With the FIFA world cup right around the corner, the hype surrounding football is at an all-time high. After Haikyuu, Kuroko No Basket, and Ao Ashi, sports fans were left yearning for more sports anime. This is where Blue Lock comes in, with its peculiar approach to the genre.
One of this year’s most anticipated anime, directed by Tetsuaki Watanabe, finally premiered on October 8th, Saturday. The anime, based on the manga of the same name, is set in Japan, where the Japanese Football Association laments the shortcomings of the national team. They believe that what their team needs is a world-class striker. They start a precarious training program called Blue Lock to create the perfect striker.
The anime sets itself apart from other sports anime, considering none of them lock up their characters, with no connection to the outside world, and makes them only focus on playing their sport. The show revolves around the winner-takes-all theme, where the defeated players forever lose the opportunity to have an international football career. Blue lock is where sports anime meets Squid Game but in a less brutal manner.
Blue Lock is primarily a state-of-the-art facility, made to train 300 of Japan’s most propitious young strikers behind closed walls and under a strict regime, where they are forced to go beyond their limits. While at times they are made to compete against each other, at other times they are required to work together as a team, where the losing player or team faces elimination. Among these 300 players, is our story’s mainIsagiagonist, Yoichi Isagi, who dreams of becoming the world’s best striker and playing internationally.
The anime is intense and contains strong ideals, but it has its impediments. The storyline puts great emphasis on how soccer is not a team sport, but the team’s victory rather banks on the striker. The brainbox behind the project, Ego, believes the striker to be the most important player on the team. According to him, being a great striker is of much more significance than being a team player. This is an idiosyncratic concept, as anyone with basic knowledge of soccer knows that any team sport doesn’t work that way.
However, the sports/thriller anime has the potential to become the best sports anime of all time with its captivating storyline and fierce characters, all with their unique specialties. Unlike a normal shonen anime, there are no good or bad guys in the blue lock. Every player has their own set of beliefs and goals, reflecting how professional athletes are in real life. The anime also sprinkles some realism between scenes by mentioning football icons such as Lionel Messi, Neymar, Ronaldo, and Pele, and describing their achievements.
The anime purposefully adapts the standout art style of the manga it is based on, creating a sense of intense feeling during the matches and upholding the originality to the fans’ liking. Character facial expressions, body language, animations, and close-ups help characterize a diverse cast.
If you are on the lookout for a faithful portrayal of football, then Blue Lock isn’t the one for you. While the anime itself is rather suspenseful and enjoyable, it does not demonstrate the average sports-anime dynamics of friendship, overcoming odds, or the spirit of sports, the anime stands highly unpredictable and tense: something they might keep up moving forward.
The first episode ending with a cliffhanger kept the audience’s attention undivided and intact, leaving most of us anticipating the date of Ryosuke Kira, the apparent main character as of now. Blue Lock seems to offer a distinct perspective towards the shonen and sports genre and speaks volumes to sports fans. I, personally, have been loving every second of it since the release of the first episode and wish for more.
Read More: 2023: The Year for Anime Fans