It’s time to talk about one of the top new titles of our generation. Blue Lock goes strong right from the gate and the sports genre is already so stacked that initially I didn’t think it was going to match up. Well, almost immediately it has become the second best sports title of all time right after Prince of Tennis. If it keeps going strong who knows…it may even take the top spot. The anime is handled excellently with a 10 star soundtrack and the animation is on point too. This show will really breeze by with all of the great moments and there is no episode that will leave you feeling even remotely disappointed.
The show follows Isagi, a kid who made the team call in not trying to take the shot himself at the championship but his teammate missed the shot and so he regrets that. Why didn’t he take the shot personally and prove that he was a striker? Well, he was always taught the merits of teamwork and such so it just didn’t occur to him. One day he receives an invite to the Blue Lock program. Basically the goal is to create the world’s greatest striker. The stakes are high because if you lose then you can never compete for Japan in the World Cup. However if you can survive then you will truly be a star. Isagi is ready to risk it all and prove that he is the best. Ultimately the champion will come down to whoever has the most skill as well as the most ego. After all without ego you may not have the nerve to take the shot when it counts and if you can’t do that then you’re no striker at al.
It’s a fantastic setup. The guy running this program is fittingly called Ego himself. Basically the government is allowing this experiment to go on for now but they aren’t super thrilled by it so Ego has to move quickly. This is an unprecedented project so this is brand new to both the players and Ego as the coach. He does believe that this is the only way to push the players to get better quickly enough for it to matter. Additionally because of the setup, the series manages to create a lot of tension with players being eliminated here. See, when you leave Blue Lock, it’s almost like you died since you will never appear again and can’t be in the tourneys. It’s a clever way of increasing the body count while still being a soccer manga.
There’s a decently large cast here but before we dive into them lets talk more on the technical elements. The soundtrack is excellent as I mentioned before. Not only are themes dynamite but there are a lot of them. Many shows have a fairly small ost so you hear the same tunes over and over again but this one kept coming up with new tunes in what felt like every episode. Bout, Rin’s theme, Bachira’s awakening, there are tons of great themes scattered throughout the show and I enjoy listening to them quite a lot. The openings are also really solid and I really liked the first ending. It’s a very emotional track that fits in with the show on being low key but how if your dreams end then that’s it. The soundtrack is very fitting for the futuristic intense vibe that the show is going for.
Then for the soundtrack, it does a good job of nailing the intensity. Now it is true that the intensity probably can’t match the manga which is as over the top as possible but overall I thought it still did an excellent job. I like the energy effects that the characters get and how their eyes change when they enter a serious state. Think of it like Blue Lock mode to an extent but when they’re serious then it is curtains for everyone else. Yes that was really quite excellent. The soccer matches can sometimes transition into 3D while the game is going but it’s not overdone too much and you can still follow the action really well. I particularly like when the show adapts a speed scene well like with the World 5. It’s quite impressive visually.
The show also mastered the use of adding in one last scene as the end theme is playing. I always thought this was a great idea because it always sets up the next episode extra well. It makes the episode end on an epic cliffhanger as opposed to just stopping normally. Sometimes they will even have the next game start while the credits are still showing up and that’s when the series is really at its best. I wish more series would d o this where you basically have a fake ending because the show keeps going if you leave the TV on. It makes sure you stay engaged all the way to the end and it’s like a little taste of what’s to come in advance.
Okay now lets talk about the cast. First up is Isagi and he’s an excellent main character. It is always very important for a show to be excellent that you have an excellent main character so that’s one thing Blue Lock already has in its favor. Isagi is a very intense guy who really wants to be the best and isn’t under any illusions that everyone can do this. He knows that in order to be the best he will need to crush some other dreams in the meantime and has made peace with that. That’s what I like about him, it’s all very matter of fact and just makes sense. He even has one scene where he actively enjoys seeing one guy fall into despair which felt a little odd but shows that sometimes the soccer pretty much takes him over and that’s it. At that point he will do whatever it takes to get the win.
We see this throughout the show where he will temporarily be discouraged or lose some drive but then he’ll get it right back and double down. Isagi never stays disheartened for long which I appreciate and he has a lot of confidence most of the time. He knows that he is not the best yet but is determined to change that and so he keeps on practicing. He never makes any excuses or lets anyone else try to console him. He just focuses on getting better and better. This has already been paying off for him big time and I like his gimmick of being the strategist instead of having the most power. It works well within the soccer context and of course he is still a striker so you know he can score when needed.
Then we go to Bachira, the best character in the series. Rin is really close but it’s just hard to go against Bachira. This guy really loves to play the game of soccer and probably has the saddest backstory. He was all alone for so long that he basically created an imaginary friend to play against and even then that didn’t fully break him out of the shadows. It was only after meeting top tier talents like Isagi and Rin that he was really able to get out. It’s very emotional all the way through and his continual rise to the top is really fun to watch. I also like that he doesn’t back down to anyone and was quickly ready for a fight when Shido attacked Isagi.
Bachira easily could have been the main character in another series but works well as one of the rivals either way. In two different circumstances he was able to go up against an entire team on his own which is really saying something. His one man charge against Reo’s team for example is still one of the more epic moments in the season and trust me there are a ton of epic moments. It’s just something that ordinarily should not be possible and yet he pulled it off anyway.
Next up is Rin, another one of the best characters in the series. in this one he’s sort of likw Sasuke. Basically he wants to defeat his older brother due to something that happened a while back but we don’t have the context on this yet. Rin is a true prodigy and appears to be the best player in all of Blue Lock. Up to this point he has dominated everyone he’s gone up against with ease and even Isagi isn’t able to keep up with him. I like how easy Rin makes everything look. He really excels at soccer but we also see how hard he works for this day in and day out. He goes through the most grueling training processes and knows how easily you can fall from first to second. This is what he has that most of the other characters don’t, drive. Pure 100% drive and confidence in himself to be the best. That’s not something that you can learn, you have to have that from within. He never gives up on the game or in himself and fights to the last man. I definitely look forward to seeing more of him.
Nagi is another genius and while I would put him below the first 3, it’s clear that he’s on the same level and he’s another dynamite character. Up until now he has never really had to practice or work hard at anything in his life. It all just came easily to him but now he’s up against other geniuses and it wakes up his competitive spirit. I like the idea that Nagi was always very competitive but just didn’t realize it because he never had a challenge before. It works really well as a character trait and makes sense because at the end of the day nobody likes to lose. He continues to get better and better and I see him sticking around as one of the best.
Now lets talk about someone who I thought had potential to be one of the best but it didn’t happen. There was a guy in episode 1 named Kira who embodies what the main character would usually be like. He’s all about teamwork and doing the right thing. He believes that Ego is wrong in his belief that soccer is about one person standing out and joins Blue Lock to prove him wrong. Unfortunately he gets tag teamed at the end and is taken down so he doesn’t return past episode 1. To this day I’m waiting for him to return somewhere, perhaps playing for a different country or something. He was clearly very skilled and I see a lot of potential there but I guess we’ll have to see how that plays out.
Back to the players, next up is Reo and he was Nagi’s teammate for a while there. He may not have the same level of skills as Nagi but he is great as copying techniques and strategizing. That’s where he gives the heroes a lot of trouble and by providing Nagi with the ball it makes them a very solid tag team. I liked him well enough although he definitely went on a slump after the first loss. Fortunately he has now found himself and can finally start to make a comeback. I see him staying relevant for a long time.
For someone who’s not very relevant, Naruhaya fits the bill. See this is a character I didn’t like because he was not someone who let his soccer do the talking. He was always trash talking and trying to get in Isagi’s head. I feel like that means he doesn’t have the same top level confidence that most of the strikers had. You don’t resort to mind games if your play on the field can speak for itself. He kept on calling himself and Isagi average which also isn’t good because if you’re always downplaying yourself then of course you’re not going to be very good. So yeah I didn’t like this guy at all. One of the weaker characters if you ask me.
Gagamaru is another character who doesn’t really stand out. He’s not bad or mean like Naruhaya but I never found him very interesting or impressive. He does mean well though and by default to last this long he is fairly skilled. Will see if he ends up doing any better coming up. Likewise for Igarashi although in this case I would say this guy is a lot weaker from what we’ve seen. I really wonder how he possibly cleared the solo striking challenge that everyone had to go through because he’s not impressive at all. The guy’s also super petty so I won’t like him much at all. I’m ready for him to be eliminated to be honest.
The Wanima twins get some decent screen time as they were one of the first bosses. They are decent players but I feel like there isn’t a whole lot to them. They love their trash talking throughout the episodes but that’s about it. Imamura was another early boss and he seemed pretty good the whole time but ultimately comes across as a bit more of a one shot player. I was surprised he didn’t make it further since he seemed to have real talent but sometimes it really is the luck of the draw. Lemon is the guy you feel the most bad for because he’s been stuck playing the goalie in just about every match so we have yet to see what he can really do. Hopefully he ends up being one of the big players but I don’t get that vibe from him.
Then we have Kunigami who looks a lot like Ichigo Kurosaki which is a common joke while watching the show. I like his honor code and he’s a good guy. He has a lot of raw power which works really well during the matches. There isn’t anything tricky or outside the box with his play though which I would argue puts him at a bit of a disadvantage. Yes pure strength and technique are important but you need more than that if you’re going to win it all.
Chigiri is the speedster of the group and always looks very impressive in the matches. Low key they seem to hint that he really is one of the best players in all of Blue Lock. Without exception every top player always comments on his speed and I think that makes sense since speed is a big part of soccer. It’s always fun to see him with the ball and I expect he will continue to be one of the best. We already got a bit of a scare about his ankle from the flashback though so I’m worried that it ultimately will break later on which will force him out of the running. Until then I expect him to really keep exceling though.
Raichi is a very loud player who has a ton of confidence but it is unwarranted so far. He seems like a fairly average player who is not weak by any means but not quite able to tangle with the big shots yet. Maybe he’ll prove me wrong but for now he needs to do more. I do like his personality though, he takes the games very seriously and isn’t about to let anyone pull one over him. This guy is playing for keeps and understands exactly what Blue Lock represents in the grand scheme of things. He absolutely won’t be caught lacking when it counts.
Now we have to talk about one of the worst characters here…actually the worst character in Kuon. Basically this guy is a petty traitor and I’ll just never be able to overlook that guy. When the chips were down he didn’t stand by his team and that was absolutely the wrong way to go. When you turn traitor and mess with the team there is really no way out of that. From that point on I was rooting for him to fail. His skills are okay I suppose but yeah the guy is just really obnoxious and needs to go.
I liked Niko as another rival to Isagi. This guy can read the field really well and has solid skills so he’s a good parallel to Isagi. Their mind battles were a lot of fun and this guy is probably the best player who is really under the radar. I look forward to seeing what he can do when he next appears. Then there is Baro who started out as an ally, and is back to being a rival. This guy doesn’t believe in teamwork at all so in a way you can argue that he embodies the teachings of Blue Lock more than any of the others. At times it can be annoying how he just completely does his own thing but he does get results sometimes. I do think this will limit him in the long run but it makes for a unique way to play soccer which is always good to have.
Zantetsu gets the shaft from Nagi’s team as he doesn’t appear much after the initial battle but he’s still pretty good. His speed was impressive and he could hold his own with the other speedsters. I feel like this guy could end up doing good things in the future but I’m also tempted to say that he’s pretty much capped out his potential. We’ll have to see how that goes I suppose but yeah it could be a while before he really does anything super special again.
As the guy who came up with the project, Ego is a fun character. He’s always being as disrespectful as possible to the other players and his matter of fact way of talking makes people listen to him. He’s definitely not a people person but he’s here to complete a mission and you do believe that he can pull it off. Meanwhile Teieri does a great job of handling the political aspects of this like talking to the big shots. The anime actually improved all those scenes tremendously by making the executives not appear to desperate and annoying. While the Blue Lock scenes are the best part, I do enjoy the cutaways to what’s happening outside the arena. It helps to develop the world too.
For example this is where we meet Sae Itoshi for the first time and of course he is a big obstacle in Rin’s way so this sets things up nicely. We know that the guy is an excellent player but he’s actually not a striker. He’s someone who passes the ball to strikers so they will be competing in slightly different arenas. Of course the personal thing to Rin is that Sae at least was still a better striker than him at the time. Have things changed? Well we’ll have to wait a while to see how things stack up now.
Then we have Rin’s teammates Tokimitsu and Aryu. Tokimitsu is one of the more annoying characters so I don’t like him much at all. He’s constantly crying and panicking the whole time. The gimmick is that despite this he is really strong but I like my characters to have a lot of confidence so panicking like that doesn’t do him any favors. If he can ever get his head in the game then I think he can be really good. Meanwhile Aryu is all about playing soccer in a way that is glamorous to him. His signature saying is throwing the word glam into everything. The guy has the skills to back it up but like Tokimitsu I think he could stand to be a little less quirky.
At the very end of the series we meet Shido and now here is a guy with personality and drive. He’s ready to pick a fight with everyone immediately and is clearly a threat in soccer. I look forward to seeing him on the field since he left an immediate impact. We also got to see the World 5, a quick team comprised of some of the world’s best for the final training match. That was a really fun way to end the series and see just what the pros are like. What I like about this is that it really shows how this series ultimately will reach the pros. The World Cup arc will definitely be the highlight of the series if it lives up to the potential. I can’t think of the last time I read/watched any sports title where they actually made it to the world championships. It feels like it’s always the high school or college tournaments instead so the stakes here are a lot higher.
What else really needs to be said right? The show is firing off on all cylinders and even as a big fan of the manga I was super impressed at how the show was handled. It’s all just so energetic and action packed. You are never given any chance to relax and by having that final scene after the credits several times it amps up the energy even more. I’ve rewatched a few of the cliffhangers a bunch of times for that reason. It really is effective and season 2 needs to make sure and match up with this tempo. We’ll see if Ego is right or if this is actually going to be a very long winded way of saying that Isagi and friends should have kept up their teamwork. After all the World 5 actually had a good amount of teamwork going and it worked well.
Overall, This was a fantastic start to the franchise. Blue Lock has really laid the groundwork for a lot of great seasons worth of epic fights and solid characters. I would say one of the things that works really well about the series is that so many characters are interesting and worth rooting for. They all have their dreams and aspirations and it’s not like they’re villains. For the most part they all seem like good and decent people who just want to be the best. Sure, not all of them are super nice but this isn’t a battle of good and evil. It’s just a lot of people fighting for a spot that ultimately only 1-2 people will actually be able to grab. It really makes you feel the stakes involved here because realistically you have to be the very best to really stand a chance here. when you’re playing so many experts like this, it isn’t easy.