There was a time when soccer anime was the anime for the shonen demographic. It was the most anticipated and excited sub-genre of anime/manga among all the shonen genres. However, as with everything, things start to die out, and before you know it, soccer is no longer the king of anime. ( Isekai is debatable, but that’s a different topic) The success of Dragon ball led to the rise of fantasy Esque shonen anime, and there were some great ones. But the Sports sub-genre was no longer at the helm, let alone football. Sure there were a few outliers here and there, but none were as superb as Haikyuu. The Volleyball manga was in a league of its own. Not only did it become the best sports anime of all time, but it also rejuvenated the sports genre once again.
There has been a drought of good football anime for a long time. We get a few in-between, but none stand out as much as other sports anime. This year, however, we got two of them. Ao Ashi and Blue Lock are soccer anime that don’t just feel the long void but add so much of their own and a new perspective. But with two of them focusing on the same subject, the question arises, which one is better?
Production IG adapted Ao Ashi into anime, which is well known for many sports anime. Ao Ashi follows the life of Aoi Ashito, a footballer we meet in his mid-school soccer final. He is an exceptional player with an upbeat and loud personality. However, we get to see he can remember the position of every player on the field throughout the game and make strategies depending on the situation. As we move forward in the story, the story reveals its grounds to be in realism. Every sports anime has some mystical or psychological touch to it. And the lack of those elements in Ao Ashi could also be why it didn’t become a hit compared to its direct competitor Blue Lock, which focuses more on one-person soccer. But as anime aired, the show appealed to its viewers for the real-life elements and strategies were put.
Blue Lock will be adapted into Anime by Eight-bit, it doesn’t have high-profile sports anime like production IG, but they gave us one of the warm-hearted animes like That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime. The studio is going out of its comfort zone by adapting something as serious as Blue Lock. However, it won’t be their first sports anime, so the studio has worked on Stars Align. An original anime from the studio; as such, the fans who wanted Blue Lock to be adapted by Production can still look forward to Eight-Bit’s Production.
Blue Lock follows Yoichi Isagi as he fails to deliver the final goal and get into the Japanese Nationals. He accepts his loss well in the beginning until he is brought to tears over the reality of never becoming a professional. His distraught is short-lived as he is invited to Blue Lock to join for special striker program. He is elated by the fact that someone acknowledges him; however, he is not the only striker from high school in the program; there are three hundred. And as Yoichi continues pursuing his dream of playing striker, he realizes he has to break two hundred ninety-nine along the way.
Similarities between Ao Ashi and Blue Lock
Besides the series being centered around soccer, one key point of similarity is between their protagonists. They are different people in many ways; Ashito is upbeat, loud, and upfront, while Isagi is quiet, pondering, and gloomy. There are similarity lies in how they are special. Soccer anime has gotten a bit of a meme attached to it with the use of special moves, not here. They specialize in how they can perceive the field as a whole and work on it. However, that doesn’t mean they go about doing it the same way. Ashito already knew how to contemplate the field from the beginning and learned to think on his feet. Isagi learns to perceive the field down the line, and he uses it on instinct rather than thought-focused.
Ao Ashi Vs. Blue Lock- how are they different?
Seeing how similar Ashito and Isagi their differences are profound. The two would have easily been rivals if they were put in the same anime and belonged to different teams. But instead of the rivalry between them, we have rivalry between the series. The way both series handle soccer and their outlook on how to get better at the sport is on different ends of the spectrum. Ao Ashi is a team that grows together that will represent Japanese soccer one day. Meanwhile, Blue Lock is about strikers going on a battle royale to create a striker that will take Japanese soccer to new heights.
The environment they train in is also different; Ao Ashi follows a school setting, whereas Blue Lock takes place in a facility to produce the striker for the Japanese soccer team. The stories also start at different points in their lives; Ashito is starting his journey in Year one in high school, while Isagi is prepping for a big match from the get-go. And last but not least, the way their character is opposite of each other. Ashito learns to play with the team while using his head more, while Isagi is forced to grow out of the team mentality and become egotistic.
Also, read: Will Aoashi Be Able To Replace Haikyuu?
Ao Ashi Vs. Haikyuu, which has better Characters?
Ao Ashi focuses on Esperion Youth Academy team A members that cultivate football players for the next generation.
- Aoi Ashito: Baring resemblance to the series’ name, Aoi is the series’ protagonist. His only aspiration is to play football until he meets Fukuda, who shares his dream with Ashito.
- Eisaku Otomo: Otomo is introduced as a nervous wreck ball who whimpers and is intimated by tense situations outside the field. Increase field. However, he is calm, observing the middle man among his team members. During the
- Soichiro Tachibana: He participated in the Esperion selection match to regain his competitive streak. He used to be captain of his team in his mid-school soccer club. He began to trust Ashino during those matches, and they have been good friends since
- Jun March Asari: First seen in the match against new candidates. He has a calm demeanor but looks down on Ashino, thinking he has inferior skills.
- Nagisa Akutsu: Can easily be ascribed as the Villain of the selection matches. He manipulated his opponents and was the only one to win in his selection year. Via coercion, he doesn’t like Ashino one bit.
- Tatsuya Fukuda: Can easily be described as the backbone of the plot. He saw potential in Ashito and invited him to Esperion Tryouts.
- Hana Ichijo: Tatsuya’s sister-in-law aspires to be a doctor and helps the Esperion team members when they are injured.
- Noriko Aoi: Ashino’s mother supports his dream but doesn’t like to talk much about it to him.
- Shun Aoi: Ashino’s older brother; he was the one who taught Ashino to play football when he was young. He also helped his younger brother with money when he had to leave for Tokyo.
Blue Lock focuses on team Z, a team of shooters that are put together to compete with a team of shooters.
- Yoichi Isagi: The Protagonist of the series. He is shown to be sincere and caring initially, but as he gets closer to his dream, he starts enjoying it.
- Meguru Bachira: Playful and bright, he was the first to get along with Yoichi in Blue Lock. He also helped Yoichi realize his sinister and unleash his potential.
- Rensuke Kunigami: He is remarked for having a well-built body and a calm demeanor. During the first few matches, he gets close with Meguru and Yoichi.
- Gurimu Igarashi: Son of the Temple Priest, he started playing soccer to escape his fate and become a soccer player. He looks at Yoichi as his rival as they rank next to each other.
- Wataru Kuon: He became the captain of team Z as he was the only one who cared for the team to function well if they were to proceed.
- Hyoma Chigiri: Despite being a striker, he sticks to playing defender. He doesn’t like to talk much about himself; he helps his teammates in any way possible.
- Okuhito Lemon: He is considerate of his teammates and cares for them. So much so that he stuck to playing goalkeeper to help the team go further.
- Anri Teieri: Figurehead of the Japanese soccer team, she is the one who enlisted Jinpachi Ego to create the next striker for Japanese soccer. She is passionate about soccer and will go against even her seniors if they aren’t taking it seriously.
- Jinpachi Ego: The man behind Blue Lock. He will go to insane lengths in pulling out the potential of players. He not only gives them eccentric challenges but also guides them.
With how different both series have to same sport, it is hard to tell which will be better. If we go by sale numbers, Ao Ashi will win, but it came early. And if we follow the popularity between the two, Blue Lock takes the crown as it gained more fans in a shorter time. But the animation matters, fans of Blue Lock were a little unhappy when they saw production IG picking. And Ao Ashi also has a lot of potentials; many fans of it consider it an underdog. In the end, the popularity contest would begin after both the shows had finished airing. But right now, it seems Blue Lock will be the better one.