OP2: 「Judgement」 by Ash da Hero
Blue Lock’s first episode of the new year kicks off with Isagi, Nagi, and Bachira facing off against Rin, Aryu, and Tokimitsu. But while it might appear to be a match with equal footing, our main trio finds that Rin has more than enough talent to land the three in hot water.
WOW! WEIRDO ALERT!
I love how they managed to turn a soccer game into a one-sided shonen fight. We’ve been seeing it as a turbocharged version of a team sport for so long that I wasn’t prepared for an episode where Rin slunk and stalked around Isagi to remind him of his incompetence.
I never thought I’d see someone doing villainous monologues about the nature of the game when it came to soccer. It was hilarious to see Rin going on shonen villain spiels about how they’re on a battlefield, and how soccer is a stupid, worthless game unless you have a selfish goal in mind.
And that’s not even factoring in Rin’s abilities on the field, which go beyond anything anyone would actually learn on the soccer field. Rin is activating King Crimson abilities on a soccer field just so he can sense Isagi’s presence and then race to gloat to him about his capabilities as a player.
Throughout the 3-on-3, Rin’s doing mind-reading, floating in mid-air, scoring goals from corner kicks, and scoring directly from the intial kickoff. It’s absolute nonsense and I can only imagine what kind of thought process it’d take to find a way to nerf Rin’s abilities without outright injuring him.
SOCCER IS A BATTLEFIELD
If you ask me, Isagi can only get better if he stops placing mental blocks on himself, reserving part of his tactical strategy for panicking about losing. Because Isagi gets psyched out easily by mind games, it felt like he never had a good grasp of the field once Rin started spouting off Aizen monologues in his ear. Past episodes have him going on masochistic and frankly fetishistic fantasies about losing everything and being banished for life from the game of soccer for catastrophically sucking until Chigiri or Bachira got amped up.
It doesn’t help that Isagi’s strategy to take out Rin only works effectively once, with the second time being a judgment call from Bachira. Nagi felt so charged up from Bachira’s pass that he got a little too addicted to the thrill of it, but Isagi needed to flirt with that same level of spontaneity if he was going to catch up with the rest of the freaks he’s gotta fight. Isagi had a bad time entirely because he couldn’t break outside of the triangle by the time Rin and the others caught on. In layman’s terms, Isagi relied too much on the Triangle Strategy when they needed to pull off a Bravely Default with the Tactics Ogre and Octopath Traveler on his team.
BACHIRA RETRIEVAL ARC
It wouldn’t have helped as much though since the other players on the team had cracked out abilities of their own. I endeared to Rin’s teammates pretty quickly because of how nutty they get. Aryu’s agility is further enhanced by his flexibility, black nail polish, and obsession with glam was a clever twist on the traditional flamboyant character like Yumichika or Tengen Uzui. Tokimitsu is a pretty neat rival as well considering how he’s capable of weaponizing his panicking to channel enough adrenaline to catch up to balls at lightning speed.
It makes it all the more concerning when Rin’s two teammates decide to steal Bachira from Isagi’s team. The subtext in this scene is wild with how Isagi and Bachira internalize how Isagi will need to catch up with him if he wants him back. It’s even more obvious in the manga with the “If you want me, come and steal me” line. Can’t have a good sports anime without a little zest to keep things spicy.
I’m wondering what Isagi’s takeaway from this would be, given that he fell into the trap Ego warned about and relied too hard on luck as more of a consistent victory strategy than his own tactical prowess. With Nagi as his closest confidant, he’ll also have to cultivate a deeper connection with him, especially since Isagi was the one to steal him away from Reo, to begin with. I’d imagine it might be a morale issue if Nagi begins to waver confidence in Isagi compared to Bachira’s outright devotion, leaving Isagi in a more vulnerable position if he flubs the next matchup.