Sep 1, 2020
Ao Ashi (Manga) add (All reviews)
Est (All reviews)
Personally, I've always felt like football has been a bit over-represented in the manga/anime scene. Its prevalence is only really one step down from the three B's (basketball, baseball and boxing) that seem to take up around half of all manga/anime sports series on their own. And, considering how common it is, I've been surprised at how many areas of the game have been left kinda untapped by the industry. Fortunately, Ao Ashi is here to shake things up with an incredibly refreshing take on the sport.

Our main protagonist, Aoi, is obsessed with scoring, not unlike the average child when they first get into a sport. In itself, that isn't particularly unique, but I think the degree to which the series is critical of that obsession does stand out. It takes him to areas of the sport that don't typically get a lot of focus in sports manga, due to being less flashy and conventionally "cool", and I appreciate that it gives those areas the attention I feel they deserve.

I also have a great appreciation for how messy things are at times. In a team of young teenagers, it can take a long time for people to sync up and figure each other out, especially if they don't get along particularly well. Ao Ashi depicts that in a way that feels very true-to-life, with people misunderstanding each other, fighting, and generally just not being very nice, both on and off the pitch. It's also a long-running problem that is gradually being worked through, rather than a moment of drama that everyone spontaneously gets over together, which is how I most commonly see it depicted in manga.

And even when people are understanding each other and communicating effectively, they're still generally having to be pretty direct about it. Like... shouting instructions to each other. Too often in manga do I see all the players coordinating perfectly all the time without ever really needing to say anything to each other, and that's one of the hardest things to suspend my disbelief around. I think that degree of unity only really works in a story if it's been properly built up to and we've seen enough of the hurdles along the way, and Ao Ashi encapsulates that perfectly. All the difficulties make those few moments of perfect communication so much more meaningful.

Ao Ashi is a very refreshing series that enjoys challenging its characters to take them to greater heights, and I love it for that. For now, I have it sitting at an 8/10, but I would not be surprised if it were to impress me even more, further down the line. I highly recommend this series to anyone who feels that sports manga have gotten a little stale.