Content consideration: Brief misogyny
What’s it about? Aoi Ashito is very very good at soccer, so good he can help his junior high team in podunk nowhere win games. Unfortunately, the self-professed reincarnation of Ronaldo is more of a Zidane, headbutting the other team’s goalie during the prefectural semi-finals after he insulted Aoi’s mother. Although disgraced by the incident, Fukuda Tatsuya, the youth coach for the Tokyo City Esperion Football Club, takes a shine to the oddball powerhouse after he discovers Ashito is a natural at the game.
Do you like Black Clover? This is basically Black Clover, but soccer.
Do you hate Asta screaming all the time? I’m sorry, you might hate Ashito.
But hey, the boy’s got moxy.
Ashito is the pinnacle of “hot-blooded sports manga protagonist” and he’s not afraid to tell everyone about it. He’s bad at teamwork. He has a temper. He’s self-important. But he’s really good at soccer, and that’s all that matters.
Sadly, we all know that soccer is a team game and, quite frankly, Ashito is actually pretty smart and knows that too in the back of his mind. For all the brash headstrong and uncompromising play Ashito does while screaming at the top of his lungs, he is self-aware of his shortcomings and plays to them, much to Tatsuya’s surprise.
Aoashi’s inaugural episode is well-animated, exciting and full of human drama. It’s got everything you’re looking for in a shounen sports anime, and I imagine it’s going to keep doing what it does–and that’s a compliment from me, because I typically have zero interest in sports anime (not even this season’s other smash hit sports anime Birdie Wing really elicits much interest from me beyond, “sounds fun, hope people like it”)
And this is actually pretty good, because Aoashi seems firmly rooted in soccer’s game mechanics, skills and jargon. Ashito’s gift of super-human situational awareness on the field not only helps him but serves as a narrative device to convey what is going on in the story, while his relative lack of technical knowledge means Tatsuya breaks it down for viewers at home.
For viewers like me, who has only played soccer in the little leagues, it is a boon, and even though I still have no idea what a “control orientado” actually means, I felt very smart and could sense I’ll be able to go to the next San Jose Earthquakes game and act like I totally know what’s going on.
The inaugural episode mostly just focuses on establishing Ashito as the protagonist. He’s a poor kid from the boonies. His mom works as a hostess at a bar. His big brother works to support the family. His teammates love him despite his overly self-confident nature, and he is very loud and full of energy. So there’s very little to warn about the show.
Tatsuya seems to drive players hard, and Ashito’s tunnel vision to perfect his skills could be seen as normalizing unhealthy behaviors. With the caliber of football the kids will be playing, I assume there will be a lot of “blood, sweat and tears.” However, this is pretty par for the course for any sports anime.
Also worth mentioning, Ashito’s former teammate and rival player in the opening game does make fun of Ashito’s teammates for their complete reliance on him to win games and then lands a low-blow by insulting his mother for working as a hostess, but there is little else to flag, especially since the offending player later expresses his sincere remorse for goading Ashito to hit him.
The humanity of that moment shows Aoashi has the legs to tell a compelling human drama, one that goes beyond just showing off mind-blowing plays and skills, and that is what any show needs beyond the premise.
Overall, Aoashi is solid. I enjoyed it. As I said above, I have no interest in sports anime, but this was still a compelling episode to watch and I’m invested nonetheless. If sports anime, soccer or Black Clover is your passion, definitely give this show a try.