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All the Announcements from Anime Expo 2024
BLUE LOCK panel – Meet the EGOISTS at AX!

by Earl Gertwagen,

ANN's coverage of Anime Expo 2024 sponsored by Yen Press and Ize Press!


The BLUE LOCK panel at AX2024 was electric from start to finish. The hall was packed, seeming to validate the series' meteoric rise to the top tier of the latest popular shonen titles in recent memory. With the much-anticipated second season airing in October of 2024, and the recent release of Blue Lock: Episode -Nagi-, the series is certainly having a moment, and they're seizing it here at AX.

Before the panel even began, a couple of life-size standees of the Isagi and Nagi were trotted out, and even those flat, lifeless figures received an enthusiastic welcome from the crowd. As the real-life panelists took the stage, they received big cheers and applause.

The panel featured voice talent from two of the most popular characters of the show. First was Kazuki Ura, voice of the show's main character Isagi. Then there was Nobunaga Shimazaki, voice of silver-haired “genius” Nagi.

Also joining the party were Megumu Tsuchiya, editor of the Blue Lock manga, and Ryōya Arisawa, producer of the anime. The group provided a great cross-section of the series as a whole and shared their varied perspectives on the experience of being involved with this exciting title.


Acknowledging that the series had garnered worldwide attention and success, the panelists were asked if they anticipated such a broad reception.

Blue Lock was a really popular manga in Japan, and there was reason to believe it would do well there going into it,” Arikawa-san says. “But since the stories revolve so closely around Japan and Japanese players, the worldwide attention it's received has really exceeded my expectations and I'm really grateful for that.”

Arikawa-san concedes he may be biased. Indeed, all of the guests on the panel profess their love for the series during the presentation. But it seems genuine, and there's a good reason the show appeals to so many. “The manga is of course awesome, but the concept of 'ego' isn't limited to Japan. Everyone can relate to that.”

Tsuchiya-san says he was always confident it would be a hit in Japan, but the international reception has been beyond what he could've imagined. “We started with the concept of Japan's national team being weak, and how to draw out the ego of players so they would put their ego forward more. We didn't know how that would resonate with international audiences, but we wanted to make it more about facing challenges than just simply getting good at soccer.”

It's clearly working! The show follows Yoichi Isagi battling supremely talented players in the Blue Lock soccer compound, discovering his potential for greatness while overcoming his weaknesses. It's a tried-and-true shonen triumph story.

Isagi's voice talent Ura-san can relate. “In my struggles as a new voice over artist, looking up to other talents like [Nagi's voice] Shimazaki-san here, I can relate to Isagi's desire to get better. Seeing him start at the bottom as kind of a loser, then watching him go through the Blue Lock program and fight his way to the top, I'm really rooting for him, and feel that internally as well.” The show is indeed working some kind of magic to motivate people.

The panel shifted focus to the recent movie, Blue Lock: Episode -Nagi-. The story focuses more on Seishiro Nagi, who discovers that he has extreme talent for soccer, and who is invited to participate in the Blue Lock project. It delves into Nagi's backstory, and retells parts of the first season from Nagi's perspective, rather than Isagi's.

Ura-san, voice of Isagi, appreciated how it provided a new perspective on the series main character. “We usually hear [Isagi's] inner monologues, so getting to hear Nagi's inner monologues instead, introduced a new perspective, and showed how Isagi is really quite scary.” He described Isagi's portrayal in the movie as “Nagi's final boss”.

The movie covers Nagi and Reo's friendship, and the moment when their relationship takes a dramatic turn. When asked to comment on the movie, Nagi's voice actor Shimazaki-san exclaimed, "Reo, I'm sorry!". Viewers of the show can understand how he feels. “When I first watched it I was like 'Nagi! Just tell Reo how you feel!', and it was interesting to see on the big screen their dynamic as a pair and the tension [between them].”

The conversation on stage was still relatively engaging, but as with any panel that's got a lot of straightforward Q&A, you could sense that the energy levels were tapering. Not in a bad way – they never for a moment lost the crowd.

But from this point on, it got AMPED.

Apparently, they had conducted some fan surveys prior to the event, and they were ready to reveal to the audience – and the panelists – the results. I have rarely seen a panel get this pumped.

For each question there was a 3rd, 2nd, and 1st place result, revealed in that order. It was a great way to quiz the panelists, as well as get the audience hyped for obvious fan-favorite characters. Who doesn't love a fan survey?

First up: Who do you think is the strongest player in Blue Lock?

3rd: Bachira
2nd: Isagi
1st: Nagi

As each result is revealed, the crowd erupts. It almost doesn't matter whose name appears, because the results are for the top results anyway, and fans are primed to be excited to see their favorite character's name come up.

Shimazaki-san and Ura-san exchange some playful jabs at who should be on top. Shimazaki-san, the voice of Nagi, triumphantly waves to the crowd. “I knew it'd be me. Thanks, everyone!” he boasts.

As we enter the latter half of the panel, these survey questions are peppered in between the ongoing discussion and keep the crowd's energy from ever dipping. It's honestly really fun! The panelists feed off of the room's energy and are having a great time.

Asked who their favorite characters in the show are, each panelist offered their take.

Ura-san confesses that his own character Isagi is his fave, but if he had to choose someone else it would be Bachira. Shimazaki-san says he is Rin, citing his perfectionism, and that he respects how hard he works to reach that.

Tsuchiya-san says that besides Isagi and Nagi, it would have to be Zantetsu Tsuruki. He likes the juxtaposition of a cool character who's also kind of an oaf.

Arisawa-san says his is Gagamaru. “When I was going through the manga, I was like 'How does this guy even sound he talks? How's this guy come to life in the anime?', so it was really interesting to develop that character.”

Next survey question! I'm just as excited as the rest of the room for these now.

Which character do you (the fans) most relate to?

3rd: Chigiri
2nd: Isagi
1st: Nagi

“Nooo, it's not fair!” a frustrated Ura-san exclaims. I'll make sure Isagi will be number 1 next time.”

Asked who they related to the most, Tsuchiya-san said it would be Reo. “Seeing him in the beginning he was very overconfident, but after seeing him break down, that felt very relatable.”

Anime producer Arisawa-san said he most related to Anri-chan. “Since she's the Blue Lock producer in the show, I was like 'you got this!' She's the one that's making the whole Blue Lock program possible.”

More fan survey results!

Who do [fans] see themselves as?
3rd: Nagi
2nd: Isagi
1st: Bachira

Which character would you like to play soccer with?
3rd: Leo
2nd: Isagi
1st: Bachira

Without fail, the crowd erupts at every single result.

Then Ura-san's moment finally arrives:

Who do you think will win Blue Lock in the very end?
3rd: Nagi
2nd: Rin Itoshi
1st: Isagi

Perhaps this one is a lay-up. (Or an open goal, if we're sticking with soccer metaphors.)

“I'm so happy! I'm so glad I'm finally number one!” a delighted Ura-san says.

He starts a chant of NUM-BER ONE, evoking the same energy of a typical U-S-A! chant you might hear at an international event.



“What a hot ranking!” Arisawa-san says. “For a moment I was scared like 'Oh no, what if Isagi doesn't win this last one? Will we have to make Episode Nagi and Episode Bachira forever?"

Both the panelists and the crowd are having the best time, just bathing in the excitement for these beloved characters.

As the panel draws to a close, the guests share their parting words.

Ura-san is first: “Thank you for everyone's warm reception of us. I'm so glad I was able to sit and talk about Blue Lock. I'll bring your energy back with me to Japan and use that to make Blue Lock the best that I can!”

Shimazaki-san goes next. “I really felt the love and energy in here, so I'm feeling very full right now. I want to ask everyone to go watch Episode Nagi! Watch it multiple times! 10 times, if you want!

“It was really fun to be able to talk about Blue Lock with everyone here,” Tsuchiya-san says. “We hope you'll keep supporting the anime and manga. Hopefully next year I can have both of the Blue Lock creators come here and be with you as well.” We hope so too!

Arisawa-san has the last word: “We're gonna go back to Japan to keep working on an amazing season for you.”

Recognizing that the crowd still has energy left in the tank as the guests exit the stage, Ura-san delights in another chant with the crowd




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