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.
Our favorite shonen soccer anime turns up the heat this week, with Tsukamoto playing his first scrimmage match. I want to briefly talk about the opening theme. We’re three episodes in and the opening theme has really started to grow on me. I think I’ll be using it to get me pumped up for soccer practice (assuming I ever actually play soccer again). It’s a great tune and the animation sequences match the pacing of the song perfectly.
Sadly, there’s no mention of ramen in this episode, but the episode opens up with all the teams at the soccer training camp enjoying curry. Curry isn’t ramen, but it’s a pretty good replacement – so we’re at 2 counts of ramen so far, and one count of curry. Episode 3 is a bit comedy heavy. While the previous episodes have had some jokes, this episode has several silly gags and the first half is mostly just building characters through humor. During their curry meal, an opposing team (which we learn Kazama played for in middle school) starts smack talking Kazama. Tsukamoto gets mad and interjects, but the Ohmiya Tech players just turn their abuse to him. Since Tsukamoto is Kazama’s precious friend, Kazama decides to intervene. He pours a hot kettle of water on the bully’s head. The bully from Ohmiya Tech doesn’t like this and tries to hit Kazama. Kazama easy dodges his attack and the rest of the Seiseki team comments that Kazama is overprotective of little Tsukamoto.
Shortly after, we find Tsukamoto entering the bath house. There’s some really bizarre bathroom training going on in here by the first-years at Seiseki. They’re doing some sort of synchronized, hypnotic movements – which leads Kurusu to a very important question for Tsukamoto. “Don’t tell me you don’t have any pubes.” While the rest of the team continues their strange dance in the bathroom, Kurusu and Tsukamoto soak in the tub. Kurusu tells Tsukamoto that Kazama was a great soccer player in middle school but that Ohmiya Tech refused to play him for their final game of his middle school year. Kurusu continues by explaining that you can tell someone is good at soccer by how they handle their feet, how they stand, how their facial expression changes when in control of the ball – Kazama has transcended professional. Kurusu is certain that Kazama hasn’t practiced a day in his life, and that all his skill comes from innate ability.
Later, in their hotel room, Kazama tells Tsukamoto that he got in trouble for pouring hot water on the bully. Then, seemingly unprompted, he asks Tsukamoto why boobs come in pairs. “One for each hand”. It seems like Kazama is only capable of being sentimental on the surface level to others for a short time. He needs to break up serious discussions with silliness, because of his inner conflicts. He tells Tsukamoto that Seiseki is a good school and that people on the team don’t lean on one star player. Perhaps this is part of the mystery as to what happened during his middle school years.
Tsukamoto wakes up at 4am to use the restroom and notices that Kazama is missing. He searches everywhere and eventually finds Kazama on the soccer field, practicing. It seems like Kazama is pushing himself to the limit and that Kurusu’s assumption that Kazama Jin never practices was wrong. Tsukamoto notes that Kazama is a hard worker, but Kazama tells him he’s never put any effort into playing soccer. “He’s so cool”, Tsukamoto thinks. Kazama reflects on how soccer became a chore, mentioned how he got frozen out his last middle school game for defying the coach and admires Tsukamoto for making soccer fun for him again. Tsukamoto gives him hope. The two of them practice until the morning, and end up sleeping on the field.
The next day, Seiseki’s first years are set to scrimmage against Ohmiya Tech. The bully from before refuses to shake Tsukamoto’s hand, because it’s “dirty” and Seiseki’s first-years think this is hilarious. After an immediate fumble, Tsukamoto is determined to just run as hard as he can. His determination pushes the rest of the first years – almost to the brink of exhaustion. They yell at him “Stop trying so hard” and he responds “I’ll try!”. “We’re telling you to stop!!”. Kurusu, is worn out from the sloppy playing but as the game continues he also begins to reflect. He’s confused about how he can be so tired but so motivated to do well. He comes to the same realization as Kazama – after years of being told HOW to play soccer, he’s finally just playing soccer. Tsukamoto makes soccer fun! Playing soccer with you is super fun, baka!
Seiseki literally runs their opponents into the ground. Tsukamoto’s teammates stand up for him after the bullies try to blame Tsukamoto for their loss – Ohmiya Tech’s team is embarrassed. After the game, Tsukamoto petitions Mizuki for lessons on how to kick. What follows is a hilarious montage of Mizuki being unable to explain how to kick.
“USE THE SPIRIT”
“MAKE IT FLY”
“IT NEEDS TO VIBRATE”
“USE THE OOMPH”
Eventually Tsukamoto succeeds in making the ball fly. He tells Mizuki that he understands and that it just goes “KA-POW”. Mizuki says NO THAT’S NOT IT and tells Tsukamoto to stop screwing around. This is a classic “Who’s on first” scenario that’s hysterical to watch. We learn that Mizuki was like Tsukamoto, a first-year with no experience who is now the best player on the team.
“You’re like Tsukamoto”
“It’s rude to compare the two of us… rude to him. After my first scrimmage, I was in tears – here Tsukamoto is, kicking the ball around”.
Cue the warm fuzzy feelings. Aww.
This is by far the funniest episode of DAYS so far. We’ve got several mysteries unraveling and a lot of character progression. Honestly, DAYS may be the best shonen this season – it doesn’t take itself too seriously, but really sets a positive message. The character dynamics are really interesting and it’s impressive that with such a large cast, the viewer can still get a sense of character personalities and relationship growth. I’m going to go practice my “OOMPH”. Until next time!