Blue Lock Vol. 3 Review – Winning at All Costs

    Title: Blue Lock Vol. 3
    Author: Muneyuki Kaneshiro, Yusuke Nomura
    Release Date: May 18, 2021
    Publisher: Kodansha Comics

Blue Lock is a sports manga focused on soccer, but instead of platitudes about teamwork, it’s a battle royale to create the best striker. After establishing the protagonist and Team Z in the previous volumes, Blue Lock Vol. 3 continues the round-robin tournament with another high-stakes match.

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Team Z vs. Team W features some clever twists that are only possible because of this manga’s unique take on the sports genre. In a battle of egos, with every character trying to be the best and survive, concepts such as teamwork are mostly contracts of mutual benefit.

While the previous volume started constructing a sense of team and let multiple characters shine, this match is the perfect reminder of the darker nature of the game. Nothing is sacred in a tournament about winning at all costs, and being naïve will only lead to punishment and obstacles in the path to glory.

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Only two teams will be able to continue in the games and participate in the second round. Team V is guaranteed to continue playing while all of the others continue struggling. However, there are other rules in play, and the outcome uses those beautifully to destroy expectations the series had just started setting up.

We also get some development on Chigiri, who’s the boy on the cover this time. Not having shown much before, he was hiding something about his abilities and his past. I was expecting his backstory would only be detailed later, but this is a big part of the volume, giving him some time in the spotlight.

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Chigiri’s story isn’t surprising, though it’s painted with a brush of elitism and irony. He is undergoing a tragic situation, which makes his efforts feel cathartic to readers who are likely to take pity on him. But it is also clear he isn’t a particularly good person at all, nor is he a villain. There’s a nuance there that’s going to be good to see going forward.

The same can be said about the other characters, including the protagonist. Thanks to this unfair situation that heightens everyone’s egos, it’s likely that we’ll see the players getting even nastier over time. When the moral shackles are destroyed, it’s hard to predict how everyone will act going forward.

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The more each player craves victory and survival as an ace, the darker their feelings may become. I’m curious to see what the Team Z characters are hiding inside and how the Blue Lock will push them further. The organizers will likely shake things up, which should bring some entertaining situations.

On the next volume, Team Z will finally face the unbeaten Team V. So far, it seems like a duel between effort and talent, but the team still has to deal with a few issues beforehand. It’d be surprising if they didn’t win, but victory would be but another starting point.

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Blue Lock Vol. 3 is clever and showcases the unique situations that soccer with a survival game atmosphere has to offer. This story is about the ugly desire to be the one to score and win no matter what. And if that’s how it’s going to play, there’s no room for naivety.

4.5/5

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Ivanir Ignacchitti

Random Japanese games are my jam. Handhelds, RPGs, VNs and PC banzai.