Losing a match leaves a bad taste in your mouth, especially when it’s the prefectural finals and a win would have led you to the nationals. It’s even worse when you had a shot at a tying goal, but instead you passed the ball to a teammate who missed. Would things have turned out differently for Isagi if he had selfishly taken the shot? He may soon discover if being less of a team player and more of a self-centered striker will bring him closer to his goal of winning the World Cup. When Isagi is invited by the Japan Football Union to Blue Lock, a training facility led by a man who intends to create an ego-centric talent who will become the best striker in the world, he must decide if he wants to become a player who values being the best above all else. After agreeing to join 299 other forwards in this “survival game,” Isagi is immediately thrust into a competition that will test his resolve.
Based on a popular manga, Blue Lock is one of the season’s most anticipated series. I’m unfamiliar with the source material, but after this premiere episode, I now get a sense of why it has so many fans. Unlike traditional sports series, Blue Lock uses the genre as a cover for what the show really is—a survival anime. So while it speaks the language of sports anime, Blue Lock appears to have more in common with Alice in Borderland than Inazuma Eleven. And yet, unlike the former series, death doesn’t seem to be in the equation. So how will this series keep the stakes high, especially when it will apparently lack the team-building component of traditional sports anime? Well, in a few ways, it seems: through the blazing/smokey look of the action combined with intense eye animation that’s a trademark of the series; walking the thin line between making Isagi into a self-centered superstar and keeping a humility that attracts viewers; and by violence, backstabbing, and, as shown at the end to episode one, twists and turns that are common to survival shows. (And boy, I have to say, that was a great ending!) Episode one was engaging and fun because of all these elements, but it hasn’t shown me yet why the manga is so well-regarded. I’m eager to see how the story develops, and if it indeed earns its reputation, because right now, what I’m seeing is a nice series that can’t become either a great sports anime or great survival anime because of limitations incurred by being a bit of both. I hope I’m proven wrong.
Blue Lock can be streamed on Crunchyroll.