I have a lot of thoughts on how much I appreciate the candor sports anime has brought into the mainstream. I was never into sports in general. I mean, the closest I got was swimming. And lo and behold, we do have an anime for that too. And starting with Free!, I gradually got more and more into the sports genre of how it portrayed male friendships and even queer identities out in the open. Haikyuu! is probably the biggest sports anime right now, but there’s a new kid on the block.
I think given time; Blue Lock could surpass Haikyuu! But for now, Haikyuu! Is the better show out of the two. But I can see why people are comparing the two. Like I said, Haikyuu! is the most successful sports anime of, possibly, all time. It was the trifecta of Free!, Haikyuu! and Yuri! On Ice propelled the genre from being relatively niche to almost dominating every anime forum out there in the late 2010s. And now Blue Lock has entered the stage and got people hyped up.
Sports anime to me, might not mean the same thing to actual sports fans. But I like sports anime for how frank it is about camaraderie and doesn’t shy away from giving the men of the story a more emotional framing. Like you don’t see protagonists be openly vulnerable or even cry in a traditional Shonen anime. In a way, sports anime did normalize that behavior and showed a different take on your prototypical male protagonists.
But is that enough for something like Blue Lock? After all, there are only so many ways you could do a sports anime and make it interesting or different from the next one. How does it fare against something like Haikyuu!, which has such a cult status amongst fans of the genre? I think that there is a ton of potential in the soccer-themed anime, and it is definitely different compared to its predecessors. So, let’s discuss.
Haikyuu!: The OG That Started The Renewed Sports Hype?
Look, no one can deny that, while sports anime have existed long before Haikyuu! ever came on the scene, its success did give rise to the meteoric popularity the genre enjoys now. There’s just something so addictive about the show.
It’s no wonder that it has such a huge fan following. The show is intense in its battles, with each volleyball match sending your heart racing. Like, it genuinely plays off so well. You can never predict how a match is going to go and how that would impact the overall plot. Speaking of the plot, the characters truly come into their own as the series went along. Haikyuu! is one of those shows where new characters get introduced, but never feel like they are being sidelined or wasted.
But I think why Haikyuu! works for so many people because it doesn’t feel like it’s just about sports. The characters aren’t just growing as athletes or individuals. There is a huge focus on teamwork and building each other up. Even when the anime starts with a rivalry, the two rivals eventually find themselves on the same team. And that’s where the heart of the plot is: the bond these characters share, long after the balls have been knocked out of the court.
Suffice it to say, this is a hard one to beat.
Blue Lock: New Kid On The Court!
So, how is Blue Lock doing? I think while you can compare the two shows on a surface level, they are two very different takes on the genre.
Whereas Haikyuu! is more wholesome and appeals to fans of works such as Yuri! On Ice, Blue Lock is much more individualistic. It is a competition-based story, with a heavy focus on a singular character’s growth and trying to be the best. Fans of series like Kuroke No Basket or even Slam Dunk would understand what I’m talking about here. This series is all about the sport itself, and how many struggles are there to become the Top Dog in it. It is very unlike sports anime of the present, with their premises set around teamwork and banding together to enjoy the sport.
Blue Lock is about creating the best athlete, and how getting there is a journey not many can attempt. It’s almost Shonen-esque.
Which Is Better? Depends On What You Like!
I’m not going to sit here and tell you which one is the better series because they are just not alike enough to be pitted against each other. Both Blue Lock and Haikyuu! are vastly distinct from each other, from the plot to the characters and everything.
If you’re a fan of the grueling world of athleticism, you’re bound to enjoy Blue Lock. However, if you want a high-stakes plot with great characters, then Haikyuu! is the one for you! And honestly, the shipping degenerate in me just prefers the latter more!