Manga is one of the most dynamic mediums in storytelling. The number of stories that are now available in this form of art is truly overwhelming, but sports manga have always had a special place in audiences’ hearts. Slam Dunk, and Captain Tsubasa did amazing things for both basketball and soccer in Japan, and even Eyeshield 21 brought American football to Japan, making it now sports with lots of fans inside the Asian country. So, it doesn’t come as a surprise that there is always a sports manga trying to find success.
Blue Lock is just the latest sports manga that has found an audience since its debut in Weekly Shone Jump in August 2018. The series has run in the magazine with great success, and as with every successful manga, an anime adaptation is the next big step. Blue Lock, the anime, is produced by Bandai Namco in collaboration with Eight Bit, an animation studio that has been releasing great work in the last decade. Blue Lock has now become the latest and most important series for the studio, and it seems they are ready to give it all.
Blue Lock tells the story of Yoichi Isagi, a timid but efficient forward playing for a high school football team. However, after Isagi’s team loses the chance to play in the National Tournament, he falls into a deep depression, as it seems he will never be as good as his football idols. One day, Isagi receives an invitation to an exclusive training program led by the nefarious Ego Jinpachi, who promises Isagi and many other forwards that he can develop the ultimate striker player. The one team the Japanese Football team needs to win the World Cup.
Blue Lock is a fantastic anime series that has only one thing in mind; to be as exciting and entertaining as it possibly can. The series takes the principle of the battle royale genre and basically combines it with Football, and the result is a story with a sense of urgency that is not often seen in Shōnen anime. To become the ultimate striker and the one that will bring the World Cup to Japan, all the characters must basically take each other out, and this creates an amazing sense of drama and tension between the characters.
Eight Bit has done an excellent job in the animation department. The show is very colorful, and the character designs are masterful. Even when all the characters are basically young athletes, the designs are all quite unique, so it is very easy to distinguish one character from the next with just a glance. When the guys are playing is when Eight Bit has the chance to show off, and oh they do, with amazing and stylish ways to depict the impact and the strength these guys have while playing.
Blue Lock makes soccer feel like a very dangerous game, and it is. These guys are throwing kicks left and right, and they are quite strong. One kick aimed at the wrong place could mean a disaster. However, the players have more than just the physical menace of their competitors to worry about. There is a lot of psychological stress going on thanks to the premise, and it is fascinating to see how the players react to the obstacles that they discover through the experiment.
If the premise of the show sounds a bit farfetched, it is because it is. Nevertheless, the series takes itself so seriously that you just have to go along with the flow, and the character drama is good enough to make you invested in these characters and their dreams. None of the characters are particularly unique, you will find tons of archetypes in this show, must have them can be found in countless other shows, but they are there because they work.
It is possible that for some people, the series goes a bit too much into the psychological stuff, with characters constantly reciting why they are there and how they will try to achieve their dreams. And it is true, there is a lot of that, and some of the characters are completely unrealistic. It makes you wonder how they could function in normal society before arriving at Blue Lock. All of that is true, and yet, the show feels addicting, and you will probably watch episode after episode just to see how Isagi will do in his tests.
Blue Lock is certainly going to be one of the big shows of this anime season. It is beautifully animated by Eight Bit studio, and the premise is as insane as it is entertaining. The show will have to run against other giant anime shows like Spy x Family and Chainsaw Man, but Blue Lock will definitely find its audience. Let’s hope the series is successful enough so that it can provide us with the second season of epicness and craziness on the football field. The fact that the anime also aligns with this year’s World Cup will certainly put you in the mood to watch the tournament.