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Ao Ashi - What We Know So Far

Under the broad umbrella of anime is a wide variety of categories, each with its own hallmarks. Shonen anime, for example, is the broader genre under which many of the most well-known anime series like "Dragon Ball Z" and "Demon Slayer" fall. Many shonen series are built around a core fantastical conceit like the superpowered Saiyans of "Dragon Ball Z" or the ongoing samurai-versus-demons conflict in "Demon Slayer." At the center of the story is generally a misfit boy who will ultimately develop unrivaled powers over the course of the series and is surrounded by a large and varied supporting cast.

Within the category of shonen anime is a significant number of sports series that replace fantastical superpowers with athletic affinities. For example, the volleyball anime "Haikyuu!!" touches on virtually all of the aforementioned shonen hallmarks, but within a somewhat realistic high school setting rather than a magical universe.

"Ao Ashi" will be the latest series to follow in the footsteps of sports anime like "Haikyuu!!" Here's what we know about the upcoming "Ao Ashi" anime so far.

When will Ao Ashi be released?

Like most anime series, "Ao Ashi" will be based on a series of comics. As detailed in the show's announcement on Anime News Network, "Ao Ashi" by author Yūgo Kobayashi has run thus far in the weekly manga anthology magazine Big Comic Spirits. Some other notable series to have debuted in its pages include Naoki Urasawa's "20th Century Boys" and Taiyo Matsumoto's "Ping Pong."

Anime News Network also noted that the "Ao Ashi" manga was the recipient of an award for best general manga at the 2020 Shogakukan Manga Awards held annually by Big Comic Spirits publisher Shogakukan. Its anime adaptation, then, was most likely possible at least in part thanks to the acclaim garnered by its source material. 

The "Ao Ashi" anime was only just announced, so specifics about its release are scarce. Currently, the series is expected to premiere during the Spring 2022 anime season.

Who are the primary characters in Ao Ashi?

Aoi Ashito is the protagonist of "Ao Ashi." He's a young soccer player from a small town recruited to play soccer in a bigger, Tokyo-based league. Like many shonen sports anime protagonists before him, Ashito is supernaturally gifted at his craft. He possesses the ability to remember granular details of virtually all of his past soccer matches as well as a heightened spatial awareness that allows him to mentally map out the entire soccer field, including players' positions, during matches.

Fukuda Tatsuya is the coach of the Esperion Football Club's Youth Soccer Team in Tokyo who initially recognizes Ashito's talent and recruits him to play away from his hometown.

Other important characters include Esperion FC Youth Soccer Team midfielder Otomo Eisaku, team forward Tachibana Souichirou, Ashito's mother Noriko, his brother Shun, and medical student Ichijo Hana, who acts as Ashito's love interest during his time in Tokyo.

What is the plot of Ao Ashi?

"Ao Ashi" chronicles the journey of the young but raw soccer talent Ao Ashito. Upon the series' opening, Ashito is competing in his hometown soccer league and seems to possess a level of talent significantly greater than most of his competitors. This catches the attention of Fukuda Tatsuya, who is in the midst of recruiting players for the youth soccer team associated with Esperion FC, a fictional club that's part of the real-life J.League, the predominant soccer league in Japan. From then on, the series follows the tribulations of the Esperion FC Youth Team's journey toward young soccer stardom.

In response to the announcement of the "Ao Ashi" anime, multiple fans on Reddit praised the realism of the manga's depiction of the game of soccer compared to various other series that take a less grounded approach to sports. Whether "Ao Ashi" will follow its source material to the letter or deviate from the story established thus far in the pages of Big Comic Spirits should become clearer following its premiere in Spring 2022.