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.
‘Days’ is an anime I’ve been excited about for a while. I grew up playing futbol (soccer) and I find a lot in common with its hero, Tsukushi Tsukamoto. Namely, I was terrible at the sport – but had a fighting spirit (probably). The manga has been ongoing in Weekly Shonen Magazine since 2013 and I’ve been eager to see how the action of the panels transitions to animation.
There have been many sports anime series and to many fans, sports may seem like a confusing genre for an anime. The sports genre can be exciting and I encourage anyone who is hesitant in jumping into the genre, to give ‘Days’ a chance. Just from this first episode, it’s proving to be as action-packed as any great fighting shonen. Sports anime shares all the themes of the genre – friendship, personal growth, training, sacrifice and accomplishing goals.
Episode 1 begins with an incredibly intense soccer match. It’s immediately presumed that these are the final minutes at the end of a tied game. As the ball makes its way up the field, several characters make an appearnace, many of whom we’ll meet later on in the episode. As the match is just about to near its conclusion, a bright-eyed, blushy-cheeked player makes an attempt to score on the goal. He shoots and he…! We’re left wondering if his shot at goal is successful as the intro begins and transitions to a high school entrance ceremony. The bright-eyed boy is seen beaming at the speaker during the ceremony.
After the ceremony, A long, blond-haired student introduces himself to his freshman class. His name is Kazama Jin and many of his classmates find him attractive and alluring. Immediately afterwards, the bright-eyed student attempts to make an introduction but gets tongue-tied and embarasses himself in front of the class. His name is Tsukamoto Tsukushi.
The school day ends and Kazama learns his pick-up futsol match is one man down. He’s asked to find someone to fill in, and ends up picking Tsukamoto. Tsukamoto is thrilled to be asked, since he hasn’t had many friends and shows up the game with his friend Tachibana Sayuri, eager to play and prove himself to Kazama.
Tsukamoto meets Kazama’s friends and borrows a pair of cleats from Kazama. The futsol match begins and everyone comments on how bad of a soccer player Tsukamoto is. He even ends up running in the wrong direction – away from the ball! During half-time, Tsukamoto finds his foot bleeding from a ripped toe-nail and Kazama tells him to sit out the rest of the game. Tsukamoto learns that the match is the last one Kazama’s friend, Eiji will be playing and decides to stay in and give it his all in the next half. Kazama trips when trying to score the game winning point, but Tsukamoto headbutts the ball in – and smashes his face into the goal post. However, they win the match!
Tsukamoto’s perseverence pays off.
Kazama thanks Tsukamoto for coming and Tsukamoto is glad to have a new friend. He joins the soccer club the next day. Club practice is headed by star-player and team captain, Mizuki. Training turns out to be overwhelming and Tsukamoto is left in the dust during shuttle runs. Mizuki tells him to leave. Kazama ends up blaming himself and feeling bad for Tsukamoto. During Kazama’s pity-party, Sayuri frantically enters asking where Tsukamoto is. After a frantic search, the pair finds him on the practice field. Mizuki blowing the whistle and Tsukamoto struggles up and down the field.
“He wouldn’t stop until 100 reps.”
Mizuki and Kazama are impressed.
Kazama drops some warm, fuzzy feelings of friendship in the final scene. From the beginning of the episode, Kazama Jin seemed as if he would end up being a jerk or an unlikeable character. The viewer was given the impression that he was asking Tsukamoto to play due to a joke, but by the end – the audience can see that Kazama Jin is actually a really nice guy. This is a nice change of pace, and it’s great to have positive friendships build so early on in a series. The opening introduction gives something to look forward to throughout the series and makes the audience wonder how Tsukamoto will improve to become an actual competent soccer player. Tsukamoto has excellent energy and his character is really encouraging. There are a lot of really cute scenes in the episode as well, involving Kazama and Tsukamoto – and watching their friendship grow is going to be one of the highlights of the series. Episode 1 has great pacing and no disappointing cliff-hanger. ‘Days’ is a refreshingly positive shonen anime and I’m looking forward to next weeks episode.