To say that Jinpachi Ego (絵心 甚八 Ego Jinpachi) is one of those characters that confused me in Blue Lock, would be an understatement. When I first encountered his character in the anime, I actually had to go look at the wiki and see if his character was an ally or a villain. Because honestly, with how this man behaves, it can go either way and it’s so hard to navigate. Then again, Blue Lock prides itself on a different premise and a roster of intriguing characters.
Because let’s face it, Blue Lock isn’t your average Sports anime and Jinpachi Ego isn’t your average mentor figure. He isn’t compassionate or kind, nor is he building his pupils up through encouragement and patience. Nope, the man is ruthless, cunning, and often cruel in the way he deals with his students. And I can understand there is an appeal in that sort of characterization. But I also think that, despite his faults, he does make for an interesting figure when it comes to guiding the protagonist of Blue Lock, Yoichi Isagi.
But it’s also why Blue Lock works. I wouldn’t call the series a subversion of the usual tropes we end up seeing in Sports anime like Haikyuu! and Free!, but it does narratively change quite a few things. For example, Blue Lock is just much more focused on the competition of the sport itself, placing a heavy emphasis on individual character growth rather than team friendships. So, there are no bonds here that magically make you a better person, because that’s not what the series is about. Despite how much it borrows from Shonen anime.
Jinpachi Ego fits Blue Lock and its ‘Wins Above All’ mantra perfectly, even if he is a divergence from the understanding, almost father figure like mentor we had grown up with in Shonen. One thing is for sure: the man is no Jiraiya from Naruto Shippuden. But his character is still very important in helping these novice aspirants find their own self-confidence in the field. So, today, let’s break down the Blue Lock Project founder, Jinpachi Ego!
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Who Is Jinpachi Ego?
Handpicked by the newest member of the Japan Football Union, Jinpachi Ego is the general director of the Blue Lock Training Program. He is undoubtedly a pro in his field as a coach, with an ideology that has served him well over the years. I mean, the man was on the team with Noel Noa, of all people. Having experience with the current best Striker in the world is a huge asset when it comes to training others.
And it’s exactly why he was sought after by Anri Teleri to man the project because she knew he was the only one with the expertise and drive to coach the next generation of Football Superstars from Japan. And that would mean the chances of Japan standing out on the world stage would be at the highest they’ve ever been. And hell, Jinpachi himself knows that. Blue Lock is a Battle Royale anime, even if there aren’t nearly as many characters dying here. And you need someone absolutely cutthroat to make a dream as lofty as paving the way for the World’s Best Striker and bringing home the illustrious World Cup, a reality.
And yeah, Jinpachi Ego is the man for that dream. And he proves it when he recruits the Blue Lock 11, which includes members like Yoichi Isagi and Rin Itoshi. Jinpachi knows exactly what he wants and he doesn’t hold himself back when it comes to pushing people to their limit. And that’s how he designed the Blue Lock Project to be, as well.
And merciless is just how he is as a person. I mean, the man created a torture game out of ‘Tag, You’re It’, where you have to avoid getting hit by a powerful ball kick. However, the kicker was that the last person standing would be eliminated from the program. Which, yeah, that’s just plain sadistic and vicious to unload on a bunch of kids who haven’t even graduated high school.
But he gets results. He turned Yoichi from a bumbling newcomer to a cold but confident player, simply by being his blunt self and making him see the truth of things. And yeah, he does a bunch of innovative sessions like these for training, all to squeeze out some of the most talented and promising individuals in Football he can find.
Jinpachi’s Ego Is Blue Lock:
Jinpachi isn’t above using slightly dubious ways to get what he wants. After all, he’s proved his merit as a coach and mentor by plucking from obscurity some of the best talents in Japanese Football. However, the grating part is that he knows exactly what he’s worth. And, well, like most people with an inflated ego, he isn’t the nicest person to get along with.
The entire methodology of the training hitches on something Jinpachi coined himself called ‘Ego’. The ego is basically the most important part of football in Blue Lock, as it fuels the skills of the athlete. Egoism is the power of the individual playing. Instead of getting by on teamwork, Ego is the confidence a person has in their own skills to be the very best.
Jinpachi believes in this greatly, touting Egoism as the central core of his ideology with Blue Lock. If a trainee doesn’t have an impressive Ego, they are basically scum to him. And he says as much, especially considering how the program itself leaves no stone unturned. Jinpachi is curating the best of the best, and there is no room for anyone who isn’t willing to go to any means to be superior to anyone else. That means no holds are barred, even if your opponent is your friend. Hell, you’d have to be willing to sacrifice your own teammates, if that’s what it takes to get that goal.
And really, that sounds unhealthy. But it has worked for Jinpachi Ego in Blue Lock. The guy might not be making any friends, or even be the kind of mentor figure that his trainees can turn to for advice outside of football. But he doesn’t need to be. He knows his job, and he takes it seriously. And he believes that tough love is the way to get the job done.
Jinpachi Ego is ruthless and cunning. But of course, that also means he has one of the highest Egos out there, considering how full of himself he is. However, you can’t even fault him for that one, because he has pushed even those struggling to survive the competitive environment into becoming better versions of themselves. Albeit it involved a lot of trauma and demeaning words. But if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it!
However, that doesn’t mean Blue Lock’s ideology completely disregards teamwork as a whole. Far from it, actually. Instead, it builds teamwork up from selfishness. How? Well, say you’re someone like Rin Itoshi and you want to win. The match, however, isn’t solely dependent on you alone. One individual can not match up to an entire team working in cohesion, but you can influence your team in a mutually beneficial way. By using your skills, such as Spatial Awareness, you can predict how the match should play out to get you the greatest number of goals. And since your team also wants that win, the two end up working together naturally and following your command over things.
It’s complicated, but it does end up making sense when you think about it. And, weirdly enough, this ‘selfish’ way of playing is actually something that a lot of real-life football stars actually openly talk about. And Jinpachi uses them to further prove his own ideology correct.
How Jinpachi Ego And Blue Lock Are Changing Sports Anime:
So, here’s the thing: I’ve said multiple times that Blue Lock is unlike any sports anime we have seen. It’s heavily based on analytics, with very little affection or camaraderie actually taking place. It’s a Survival Horror under the poor disguise of a basic Sports manga. Throw in a little Shonen as well and, yeah, that’s the Blue Lock M.O.
But where you’d think that would get boring or repetitive, it actually ends up innovating a lot of tropes that we had grown accustomed to seeing in other anime of the same genre. And a big part of that change is Jinpachi Ego. He is unlike any other teacher figure we have seen in anime so far, almost veering into being an antagonist but never quite breaching that particular archetype.
And it wouldn’t be hard to see him as the villain either. Manga fans are already aware that something is going on with him and the Football Union. But so far, he has been an ally. A brutal, completely brutal, and self-obsessed ally, but an ally, nonetheless. He has seen a generation of players such as Sae Itoshi grow and has learned the trade secrets of the sport. But there is no parental instinct in him to help these trainees grow into the best versions of themselves.
That’s the thing, he doesn’t play favorites. He believes in fact and skill, not any emotional attachment. It’s why he is so cruel to Yoichi when telling him that he isn’t good enough yet, and why he doesn’t push Rin Itoshi as his definitive success story, despite him being leaps and bounds ahead of others when it comes to talent.
We were so used to seeing warm teachers and mentor figures in Shonen anime, that pushed sportsmanship over the actual skill of the game, that Jinpachi Ego feels like he came from left field. There is simply no character like him, and it’s odd. But that’s what Blue Lock does. Like, it isn’t here to make us like these characters at all, but rather say that we don’t have to like them to find them intriguing or interesting.
In the end, sports are about respect and winning. And Jinpachi Ego has done both. As unlikable as he is, he is still training the top of the class when it comes to Football players. And he is going to achieve his dream of mentoring the World’s future best Striker.