「超連動」 (Chou Rendou)
“Super Link-Up Play”
Episode 20 of Blue Lock gets the biggest match of the season into gear as Isagi and Rin finally square off against each other. But while Isagi is intent on showing the kind of chaotic synergy he’s cultivated with his party of egoists, Bachira and the others are more than eager to show off why they shouldn’t be underestimated.
LET THEM COOK
This might be a bit shorter compared to some of the other impressions because it was one of those episodes that came and went because the soccer itself was very compelling. While I found the other games to be a bit middling because they’re so focused on the power imbalance between Isagi and whomever he’s having a difficult time reading, these two teams are equally scary.
Because of this, it plays out more like a shonen fight where you have two superpowered behemoth teams giving each other an intense back-and-forth as each new move is more calculated and riskier than the next. You have two teams that are able to read each other to such a proficient degree that it plays out less like a one-sided affair and more like a rigorous, intense game of ping pong as each team has to read their opponents’ thoughts while planning their own course of action.
At the moment, Isagi’s strategy is a symbiotic link-up method where they’d keep trying to one-up each other so that their attempts to devour each other’s skills are trickier to read than any attempts to work predictably with each other. Their first goal was thanks to the unpredictability they had in reading each other’s impulses as they came to realize that Isagi’s players kept jumping in front of one another to swipe the ball, making it harder for Rin’s players to intercept a tagged player.
Their second goal also exemplifies this pretty well as Nagi’s regret at moving further ahead in soccer than Reo had him realize that flaunting his own physical skills would be awesome because the niche that Nagi fills is the only strategic disadvantage that Isagi has over Rin. By taking on the brunt of the physicality on Isagi’s behalf, he takes it upon himself to devour Rin’s strength in Isagi’s stead and manages to fake out Rin so that he can spike the ball for the second goal.
But in the process of flaunting their new synergy, they still have an uphill battle to face with Rin’s team. Considering how each player on their team is broken in their own ways, each player is granted the opportunity to flex their skills as they score goals on Isagi’s team. Bachira’s personal strength was bound to be ramped up with his allegiance to his monster but becomes even scarier as he corkscrews one of his passes so that Aryu can use his tall height and personal gumption to get a head-butt goal in place.
Similarly, Rin is constantly playing 4D Chess with Isagi as he taps into their biggest strengths to one-up Isagi’s team by whipping out their main techniques to directly counter their tactics. Their strategy to overwhelm and outnumber Isagi’s team as they think they can recover the ball winds up being a mind-bending puzzle for Isagi to try to solve.
If Rin can just King Crimson his way into planning out the optimal moment to steal the ball, what could Isagi do? If Rin’s weakness is in how he perceives what he sees and hears, what would be the best way to obstruct such abilities? By the end of the episode, Nagi’s own intuition was able to one-up Rin, but the reveal that adversity makes Rin angrier could either be a blessing in disguise to distract Rin or a curse that makes Rin an even scarier player to face up against.
If Barou doesn’t truly start cooperating, and keeps ball hogging, even if he thinks he’s being the ‘darkness’ to Isagi’s ‘light’, it’s going to hurt them, and they’re never going to be able to win. He can be the darkness, and still cooperate.