Blue Lock, a shonen sports manga by Muneyuki Kaneshiro, is the new trendy topic in anime and manga forums. The manga launched in 2018 in the Weekly Shonen Magazine has been in talks since its release among football and sports fans.
Among all Kaneshiro’s works, Blue Lock shines the most and is among his best. Kaneshiro started Blue Lock in 2018 with illustrator Yuusuke Nomura. His one-shot debut, “Dokuchi Elementary School Story,” received acclamations at the 80th Weekly Shonen Magazine Newcomer Manga Award. He was soon invited to work at Kodansha, and one of his initial works was “As The Gods Will.”
Kaneshiro’s Blue Lock plots around a systematic and robust model for creating the “world’s best striker.” After Japan lost in the 2018 Football World Cup, Japan Football Union launched a strict and hellish training regime to produce an ace striker. They gathered Japan’s best 300 strikers into a training prison, “Blue Lock,” to achieve this goal.
The manga version has a humongous circulation of over 24 million copies until March 2023. It also was one of the Top 3 Sports Manga Series of the “Nationwide Bookstore Employees’ Recommended Comics of 2020”.
The series received several acclamations from fellow manga authors such as Hajime Isayama of Attack On Titan and was also a topic of discussion at Anime News Network.
Blue Lock won the 45th Kodansha Manga Award under the shonen category in 2021. It was also one of the nominations for the Harvey Awards in the Best Manga category in 2022.
Blue Lock Storyline
In 2018, Japan’s football team finished 16th at the FIFA World Cup and was heavily trolled back at their home. The Japan Football Union hires Ego Jinpachi, who needs a goal-hungry, egoistical, dynamic striker to lead the team to its glory. His plan to achieve the goal is a strict training regime in a confined place named “Blue Lock.”
They send invitations all over Japan and gather 300 best youth strikers. These players are trained at the Blue Lock and are eliminated individually based on their skills and abilities. However, once a player is eliminated from the center, he will not be allowed to play at national tournaments and can not represent any Japanese team.
Among the players enlisted, some are absolute beasts and have prodigy-like talents. However, some have reached this level solely through hard work and skills. Among these players is the diligent, caregiving, and hot potato Asahi Naruhaya.
Asahi was one of the 300 contenders who enlisted in the Blue Lock program to be the best striker in Japan. Being one of the eldest siblings, he has a sense of responsibility and knows his abilities.
1. Asahi is aware of his abilities
Asahi loves football, and playing for the Japanese team is his passion. However, he knows he is not the best and tries to overcome that through hard work. He knows his capabilities and uses all the cards to win. He has the skills to back him but also understands he is not at the level of geniuses such as Isagi and Baro.
During his 2v2, Asahi clarifies to Isagi that he will not make it if he loses the match. He is conscious of his weaknesses and abilities to go against others. This awareness of him was one of the reasons that made him reach this level and win the matches.
2. Asahi is the youngest member of Team Z
The teams in the Blue Lock are divided among five strata, from V to Z. Team Z is the weakest among these, according to their initial stats. They consist of the lowest ranking 11 players in the Blue Lock.
Asahi Naruhaya is the youngest member of Team Z. He has a knavish personality and is the jokester of Team Z. He also steals food from his teammates as a joke.
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3. The False-9 player
Blue Lock is a competitive place where one has to be aware of his abilities and skills. The atmosphere makes it tough and mandatory for the players to outshine their peers. Hence, every player comes to identify their very own “weapons.” Asahi says that his weapon is to fly on the pitch.
False-9 is a strategy that requires a player named “false nine” to play a fake center-forward, but he drops down his position disrupting the opposite team’s marking. Asahi has quick movements and can move behind player blind spots, so he is the main person to perform a False-9.
4. Experienced in Off-the-ball movements
Asahi Naruhaya reveals that he can fly across the pitch, which is his weapon. He uses his off-ball movement to disrupt the opposite team’s rhythm and is best at it. He is experienced in the technique to the extent that he uses the skill at the right place and time.
Despite, Isagi being adept in the off-ball movements too, Asahi is better than him. Asahi uses keen analytical abilities to get past players and break their rhythm.
5. History to the name “Asahi Naruhaya”
Asahi is shown as a fun-loving and mischievous kid in the series. This can also be linked to his name’s source.
“Asahi” refers to a “morning and sun,” and his surname, Naruhaya, means “become fast.” The other meaning that can be extracted from the name is the Japanese word for “ASAP.”
6. Asahi has no parents
In the series, at instances, Asahi’s love for his siblings is showcased beautifully. He was holding onto his sister’s charm or crying over his unfinished dream of becoming a football player to support his family.
This sense of morality and responsibility to back his family points to the fact that Asahi has no parents. It is a very little-known fact, but Asahi has no parents.
7. Asahi has a sense of responsibility
Asahi’s parents died when he was young, leaving him and his other five siblings behind. He has one older sister, two younger sisters, and two younger brothers. He knows he has to be a responsible and diligent older brother to take care of his family.
Football is his passion, but he also does odd jobs to earn money for his family. One of the reasons behind his dream of becoming a pro football player was to support his family.
8. His hobby is cooking
Born in a family of 5 and being one of the eldest siblings, Asahi loves to cook. One can call it a responsible job and his duty to cook for his younger siblings. Despite these, Asahi loves to cook for his siblings and counts it as his hobby.
9. Favourite football players
Blue Lock is a sports manga series based on football. The love of the characters towards football is stunningly portrayed in the series. The characters live in the moment and work hard to achieve their goals. Similarly, each of them has a football icon to look forward to.
Asahi’s favorite football players are Michael Owen of England and Sergio Aguero of Argentina. Both of the players play the position of Forward for their respective teams.
10. Asahi’s love for his siblings
Asahi has been showcased as a reliable and mature guy throughout the series. Despite having no parents, he takes care of his siblings, and his love for them is also depicted in the series.
Before the elimination round, he was seen holding onto his sister’s lucky charm given to him by her. The charm reminds him of his dream to become a professional football player. Despite his hard work, he sobbed uncontrollably over his unfulfilled dream when Asahi was eliminated from the Blue Lock.
11. The story shows the reality of football
Blue Lock is set in a competitive atmosphere where everyone aims to become the best striker. The series depicts the nature of sports, be any, in a very realistic yet mundane way. The players all come from different backgrounds and have different causes to play.
Players like Isagi are passionate about football and are prodigies, despite there being players like Asahi that dream of having a stable life to support their family through football.
Asahi does part-time jobs to help pay the bills and has a tough situation going around. The reality hits the viewers for the first time that life is not the same for all when Asahi fails Blue Lock and cries uncontrollably, knowing his dreams are shattered.