Blue Lock episode 18 aired on Saturday giving us hype moment after hype moment, making it arguably the most entertaining episode of the series to date. The cliffhanger at the end of the episode was the perfect way to end a perfect episode. Mixing in Baro’s backstory, a new ability, wonderful animation, and a thought-provoking monologue from Ego, this episode brought out everything we love about Blue Lock.
Baro’s Character Progression is Unique
Baro was the highlight of episode 18 and for more reasons than one. The first is seeing Baro truly accept defeat for the first time ever in his life, specifically on the soccer field. One would think that the most selfish player realizing that playing as a team would be to his own benefit would actually accept that route in order to keep himself advancing through the stages of Blue Lock—NOPE! Baro’s selfishness runs so deep that his new ability of chop dribbling depends on actually using his own teammates without even giving them the ball. As team-centric as I can be when it comes to sports, even I can admit how badass that is. A perfect ability for the “villain” of a sports anime.
Baro’s character progression and becoming the best striker in the world isn’t learning how to play as a team and meshing with their talents. Rather, it comes in the form of becoming more selfish than he already is which we probably all thought was impossible. Where have we ever seen something like this in anime? Perhaps someone can give me an answer because I can’t recall the last time a character’s progression was to double down on pure selfishness. We can focus on how insane the animation and camera work was when Baro scored the game-winning goal, but that kind of out-of-the-box writing for a character reminds me of why this series has been such a joy to watch. What’s even more intriguing is that his “devilish awakening” has finally created an internal rivalry in Blue Lock I’ve been waiting for.
Sure we have friendly rivalries between the main four in Isagi, Bachira, Kunigami, and Chigiri. But now Isagi finally has that “villain” rival who acknowledges him but will do everything he can to beat him at the same time. Baro gives Isagi a reason to never let his foot off of the gas pedal and this can only lead to even more intense moments than what we already saw in this episode. More importantly, this new rivalry gives way to a pair of character storylines that can cross paths again later down the road as well. Watching the king be dethroned only to take the said throne back as a demon king only furthers the argument as to why I think Baro is a top-3 character in Blue Lock. Baro isn’t some phoenix rising from the ashes. He’s a demon who blasted his way up to the surface from the depths of defeat, smothering everything in his path to take back his rightful throne.
Ego Downplays a Common Trope
Despite being an easily hatable character, Ego crushed a common trope in not just sports anime, but in many genres of the medium itself. His full-on denial of the idea of “never giving up” to obtain a certain goal and calling it “dream doping” felt like a slap in the face to viewers to remind us that Blue Lock, to quote the film Kingsman, “ain’t that kind of movie, bruv.” Ego said in this episode that “if you don’t live your life to chase your dream, it’s pointless.” For a series such as Blue Lock, that one specific theme couldn’t be any more apparent.
While Ego sometimes goes over the top with his thinking and is completely irrational in some cases, especially translating them to real life, he is becoming the perfect character to be a moderator for this type of competition. Every time he speaks in an episode it becomes a learning curve for either the player or viewer, sometimes both, for better or worse. But his monologue in episode 18 definitely felt directed to all of the anime out there who hang their main characters on the dusty coat rack of never giving up.
Studio 8bit Continues to Impress
There’s no denying that Studio 8bit has gone the extra mile these past two weeks with Blue Lock compared to previous episodes. That’s not to say the entire series hasn’t been great in terms of art, animation, music, and sound design. But when good writing clashes with electrifying animation (pun intended) we realize just how incredible the medium of anime can truly become. In Episode 18, the over-emphasis on Baro’s and Isagi’s auras couldn’t have been done any better than they were.
The color design, camera rotations, camera angles, the impactful sound design of Blue Lock we’ve all grown to love, and of course the flashy art and animation are all things that uplift the writing for the series and they were more apparent in episode 18 than any other before it. This isn’t the type of series that can get by with just good writing or stellar production—it needs both to succeed! And Studio 8bit has remained consistent in showing that.
Blue Lock Episode 18 Wrap-Up
Episode 18 of Blue Lock hit on all the marks. It was exciting. It looked incredible. It had me hooked all the way to the very end with a cliffhanger that left me wanting to see the next episode immediately. There was great dialogue involved. Unique character progression was at the forefront. And most of all, we witnessed an incredible match with a lot of people we’ve gotten to know pretty well. So there were no holes to fill by introducing some new characters and taking time away from the actual match.
And one small, overlooked aspect of the episode was Nagi’s role as the comedic relief. We got a hilarious close-up when he intercepted Reo’s pass, the moment he jumped on both Baro’s and Isagi’s backs at the end in celebration of the win. And we can’t help but ignore all of the hilariously simple nicknames he dished out this episode such as “Kunigami Gains-kun”. “Meddling Missy”, and “Mr. Hassle Man”. Episode 18 of Blue Lock was truly perfect from beginning to end.
Episode 18 score: 10/10
Blue Lock episode 19 will air on Saturday, February 18. If you enjoyed Blue Lock episode 18 then make sure to vote for it in our weekly poll!
Images via Crunchyroll
©Muneyuki Kaneshiro, Yusuke Nomura, Kodansha/”Blue Lock” Production Committee