I never imagined that I could get into sports manga, but I recently started reading one in particular that proved me wrong. Blue Lock is a Japanese football manga series written by Muneyuki Kaneshiro and illustrated by Yusuke Nomura. It combines two genres quite well: sports and psychological thrillers.
The story begins with Japan’s elimination from the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which triggers a member of the Japanese Football Union to start a programme scouting high school players who will begin training in preparation for the 2022 Cup.
Their “coach” is Ego Jinpachi. He plans to “destroy Japanese loser football” by introducing a radical new training regimen: isolate 300 young strikers in a prison-like institution called Blue Lock and put them through rigorous training aimed at creating “the world’s greatest egotist striker.”
This concept seemed simple enough to me at first. I thought it would be like every other sports story where you support the main character. There will be some tension and players will compete and you get caught in the moment, but I soon realized this was very different from the sports anime I have watched.
In a lot of the anime, they focus on team building and “friendship” but that can’t exactly work in this story. This is where the psychological aspect of the manga comes in.
As Ego said “Those who are defeated at Blue Lock, will permanently be barred from Japan’s national team.”
In the first chapter he let them know that they should consider their careers in football over once they step foot in the facility.
This means that when a player is evicted, it may truly be over for them. This means they have to fight for themselves, they have to be selfish. This battle royale situation allows for the show of human nature.
The characters all have their own specialty and we see their desperation to better themselves. Other players are either obstacles or stepping blocks to the top.
Of course, Isagi Youichi is the “main character.” Main character in the sense that he is the one we follow the most in the story. He might be the final striker at the end of the story but as it stands, there are so many other amazing players in Blue Lock that one can only wait to see what happens.
Isagi Youichi, a forward, received an invitation to this programme soon after his team lost the chance to go to Nationals because he passed to his less-skilled teammate —who missed— without trying to make the game-changing goal by himself.
He was the first to rush forward towards Blue Lock and so far his growth has been interesting to witness. So far, he is completely different from the boy who passed a ball to his teammate in the beginning. He is a good representation of what will happen when put in such an environment with a goal in mind.
The story is not the only impressive thing about this manga. This art is stunning and it really adds a lot to the enjoyment of the story. The auras of the characters and the visuals of them shooting goals are drawn in a way that adds to the intensity for the story. If you are reading this, one thing I can say is pay some attention to the eyes, a lot of detail goes into them
I am only 65 chapters in so far, but I am determined to catch up and stay up to date because of the thrill of the read. If this manga were to ever be adapted to an anime, I believe it would really turn heads.