REVIEW: ‘Blue Lock Season 1’ Takes Sports Anime To A New Level

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Blue Lock Season 1 — But Why Tho

Blue Lock Season 1 is a new soccer anime from the minds at 8bit studio based on the hit manga by Muneyuki Kaneshiro. The series is not your typical sports anime, but instead takes things to the extreme.

The premise of Blue Lock Season 1 is relatively straightforward. Japan, a long-time underdog in the world of international soccer, is desperate to develop a top player that can lead them to win the World Cup. It is the striker in soccer that tends to lead teams to glory, and Japan’s team-based approach has stifled any chance of developing a superstar striker. Isagi Yoichi, a first-year high school soccer player and the main protagonist, gets selected for the new Blue Lock program designed to shift Japan’s thinking and develop a world-class player.

The Blue Lock program is the brainchild of Jinpachi Ego, the man handpicked by Japan’s soccer federation to find their next superstar. His new program takes 300 of the best young strikers in Japan and puts them in a Hunger Games-style setting where only one player will remain standing as Japan’s best hope. Ego comes off right away as downright awful. His understanding of soccer flies in the face of what everyone believes it is meant to be. He believes it is not a team sport, but that the team revolves around one star player and everyone else is just a role player. This isn’t just different from how Japanese culture feels about soccer, it’s different than how the entire world perceives the sport.

It’s that idea of approaching soccer differently than the rest of the world that sets Blue Lock Season 1 apart from other similar sports anime. Taking a different approach than a simple story of an underdog working really hard to succeed within the currently established structure of the sport is fascinating to watch. Ego’s vision of soccer is extremely dramatic and overexaggerated, and so is the show as a whole.

Isagi is undoubtedly the good guy in Blue Lock Season 1, but that doesn’t stop him from finding a bit of a darker side as the story progresses. He is put up against players that he initially wants to see as friends, but Ego constantly throws wrenches in the system that makes it impossible for the players to do anything but compete against each other. Watching Isagi slowly develop the monster inside of him that gives him the potential to become a legendary player was a storytelling treat. He doesn’t ever become “evil” or entirely selfish, but he constantly wrestles with himself because he knows he has to be a bit more selfish or his soccer career will be over in an instant.

It’s not just Isagi, though. The bit players like Meguru Bachira and Chigiri Hyouma have their character development shown with as much care as Isagi’s. In fact, I actually found Bachira to be the most intriguing character. Seeing his monstrous mentality given an in-depth explanation with backstory about his life made a character that started off unlikable incredibly sympathetic. Bachira may have become my favorite, but each and every character gets that same sort of attention when it is their moment to shine. They don’t just exist to further Isagi’s development, they have their own goals and struggles along the way that give viewers more than just a singular character to root for.

In the end, though, only one character can win. That’s what makes Blue Lock so fascinating. Blue Lock Season 1 treats everything like a life-or-death situation. From simple minigames to even the way players study and learn, there is a constant feeling of dread amongst the young players. I really appreciated the exaggeration that, as a storytelling device, made their internal struggles and growth so much more visible. There are moments of overly-dramatic lines shouted at the top of their lungs that normally would make me cringe, but in the context of this hyper-exaggerated world of Blue Lock I found myself appreciating it throughout. It almost felt sincere, even though it still was trying to be over the top.

That over-the-top approach carries over to the visual design for Blue Lock Season 1 as well. The art direction is on par with some of the best-looking anime series of the last few years and stands above in some moments. The in-game animation while the players are on the field is where Blue Lock really establishes itself as a visual masterpiece, with every single motion fluidly animated. It’s not just the movement though, the facial reactions from players make the emotion they are feeling palpable in a way that is incredibly difficult to pay off. It takes an immense amount of skill to draw viewers into the smaller details all while showing unrealistically wild animations and effects, but Blue Lock threads that needle perfectly.

Blue Lock Season 1 isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty darn close. Some moments might feel a little bit extra, but that approach is what makes it stand out from other soccer anime. It’s hard not to root for Isagi, and I can’t wait to see how he progresses in Season 2.

Blue Lock Season 1 is streaming now on Crunchyroll.

Blue Lock Season 1
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10


Blue Lock Season 1 isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty darn close. Some moments might feel a little bit extra, but that approach is what makes it stand out from other soccer anime.

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