however, was an even worse offender, in that he looked black. Black people are even more genetically distant from Japanese than Middle Easterners are.
  • Animal Motifs: For once, he was associated with the image of a cobra.
  • Badass Boast:
    Harao: Banba... thou hast one minute to do away with them (the Ha-ha brothers).
    Banba (Stoic): One minute is too long.
    In the next shot, the Ha-ha brothers were on the floor, beaten.
    Harao (Reading his watch): Exactly ten seconds.
  • Badass in Charge: The toughest player and real commander of the team.
  • Bald, Black Leader Guy: Again, he's supposed to be a Japanese, but he has the look of this.
  • Bald of Awesome: The bald player is the strongest and most reliable one of his team. Hiruma also lampshaded this by nicknaming Banba "fucking baldie".
  • Bandage Mummy: Before the Devil Bats vs Sphinx match began, he was seen stabilizing his shoulder joints with white tapes, which gave off this vibe. He even lampshaded it by telling his juniors to "bind themselves up like a mummy". This trope was played straight for him after the Sphinx vs Dinosaurs game, where he got hospitalized in his attempt to stop Gaou. It was notable that since Gaou never attacked him in the face, it's possible it was just for fun.
  • The Big Guy: Subverted. Banba could come off as this at first as he seemed to let Harao boss him around, but during the Devil Bats vs Sphinx match we got to see that he was the actual brains of the team.
  • Boxing Battler: Banba knew boxing and used some boxing techniques in football.
  • The Comically Serious: Sometimes. He kept his stoicism even during the "pointlessly badass" pillow fight in the night before the finals of the Youth World Cup.
  • Covered in Scars: He became this by the time of the Kanto Regional. It was apparently due to very tough training the Sphinx had done off-screen.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Spent the first half of the Devil Bats vs Sphinx game inflicting this on the linemen of the Devil Bats. Banba himself got crushed when he faced off against Gaou in the Kanto Regional.
  • Death Glare: Gave one to Harao to stop the latter from flustering.
  • Determinator: He was the first person to actually challenge Gaou. Although knowing that he was outmatched, Banba repeatedly got up and held his ground, not allowing his opponent to lay a finger on his quarterback.
  • The Dreaded: Downplayed. He wasn't as bad as, say, Agon. Still, his intimidating appearance and status as one of the strongest men in Japan made him quite feared among linemen, judging from Kurita's reaction at the beginning of their match.
  • Friendly Rivalry: Formed one with Kurita after tying with the latter in a contest of strength.
  • Genius Bruiser: Yes, Banba was the strongest guy in Taiyo, and one of the strongest guys in Japan. And yes, he had good grades, and he's the one calling the shot in his team when it came to tactical decisions.
  • The Giant: He was slightly taller than Kurita, and no less bulky.
  • Guyliner: Like the rest of his team. He dropped them as the series went on, though.
  • Humble Hero: Despite being the de facto leader, Banba lets Harao be the team's "ace".
  • Informed Poverty: Harao had, at one point, implied that Banba came from a poor background, but this never became relevant in the story.
  • The Lancer: To Harao at first glance. Later subverted in that Banba turned out to be the real leader.
  • Large and in Charge: The largest guy on the Sphinx, and the de facto leader.
  • The Leader: Banba let Harao be the official captain and do most of the talking, but he was the one calling the shots when things got serious. Everybody in the team (Harao included) apparently knew this and looked up to Banba for on-field leadership.
    During the halftime in the Devil Bats vs Sphinx game...
    Harao (Towards his team's linemen): Ye art all fools! How dare thou get pushed back by such weak line! Still only one point difference?!
    Kasamatsu: I'm sorry...
    Banba (Stoic): Harao, chill.
    Harao: To chill in this situation? This is impossible!
    Banba (Remaining stoic): Just shut up.
    Harao: If one doth go up and defend by oneself...!
    Banba (Death Glare): I TOLD YOU TO SHUT UP.
    Everyone (Flinched): ...!
    Banba: American football's key is in the line. But it's impossible to win with just the line's power! Harao, you should reflect on your own action more! When you passed, you instinctively raised your arm up too high.
    Harao (Thinking): ...
  • Meaningful Name: "Mamoru" literally means to guard.
  • The Mentor: He gave boxing lessons to Kurita right before the Devil Bats vs Dinosaurs game. He also briefly mentored Togano in the buildup towards the Christmas Bowl.
  • Mighty Glacier: Strong and heavy, but not very fast.
  • Not So Above It All: Despite his stoicism, Banba was recruited by Hiruma for lots of silly activities, especially in the later parts of the series.
  • Odd Friendship: Harao is a nervous, skinny boy trying to mask his inadequacy by being an elitist jerk, while Banba is a stoic, intimidating giant who (at first) saw the Devil Bats' weak line as an insult to the sport. The two had been friends for years. Harao wouldn't hide his anxiety from Banba, while Banba would protect Harao even when outmatched.
  • Praetorian Guard: To Harao. Kind of.
  • Rated M for Manly: Big, strong, stoic, mature, and a solid leader.
  • Scary Black Man: Has the appearance and composure of one, though he's ethnically Japanese.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: The Manly Man to Harao's Sensitive Guy.
  • The Smart Guy: Quite surprisingly. Banba was the one who made tactical decisions for the Sphinx. He was also seen advising Harao on how to throw the ball during the halftime of the Devil Bats vs Sphinx game.
  • The Stoic: Especially notable when Harao started to lose it and Banba had to step in as The Leader.
    • Not So Stoic: Banba was visibly surprised when Jumonji, after having been beaten to the floor, rose and did a proper blocking against him for the first time.
  • Stout Strength
  • Straight Man: Oddly, when he was with Hiruma.
  • The Strategist: Not to the same degree as Hiruma or Takami, but Banba seemed to be the only Sphinx player who had some ideas about football strategies.
  • Surfer Dude: An extra material stated that he had a passion for surfing.
  • Team Dad: Hands-down the most level-headed player in the team, Banba took care of his fellow Sphinx players also at an emotional level.
  • Undying Loyalty: Towards Harao, sort of. During their match against the Dinosaurs, Banba tried so hard to stop Gaou from reaching Harao that he ended up hospitalized. Needless to say, this went hand-in-hand with Harao's status as the "Pharaoh".
  • Wise Beyond His Years: He's quite a bit more mature than his peers. For one, unlike Harao and Kasamatsu, he never felt the need to mock or be a jackass towards the Devil Bats.
  • The Worf Effect: His defeat at Gaou's hands was used to demonstrate how overwhelmingly powerful the latter was. To a lesser extent, his inability to stop Kid from passing during the Sphinx vs Wild Gunmen practice match highlighted the latter's skills.
  • Worthy Opponent: To Kurita and later Gaou.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: He was very opposed to Kurita tackling Karin during the Christmas Bowl.
  • Younger Than They Look: And he actually knew it. When Yamabushi couldn't make a speech for Team Japan at the buildup towards the finals of the World Cup, Banba stepped up as the one with "the second oldest face".

    Kiminari Harao

A very beautiful young man who prides himself on being rich, refined, and elegant. Seemingly arrogant, Harao is actually deeply insecure about his talents as quarterback, and is highly reliant on his close friend Banba for protection and emotional support.

  • Position: Quraterback
  • Jersey: 8
  • 40 yard dash: 5.4 seconds
  • Bench Press: 50 kg
  • 3rd Year Student (Grade 12)

  • Action Survivor: Harao holds the honor of being the only quarterback not to be crushed by Gaoh. He's not to proud of it though, as it was due to Banba and the Taiyou line. He was forced to forfeit because he was literally the only man on his team left standing.
  • A Lady on Each Arm: Or rather a constant entourage of scantily clad groupies.
  • Alpha Brat: At first. He was introduced as seeming to be very elitist and bossy, blaming others for his shortcomings. Of course it's mostly just an act because he's insecure.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Like all members of the Sphinx.
  • Bishōnen: He's one of the most feminine-looking male characters.
  • Break the Haughty: Twice. The tie with Deimon was embarrassing but beneficial to his Character Development. The defeat by Hakushu (and seeing his best friend get hurt protecting him) elevated him to Woobie status.
  • The Casanova: Not as bad as Agon, but he isn't above taking advantage of his popularity.
  • The Chick: To the Sphinx. He is fronting as a pharaoh with the linemen making sure no one can touch him.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: Is a mediocre quarterback at best, yet is perceived as the team's ace.
  • Guyliner: To go with his Egyptian theme.
  • Hidden Depths: He acts arrogant and snobby but when people look away he trains himself really hard and knows that people consider him a second string in a tournament filled with monsters.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Acts snobby and in control to hide the fact that's he very insecure about his abilities.
  • Instant Fan Club: His groupies double as servants for his pharaoh gimmick.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Contrast a lot with his teammates who are either Gonks like Kawaguruma or brutes like Banba.
  • Princely Young Man: His father is the CEO of an oil company.
  • Rich Brat: What he comes out at first but it's clear him and Banba are friends and that his bossiness is an act.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: The Sensitive Guy to Banba's Manly Man.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: When his antiquated way of speaking is translated to English. He drops this after the Hakushu game.

    Niinobu Kasamatsu

A large, fat, and frighteningly stupid player who serves as one of Taiyo's best linemen.

  • Position: Offensive Tackle / Defensive End
  • Jersey: 66
  • 40 yard dash: 5.9 seconds
  • Bench Press: 100 kg

  • Ambiguously Brown: See the team's entry.
  • The Big Guy: Though Banba is taller.
  • Dumb Muscle: It's rather terrifying just how stupid Kasamatsu is, and how totally unprepared he is for any of the Devil Bats' trick plays.
  • Fat Bastard: Dumb, mean, and grossly fat.
  • Gonk: Perhaps the single most emblematic example in the series outside of complete one-offs like the Sankaku Punks.
  • Guyliner: Like the rest of the team.
  • Jerkass: Definitely acts as this towards the Ha-Ha Brothers.
  • Jerk Jock: Really likes humiliating the Ha-ha Brothers during their first game, until they turn it around.
  • Pet the Dog: With all the linemen he is shown unconscious as he protected Harao from Gaou, that means he saw Banba getting destroyed and still faced Gaou.
  • Stout Strength: He looks like a cylinder, but that makes him a good asset for the pyramid line.

Example of: