Finally. The season pays off in this episode. In this review of DAYS, I’ll explore how our favorite soccer team finally sees the light. Without spoiling the episode, Episode 18 shows many of our heroes’ challenges reach their conclusion. Take a read of last week’s review, because there’s a lot to catch up on. So, sans any delay – let’s hop right in.
Japanese Original Episode Title：教えてくれよ君下 お前ならできるだろ？
Tsukamoto is subbed in for Kazama. This is not an ideal situation in Kazama’s world and he’s fairly bitter about it. The flashback this week reminds us of the tension between the two friends. Kazama says he can’t forgive Tsukamoto for calling out his injury, since Kazama believed he had something to prove to his mother. Despite this, Tsukamoto goes in to give it his all.
Before the second half begins, Himura is told that Seikan is going to have a second forward. He argues with the coach who tells him to put aside his pride. Himura is a star first year, much like Kazama, but he lacks Kazama’s sensitivity and is a dark counter to my favorite player. Taira threatens to quit the team if the coach doesn’t allow Himura to be solo forward. The Seikan coach gives an ultimatum of ten minutes. Himura’s respect for Taira grows as he hits the field.
Almost immediately, and with Taira’s support, Himura scores two goals – to tie the match. Without Kazama on the field, Seiseki seems a bit panicked. Kimishita is the one facing most of the pressure. His passes don’t seem to connect and he can’t get Mizuki out of his head. This is Kimishita’s episode and his game to lose. Himura scores another goal because of a failed Kimishita pass and a massive sense of dread falls over Kimishita.
Kimishita is hit in the face by Taira and goes down. While he’s out, we see a flashback of his first year on Seiseki. He wonders why they haven’t made it to Inter High since joining the team, and when he’s awakened by Mizuki by pouring an entire bottle of water down his throat, Mizuki demands that he gets up or gets subbed out. Kimishita confronts Mizuki about the ‘never being satisfied’ thing and makes a realization. Mizuki is a crazy person and everything he does defies human logic. In his own way, Mizuki encourages Kimishita and they make a massive shift together on the field, with Tsukamoto’s support. After several wild passes – Kimishita connects a pass to Mizuki and Seiseki scores! The game gets tied game four minutes before the final whistle.
These last four minutes are intense. Incredibly intense. I refuse to ruin it for you.
Highlight 1: Kazama Watch
Kazama doesn’t make much of an appearance in this episode since he spends the majority of it sulking on the bleachers with a towel on his head. He’s precious, though, and since I declared a Kazama Watch each week, I won’t ruin it. Two things to look out for in this episode: The first is Ubukata lecturing Kazama and the shift in attitude once she’s done. It’s a spectacle and Ubukata is an incredibly blunt and honest character. The second is the mid-episode title card. Outside of learning that Kazama’s mother’s name is Akiko, we learn a really fun, humble fact about Kazama, ‘I can’t recall ever having trouble getting a girl.’ Of course, Kazama, of course.
Highlight 2: Kimishita figures it out!
Great character development during the Kimishita flashbacks this episode. He’s a character with a massive attitude, but one we still don’t know much about. I appreciate a short and concise flashback and while Kimishita is face down in the dirt, we’re able to explore some of the things that make him tick and learn why Mizuki’s ‘betrayal’ hurt him so much. It’s an interesting development, especially from a character that only seemed to have one personality: Fierce.
Highlight 3: Tsukamoto did it – a thing – once more!
Tsukamoto has been on a roll this match. His Kazama pep-talk turned him into a reliable player and well… watch the last four minutes. Worth watching the series for this moment alone.
Kimishita’s come through the abyss, finally. Ooshiba may still have some work to do, but Seiseki is finally feeling like a cohesive unit. I enjoy when the episode explores the opposing team’s players as well. Not only do we get a thematic exploration of Seiseki, we also learn a lot about Taira’s team loyalty and ability to motivate. Seeing how Mizuki and Taira will be teammates at some point in the future, it’s interesting to consider how their interactions on this field will influence their future partnership. Rivalries are a good motivator, and one of the great things about anime and the shonen genre is how friendships can be born from understanding an opponent’s mindset. Tsukamoto is a hero, now.
I’m thrilled that this arc has been so exciting. The Inter High matches were good, but dragged on quite a bit. The soccer camp games have been short, but full of action and this season is definitely much stronger than season 1. It’s important to remember that some of the action and excitement would not have been possible without the character building in season 1.
Episode 18 is a reminder that there’s a lot to resolve in six episodes and a lot that I hope to see. But with the announcement of next season, I’m pretty excited for the future of our DAYS players.
What happens now?
I think the ride is over for soccer camp. I’m not certain, but I’m hoping to see Kazama and Tsukamoto pick up the pieces and the stage be set for an actual tournament! I want nothing more than to see Mizuki go out with a win on his final season.
Which game did you like more? The Inter High game: Seiseki vs Saku High or Summer Camp: Seiseki vs Seikan? I can’t believe how far we’ve come on this DAYS journey and with all the nail-biting excitement, I think I’m owed a Seiseki jersey… right? I think we may be going to the Nationals, folks!
NEXT TIME: Come with Me. It’s a straight shot to Nationals!
Don’t forget to check the rest of our episodic reviews for Fall 2016!
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