Aoashi: From The Country To Being Professional

Introduction

Aoashi is a soccer anime that I originally decided to watch on a whim. It started on a Saturday for me at the start of Spring 2022. When looking at it, I wanted to watch it to make my seasonal watch list more rounded out. Not just shows that I would usually watch, but how about a sports anime to get me into it. I really didn’t look at anything when it came to Aoashi other than I knew it was based on a Seinen Manga series that is still going. I went into this series literally blind and I never expected to love it as much as I checked out. 

I think Aoashi is one of my favorite shows that aired this year. It seems so simple just to say that, but before Fall 2022 comes out, I really believe it. There is just something about Aoashi that makes it so good. It is very well written, for the most part. It takes a lot of what you would expect from a sports anime series by turning it around in interesting ways. Put the production of the anime behind a studio like Production I.G., who have made a lot of sports anime, and then you know it’s a winner. Still, it was a complete surprise for me.

Another Underdog Story

Aoashi is a classic underdog story by every measure. At least it starts up that way. Ashito Aoi is a talented soccer player from the outer reaches of Japan called Ehime. A place where the house he lives in turns off their power at a certain time of night to save money. A place that no one knows about. Ashito works hard to become a soccer star at his school because he is the one that does all the players, scores all the goals, and so many other things too. One specific coach by the name Tatsyua Fukuda, who sees the potential of him to be something more.

So what does Aoi do now? Leave Ehime and head to Tokyo. He’s going to try out to be a part of Tokyo Esperion, an elite soccer program that leads to the select players becoming pros. That means Aoi is that underdog facing against players he has never met before at a shot for just joining. Which does not guarantee that he will play. Ashito Aoi is a boy from the country who challenges these people from Tokyo to make it into Tokyo Esperion and then work his way up through skills. That happening through games with other teams is essentially the story of Aoashi. 

Looking at Ashito Aoi

So yeah, Aoi is the pretty basic sort of underdog character. He couldn’t be anymore of an underdog character if he tried. He was picked up by chance in the middle of the country. Plus, he is exceptionally good at soccer compared to everyone else. That means he has to adapt to Tokyo life while also honing in on the very particulars of soccer that he never had to before because he was always the best. So on a general skills level, he works hard and fights his way through the tough Tokyo Esperion system. 

On a general protagonist level, he is the typical sort of shonen character that you would expect to see. He walks into everyone’s life and changes it in some way. Either by getting all of the characters to think in different ways then they have ever before and creating connections between people who have always been opposing each other. Not by himself, but his unusual presence at least pushes people into those directions to create a much more unified team. Especially since most of the characters really don’t like each other. They might not in the end either, but at least they understand each other more. 

Which makes sense considering how much of an outsider he is. So much so that getting over his selfishness of being the one to do everything is Aoi’s first major arc. Especially when he notices that he isn’t good enough to do everything he wants to do. Learning to let other players take up the ball or give some guidance on what to do with the ball is such a major step for this person that is the sole reason why his soccer team ever won games at all. Now everyone is at his level or better. Realizing that concept of teamwork is very important for him. 

What makes his adventure so interesting is how he handles all of it. He fights really hard at first, but also accepts when he is even taken off the bench because it’s time for him to grow a bit more. So that anger he used to have completely left him. I do feel sad he doesn’t call home a lot because his mother and brother are great characters. The biggest growth is his sense of vision though. He can see everything on the field even if he doesn’t realize it yet. So seeing him use that vision and master it creates some of the hypest moments in the entire show. 

A Different Kind Of Sports Anime

Most sports anime series focus on school clubs and other activities. Aoashi automatically pushes that aside by Aoi joining Tokyo Esperion. A club that everyone wants to be pro and their entire high school stuff, career and otherwise, is based around games and practice. So that education is coming but soccer is the priority. Something which makes sense considering every single person on Tokyo Esperion wants to be a pro. No one is just doing it for a hobby. The competition is fierce because every single player has talent and has that drive to get better. Everyone wants the same things yet they have to work together and compete at the same time.

What adds another layer to this is the fact that it actively discusses the difference between characters giving it their all or playing it the same with academy soccer. That last one means calculating when to play and when not to play in order to stay safe. Basically, playing good enough so the coach can give you attention but never getting hurt. The most efficient way to play. So there are good ways to look into all of those things to make it work and Aoashi does give an answer, but it’s character by character basis in finding their own path. This is something that is carried through the background of the show and actually addresses it in the end. 

Some of Aoashi’s Flaws

Aoashi is hard to write about on some heavier levels, for me at least, because it is still doing some of the typical sports anime things. Characters are still playing soccer and practicing soccer. The focus of soccer is much more important then school itself. Having characters play in tournaments against other teams. Creating drama between each other in different angles then most sports series. So having those angles in Aoashi really makes it feel so fresh and unique. It’s a show that is easy to recommend to sports fans because they are into the formula already and might enjoy something that is slightly more different and has things to do and say.

That is part of the small amount of negatives when it comes to Aoashi. The other small one is the relationship between Hana and Aoi in the show. I do think they have good chemistry with each other and it shows how relatable the two are because they stumble around each other pretty hard because Hana does make it awkward by seeing Aoi as a conduit for her family player, her adoptive brother Fukuda at first. But I really do think that the two have at least found some time to talk to each other and gain some sort of friendship. So those are the only nitpicks I have. They are associated with the genre itself. 

Big Recommend

Aoashi is just a good show. Great show to watch from week to week to enjoy some really good and complex sorts of soccer games. As a person that has never gotten into soccer, I learned a lot by watching this show. There is that good sense of tactics, player positions, how to play different positions, that make you really knowledgeable about the sport. When big plays happen, you understand why they are so important rather than just scoring a goal. How did the ball get to the goal? What did the players have to do in order to survive the enemies defense in order to bring it there? All of those things matter and the big moments with Aoi’s vision or anything are just directed and animated so well. 

Aoashi is a masterpiece of a sports anime and it’s only in the beginning stages too. This felt like a prologue to everything else. I want to see more of this beautiful soccer anime series. A solid show, please watch it. 

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