What is a Sports anime without a rival that is too good for words, like Rin Itoshi (糸師 凛, Itoshi Rin)? Blue Lock is shaping up to be the new obsession in the Sports genre, with its wiki quickly expanding to cater to the many curious newcomers to the fandom. And for good reason, considering how different it is from the normal Sports manga fare we had been used to in the past decade or so. That’s not to say those offerings weren’t amazing or anything, it’s just that Blue Lock is refreshing.
With characters like Yoichi Isagi and Rin Itoshi, it makes for a very unique dynamic that we haven’t seen in the genre for a while now. Yeah, the rivalry between two characters is often the defining point of most Sports anime, but here it’s a little less ‘moral lesson-y’ and much more competitive. If you had been searching for a genuinely compelling story about a main character and their growth to be the very best without all the Power Of Friendship™ jargon? Well, then Blue Lock might be for you. And seeing how it’s skyrocketed in popularity, other fans agree.
And amongst a roster of characters that are self-confident and gunning for that top position, Rin Itoshi stands out as almost effortlessly cool. Sure, we’ve seen this character archetype before. I mean, it’s practically a mainstay in Shonen. But here, it doesn’t feel like Rin is going to end up being buddy-buddy with Isagi anytime soon. Rather, we end up seeing a genuine respect form between the two characters that are solely based on their skills as an athlete, rather than wanting to know each other as friends.
Maybe that doesn’t speak to the Shonen aspect that is clearly at play here, but it’s certainly a rarity to see in the genre. Blue Lock is all about the struggle of the sport and Rin Itoshi fits perfectly in its landscape. He might be naturally gifted, but that doesn’t mean he’s lacking in the development department! So today, let’s break down his character arc and see just how far he has come in his journey.
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Who Is Rin Itoshi?
While Yoichi Isagi might be the protagonist of Blue Lock, he isn’t the only character that it focuses heavily on. If anything, Rin Itoshi feels like the secondary protagonist of the series, with his exploits being just as detailed as Isagi’s process of becoming a more seasoned player.
When we are first introduced to Rin Itoshi, it is when we are in the Blue Lock Training Program and some people, like Gurimu Igarashi, confused him for Sae Itoshi, Japan’s current number 1 footballer. However, it’s easy to see why considering Sae happens to be Rin’s older brother. In fact, Rin held him in such high regard, that he started playing the sport just because Sae asked him to. And Rin wanted nothing more than to be like his ‘cool and strong’ big brother.
He was an innocent kid, so he followed his brother’s instructions without fail. The two were near inseparable. So, when Sae had to leave after he was recruited by Spain, continuing the sport felt hard for Rin, but he still gave it his all. And if that meant changing his style from a more personalized one to something similar to his brother’s, which was logically better? Then so be it.
But this is also where his story diverges from Sae. After all, it’s hard to grow up in the shadow of someone so talented. Somewhere in the middle of things, he and Sae fought and that was that. Maybe before it, Rin Itoshi was a team player, truly enjoying the sport as a means to get closer to his brother. But now, he was playing to win, to be better than his brother in every way possible.
Eventually, people saw how gifted he was, and Rin started playing as the Forward in every team he was recruited into. But what was his main goal? It was to be come the world’s best Striker and dethrone his brother as the better Itoshi. Of course, this meant he gave up everything in his life to focus solely on the sport, becoming almost obsessive.
And so, we meet a new Rin Itoshi in the Blue Lock Training Program. A character that is so lethally powerful that even Jinpachi Ego himself admits him as the best player in Blue Lock.
Playing For Love VS Playing To Win In Blue Lock
As stated before, Rin starts on this journey of becoming a footballer because he wanted to have something in common with the brother that he was so in awe of. Football was their love language for a long time, so when the two had a falling out? Well, it became something significantly different.
Football became an obsession for Rin Itoshi in Blue Lock. Instead of focusing on other things peers his age would be, Rin became single-minded in his devotion to surpass his brother at all costs. He grew much more detached from his teammates, with a colder demeanor that didn’t mince words. Because of how good he was at the sport, this made him extremely unapproachable, becoming like a God for other players around his age group.
This only worsened when he entered the Blue Lock program because its training aligned directly with the kind of athlete he was. He is confident, serious, and extremely Egotistical, to the point where Jinpachi even states that Rin is the ideal candidate for Blue Lock. And so, he rises further and further, transforming into this prodigy unlike anything else Japan had seen since, well, his brother. And this meant he respected no one but himself. He didn’t make any friends, only rivals. And even then, he only acknowledged their existence if they were irritating him on the playing field.
Of course, as time went by, he realized that his revenge was only holding him back from reaching his true potential as a player. And so, he abandoned that dream to defeat his brother, and instead adopted a new one: To become the best Striker there ever was. The thing is, he just might make it, solely based on the sheer potential he holds.
While he might’ve started this journey out of a love where he and his brother would share the podium as the best footballers ever, now he plays for the glory of the win. Rin Itoshi’s biggest competition isn’t Sae anymore, and the sky’s the limit for where he aims to be.
Rin Itoshi: Top-Tier Abilities!
Rin Itoshi started out being a much more instinctual player, with a natural talent for the sport. However, under his brother’s mentoring, he quickly became analytical, shedding away his customized style for something that suited a more seasoned player.
However, this has helped grow his style into more of a hybrid between the two, utilizing his quick observation skills on the playing field. This helps in making sure that everything that happens is precise to his planning, awarding him as many opportunities as possible to score.
But at his fundamental, Rin’s position is that of a Playmaker. As a Playmaker, he influences the offensive play of his team using his abilities. This means he can make their attack as aggressive or calculated as he wishes to make sure the maximum number of goals is achieved. He can force out the most potential from his team and work it to his advantage.
But as a prodigy in the system, Rin Itoshi boasts more than just above-average skills. He is, quite honestly, in the top tier ranks when it comes to his stats, one of only two players from Blue Lock who can boast that. The other was Ryusei Shido. And you can see exactly why he has that reputation, when he claimed the highest number of goals per match, firmly putting him as the one to beat in the program.
But his primary weapon happens to be his scarily Perfect Kick Accuracy. As in, the man can dribble and shoot a ball with a such pointed focus that it will always land where he aims it. Like, he once kicked two balls simultaneously in such a way that they met in the middle of the air. That is bonkers, to be quite honest. And distance doesn’t matter much either. Whether it’s 3.5 centimeters or 35 meters, Rin can maneuver and kick the ball from any angle. Even season players like Tabito Karasu have a hard time keeping up with him.
As the top Scorer in Blue Lock, Rin supplements his weaknesses by deploying his other abilities and making up for wherever his kick might lack, ensuring that no goal goes wasted. Just like Yoichi Isagi, Rin Itoshi also utilizes Spatial Awareness, which means he can take stock of the entire field and all the players on it in a way that can predict the best course of action. And his Spatial Awareness is already in the top leagues of those who can use the ability.
Other than that, every skill in Rin Itoshi’s arsenal is brilliantly portrayed. His positioning is some of the best in the entire series. But the most interesting aspect of his playing style is how it almost veers sinister, by manipulating his opponents and confusing them into playing according to his rules. This is called Puppet-Controlling Soccer. And it’s easy for him to do that, thanks to his superiority in both tactical and technical abilities amongst his peers. And his teammates are aware of this, playing alongside him to make sure that goal they are after, happens.
His Flow State, aka a trance of total immersion, is the odd one out. Where Flow State usually enables a player to bring out all their weapons at once, with Rin Itoshi, it takes the opposite route. Instead, he forces the opponents to make their weapons apparent, only to shut them down in a flurry of power. This showcases just how powerful Rin truly can be when unleashed, defeating multiple high-profile players in succession without a breath in between.
Rin Itoshi might not be the main character of Blue Lock, but he certainly commands a lot of attention. As Yoichi Isagi’s main rival to beat, we’re going to be seeing a lot more of him.