First Impressions – Days

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Euro Cup: The Anime

Sports anime are an easy sell. This is largely because they’re so darn formulaic that you always know what you’re going to get. So if you’re a sports anime fan, it’s a safe bet. Days is no exception to this, harking on the same cliches, with a different sport. But what really matters is if it pulls off these cliches well.

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a sports genius gets attached to a shy, non-athletic beginner and starts training them to become a great player. This is the plot of Days. Just off the top of my head, that’s also the plot of Ookiku Furikabutte and Eyeshield 21. To be fair, it’s a staple because it works. There’s just something invigorating about seeing a stuttering weakling turn into a pro athlete over the course of a series. I suspect it might be because this makes the viewer feel like they could pick up any new sport and become talented as long as they do their best (something I contest in my article about the atypical anime Ping Pong, which spins this concept on its head). While it’s nothing novel, Days still delivers a solid success story that makes Tsukamoto’s rise to the top as endearing as possible.

Right off the bat, it’s plain to see that Tsukamoto is not a soccer player. He’s not even an athlete, as his physical prowess is below-average at best. However, his one talent is that he tries harder than anyone else. Again, this is par for the course in a sports anime. Where Tsukamoto is a little different is in his demeanor and how that determination comes into play. Usually this trait comes off during these adrenaline-filled moments with lots of dramatic screaming. In Days, it’s more like watching a determined puppy try to climb down stairs. It’s adorable! Tsukamoto is an endless ball of positive energy, and he’s almost oblivious to his own lack of skills (and various injuries). All he cares about is making sure everyone is having a good time along with him. And boy, is it hard to not smile next to this doofy kid.

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He’s doing his very very best

So the big hook Days lures me in with is this light-hearted tone that completely caught me off-guard. The athletic environment in this show is extremely positive, and the perfect grounds for bringing up a total newbie like Tsukamoto. To start things off, Tsukamoto gets invited to a pick-up soccer game by Jin, who is obviously the sports genius. Now, I expected him to invite Tsukamoto as a joke and for him to be a total ass, but this wasn’t the case. He genuinely wanted Tsukamoto to play with him. For once, the sports genius was super nice. He then introduces Tsukamoto to his team which are a bunch of adults who look like scary thugs to highschooler. Even these guys – random extras – are exceedingly sweet to Tsukamoto. I mean, he was an absolute trainwreck on the field, and he still doesn’t get anyone mad at him! They just encourage him to have fun and do his best. It’s honestly really refreshing to see talented players treat a deadweight newbie so kindly. This usually isn’t the case, as a new player making mistakes that cost points can be very frustrating to veterans, and they inevitably end up being shunned.

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They’re nice guys! Honest!

Even the stern soccer captain at school shows mercy when Tsukamoto begs him to complete the shuttle run (which we call “suicides” where I’m from). It’s tough love, but it shows that he’s willing to accept Tsukamoto’s passion. I think what’s really amazing about him running well into the night to make his goal is how he became so dedicated so quickly. Kazama comments that his cleats are still brand new and haven’t worn down yet, so he’s not doing this because he loves soccer. It’s too soon to determine that. This is just how Tsukamoto approaches life – doing his absolute best even if it kills him. That’s what impressed me the most. That commitment seems almost idiotic, but it makes Tsukamoto an enjoyable character to watch. I especially liked seeing Kazama be shocked time and time again at how committed Tsukamoto was to both soccer and his newfound friendship. Come to think of it, this escalated very quickly but I suppose that’s just how Tsukamoto is.

Tsukamoto is a great main character to explore the “beginner turns pro” story. It’s not new, but I’m still happy to see it play out again through these two characters, as they do have some uniqueness to them. Tsukamoto is not only determined, but he also seems to embody the masochistic qualities that all athletes seem to have. I mean, why else would be run laps in the rain and lift heavier and heavier weights at the gym all the time? We must be masochists in some form to be doing this for a hobby! He has the mindset of a proper athlete, he just has to work on his body. Then he’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

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The only problem is, once he’s a pro, I’m not sure the show will be as interesting. The actual soccer matches in the episode were the most boring part. The animation was inconsistent, as it showed single locks of Kazama’s hair when he tried to score a goal but then reverted back to being less detailed immediately afterwards. It also just doesn’t look very exciting. The directing just seems off for those moments. This is a little alarming, as you would hope the soccer portion of an anime that’s about soccer would be the best part. I may just take some warming up to the sport. This was just a pick-up match, so there weren’t very many fancy plays or strategies. I did like the key moments of that scoring headbutt and diving for the out of bounds ball, but the in-between moments felt stale…like filler.

Days is a decent anime for fans of the sports genre. It takes true and tried tropes and uses them well to craft a good story of friendship. It seems a lot more innocent and sweet than most sports anime thus far, which is a plus in my books, because watching it makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. How could you say no to a guy so positive he smiles and asks to play more soccer after his entire toenail falls off from running so hard? This looks like it will be a fun show as long as it can make the soccer portions more interesting. There are some iffy directorial choices, such as choosing a super zoomed-out and blurry overhead shot for most of Tsukamoto desperate shuttle run during try-outs. Still, I’m curious to see how this one pans out, even if I’m not totally convinced the soccer portion of it will deliver consistently.



A neuroscience graduate, black belt, and all-around nerd. You'll either find me in my lab or curled up in my rilakkuma kigurumi watching anime.
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4 Responses to “First Impressions – Days”

  1. skylion says:

    I have to agree with you on several points, mostly that the soccer portions where the weakest aspect of the first episode, but I’m on the fence as to whether or not they intended it to be that way. Instead, was it balanced with the characters and came out the weakest as a result. They packed a bunch of stuff against expectations as you pointed out.

    But I was just as surprised, will be even more surprised if I follow the second episode, but I quite liked this one.

    • Overcooled says:

      I have the feeling they didn’t intend for it to be like this, because it billed itself as a soccer anime and ended up fumbling the ball where it was supposed to count…

      This ended up being better than Cheer Danshi for me so I was pleasantly surprised haha

      • skylion says:

        It did end up being better than Cheer, I’ll give it that as well; I didn’t make it far into Cheer before I tuned out….

        But I’ll keep up with Days for the time being, it has some promise.

  2. Di Gi Kazune says:

    As of now, Euro2016 has one game left till it’s over. ManU vs ManU final.

    That last picture looks like it could have… certain… implications. This show has earned a red card anyway.

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