December 1st. 2022. Japan’s soccer team is up against the powerhouse that is known as Spain. The score is 2-1. Japan wins. Project Blue Lock is working.
If there is one thing that Japan knows how to do really well, it’s timing their sports anime to come out at the most relevant moment. Sk8 premiering in the year that skateboarding would be included in the Olympics is one example. The other? Releasing Blue Lock this fall so it would be airing at the same time that sports fans would be watching the World Cup. Pure genius. Now, for those of you who don’t know what Blue Lock is, it’s a soccer (or football if your elsewhere besides America) anime. The whole premise is that Japan’s football league has put together Project Blue Lock to essentially create/train the world’s greatest striker by doing a series of football games in which losers lose the ability to ever perform on the national team. Candidates are put into teams and they have to prove their talent to make their way to the top.
At first glance–it’s just any sports anime in the description. There’s nothing special about it. Except this show is much better than your average sports anime. It’s actually so much better. The reason for this is that it is somehow shot like a straight-up action anime. I know other sports anime have tried a similar format in the past, but there’s something about Blue Lock that makes it stand out amongst the rest. I honestly think if I had to pinpoint it, it’s the art style. There’s a distinct harshness to the lines–the use of block color and ways in which soccer shots are followed like one would follow projectiles or attacks that just make it work super well as an action. Sometimes it’s a little ridiculous when our MC like goes hard and is winding up for his power move, but it’s also like so satisfying. I will also say that the expressions drawn are WILD like they are straight out of an action shounen anime. It’s really entertaining.
As for characters–I do like them. Our MC, (who I will actually say the name of because he deserves it) Yoichi, actually begins as your very atypical protag. He doesn’t really agree with the idea of Project Blue Lock, even though he recognizes it as a chance to actually have a chance at national recognition, he feels like they shouldn’t be competing and trying to put each other down. Very boring actually. However, very quickly, we see Yoichi as he changes his POV and realizes that’s the only way to make it to the top. The pure fact that he literally has the opposite revelation that most main characters do is unique to me. But also…it’s like kinda reminiscent of squid games but also not. Like, he’s literally realizing that he needs to act with his best interest in mind–and a lot of the other characters do too. If there’s one redeeming thing for him in my mind, it’s that he clearly has some sort of trauma in his past that he needs to get over. But…so do a lot of his teammates. I particularly like the redhead’s backstory–it really drew me in. But also Blue Lock is interesting in that we can’t really root for the whole team–because at the end of the day, there can only be one number one. So we really have to get behind characters. I personally can’t get fully behind Yoichi, but I wonder if that will change by the end of the season.
While Blue Lock is entertaining, I will say that it can be equally as boring depending on the episode. It’s been hit-and-miss, and I do feel like it’s moving pretty quickly through the tournament. I know that it’s because it’s most likely only the first part of the show and there are going to be grander things in line for the anime but it’s just…for once I wish matches didn’t end in like one episode.
Overall, I do think that Blue Lock is worth the watch. Not the most amazing sports anime but also much better than what I’ve seen recently. I think because instead of taking it from the ‘you should care about this sport’ angle, it’s taking the ‘you should care about this character who cares about this sport’. Which I find weirdly more comforting. Is it the best anime of the season. Eh. But it’s worth the watch.