Why is Blue Lock Getting So Much Attention?

The sports genre in anime has been known to unite anime watchers and sports lovers for decades now, going all the way back to when Slam Dunk came out in the 90s. Kuroko No Basuke, Haikyuu and Free are all blueprints for people that love this genre. Unfortunately, they’ve failed to hit the mark when it comes to football – until now.

Blue Lock is the most recent sports anime to come out and already has a huge following. Nevertheless, being a football anime isn’t the only exciting aspect of the show. It explores a concept that has never been done in the sports genre before: every man for himself.

What is Blue Lock?

The series is set in Japan and begins with their national football team getting knocked off the World Cup. The Japanese Football association choose to hire a new coach, with the remarkably symbolic name of Jinpachi Ego. Ego holds the opinion that a team is only as good as its striker and that strikers should play only for themselves. Ego starts a prison-like facility called Blue Lock, where he gathers three hundred under-18 strikers from Japanese high schools nationwide, with the intention to find the best striker for the national team.

Within the facility, players are ranked from one to three hundred based on their skill levels, with those at the top receiving more privileges. Players then must participate in games and tasks in order to increase their rankings.

How is it different from other sports anime?

Although football is team-oriented, Blue Lock steers away from the conventional theme of team spirit and chooses to focus on individual ability. The show promotes the idea that a striker’s sole objective is to score goals, which breeds egoism among players rather than personal connections within the team.

The Shounen concept of underdogs rising to fame through character development has been popular among many sports anime programmes. For example, in shows like Haikyuu and Kuroko, the main intention is to develop the main character over multiple seasons to show how the gradual development of bonds between teammates improves their performance overall. Not that this isn’t the case with Blue Lock – the protagonist, Yoichi Isagi, is a very typical anime main character who starts out mediocre at best and develops as the story progresses. However, the reason behind his growth isn’t teamwork, it’s choosing to focus on individual ability. Everyone in the show is pitted against each other, so Ego quickly becomes a deciding factor in all their decisions – making it “survival of the fittest”.

How is it different?

The football genre has been explored before in anime but none of the shows ever came close to having the following that Blue Lock does. This has a lot to do with the culture of “mindless media.”

Mindless media is something people consume on a regular basis because the predictability of it is comfortable, and the plot is easy to follow. Therefore, whenever a show strays from generic plotlines it makes people think, gives them room to make conversation, and consequently has them trying to figure out what might happen – which is what Blue Lock has done.

They’ve also managed to remain inherently a sports anime, while also having a battle royal theme going on. The show dives straight into combat mode by pitting the players against each other, which is why the audience is hooked from the beginning.

Additionally, for people that enjoy Haikyuu and have been following it, Blue Lock acts as a placeholder while they wait for Haikyuu to come out. This also allows Blue Lock to steal the thunder and gain more popularity from other sports anime fans.

Should you watch Blue Lock?

Here’s the thing: whether you should watch Blue Lock is completely reliant on how much weight you put on a work of fiction. If you’re a football fan and you want it to be completely realistic, you probably wouldn’t enjoy the premise of the show. In reality, teamwork does matter and there is a reason football is a team sport.

However, fiction should be treated as fiction, and Blue Lock does a lot for the sports anime community. Not only is the plot unusually appealing, but it also makes you wonder if putting yourself first is something actually worth considering when it comes to sports. Because, let’s be honest, if you played under-18 football and had the chance to play for your national team, you too would consider being extremely selfish in those conditions.

Ritisha Shahriar is a second-year international student from Bangladesh studying BA Business and Management. Her interests in media align with her hobbies – sports, pop culture and the occasional dabbling in marketing & finance. Find her on Instagram @ritishashahriar

Feature Image: Crunchyroll

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