Illustrated by Yusuke Nomura
Yochi Isagi is a striker in his high school club soccer team, and his team’s hopes for nationals are dashed by a loss Isagi might have been able to prevent if he had taken the shot instead of passed. But soon, he and 300 other high school soccer stars are summoned by the Japanese Football Union. Upon arrival, they are greeted by Jinpachi Ego, a lanky, unsettling man with a premium soccer mind. He has devised Blue Lock, an enclosed facility with a Hunger Games/Squid Games style, cutthroat, elimination element designed to train and turn out Japan’s best striker. Ego’s main theory is that Japanese soccer lacks the egotism to produce the best striker, that Japanese soccer players are taught to cooperation above all else. Isagi and the 299 others are drawn in, and they enter this strange world of battle-soccer. Team Z - Isagi and his roommates - must train together, compete with each other, and somehow (not) work together to defeat 25 other teams to become the best striker in Japan.
There is a lot of manga out of Japan that has the lessons of cooperation, friendship, trying your best, always being positive… this is definitely not one of them. This fits more in line with sports training from other countries, where super stars are encouraged to leave others behind, where they sacrifice friendships and their personal lives for the sake of their game. This isn’t the best message to be putting in front of impressionable young people, but darn it if this story isn’t engaging and addicting. This title has already done well with digital sales, so the print release is sure to be successful with teen readers.
The art style is as intense as the storyline. Nomura utilizes a lot of dark lines, and tons of action zoom lines. Many of the characters are drawn rather creepily when they are being overtaken by their egotism, and none more so than Ego himself, who is often drawn with an increasingly elongated body akin to a squid. He is rather inhuman, which fits with the inhuman things he asks these high schoolers to do to one another.
Kodansha rates this for Older Teen, and it's probably for the intensity and battle aspect. No one dies in this tournament (they are only expelled from Blue Lock), but some bodily injuries have already occurred, and Ego can be a little creepy. Aside from those things, this would probably be an OK title to give to any high schooler.
Sara's Rating: 9/10
Suitability Level: Grades 9-12
Publication Date: June 21st 2022
ISBN: 9781646516544 (Paperback)
Tags: Rating: 9/10, Suitability: High School, Manga, Sports, Action Adventure, Survival, Kodansha
I've been reading manga and comicbooks for years. Now, I write reviews and other helpful things for School Librarians, teachers, parents, and students.
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