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The Blue Lock anime is so much more than soccer Squid Game


One of the best parts about sports anime is that interest in real sports is never required. This is especially true with Blue lock, an anime that makes football so bizarre it almost becomes superpowered athletics Kuroko’s basketball look grounded. An adaptation of Muneyuki Kaneshiro and Yusuke Nomura’s award-winning manga, Blue lock dares to ask the question, “What if being an asshole is the real key to success?”

After Japan’s national team once again fails to make it far in the World Cup, the Football Association hires the totally unhinged Jinpachi Ego to do everything he can to help the team win the next tournament. Ego diagnoses Japan’s problem as too much teamwork; they lack the self-centered striker they need to pull off the selfish, goal-scoring moves showcased by top players like Pele, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ego’s solution? Recruit the best strikers in the country to take part in a Squid game-like training program called Blue Lock. The cut-throat competition pits 300 players against each other in solo and team competitions. But instead of fighting for their lives, they are fighting for their careers: the top five players play as forwards for the under-20 team at the World Cup, but anyone who loses at Blue Lock will be barred from ever playing for Team Japan. For these young strikers, that might as well mean death, and they treat Blue Lock as seriously as if it did.

Ego’s presence looms over Isagi and his team.
Image: Eight Bit/Crunchyroll

The show does a great job fleshing out the ensemble of characters, rotating them through spotlight episodes that reveal their past experiences and how they color their movement through the competition. But at the heart of the story is Yoichi Isagi, one of the lowest-ranked players, who is haunted by the decision to pass rather than shoot in his last game before joining the program. Once at Blue Lock, Isagi is determined to leave that version of himself behind and develop the ego needed to become the best striker in the world.

While the foundation of the Blue Lock program is to promote selfishness, football is a team sport, so competitors are forced to find ways to work together while putting their personal desires above all else. These needs are constantly in conflict with each other, and this friction only increases as Isagi bonds with the other players. In fact, Isagi can only find his stride in Blue Lock thanks to the kindness of Bachira, an excellent dribbler assigned to the same team. Bachira is nothing like Isagi – confident where Isagi is insecure, goofy where Isagi is serious, and relaxed where Isagi is endlessly tense. But Bachira sees something in Isagi and helps bring out his unique power.

Everyone in Blue lock has a “weapon” that they must sharpen if they want to reach the top. Once each player discovers their weapon – be it dribbling, speed or, in Isagi’s case, spatial awareness – they must come up with their perfect formula for scoring goals and how to create a “chemical reaction” with their teammates to make full use of their weapons. . The show frequently pauses the action to explore this intricate problem-solving, often putting puzzle pieces into place to create a portrait of Isagi’s calculating mind. You know a player has found a winning formula when they awaken the monster inside them, a leveling up exemplified by the character’s spiraling pupils and the power visibly emanating from their bodies – sometimes even in the form of a menacing beast .

In a still from Blue Lock Season 1, Isagi Yoichi sprints forward, so focused that his eyes are completely white.  Black puzzle pieces fly towards him, filling holes in his head and hair and revealing that he has devised the formula to score.

Enter Yoichi Isagi Blue lock.
Image: Eight Bit/Crunchyroll

This visualization of a character’s inner world is not only a vehicle for dynamic animation, but proves to be the key to it Blue lock‘s story. To win in Blue Lock, you don’t just have to beat your opponents, you ‘devour’ them by using their weapons to your advantage or even stealing them for yourself. But this isn’t as simple as getting faster, stronger, or more accurate. A player can only reach the next level by gaining a deeper understanding of themselves.

Throughout the season, Isagi struggles with insecurities and the fear of putting his own needs first. But he understands that unless he can identify what’s holding him back – physically, mentally and emotionally – he’ll never survive Blue Lock. Through Isagi’s journey of self(ish) actualization, he begins to thrive – unlocking a ruthlessness he had previously suppressed, but also reshaping his identity to fit Ego’s mold.

There is a compelling tension in it Blue lock between the belief that one must completely succumb to one’s own ego in order to succeed, and whether success without pleasure is worth it. In classic sports like anime Kuroko’s basketball, the young hero is not the most talented player, but he beats the celebrated Generation of Miracles thanks to his prioritization of teamwork and love of the game. By the end of that series, even the heartlessly individualistic Generation of Miracles has begun to recognize that Kuroko was right all along: Being the best means nothing without a love of basketball and support from your team.

Isagi and his original team in Blue Lock are on the soccer field in front of goal.

Isagi and his original team.
Image: Eight Bit/Crunchyroll

In this way, Blue lock subverts the expectations of sports anime, with its premise based on the belief that one must realize one’s own potential at the expense of others. It’s a concept that Isagi and others struggle to grasp as it becomes increasingly difficult for the selfish drive to push one’s personal boundaries alongside the appreciation of friendships or teamwork. Even as Isagi, Bachira and the others work hard in the hopes of reaching the end together, they understand the inevitable: at some point they will not only have to kill each other’s dreams, but also reduce their friends to fuel for their own rise propel. The question of who each player will have become at the end of this journey – and the cost of this transformation – is where the show is really at stake.

These moral dilemmas and the characters’ bittersweet metamorphoses are the driving forces behind an emotional investment in this world. But the show also simply rules. Every aspect of Blue lock is increased to 11. The animation goes fast; the kids go faster. This is not just about a bunch of young footballers chasing a career. It involves about 300 high school students trying to destroy each other’s dreams while trapped in a pentagonal facility as part of an immoral experiment sponsored by the Japanese government! They play traditional football matches, of course. But they also have to defeat the hologram keeper, Blue lock manwho is able to deflect balls using advanced microchip technology, and survive a high-stakes tag game where your best friend can kick a ball at full speed at your face in hopes of killing your only ambition in life .

There’s a reason Michael B. Jordan called Blue lock “dope as fuck.” And with the entire first season streaming on Crunchyroll, there’s never been a better time to discover that truth for yourself.

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