- Genre : Sports!, comedy, drama
- Episodes: 24
- Studio: MAPPA
Tsukamoto is a
sports anime protagonist, short, unskilled and inexperienced in soccer but brimming with good will and enthusiasm and willing to do everything it takes to advance the standard sports anime plotline help his team get to nationals (Japan must have a national competition in something every single day of the year…maybe Canada does too, I’m ill-informed). With the help of his new friend stereotypical pretty boy Kazama, and his token archetypes teammates, Tsukimoto will do the exact same thing as every other sports anime protagonist discover his love of the game and finally find a place where he belongs.
Be honest with me, should I just give up trying to come up with witty post names?
I have some rather questionable ambitions. To my credit, most are legal. One of these, is to watch every single sports anime that comes my way and that’s how Days got on my list. High praise, I know. Days seems to have been mostly ignored and garnered generally tepid reception among the few people that did give it a chance, which is too bad because Days is surprisingly more enjoyable that it has any right to be.
Sure, technically speaking there’s nothing spectacular going on here. The designs are nice, your classic team full of pretty boys (noone’s complaining) and varied enough to be interesting but the already somewhat pared down aesthetic becomes laughably minimalist as soon as a scene requires any distance or movement.
And movement is by far the weakest part of this series. Seeing as this is a sports anime about soccer, you would reasonably expect a lot of running around and dynamic action sequences. These tend to be quite demanding on a production though and Days employs every possible trick in the book to avoid actual animation. By this I mean, closeups on faces with lightly moving hair instead of full body/ full field shots, strangely frozen extras or having the camera move over static frames. All of these are pretty obvious but for my money, much preferable to actual bad animation. Just don’t expect to get swept away by onscreen action.
Maybe partly due to this lack of animation, the story focuses much more on feels than mechanics. Yes, it gives us some soccer fundamentals, but unlike a lot of animes in this genre, it doesn’t go into much details about the history, strategies and game theory of soccer. Days chooses to concentrate instead on the social and character building aspects of team sports. I actually quite enjoyed this departure and found that I had become surprisingly attached to the admittedly stock characters, very quickly.
In a mere 24 episodes, a trifling for a sports anime, I actually developed some type connection to most team members and half the rivals. No, this show doesn’t have the masterful characterization of Haikyuu!! but then again very few shows do. I do believe that Days establishes its characters better than the norm and uses personality driven plots to make the most of what it has.
Although in many ways Tsukamoto is the prototypical sports anime protagonist (is that too many “pro” words in a sentence?) He does stray from the mold in one important aspect. Tsuki has parents, rather “A” parent, and his relationship with his mother is both important and character defining. Tsuki’s backstory is considerably more tragic than expected but it’s handled with a certain optimistic nonchalance that’s both refreshing and endearing. The emphasis on Tsuki’s relationship with his handicapped mother and how this has shaped him as a person was rather unique and I wish they had delved into it even deeper. This said, all their shared moments, were sweet and occasionally deeply moving. It hammered home the “hero” aspect in one of the most effective ways I’ve yet to see.
Also here’s a random quote from the show. I’m just throwing it in because I quite liked it and it gives you a feeling for the joyful optimism embodied by Days:
“Maybe life isn’t about counting all the things you’ve lost”.
This said, there are some pretty obvious problems with the narrative as well. Kazama is adorable but oddly shallow for what is essentially the deuteragonist. His character never feels fully developed despite a few episodes dedicated to his background.
Also, in part as a product of the short runtime and blind optimism of the series, conflicts are minor and almost instantly resolved. There really isn’t much in way of dramatic tension here.
A lot of the problems with the show seem to stem from the fact that this was essentially a pilot season. It ends on a cliffhanger with a very hopeful (as in all things) “see you next season” screen. I would be willing to bet that the writers left much of the development and drama for potential upcoming seasons and treated this as a largely superficial straight forward introduction.
I’m not sure if this was a miscalculation on the part of the production team or if we are in fact ever going to get a second season. The fact is, for all of the shortcomings I mentioned above, I enjoyed Days a whole lot. The visceral impact was undeniable and although I may not have been on the edge of my seat breathlessly waiting for the next goal, I found that I was really looking forward to spending more time with the Seiseki team and the series effectively sold me on reading the manga.
Favorite character: Kimishita and Usui
What this show taught me: Apparently I don’t always chose the blonde
I don’t have a drinking problem… I’m actually quite good at it
Suggested drink: Caipirinha
- Every time Tuski blushes – take a sip
- Every time anyone else blushes – clap
- Every time Kazama is cool – raise your glass
- Every time Tsuki gets hurt – take a sip
- Every time Kimishita gets angry – take a sip
- Every time Tsuki cries – get some water
- Every time Kazama runs with his hands in his pockets – take a sip
- Every time Tsuki gets blue face – take a sip
- Every time Kazama defends Tsuki – cheer!
- Every time Tsuki gets called an idiot – agree
- Every time someone is shirtless – cluth your pearls
- Every time Tsuki gets cheered on – join along
- Every time Kimishita wears his glasses – huh?