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.
I had to catch my breath after this one. I’m still recovering from the past few episodes and my anxiety is pretty high. There’s been a LOT happening the past three weeks and we’re still not finished with this Inter High qualifiers. Just to make sure that the audience is plenty on edge before the episode truly begins, we’re shown a montage of the most exciting moments of the Seiseki vs Saku High match. With Ooshiba out and twenty minutes left in the game, it’s up to Number 17, Tsukamoto, to ensure that his team can keep on fighting.
As the crowd muses on Number 17 as the secret Seiseki weapon, Tsukamoto’s look of determination as he enters the field quickly turns to embarrassment as his shorts fall down. He forgot to tie the drawstring and this causes his entire team to burst into laughter. Some of the tension is immediately eased, whether Tsukamoto intended for this to happen or not. Indou Kaoru is not amused, however. He’s in fact very worried. He notes that whenever Tsukamoto comes, Seiseki’s mood skyrockets. As Tsukamoto enters the field, he whispers something to Usui and as soon as the match begins Seiseki immediately changes tactics. Instead of being aggressive, they decide to sit deep, much to Indou’s confusion. Kazama begins marking Indou again and even though Indou tells him he can’t keep up, Kazama just smirks and says, “We’ll see.”
Indou manages to break past Kazama, but to his surprise Tsukamoto is there for the steal. Kazama exclaims that he alone can’t beat Indou but combined with Tsukamoto they can beat him. Tsukamoto passes the ball to Mizuki who gains control as Tsukamoto and Kazama head up the field. Kimishita is open and Mizuki passes to him. Both Tsukamoto and Kazama make it to shooting range, and Saku High is forced to guess who he will pass it to. They determine that Kazama is the better option for marking and go all in blocking him. To their surprise, Kimishita passes to Tsukamoto. The crowd goes wild as Tsukamoto secures the ball. He goes for the shot and it’s tremendous: the ball makes it past the Saku High goalie!
But… Narukami blocks the goal to everyone’s surprise. He’s ecstatic. “Finally I have the ball”. He tells Tsukamoto that his shot was poor but the running was superb, but there won’t be another chance like that. Tsukamoto runs off, falls onto his face, gets back up and makes his way down the field. Saku High’s goalie notes that Narukami and Tsukamoto have a lot in common – mostly that they both lack “soccer brain”. Now that Saku High has ball possession, that feeling of anxiety comes back to the team. There are multiple shot attempts by Saku High, which are blocked…but Saku High remains in possession of the ball. Kimishita determines that since the score is 1 -1 and the game has still ten minutes to go, Indou won’t risk a long pass. The strategy is to remain on Narukami until Seiseki can regain possession of the ball. But as Kimishita tempts fate, Narukami makes a break for it. Surprisingly Indou doesn’t seem to notice, but Kimishita and his fellow teammates are too far behind. Even though Indou’s back is turned, he maneuvers an amazing roundhouse kick and passes the ball directly to Narukami, who is wide open. Narukami shoots and he scores. The crowd is speechless as Saku High takes the lead. A sudden roar of cheering erupts as Seiseki ponders how Indou who had his back turned, managed to pass without a signal. The sunglasses man makes another vague comment. I wonder if his identity will be revealed soon.
Narukami is pleased with himself, and praises the strong connection he has with his teammate. As Narukami is riding his wave of egomania, Tsukamoto gets right up to his face and exclaims: “Excuse me, please, get out of the way!”. Seiseki isn’t giving up and the whole team looks ready to go on a rampage. While there’s some bickering between Usui and Kimishita, the team is otherwise determined. Kazama gives Tsukamoto some words of encouragement before kick off and Tsukamoto thinks about a cat story. Kazama tells him to save the story for the post-win celebration. Mizuki roars a team lifting phrase and the match begins. Tsukamoto passes to Kazama at the kick-off and while he stands there lost in thought, Kazama’s ability still shines. “Tsukamoto, where’s your head – I’m gonna leave you behind”. Tsukamoto snaps out of it and makes his way down the field. Kazama gets pinned by Saku High and passes to Tsukamoto. One of Saku High’s players fouls him, but Tsukamoto pushes through and gains advantage before the referee can signal a yellow card. With the momentum secured, Tsukamoto passes back to Kazama who gets immediately tackled by Indou – but not before directing the ball to Mizuki. Mizuki powers down the field – a true beast and makes towards the goal. Kimishita asks for a pass, but Mizuki doesn’t relent. Saku High braces themselves for Mizuki’s shot on goal, but the last second Mizuki passes the ball to Tsukamoto who is wide open.
Maybe life isn’t about counting all the things you’ve lost…
And we’re left with another cliffhanger. Considering Tsukamoto’s history, it’s possible he’ll miss the goal again and the anticipation could not be higher. This is the best of the Inter High Tournament episodes by far. Anytime Tsukamoto takes the field, the series displays a completely different energy. We do get to hear Tsukamoto’s cat story towards the end of the episode, but it isn’t during a victory celebration. There’s a lot of sad backstory for Tsukamoto, but it makes him a very relatable character. I really enjoy the character development in the series and as I’ve mentioned before, even though there’s no power levels, it’s incredibly exciting since DAYS is based in reality. I hope we see a conclusion to this thrilling match next week. There’s a million outcomes, who knows what could happen!