Aoi Ashito has enough natural talent to carry his backwater middle school soccer team to victory single-handed. He also has enough confidence for an entire 11-man team, and more besides. Given his short temper and proclivity for grandiose claims about his abilities—“I am the reincarnation of Ronaldo in his prime, though he’s still alive! I am the reincarnation of Marco van Basten! Though he’s still alive. Always pass me the ball and I’ll lead you to victory!”—one might even call him arrogant. Ok, yes, I’m calling him arrogant. Moments from victory, this trait of his gets the better of him and he head-butts the opposing team’s goalie after a few taunts. His team loses the championship, while Aoi also loses out on a chance to be recruited to a decent high school team in Tokyo. Or does he? A mysterious biker dude with incredible ball control may just present another opportunity for the hot-headed prodigy.
Aoi Ashito—doubtless soon to be nicknamed Aoashi—is really annoying. He shouts constantly, hogs the ball, and refuses to take any advice or direction, even from his coach. His way is the only way. And so initially, I was just waiting for the episode to end so I could be done with him. On the plus side, I did enjoy the animation as I waited for him to disappear from my life, as it’s really quite nice, with much better game play than I’ve seen in recent sports anime releases (Futsal Boys!!!!! I’m looking at you). The biker dude is cool too.
But then, at around the 14 minute mark, the script is flipped as first it is revealed that Aoi’s loss of temper had what is possibly a more honorable reason behind it, and then in the next scene, the boy himself proves to be more of a team player than at first it seemed. This was enough to inspire me to give this otherwise frustrating character a second chance, particularly as the themes of classism and value for others introduced at this point are developed throughout the rest of the episode, making it more than just your typical shonen tale of an arrogant brat who eventually learns to temper his attitude enough to prove that he was right to be so arrogant in the first place (the old “have your cake and eat it too” character arc). All in all then, I’ll give this series one more episode to convince me I’m not wasting my time on a lead who wouldn’t value my investment in him. Ahem, if he were real. And, full disclosure, I’ll do it mainly for the biker dude.
AOASHI can be streamed on Crunchyroll.