Resides in Austin, TX (USA). Long time connoisseur of anime and manga - I'm an art director, media critic and eccentric. I love to write, draw and travel.
My favorite action-packed soccer anime, DAYS, is back this week after an excruciating short break, and I’m ready to dive in! In our last review, we speculated that this second season was going to explore more of Tsukamoto’s growth as soccer player and this week we learn how Tsukamoto carries the heavy weight of responsibility upon his shoulders. Will he be able to press forward after the Inter High tournament results? Read on to find out!
Japanese Original Episode Title: お前は前だけ見てればいい
This week starts out with a recap of last season’s dramatic climax. There’s a lot going through Tsukamoto’s mind after missing the pivotal shot at the end of the Inter High match versus Saku High. We finally get to see Sayuri again in a prominent role in this episode. It’s been nearly twelve episodes since we’ve seen her speak and it’s good to finally have her confront Tsukamoto. In this episode, she invites Tsukamoto out to a local festival and we finally get more background on their childhood friendship and relationship. I’ve been rooting for Tsukamoto ‘to get the girl’, but I haven’t decided which girl it should be! Ubukata’s strong personality is a good balance to Tsukamoto’s kind nature, but Sayuri is sweet and kind. Hard decisions!
At the festival, Sayuri and Tsukamoto run into several of the Seiseki soccer team players. It’s funny that nearly the whole team is out at the festival that evening, but without soccer practice, there’s probably not much else to do! While the pair reminisce about old times, the Seiseki team gets into all kinds of trouble. Sayuri realizes that Tsukamoto finally has friends and comments that he’s popular now. She reassures him that his strong sense of responsibility is a good thing, but that he shouldn’t beat himself up over the match results. I get warm-fuzzies whenever characters are nice to Tsukamoto and during the entire episode no one shows any resentment towards him. This surely alleviates any lingering fears that he disappointed anyone. Many more antics ensue at the festival and before the break, we see the calm, collected Sayuri do something completely out of character!
The second half of the episode focuses on the team and their study habits. Kurusu’s gang is full of morons and in order to be able to attend soccer camp, they have to make sure that their grades are up to par. Tsukamoto and Kazama decide to attend, but Kazama gets kicked out by Kimishita. While this part of the episode isn’t as eventful as the first half, it gives good character growth to Usui – a character we have seen often, but heard from very little. Usui asks Tsukamoto for help preparing curry (our favorite food and the go-to delicacy of the soccer team) and uses some psychology to put a fire under Tsukamoto. I think he’ll be ready to face the tournaments ahead!
Episode 13 has a lot of humor in it. It’s the funniest episode of DAYS and each of the highlights had me laughing out loud. Make sure to keep an eye out for them!
During the festival, Tsukamoto and Sayuri run into Kimishita working at a yakisoba stall. He calls Tsukamoto over and declares that he needs a favor. Tsukamoto seems concerned and asks what’s up. Kimishita tells him to order. This situation escalates into some hilarity and Tsukamoto gets way more than he asks for. Kimishita is quickly growing as one of my favorite characters, not only this interaction but several others later on in the episode makes him top of the list of team members to watch for.
Kurusu and the gang of first year end up pulling Tsukamoto away from Sayuri during the festival (this is after giving him a hard time for being with a girl – again!). After a heartfelt goodbye, she’s left all alone. Her friends notice her standing by herself and approach her to see what’s going on. When she turns around, the floodgates open. Most of Sayuri’s character growth comes from this scene and it definitely made me return to the question of who’s the best girl for Tsukamoto. After you check it out, let me know what you think!
During the study session, Kurusu is having an incredibly hard time. Kimishita gives him hell for being so stupid and demands that he gets back to work. Kimishita thinks that all the team members who have joined for the study session are in desperate need to raise their grades. Kurusu tells Kimishita that Yazama isn’t studying and Kimishita goes to lay into him. Kazama has a trump card though and catches Kimishita off guard. A yelling match ensues and Kimishita kicks Kazama out of the study session. This moment is pretty relatable to some of my high school study sessions. There’s always someone who doesn’t need to be there, but still wants to be part of the group and it’s funny to see Kazama becoming such a softie.
There’s not a lot to say about the new themes other than the opening is incredibly catchy and the closing theme has beautiful imagery. Be sure to watch them both! They’re new!
The general theme of episode 13 is the battle between responsibility, friendship and the uphill battle against self-doubt. Throughout both parts, Tsukamoto is approached by friends and teammates who help him separate responsibility from reality. Personal growth is a key theme, as well, with many players’ experiences shared in order to help direct Tsukamoto in the right direction. Tsukamoto is on the hero’s journey and though it may just be a soccer story – many of the themes are parallel to the great epics of old. He has suffered a great loss and now must use that loss to push him to become better. He no longer can rely on himself as he has a team to help support him (and that he must support).
As I said earlier, this episode is the funniest episode to-date. It’s a well needed break from the seriousness and intensity of the Saku High arc and the humor isn’t without a point. This episode gives not only Tsukamoto, but the viewer an opportunity to breathe and reflect. I wish we had been able to spend more time at the festival or learned what the festival was for, though. The break to the second half (study session) was a bit abrupt and left me with a lot of questions. Sayuri’s confession makes me wonder what she’s hoping for from Tsukamoto in the future. Is she a sister figure or a love interest? There’s a lot of questions now!
If you haven’t started DAYS, now is the best time to catch up. The start of the second season sets an exciting pace for the rest of the series and I recommend catching up now! I think the biggest question is: How will Tsukamoto grow? Will he be like Mizuki and make a complete 180 turn in skill? What do you think?