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Like other forms of entertainment media, anime has a variety of genres that provide different experiences. When it comes to sports anime, especially those dealing with high school team sports, the experience is generally wholesome, with a mix of upbeat and competitive excitement. The genre rarely tackles heavy topics, creating a light and perfect viewing experience. However, a team sports anime airing this fall offers a completely different experience: Blue Lock.
Based on the manga of the same name, Blue Lock will consist of 24 episodes, the first of which is already available for streaming. The anime is set right after the Japanese national team lost in the 2018 World Cup, when the country realizes they need a striker who can lead the team to victory. This is how the Blue Lock program is created.
Blue Lock’s premiere establishes the series as a different kind of sports anime.
Blue Lock begins by showing its main character’s decisive high school football game in order to get his team a ticket to the national championships.. The team is trailing by one goal and protagonist Yoichi Isagi has a scoring opportunity to tie the score. However, his teammate asked him to pass to him, as he had a better shooting angle.
Isagi remembered the philosophy that was instilled in them: football is played by 11 people. He gave the ball to Tada, who failed to put the ball in the back of the net. To make matters worse, the turnover led to a counter-attack and a goal for the opposition, sealing the end for their team. Kira, the opposing team’s striker, then gave a speech about how his victory was only possible through teamwork.
However, anything related to teamwork or even typical football ends there. Isagi soon receives an invitation from the Japan Football Union to participate in the ingenious Blue Lock program. From the start, Ego Jinpachi, the program’s organizer, affirmed his desire to produce a revolutionary Japanese striker. He wants someone selfish enough to ignore his team if it gets him a goal. To achieve this, he placed 300 gifted athletes in a battle royale setup where the only way to survive is to fire other players.
Blue Lock delivers thrills that even non-athletic anime fans will enjoy
The first of many alleged competitions was a mixture of football and touchdown. Players had 136 seconds to avoid being ‘it’ and once that time was up, the athlete who was ‘it’ was eliminated. The only rule was not to use hands, and players were quick to exploit that. Bachira Meguru kicked Igarashi Gurimu to avoid being hit, and when Kunigami called out to him, the Gurimu used this moment to hit Kunigami. When Kunigami attempted to touch Gurimu again, the bald attacker used Isagi as a shield, making him the ‘it’. Isagi was only able to avoid being eliminated when Meguru stole the ball from him, put up a play, and had him eliminate Kira.
Blue Lock is just getting started, but it’s clearly not your typical shonen sports anime.. This series is more akin to gory battle royale titles like Alice in Borderland and Squid Game than wholesome sports anime like Haikyuu! and Aoashi. Blue Lock’s thrill comes not from the joy of winning a game through team effort, but from the thrill of losing his life because of a single mistake.
It’s the kind of thrill horror and gore fans are familiar with. Despite this, it does not necessarily disappoint fans of the sports genre, with exhilarating moments where the characters show explosive skill. That being said, Blue Lock’s unique take on football provides enjoyable content for sports fans and non-sports anime lovers alike.