Sports anime has been one of my favorite genres when it comes to anime, and soccer anime (or association football anime for people living outside of the United States) is basically my number one for sports anime. There is basketball such as Kuroko No Basket and SLAM DUNK, there is volleyball anime such as Haikyuu, and there's even swimming anime such as Free!! Although all three of those anime series are amazing to look at, soccer anime has been a near and dear experience in my heart.
For instance, soccer has been a die-hard passion of mine outside of Japanese culture and anime. I do know a good amount of knowledge when it comes to American football, basketball, and baseball in the United States, but soccer has been a close-to-heart thing for me. So, that's why I tend to go for soccer anime more than other kinds of sports anime. Soccer anime such as Inazuma Eleven, Giant Killing, Aoashi, and Knight in the Area has been a great experience for me since it's a great combination.
So when I first heard about BLUE LOCK, understandably, I immediately got hyped and dropped literally everything to wait and watch for the series to drop. To me, I immediately got into BLUE LOCK because at the time the anime production was going into play, the 2022 FIFA World Cup was going into play and the Japanese national team was attending the finals tournament. So, in my mind, I would think BLUE LOCK would be an answer to Japan's motivation of doing well in the World Cup (spoiler alert: got kicked out in Round of 16 in penalties since they haven't gone that far before...).
Gotten up a lot earlier, got my ramen near my computer, making sure my Internet connection is working properly, and battling through the tons of ads for me to watch the series. Although it made me a little more tired than usual, it was always worth it to watch the latest episode.
BLUE LOCK is mainly about the rise and the drastic changes of the main character Isagi Yoichi. He lost the high school tournament mainly because he passed the ball to the teammate rather than scoring, and it was a domino effect from barely missing the goal to losing the game entirely by a successful counterattack. While he was defeated and saddened about missing the chance, Isagi received a mysterious letter from the Japan Football Association. He meets up with the top 300 strikers in the country in a strange location, and Ego Jinpachi (the coach and leader of BLUE LOCK) explained the boys in a summary of "throw away all the friendship and crap you've learned in your childhood and learn how to become a egotistical, cocky winner to get the glory and fame you've always wanted. If you joined the BLUE LOCK program, I can guarantee you'll become the best striker in the world."
Thus, with pure instinct, Isagi sprinted into the opened doors to chase his dreams of becoming the best striker in the world and help Japan finally win the World Cup.
Since it was something that I was hyping for quite sometime, I was immediately glued into the screen for the longest. My first impression for the show was it was a strange change of pace since mostly in anime, we've immediately learned about the "power of friendships" and "working together" almost immediately and throughout our time watching anime from series such as Pokemon, Naruto, ONE PIECE, and things like that. So learning that the players need to focus on only their success and being the best egotistical striker they can be was an interesting change of pace.
The CGI of the series whenever a soccer game is in play was a nice thing to see because it's something that I don't see from other soccer anime series (or even in sports anime series in general). Plus, seeing some style points from players such as Bachira Meguru, Baro Shohei, and Nagi Seishiro was breathtaking to see and it was super refreshing for soccer fans trying to mimic the skills they've seen on BLUE LOCK whenever I go to YouTube!
The storyline was great as well. Seeing Isagi going from a barely mediocre soccer player to being one of the most dangerous players in the program was mesmorizing to see. Just seeing him constantly improving his skills from every game was nice to see. Plus, meeting other characters and hearing about their lives before coming to BLUE LOCK such as Chigiri Hyoma and Reo Mikage and the reason why they become who they were and why they have that kind of playing style in soccer.
Overall, I loved the first season and still reading the manga while waiting for the second season (and a movie) to be released. From start to finish, it's one of those series I can definitely rewatch in the future whenever I get the chance.
My Favorite Character
It was kinda hard for me to choose just one character for the entire season because they have a lot of interesting backstories and personalities throughout the series, but by a barely small margin my favorite character for the entire series was actually Hyoma Chigiri. The reason was behind his entire story before coming to BLUE LOCK and how his playing style goes for the entire time. Chigiri was one of those supporting characters that I want to root more than Isagi because he would have to deal with obstacles physically and mentally that a lot of athletes could relate to. It's not that Isagi doesn't have obstacles, but with Chigiri, it seems to be a lot deeper than most of the characters in the series.
For Chigiri, it's tearing your ACL during his time in middle school (junior high in the anime) and having to choose whether he wants to not just become the best striker in the world, but just overall thought of "do I want to even touch a soccer ball again?" Tearing an ACL can mess up any athlete's mentality because doing it even once is already extremely bad, and the process of going through rehab to get back into the field is not only menacing for the body but for the mind as well. So tearing up your ACL and you're not even an adult is downright frightening to say the least.
There were times even before going to the BLUE LOCK program that Chigiri is second-guessing if he wants to play soccer again after that fateful incident during a soccer match, and with the Wanima brothers poking fun and now berating him of becoming the shell that he once was, it could be understandably that for some people would automatically quit if they're in Chigiri's point-of-view.
The fact that he not just survived but thrived into the shackles of his leg and prosper a lot more than expected was enchanting to see and it's super easy to keep cheering him on. After breaking those shackles, the confidence he got now was a lot bigger than when he was even before he tore an ACL. That made me wants to cheer him on the most because in today's world, prospering through a horrendous injury is not small feat. I am a soccer player, and I know how terrible an ACL could be for soccer players.
It was surprising to me that people resemble Chigiri to a Japanese soccer player Ryo Miyaichi. I've heard about him for quite some time even before BLUE LOCK started as a manga. I've constantly heard about Miyaichi because he was one of those talented athletes that was sadly dealt with tons of injuries that stopped them from reaching their full potential. In fact, it's a matter of "what if Miyaichi didn't have to deal with those ACL injuries?" If that wasn't the case, he would've not only prosper in the European leagues but helped out the Japanese national team drastically.
Would I keep cheering for Chigiri? Obviously since his story was so amazing to look at. Would there be another character I could cheer for besides Chigiri? You never know.
Conclusion and Expectations for Season 2
BLUE LOCK was one of those anime series where after you finished watching, you started to think about playing soccer the moment you've finished an episode. From the very first episode to the final episode of the season, it have it's funny moments from Additional Time to the shocking moments of betrayal and plot twists that you've never seen coming.
My expectations for the second season is how they could portray Ryusei Shindo from the manga series to the anime adaptation. A super talented but an extremely violent and unpredictable player to play with, and yet is already a fan favorite despite debuting from the final episode of the first season. There's that, and the rivalry of Ryusei Shindo and Rin Itoshi would be an amazing thing to see!