Photo Credit: ©Muneyuki Kaneshiro, Kota Sannomiya, Yusuke Nomura, KODANSHA/BLUE LOCK MOVIE Production Committee

Sports themed anime are some of my favorite anime and I often find myself watching any soccer themed anime when they pop up. Series like Aoashi, Captain Tsubasa, and Blue Lock have a certain charm and excitement that I am constantly drawn to. Ever since the first season of Blue Lock ended, I have been craving more. There was subtle momentum throughout the first 24 episodes which continued to build my excitement for each coming episode. With tons of twists and turns, the series keeps the viewer on their toes, expecting things to go one way, when in the end they go in a completely unexpected direction. Knowing there was a movie coming helped with the wait between seasons. Going into the movie, I had some expectations, but I was mostly excited to have more content for sure. 

Blue Lock the series sees a group of promising young soccer players enter an intense special program to try and find the best striker to help Japan compete on the world stage. The main focus of the series is from Isagi’s perspective but it features other characters like the one featured in the movie, Nagi. What we knew of Nagi from the series is that he isn’t fully committed to soccer initially, but is still somehow exceptional at the game. This is in contrast to Reo who knows what he wants and strives to be the best. The two work together as a unit, bringing out the best in each other. We know as they progress through the program, their paths begin to diverge as Nagi witnesses what it is like to actually care about the game. 

Heading into BLUE LOCK THE MOVIE -EPISODE NAGI-, I anticipated getting to see more backstory for Nagi and Reo before their entry into the Blue Lock program as the two came in together. While there is some of that portrayed, the movie is essentially a concurrent re-telling of what we saw of Nagi and Reo’s time in Blue Lock, and a good chunk of that which we didn’t see before, mainly from Nagi’s perspective. We get to see many appearances from characters we eventually meet in the main series, but during earlier rounds and in different matches. As such, most of the movie is already spoiled by what we know from the first season. There’s a certain simplicity to the straightforward movement through the different games and rounds which really enforces the feeling of a recap. There’s less payoff for each outcome, but it still feels great jumping back into the world of Blue Lock

The movie surprisingly has a slightly different feel to it than the main series likely due to the uneven pacing. There is less intensity built up as we fly through rounds, not allowing for more fleshed out moments and true character growth. Part of the charm of the series was witnessing each character leveling up in real time. Through that, we got to know them even more. Nagi and Reo enter the program at such a high level of talent. There are matches and games which see them tested, but there was a certain charm to Isagi’s constant need to improve which is easier to root for. We know Nagi begins to truly level up once he crosses paths with Isagi, so the wait for that moment is well anticipated. The contrast between the two really makes for a compelling story and makes the first season truly come to life as they interact more and bring out more in one another. 

In terms of animation, it appears to be ever so slightly different from the series, but it still retains the feel of Blue Lock. Characters are slightly less detailed, while on occasion some scenes have some impressively animated sequences. There’s definitely more of a cinematic feel to it in terms of the direction and certain angles portrayed on screen. 

The iconic Nagi scenes where he catches the ball midair or changes the direction and momentum remind us why he’s such a memorable and great character. Seeing his lack of true passion for the game turn into the character he becomes is such a great progression. 

As we get closer to the moment we see Nagi meet up with Isagi and his team for the first time, I felt a deeper connection to the movie. When they do show up, there’s something so instantly exciting seeing them in their elements once again. We know how they get Nagi fired up. This is when the movie truly begins to come into its own. 

Viewers of the series know the eventual outcome of the movie’s story, and oddly, Nagi’s “betrayal” of Reo when he wants to reach his own self potential is somewhat underwhelming from his direct POV. Had there been more time to flesh out the movie and get a deeper understanding of their relationship, the second time around could have hit harder. 

Having watched the English Dub version of the movie, it features all of the same cast returning and more. The familiar voices helped bring me right back into the world. You really need to have watched the series in order to truly appreciate the movie as it requires a bit of previous knowledge. There’s a worthwhile post credits scene which will only get you even more excited for the upcoming new season. 

I didn’t really know much about the manga spinoff which inspired this movie and in some ways, I can imagine a situation where the adaptation would have been better served as a separate series. This would allow for more connection to characters and allow the viewer to feel a deeper connection to Nagi and Reo. 

While not vital to the overall Blue Lock experience, the movie provides some new perspectives into the life of Nagi, Reo, and their journey so far. It retains some of the excitement and humor of the series, while not really hitting the emotional highs and intense moments which made the series stand out amongst other sports anime. Even ever so slightly underwhelming, in the end, it did get me even more excited for the upcoming new season, helping to bridge the gap during the wait for more. The series is set to return this October and will consist of 14 episodes.

BLUE LOCK THE MOVIE -EPISODE NAGI- premieres June 28 in theaters in Japanese with English subtitles and dubbed in English. Season two of Blue Lock premieres in October.

Lee Arvoy
Lee Arvoy joined the TV Source team in the summer of 2020 as a TV Writer.

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