by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 6 of
In my last review, I wished this show would get around to showing some actual soccer. Now it looks like DAYS was listening. This episode had more soccer than you could shake a stick at. There were two different games, several actual plays, and a game flow you could really follow. And at the center of it all, Tsukushi was still his charmingly fumbling self, giving the story a clear focus. Maybe it was the kinetic energy of the game, but this episode showed real movement, both in engaging animation and progression toward another stage in the plot.
Even this episode's title tugged my heartstrings: “Running for someone, that's the kind of soccer I want to play.” Tsukushi can't lift a finger without wondering if there's an opportunity to help out somebody else with it. He's a machine that runs on positive reactions from other characters, and this week's story gave him plenty of fuel. First, he met Indou, the captain of another school's team, on the train. You've seen his type in sports anime before—a seemingly lackadaisical athletic genius who is dead serious about soccer. Indou wants to play soccer with Tsukushi right now, which leads to the pair playing pickup soccer on a department store roof, with Tsukushi still wearing his game day uniform. During the game, he assumes Indou's teamwork (when he could be carrying the team himself) is an indication that the captain isn't playing the game seriously. So you think “dribbling and shooting are more serious than passing?” Indou retorts. It leads to Tsukushi's first moment of personal growth in the episode: while some parts of soccer are flashier than others, no aspect of the game is less important. I love that this lesson is shown as well as told in several different plays—even though this is pickup soccer with a bunch of strangers we'll never see again, it's some of the best soccer so far!
After the commercial break, we subtly transition into another story arc, smooth because it's also another lesson for Tsukushi. That's not the only parallel either—as with Chikako in episode four, Tsukushi is once again faced with an antagonist who could care less about Tsukushi's sunny personality. Kimishita-senpai is also a terrifying tsundere, and it takes a person no less determined than Tsukushi to find his gooey center. “You stress me out,” Kimishita tells Tsukushi point-blank. “You shouldn't be on the field.” It's a repeat from two episodes ago, where Kimishita tells Tsukushi the same things Chikako did. This time, Tsukushi has the advantage of having already heard worse, from a cute girl no less! It's going to take more than that slight needling to make Tsukushi want to quit. The result is a hilarious dynamic between Kimishita and the two people most immune to his frosty personality—sunshiney Tsukushi and cocky, devil-may-care Kazama Jin. This comedy routine is continued the next day in front of the rest of the team, much to the surprise of the other teammates.
Just like with Indou before, Tsukushi learns a second lesson from Kimishita's game-time idiosyncrasies about who he'll pass to. And yet both games are losses—so close and yet so far! Even when Tsukushi is right, he's not a success. I love this because it reminds me of a favorite sports anime of mine, Baby Steps, where (as the title implies) the protagonist improves little by little and sees some epic fails in the process! Tsukushi already has a golden personality to make him likable; he doesn't need to be an unrealistic do-no-wrong character on top of that. These small discoveries give his story movement and progress, and they make him worth following more than if I knew he'd succeed no matter what.
DAYS is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist
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