Despite the Japanese men’s national team’s phenomenal success in the knockout stages of this month’s World Cup tournament, their success and eventual downfall was predicted in the breakout soccer-related anime Blue lockmonths before the start of the competition.
In the past 25 years, Japan has never failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup. This is an impressive achievement for the team competing with such national football powerhouses as Brazil and England. Also, Japan has consistently managed to reach the second round of the tournament, which is another impressive feat. But when this year’s tournament matchups were revealed, few believed that Japan would make it to the second round. Their opponents included Germany and Spain – two of the strongest teams in international football, and Costa Rica, an up-and-coming team that always puts up a good fight. Despite the odds, Japan were a real ‘giant killer’, taking out Germany and Spain, to reach the second round. Entering the second round against an unbeaten Australia, it began to look as if the team could make it to the quarter-finals, a result it had yet to achieve. Unfortunately, despite a valiant effort, Japan simply failed to score against Australia during normal time, overtime and in the penalty shootout. The Cinderella run ended almost as quickly as it began.
While the Japanese nation may have been devastated by the loss, Blue lock‘s Jinpachi Ego certainly wasn’t. In fact, he predicted Japan’s loss in the anime’s first episode. According to Ego’s analysis, unless Japan was able to produce a world-class striker on par with Messi or Ronaldo, the team would be unlikely to make it into the final two weeks, and impossible for it to win the competition. Indeed, this was why Ego and his partner Anri Teieri developed the Blue Lock program, namely to identify Japan’s most promising strikers, then ruthlessly crunch the numbers until they find Neymar, Kane or Mbappe.
Blue Lock’s theory of Japanese soccer dominance
According to Ego’s theory, the Japanese men’s national soccer team is solid and effective enough to be one of the world’s better teams. From a total team concept, they are one of the best in the sport. The reason for this, Blue lock‘s Ego suggests, are Japanese cultural values where the group is put before the individual, and the individual caters to the group’s interest. In sport, this means that the team passes well, rotates effectively and supports each other perhaps better than any team in the world. Consequently, they should win against inferior teams, and avoid occasional upsets. Ego’s perspective was substantiated in this year’s WC performance. Despite its advantages, Ego believes, the total team concept has consistently resulted in Japan failing to advance, especially against better teams.
In the anime, Ego points out that Japan’s World Cup failure is due to the fact that the team lacks a sufficiently proud player who is willing to shoot when others can’t, or won’t. He argues that all the best strikers, those who have led their teams to World Cup victory, were selfish, selfish players, who – when it matters most – think only of themselves. This point was clearly proven, Ego would argue, in Japan’s inability to score against Australia. A loss that Ego will claim also proves the need for it Blue lock.
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Blue lock is now available for viewing on Crunchyroll.