If you were presented a once in a lifetime offer to become the greatest soccer player in your nation at the expense of never being able to play for any other team if you failed to become the best, would you do it? Often times in anime, one of the common themes showcased is the importance of teamwork amongst your peers, regardless of everyone’s skill level or area of expertise. Take an iconic show like Naruto for example. Kakashi Hatake – the sensei and teacher of Team 7 comprised of Naruto Uzumaki, Sakura Haruno, and Sasuke Uchiha – were tasked with swiping two bells attached to Kakashi’s waistline which would secure the win and prove they can handle being a ninja. Naturally, they failed completely, and it was all because they refused to work together, even some viewing the other as competition they had to best at the expense of passing the exam and advancing to the next stage.

The concept of teamwork is a fundamental one that cannot be ignored or overlooked especially in a team sport like soccer that requires it in order for everyone to come out victorious. Even the best player cannot win alone, no matter how skilled they are. However, Blue Lock takes a more egoist approach, turning a blind eye to a basic concept almost everyone acknowledges and understands.

After a harsh defeat during the 2018 World Cup played at a local high school, Yoichi Isagi is absolutely crushed, frustrated that he passed the ball at the last second instead of taking the shot for himself which surely would’ve secured the win and recognition for himself as the best player on the team. Afterwards, he receives a letter from an anonymous individual by the name of Ego Jinpachi – fitting, to say the least – proclaiming to lead Japan to the state championship by filtering out the best striker the country has ever seen. Bewildered yet thoroughly intrigued, Yoichi takes the plunge, unknowing of what he’s just gotten himself into.

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Is Teamwork A Burden?:

Shortly afterwards, he and other fellow soccer players are put into groups, each with the same end goal: to become the best striker. However, some issues start to arise pretty quickly. Every single player there has an insane ego, which means that teamwork is virtually nonexistent. As mentioned by Ego Jinpachi, he is only looking for one individual among everyone who can master his ego, using it to propel him forward and to the top. A supreme force of nature uncaring of those around him, purely focused on becoming the best, no matter the price.

As a result, everyone is trying to showcase their skills and win the most points since a team loss doesn’t necessarily mean the whole group is immediately disqualified. Other groups can see your potential and take pity on you by allowing you to join their team or you can earn enough points based on your performance alone and advance on your own. If neither of those options come to pass, your future in soccer comes to an abrupt end. Pretty brutal to say the least but nothing less than perfection is expected when it comes to being the king of the crop.

A Dose of Reality:

As the first season progresses, we come across a variety of different characters, each with their own strengths and weaknesses which can be exploited if caught unaware. Naturally, whether you are competitive or not, you tend to get used to the people around you and eventually come to rely on them despite any reservations you may have. In this circumstance, trusting anyone, even your teammate, can ultimately lead to your demise since they have the same goal as you. Yoichi Isagi, while no doubt skilled, is no match for his competitors – as well as teammates – and he learns this fairly quickly.

In the first episode, he categorized himself as the best striker on the high school team and we as the audience had no other option than to believe him. However, that illusion dissipates when he struggles to advance alongside his competitors, even going so far as to lose the match. Fortunately for him though, his opponents saw potential in him – though it’s purely for their benefit – and invite him to join their team. Leaving his comrades behind, he has a moment of clarity: I’m not the best. Not even close. Though he is grateful he hasn’t been eliminated yet, he knows that competing with the best will require some serious improvement on his part. Relying on his peers to gain certain skills or advance his position is his best course of action. Yeah it’s pretty messed up but no one said this would be pleasant.

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One Small Moment:

I honestly wasn’t so sure he would make it very far despite him being the protagonist. I mean, compared to practically everyone else, he was at the bottom of the totem pole, scrambling to stay afloat by being at the right place at the right time. He was pretty good sure, but he completely paled in comparison and that was pretty obvious, even for someone like me to notice. However, it was this moment of clarity that pushed Yoichi to surpass his limits and really earn his place.

Up until that point, he had kind of been coasting along, playing off of the people around him, not really having his one moment of realization as to why he was even there in the first place. He started taking more risks and stopped thinking so much about what he ought to be doing. Adopting a more proactive attitude started catching the eyes of his peers, finally seeing him as something close to a threat they would be foolish to ignore.

The Ultimate Ego:

In the final episode of the season, he manages to make it to the final selection with his four teammates. Naturally, the farther you go in the competition – any competition for that matter – the slimmer your chances are of making it to the very end. Everyone knows that the real competition doesn’t actually start until the final stages arrive and the finish line is visible. However, that dream comes to a screeching halt when his team gets completely demolished by the World Five, a team of ridiculously skilled players who make them look like toddlers.

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Up until then, they had really believed they had reached their fullest potential, only for one game to flip everything on its head in a second. If Yoichi and his team thought they had egos, the World Five makes them look like complete amateurs, and for good reason. They really are fantastic players so it makes sense for them to be as cocky as they are though it is still annoying. What’s funny is even the more laid back characters in the World Five have no issue acknowledging how good they are, not hiding behind false modesty to come across as likeable.

Their dream of being a legend people revere is slipping through their fingers right in front of them. At this point, if Yoichi wants to be the ultimate victor, he’ll have to fully embrace his ego and go farther than he ever thought possible. Isn’t that how legends are made?

The 2nd season for Blue Lock was announced in March of 2023 and is rumored to start airing between May and July of 2024.

Jessica

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