「時は来たり」 (Toki wa Kitari)
“The Time Has Come”
Blue Lock’s final episode has arrived, and outlines exactly how the future of the series will look. As the program is threatened to shut down, Ego makes the decision to enlist the remaining players to help fight his battle against the board of directors.
SORRY YOU’RE SURLEY
The World Five match seems like it was mostly a personal assessment as they weren’t expected to win against them. But even so, their efforts didn’t go in vain as they allowed Rin to adjust his playstyle to cater to Isagi and Bachira. Additionally, it adds more fuel to the fire that rages on in Rin over his brother and the people who recognize him solely for who he is as the little brother of a famous soccer player.
It also proved to be a good opportunity for them to adjust to the new changes they’ll have to prepare for as they advance through the world stage. Mainly, they have the chance to bully Rin into teaching them all how to speak and listen to English so they can communicate with people like the World Five. As a side note, I cracked up a bit when Bachira used the English he learned to make wordplay jokes.
I don’t want to be mean about the seiyuu’s English dialog since it’s a valiant effort to even try to vocalize a completely different language. At the same time, they’re given a hard deal when they have to verbalize lines like “I’ve got no interest in male bodies” or “If you open your legs up easily, people will think you’re a loose guy.” I feel like even English VAs would have a hard time making these sound natural without localizing the dub in such a way for their lines to not sound like dialog meant to throw off the Blue Lock team.
RYOSUKE KIRA’S PARENTS DEFINITELY SNITCHED
It’s pretty funny how self-aware the story is about how no one in their right mind would or should have signed off on a program like Blue Lock. Where the Board of Directors is at wit’s end because, on top of wasting so much money on results they’ve yet to see, now they have parents breathing down their necks about how their sons were humiliated and kicked out of Blue Lock in disgrace.
The Blue Lock Project’s boardroom meetings come off like outright parodies of what happens in the business world as so many stupid, risky gambles are made with reckless abandon, all for the sake of a good elevator pitch. And then, the old guard sabotages themselves because they’re upset that long-term goals aren’t producing short-term gains, threatening to cancel anything that’s not an overnight success in favor of moving on to the next failed experiment.
It makes them susceptible to betting the entire Under 20‘s team on a match against a team produced through the Blue Lock Project, thinking they can gleefully trash two programs they’re already invested in. Ego’s efforts to try to avoid using Blue Lock as a launchpad for the soccer equivalent of the XFL amount to the Third Selection where the remaining players must compete for a chance to face off against the U-20 team.
WHAT’S TO COME
I liked seeing how excited Isagi is to see some of his old comrades, but that’s short-lived when it’s revealed that Kunigami was eliminated by Shidou Ryusei. It doesn’t help that Shidou was happy to send Kunigami straight to the Summer anime season. While the manga shows him approaching a Wild Card room in the same chapter as Shidou’s smack talk, I know full well they didn’t show it because the last time Kunigami was trapped in a hallway, he had to listen to all of his comrades be cut down by Yhwach.
Speaking of Shidou’s smack talk, he didn’t make a good first impression by trying to attack Isagi, unprovoked. Rubbing in how he dunked on his friend was already bad form, but the attack now has Chigiri and Bachira’s ire. Bachira’s threats to take him outside are made even funnier when he claims that Shidou bought his tan from a salon.
As if Shidou’s presence wasn’t enough to rock the boat, we’ve also got Rin’s brother, who we now know will definitely be on the U-20 team. The prospect of Rin having to face his brother has given him even more of a reason to be incensed at the prospect of having to play against them, especially with the animosity that Rin keeps bubbling up inside.
Many of my feelings on Blue Lock’s First Cour are in the Retrospective I posted before the Second Cour, but for this second half, I’d say that my enthusiasm for this series really blew up. I went from being morbidly fascinated by how seriously all of the characters take this weirdo boot camp to becoming outright obsessed with each new match.
The juxtaposition between its “eat or be eaten” ideology and its emphasis on building strong bonds with its players are at both extremes. They’d talk each other down to such an insane degree during the game, but off the field, they talk about one another like eternal life partners.
It’s made even more hilarious in the second half as much of the drama is centered around couple dynamics. Where Isagi fights through the Second Selection because he truly wants to play with Bachira again, while Bachira puts his faith in Isagi’s abilities to reunite again because he placed so much significance on their connection. On the flip side, Nagi’s fixation on Isagi caused Reo to spend the entire second half acting like a jilted ex, desperate to make his former partner crawl back and beg for his attention again.
While it leans on the toxicity of its players, Blue Lock is surprisingly wholesome in its second half as it relies on us getting better acquainted with many of the players that have endeared to us so far. Most of the main and supporting cast has some element to them that’s meant to be endearing, whether it’s their attitude, their backstory, or their quirks that flesh them out as people worth caring about.
The logical dissonance also leads its characters to accidentally stumble into becoming team players. The show is individualistic in such an odd way since they expect players to rely on each other to get the ego trip they want. Everyone is obsessed with “eating” the players around them, but that only makes them trick themselves into working as a team. It’s like someone who decides to eat salad to spite the vegetables.
Blue Lock’s greatest accomplishment is using its cruel, competitive atmosphere as a Trojan horse to introduce compelling characters into the mix. As players are wrestling with their worst insecurities, they push themselves to improve their mindset and find the drive that allows them to thrive. In a strange way, it’s humanistic to see people like Barou reflect on themselves before trying their damndest to prove their insecurities wrong.
This is especially true for Bachira, a character who had to contend with recapturing his true goal. At first, it was to be able to fit in with others after a childhood of outright rejection, combined with his own overreliance on an imaginary monster for help. But now that he’s in Blue Lock with like-minded players, he put so much stock on his connection with Isagi that he hadn’t stopped to think about what he could personally get out of soccer to catch up with others. Now that he doesn’t have to play by himself, he can shed his monster, allowing him to unlock his true potential and catch up with Isagi and Rin.
I have a strong bias towards Bachira because of his adorable gremlin energy, but also because his development acts as a kind of metaphor possibly for the creative spirit itself. It’s hard not to feel determination when I’m watching someone else break out of autopilot they found themselves stuck in out of self-preservation and a yearning to find like-minded company. And instead of being content with just reaching that goal, it manifests into a greater, larger goal of overall self-improvement.
It adds to Blue Lock’s surprisingly heart-warming aspects. Where individualism isn’t always for the express purpose of dunking on others, and can often be a great way to understand who we are, how we operate, and how we can help improve both the way we operate and the way we behave around others. It’s the kind of positive self-love that actually helps us become better acquainted with our friends and loved ones. It can be easy to miss this when everyone is obsessed with devouring each other and stomping on their corpses, but for the remaining characters on the show, it does justice to how they become far better players when they have a better understanding of how their talents complement their teammates’ talents.
To me, Blue Lock is a brutal coming-of-age story about young athletes being thrown into a cutthroat society. It’s also a soap opera about young athletes who have to learn to survive with each other through devotion and heartbreak. This duality makes for a very entertaining experience where it’s easier to endear to these characters as they’re pitted against each other and have to use their intuition to reach common ground.
I feel bad that Fall 2022 was too packed to get the first cour fully covered, but it was probably my best decision of the season to switch over to Blue Lock for the second cour because it’s such an entertaining show that kept me captivated from start to finish. Some of the art kinda dwindled as the season went forward, but for its pivotal moments, it was faithful to the same manga artwork that made Dolly Kill Kill an underrated action horror story. I’m excited to see how far the story goes with the next batch of projects attached to the series, especially if what’s to come is the program’s fight against Japan’s U-22 team.