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.
This week’s DAYS was really fun, with lots of energy and action! It was a nice change of pace from last week’s emotionally weighted episode. Also, in case you’re keeping up, our heroes visit a ramen shop this week.
At the beginning of the episode, we meet a new character, Kasahara. He’s a third-year veteran, and Tsukamoto is helping him train for the Inter High team qualifiers by feeding him balls to shoot. After the late-night practice, Kasahara, Tsukamoto and Kazama head to feast on some ramen (that’s three for five, on our ramen counter). During their meal, Kasahara thanks Tsukamoto for helping him train. Tsukamoto is more than happy to help and sings the praises of Kasahara’s striking ability. Kazama agrees and believes Kasahara is a dependable player, but needs to work on his “safety first” approach. We learn that there are only seventeen slots in the Inter High tournament team, and that this will be Kasahara’s last attempt to play in a tournament. He says it’s because he will never go pro, and he also says that it’s better to tap out earlier than later. Tsukamoto is saddened by this and as Kasahara leaves, Kazama corrects the record. Apparently, Kasahara’s grandmother is ill and he has to transfer schools to take care of her.
There’s no way he’d give up soccer. He never slacks.
Upon hearing this, Tsukamoto becomes even more determined to help Kasahara secure the slot in the Inter High team. The next day, Ubukata bullies Tsukamoto into buying the team’s supplies. The first-years are amazed at how quickly she has him ‘whipped.’ Tsukamoto trains all evening with Kasahara, pushing him to the limit the day before the roster announcement.
When the day of the announcement finally comes, Seiseki’s coach explains how the players were selected. He says that every possible outcome has been considered and because of this, the players selected are fitted to each of these outcomes. He also informs the team that Mizuki is automatically selected, despite being unable to play the first part of the season. The players picked are supposed to go up front to get their jersey kit. Both the primary and backup players are in this together!
The coach begins to name the players, and one-by-one they walk to the front to get their kits. Kazama is obviously chosen and secures the #9 slot in the team. The roster continues to get filled and before Tsukamoto knows it, the couch has reached the sixteenth player. Tsukamoto is certain it will be Kasahara who fills the last spot.
Tsukamoto is shocked that Kasahara is not picked. He then realizes that he was selected for the team. He protests, but the coach says each player was selected for a reason and the decision is final. Tsukamoto is hurt because he feels like he betrayed his friend. I think a lot of us can relate to this feeling. Tsukamoto begins to cry and Kasahara tells him to meet him on the field after practice. Kazama tells Tsukamoto to stop crying and face the facts.
You were picked. Kassano-senpai was not.
Tsukamoto meets Kasahara on the field, and much to his surprise, finds him smiling. Kasahara says that he will be feeding Tsukamoto balls today and that he respects Tsukamoto for all of the hard work he has done.
After a bit of a time skip, the first round of the Inter High preliminaries is already here. The first game is historically the toughest, but Seiseki is prepared to go out and win. As a backup player, Tsukamoto is on the bench – and Ubukata bullies him by saying he’d better get to work with managerial duties, since he won’t be playing.
Seiseki is competing against their rival, Saku High. As the game begins, Tsukamoto immediately starts cheering, while the rest of the backup players just sit on the bench. Kazama misses a shot, but Tsukamoto still thinks Seiseki is strong, because they’ve stayed on the offensive. The other backups seem worried though; they think everyone is playing stiffly and the coach believes the same. The coach sees Tsukamoto cheering the team and decides to sub him in. Everyone seems shocked. Ooshiba, #11, comes out, headbutts Tsukamoto, and tells him to play hard.
This is one of the most exciting moments of the series for me so far. In the first few episodes we had exciting bouts, but now the team is playing in an actual tournament. To see Tsukamoto fulfill a specific role, despite being terrible, is exciting. As Tsukamoto enters the field, Kazama ribs on him for being nervous. The players ask for the coach’s instructions, but Tsukamoto has forgotten. He just says with a serious face, “I want to win!”. The rest of the players think this is hilarious and lighten up a great deal. The energy of the match has shifted greatly.
I won’t spoil the results of the match, but Tsukamoto runs his heart out.
Episode 5 is my favorite episode to date. Now that the majority of the characters have been established, it has a faster pace and it’s easier to just sit back and enjoy. Episode 4 was the most uncomfortable episode, so it was nice to have a refreshing change this week. DAYS is one of those shows that leaves you feeling good at the end of every episode, despite the outcome. I’m eagerly anticipating for Episode 6.