Title: Blue Lock Vol. 2
Author: Muneyuki Kaneshiro, Yusuke Nomura
Release Date: April 20, 2021
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
The competition finally starts for real in Blue Lock Vol. 2. After the first volume set up the story and its unforgiving tone, it’s time for Team Z to participate in a round-robin tournament. As the lowest of the lower-rank players, they’ll have to figure out a way to win.
As everyone in the Blue Lock project is a striker, this makes for an unbalanced team. Everyone wants to shine as the center forward who carries the team, as expected from an “ego developing project.” And having a rule that outright states the loser teams’ top scores get to stay certainly doesn’t alleviate their animosities.
The result is a pathetic display of team play that actively undermines everyone’s skills at first. When everyone’s trying to get the ball for themselves, it’s necessary to find some way to make a difference in the field. Any group that fails at this will face elimination.
With a tone similar to a survival game, the story keeps its high tension from start to finish. It’s an interesting way to develop its premise of the impact of individual effort and having a star on the field. The manga itself has a very cynical and edgy outlook on its subject, making it feel different from its counterparts.
The protagonist, Isagi, has a unique duality revolving around teamwork mentality and wishing to break through and score himself. He has that hunger to motivate him as a striker, to the point he can even be scary by feeling good when he defeats others. One of the best points of the volume is seeing him struggle to figure out what could be his “weapon” against the other teams.
Besides Isagi, other Team Z players also get to show their personalities off a little more. While Bachira continues to be the closest ally to the protagonist, this volume lets the reader see the style of the others, such as Kunigami, Kuon, and Gagamaru.
Though the series is trying to set itself apart by ignoring usual friendship themes, playing together still means those characters develop a sense of partnership. It’s just more subtle and a little more business-like, a collaboration needed to survive.
The illustrations by Yusuke Nomura continue to be impressive. There are two matches in the volume, and both feature multiple dynamic scenes. I particularly like the moments that focus on the characters’ eyes while deforming their faces slightly to give them extra emotional impact. Despite that, it still manages to keep consistency, clarity, and beautiful form.
Blue Lock Vol. 2 continues its strong sense of tension that hinges on a death game atmosphere. Forced to play as a team, the group of strikers has to figure out a way to grow and survive. Otherwise, they’ll continue being nobodies. It’s an exciting soccer story, and I can’t wait to see how things will play out in the next matches.
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