Blue Lock The Movie: Episode Nagi Theatrical Review

The shonen football series Blue Lock has been quite the hit for Weekly Shounen Magazine since it started in 2018. With over 30 million copies of the manga in circulation as of late 2023 and 24 episodes of anime under its belt, I’m sure it comes as no surprise to anyone that there would be spin-off material. The latest of which to reach the UK is Episode Nagi, a spin-off film following one of the series’ most popular characters: Nagi Seishiro. Is it worth a watch? Let’s find out!

Our story begins before the start of the main story and as the title of the film suggests, we follow Nagi Seishiro who is a second-year high school student. When we first meet him, Nagi is fairly apathetic toward life and simply wants to play video games and live out his days peacefully. That is until his quick reactions are noticed by fellow student Mikage Reo, who dreams of winning the World Cup and believes Nagi would be an irreplaceable asset.

Eventually, Reo manages to convince Nagi to play on the school team where the two thrive. Their talents are quickly noticed and it’s not long before they find themselves invited to the mystery Blue Lock project where losing means never being able to play for the national team and their career ending prematurely, but winning opens the door to becoming the world’s number one striker.

Once we reach Blue Lock, viewers will be familiar with the story as this film more or less recaps Season 1. The major difference is that the story is told from the perspective of Nagi and Reo who weren’t in the same team nor crossed paths with the main series protagonist Isagi straight away (first they have to play a game of tag to weed out a weak link in their group). Then their group goes on to play football against others in a round-robin style tournament, eventually facing off with Isagi’s group which proves a pivotal moment for Nagi.

Blue Lock as a series is all about finding the single best football player, a striker with an ego who is not a team player and wants to take all the glory for himself. And that’s the odd thing about Nagi and Reo, since they’re very much a team. Nagi has been dragged into this whole thing by Reo and isn’t enthusiastic about playing football or being the best and Reo can’t see a future without Nagi by his side. But when Nagi meets Isagi, something awakens within him and he begins to wonder what it would be like to play with someone who has a similar talent for the sport. Meanwhile, Reo starts to feel left behind…

Beyond the beginning and the initial match against Isagi’s group, it does unfortunately feel like Episode Nagi is speed-running through the Season 1 content without adding too much more value. This is based on an ongoing manga series, so I’m not sure if that’s similarly rushed or if the film is just especially eager to reach the end of Season 1 so Season 2 can pick up the threads.

The fact it shows us so many scenes from Season 1 in such a scattered manner means this is going to be impossible for newcomers to follow but also proves irritating for more seasoned viewers who have seen this all before. In many ways, it feels like this could have been a 45-minute episode focused on these initial scenes and then not bothered with the rest if it wasn’t going to flesh them out more.

Like the TV series, the film has been handled by Eight Bit (That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, Shy) and it looks great although the animation only gets to show off during the match with Isagi. I’m not convinced it looks better than the TV anime, but that’s largely because what we’ve seen before was already very impressive. At the very least it deserves praise for having some CG and it not being as off-putting or out of place as you’d usually expect.

Composer Jun Murayama returns to score the film with music that fits the tense atmosphere of Blue Lock, although there is some repetition from the TV series when it comes to the tracks here. Voice actors also return to their roles, including Nobunaga Shimazaki (Hayato in Wind Breaker, Haruka in Free!) as Nagi and Yuma Uchida (Megumi in Jujutsu Kaisen, Kyo in Fruits Basket) as Reo. Both actors do a fantastic job, offering a good contrast to one another as they play characters who are, fair to say, complete opposites.

Blue Lock The Movie: Episode Nagi is being released in UK cinemas thanks to Crunchyroll who also have the main series in their catalogue. The film is being released subbed and dubbed, although I only sampled the Japanese audio so can’t speak to the quality of the English dub. It is also worth being aware that there are some issues with the subtitles, largely in them not being centred or not staying on screen long enough if there’s both a sign being subbed and someone’s dialogue. It’s not bad enough that you’re going to miss anything important, but it is distracting all the same, given it happens fairly often throughout the film. There’s also some chibi shorts after the credits, so stick around for those!

Season 2 of the series is set to begin airing in the Autumn season; if you can’t wait until then Kodansha is currently releasing the original manga in print and digitally. They also plan to start releasing Episode Nagi in October (it is currently available on K Manga if you’re US-based).

Overall, Blue Lock The Movie: Episode Nagi does a decent job of exploring Nagi and Reo’s story early on before delving into an unsatisfying recap of events thereafter. If you’re a fan of the characters and want to see one of the earlier pivotal games from a different perspective there’s value here, but it does seem like the kind of release that would be better streamed than as a theatrical outing.

Ticket information for the film can be found on the official website here.

6 / 10


When she's not watching anime, reading manga or reviewing, Demelza can generally be found exploring some kind of fantasy world and chasing her dreams of being a hero.

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