REVIEW: ‘Blue Lock’ Volume 1

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Blue Lock Volume 1

It feels like just about every popular shonen series touches on the themes of teamwork and friendship at least once in their run. After all, what is more, heroic than working together with your peers and believing in your friends? In Blue Lock Volume 1, author Muneyuki Kaneshiro argues the complete opposite: teamwork is useless, and a true hero cares most about themselves (at least in the world of soccer).

Blue Lock Volume 1 is published in English by Kodansha Comics, with story by Muneyuki Kaneshiro, art by Yusuke Nomura, translation by Nate Derr, lettering by Chris Burgener, and editing by Thalia Sutton.  Blue Lock tells the story of Yoichi Isagi, a second-year high schooler with a passion for soccer. After losing the 2018 World Cup, the Japanese Football Union decides they must completely rebuild Japan’s soccer program. To do this, they create the “Blue Lock Project.” It places Japan’s 300 best forwards in one facility, Isagi included and pits them against each other in order to create the best forward the nation has seen.

I never thought I would really be able to enjoy a sports manga before I read Blue Lock. Kaneshiro is able to weave together an absolutely gripping storyline, turning a simple game of soccer into a pulse-pounding face-off full of tension and drama. Isagi is a fascinating protagonist, and watching him deal with the insanity of the Blue Lock project is a joy.

Though we don’t get to know many characters other than Isagi in the first volume, those that we have met have a ton of potential. Jinpachi Ego, the completely insane coach, hired to lead the Blue Lock program, is incredibly intimidating and has a demanding presence. Gurimu Igarashi, the only player ranked lower than Isagi, looks to be a great sidekick/comic relief character. And Meguru Bachira, a player who gets the spotlight at the end of the volume, looks to be a great rival to Isagi.

Blue Lock Volume 1 would not have nearly as much impact as it does without the insanely good art of Yusuke Nomura. Nomura masterfully illustrates each character’s emotions onto the page. The intensity, drive and fear each player feels during a game of soccer or a training exercise is almost palpable.

A manga rarely grabs me in the way that Blue Lock Volume 1 did. After getting past the first few pages, the volume captures your attention and doesn’t let go until it comes to its conclusion. Even when the volume wraps up, it ends in a bit of a cliffhanger, basically begging you to pick up volume two.

After reading Blue Lock Volume 1, it’s clear that the excitement I had heard online surrounding this series was more than just hype. The volume features an intensely engaging story, interesting characters, and outstanding art. Blue Lock is setting itself up to be one of the best sports manga ever written, and you owe it to yourself to pick it up.

Blue Lock Volume 1 is available now wherever books are sold.

Blue Lock Volume 1
4.5

TL;DR

After reading Blue Lock Volume 1, it’s clear that the excitement I had heard online surrounding this series was more than just hype. The volume features an intensely engaging story, interesting characters, and outstanding art. Blue Lock is setting itself up to be one of the best sports manga ever written, and you owe it to yourself to pick it up.