Ao Ashi Episode 1 Review

Now we’re doing things right! We’re second week into 2022’s Spring Season and as the big shots start making their appearance, Ao Ashi presents what’s been my favourite premiere so far (in second I’d put Spy x Family/Dance Dance Danseur). After the 4 other sport anime premieres I checked out, I’m most pleased to say that this is the one. Perhaps it’s too soon to put so much faith in it (and more than often it is), but if things keep kicking into the right direction just like in episode 1, we have ourselves a pretty good show to be following into this season. But what is the first episode about?

Well, in its premiere Ao Ashi tells us the story of Ashito Aoi, a middle schooler self proclaimed (with credit to it) “genius” soccer player who in a decisive match of a local tournament, causes the defeat of his team due to having head-butted the opposing team goalkeeper, resulting in his expelling from the court. Until the middle of the ep, we don’t get the full picture of what caused this to happen but regardless of it, what follows next is Ashito feeling guilty about it and upon finding an old guy by the beach, we get a flashback scene highlighting how this particular team accepted his confident behavior regarding his football style. In summary would be take the ball and score as many goals as you can. After waking up (he did fall asleep after all the energy burning), he spots the old guy performing a specific move that caughts his attention and is challenged by the same guy to do it.

We change scenarios to Ashito’s family house, where we learn about his situation, struggling with financial issues. His mother, Noriko, works at night at bar and his older brother, Shun, is a part-time worker. When leaving to work, Noriko is surprised by the family of the goalkeeper at her door, wanting to apologize about what happened. Turns out it was a strategy to get on Ashito’s nerves by insulting his mother, only to get rid of him at the court.

Back to the beach, Ashito’s still struggling to perform the same move and after the two of them analyze the tactics of the game (which the old guy assumed Ashito’s goals were much more a product of chance and the ball that “keeps” coming towards him than the use of tactics), old guy realizes that beyond that density and raw talent there’s a player who can apply team formation and tactics to suit his play style. And after Ashito stays up all night with the ball, old guy, who reveals himself to be Fukuda Tatsuya, the manager of the Tokyo City Esperion FC Youth, is finally impressed enough to invite Ashito to be a part of his dream – to make a team strong enough to take center stage into the football world. And to do that, Ashito has to pass through the Selection phase taking place in Tokyo in 10 days.

Upon discussing it with his family, his mother doesn’t get much on board with the idea due to their financial situation and the fear of sending a kid his age alone to Tokyo – it isn’t until afterwards, with the help of his older brother Shun that Ashito receives the help needed to get there. Through Shun, we also leran that Fukuda Tatsuya was a prominent player himself, having played in the Japan’s National Selection until an injury screwed his career over. Now, with the pieces gathered in place, Ashito takes his first step to be a part of the Football World’s Stage.

This is pretty much a first impressions type of post, so if I am to share what those are I have to say that I’m very, very much positively on board with this show. I was so much looking forward to it that I’m really glad it delivered beautifully everything I expected it to. I’m a huge fan of sports anime and manga in general and to be honest, I’m a bit disappointed in myself that this slipped through my fingers. For seven long years. But it’s never too late to give it a start and the series is still ongoing publication (thank God) so even when the first season ends, I have a way I can turn to.

Speaking about the episode itself and the way soccer (really struggling to not type football, LOL) is handled speaks positively to me. By the way things were presented, it’s seemingly safe to assume that the sport will have its deserved grounded exploration (both to the characters and viewers) in its two ways – how the people actually play it and how a team works in the great scope of main leagues and tournaments, you know, the business side. The main character, Ahito, seems to a great lead and feels out of the realm of Shounen sports protagonists. It’s also refreshing to see a sports anime protagonist who is confident about his abilities without being poisonously arrogant and a general asshole. I saw a bit of criticism about him being talented, but let’s be real here – if he wasn’t, there’s no way he’d get recruited to participate in a selection process to be a part of such a huge team. It’s interesting to note that his family’s financial situation also mimics in, a certain way, many of what were the childhood for today’s big shot football players. I’m already digging up the struggles he has to face to take a part into this so much competitive world. His family is also a highlight for being supportive of his dreams, especially his older brother. I can really put myself in the place of the mom where it seems so scary to send his kid to the big city and facing all this that seems so greater than him, but I’m positive she as well roots for her son and we’ll be certainly seeing more of it in the future.

Ashito’s playing style is going to make an interesting dynamic with his future teammates, what makes me curious to see how these dynamics between them are going to be explored. He got lucky to have found his middle school team – but in a world where everyone tried to stand out and succeed, can he really stand his ground enough so that they support his way of playing? Fukuda Tatsuya also seems like an interesting character and with his background about the injury and all, sooner or later we’ll be tapping into that and the implications it has had in his life. Ashito’s seems to not have a father, so I’m assuming Tatsuya will be filling the role of a parental figure in the story.

Overall, a very good start for what has the chance to be a great anime about soccer. All the pieces are already there and what’s left is to see how Production I.G. can elevate the material (word says it very good) to the next level. I’ll certainly be following this all the way through and if you’re interested, the reviews will be posted every Saturday. Share with me your thoughts on this (or any other anime you’re watching this season) and I’ll be seeing you around. Until that time, stay safe. Saturday can’t come sooner.

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