So, we all talk about Shonen and how their protagonists become so powerful after they go through their mandatory training montage, aka a right of passage in anime. But we rarely bring up the mentors behind these heroes, the ones that helped shape them and their ideals as well. Mentors are so important because they help define the protagonist’s character arc. So often, they are coded as pseudo-parental figure. And yet, Blue Lock is farthest from that definition when it comes to its Coach Jinpachi Ego.
Jinpachi Ego is the coach and trainer for the Blue Lock Eleven, and eventually their manager as well. He was handpicked by Anri Teiri, a member of the Japanese Football Association, to form the future team that’ll win the World Cup. And he is such a role reversal on the typical mentor/teacher trope we see in anime, but in a very unique way. We are so used to the morally just, empathetic father figures, like Jiraiya from Naruto Shippuden, that someone like Jinpachi feels almost jarring to see.
Because, let’s be honest, when you think of someone like Jiraiya, the first thing you remember is how jovial and kind he was towards Naruto Uzumaki, his protégé. That’s what mentors are supposed to be, they are there to nurture and help the main character flourish and find their own footing. Like, the whole ‘the student surpasses the teacher’ thing isn’t just played up for kicks. It’s supposed to be a very interwoven bond between the two and it’s personal. Even more so when it’s a sports anime, which is a genre known for thriving on teamwork and friendship.
Yet, there is nothing of the sort of between Jinpachi Ego and his students. This is the first time I have seen an anime take such an impersonal and cold take on the mentor trope. Turns out, sports are just highly competitive, and you need a teacher that can help push you to the max. So, let’s take a deep dive in to the ego of Jinpachi Ego in this week’s segment of Character Analysis!
Jinpachi Ego: Calculated And Cocky, But He Knows What He’s Doing!
Often times, the overtly confident characters can put me off from trying a new show. I mean, I love myself a good Gojo Satoru from Jujutsu Kaisen moment, but it’s rarely ever as balanced as that. Often times, those characters just come of as a whole lot of hot air, and nothing substantial.
That isn’t what Jinpachi Ego is, in the slightest. He’s mean, he knows what he wants, and he’ll push everyone around him to make sure his plans come to fruition. It’s nothing personal, he is just very aware about his value as a trainer. And that makes sense, considering however cruel his methods might be, he has provided results.
Jinpachi is ambitious, and he expects a lot from the team he is tasked to manage. But it’s more than that. In truth, he places a lot of his value on his ego, which is why he is much more cynical and self-centered under the surface. And he places absolutely no worth in trying to build teamwork or fostering friendship because, well, that doesn’t serve the individual player when they are on the field. And so, he doesn’t waste his time on flowery speeches either. You either despair yourself because his brutal words, or you take his advice as the truth and rise.
And because he isn’t out here, getting attached to the characters and acting like they are a family, he plays no favorites. Each person in the training program is handpicked by Jinpachi Ego, but he doesn’t regard them as anything beyond players, choosing ton call them by their numbers and ranks instead. He’s methodical, and that’s really it.
Why Blue Lock’s Ruthless Characters Makes It Stand Out:
When you think of sports anime, you imagine something like Haikyuu!, with its wholesome interactions and ‘power of friendship!’ character ideals. Which, yeah, that’s really fun and heart warming to watch. I mean, the amazing character dynamics is why that franchise is so popular after all.
But that’s why Blue Lock feels like it came out of nowhere and set up a new standard. It’s not just Shonen, it’s not purely sports oriented either, and it definitely isn’t warm and fuzzy either. The character growth is very insular, placing the entire focus on individual growth. The main goal for everyone is ton become the best Striker in the world, nothing more, nothing less. And Jinpachi Ego is the man to aid them through this goal. Which makes sense, considering he was Noel Noa‘s old teammate aka the best Striker at the moment!
And that’s why the characters themselves grow with those ideals in place, placing competition above everything else. That is very different to what we’ve been used to from anime, but honestly? It isn’t a bad change. Blue Lock has a roster of interesting characters to pilfer through, so the upcoming anime is something to anticipate!