We continue this week to build out the backgrounds of the flavorful characters in Clean Freak! Aoyama-kun. Tsukamoto is a name I’m very familiar with back from my DAYS reviews and while he is not the same Tsukamoto, this one is the topic of this week’s Episode 5 review. You may recognize him from the credits, glasses and the talent to juggle the ball on his behind. His background may shock you.
Japanese Original Episode Title: 塚本くんはウケが命
After a nice break from sports last episode, Aoyama-kun picks back up on the field of action – the soccer field. The protagonist of this episode is Tsukamoto Jin, a mysterious and goofy character who wears red glasses and is always seen playing soccer with his butt. Aoyama’s fan club continues to grow during practice and now includes the team captain, who joins because his girlfriend is part of it. Tsukamoto isn’t jealous and he is comforted constantly by his team’s assurance that he’s the ‘team morale booster.’ He takes his job of making them laugh very seriously, since he believes his talent lies with humor over soccer.
The second half of the episode is a soccer match against another high school. Apparently, it’s an early qualifier and this fact is made apparent by the photographers at the scene. Personally, I feel the photographers are absolutely hysterical as it seems a little crazy to have professionals covering low-level high school matches. They speak in melodramatic terms:
Aoyama is so good, but playing for a team like this puts his career in jeopardy. If they lose, his career goes up in flames.
I suppose it adds a little tension to the episode’s plot.
The match is going alright in the beginning, with Aoyama scoring the first goal. But since this is a Tsukamoto arc, there’s a challenge he has to overcome. The team they are playing against is Tsukamoto’s old school. He apparently was given the nickname ‘The Statue’ since the team’s star player would abuse him by launching balls at him. The captain also didn’t think the butt juggling was funny and made him stop. This causes Tsukamoto to freeze up during the game and allows the opposing team two goals.
The rest of the episode is Tsukamoto’s personal struggle to overcome his past fears and the means in which this happens.
Episode Highlights & Trivia
The highlights this week weren’t as standout as the previous week’s. The biggest thing to have happened was Tsukamoto’s minimal character growth, but if you’re a sucker for posterior related jokes, this was the episode for you.
The main highlight this episode, for me, was the photographers. I mentioned it above, but I’m still in awe that they are seriously covering high school soccer so adamantly. There’s some speculation on their part of Aoyama’s motives in the episode, and while the photographers were entertaining – Aoyama once again brings some heart-warming momentum to the episode and steals the limelight with limited screen time.
Interestingly, Tsukamoto’s character shares several traits with the main character of DAYS, also named Tsukamoto. He believes he has no skill and is somewhat of a laughing stock for the team. His antics boost team morale and when he overcomes his personal fears, he may actually have the potential to carry a strong offensive line. Just some fun trivia, though it may or may not be intentional.
I haven’t been a huge fan of Tsukamoto’s character this season. I appreciate the effort to build the character and the opportunity to grow Aoyama’s at the same time. However, Tsukamoto is incredibly cookie cutter as far as the cast goes so far. That being said, the episode was enjoyable just the same. Coming off of last week’s amazing episode, Episode 5 had big shoes to fill and so far in the series is the weakest of the bunch. Now that we have a little more backstory on Tsukamoto and his friendships, I hope that his character has the opportunity to grow as a forward on the soccer team. The butt juggling gag is pretty tame, but being able to utilize it to win games may just win me over to the character.
Let’s draw a manga!
I’m pretty excited about next week’s episode. The best characters so far have not been on the soccer team, and if the teaser is any indicator, we’re going to learn about the mysterious long-haired lurker. He shows up in the amazing end credits, so I’m certain he’ll be integral to the story development. Besides that, what was your favorite part of this week’s episode? Let me know on the MANGA.TOKYO forums!