Days Series Review

Overview:

Tsukishi Tsukamoto doesn’t really have friends and doesn’t really have much going on but he’s a nice guy. One day, after starting high school, Kazama invites him on a whim to play and soon after Tsukamoto decides he wants to join the Seiseki Soccer team. Problem is, they are a really good team and Tsukamoto has never played before. Can raw enthusiasm and determination really help him overcome his weaknesses and allow him to become part of the team? I reviewed this week to week if you want to check out those thoughts.

Review:

I’d be lying if I said the story of Days isn’t trite and overly generic drivel that’s been the basis of about a million stories before. I’m not even a fan of sports movies and shows and even I know the one about the loser who becomes the star player of the team. Something about hard work overcoming all difficulties or some such nonsense that writers seem to think is inspiring. Not that some people don’t have their hard work rewarded but there are plenty of others who will put in the time and effort and still get a big fat nothing for their efforts.

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Despite this set up which sounds like it should make me want to roll my eyes right outside of my skull, and a main character who normally I would call a pathetic doormat and find truly irritating, and being based on a sport I could not care less about, I really enjoyed watching Days. I found it genuinely charming and at times vaguely inspirational until my usual cynical self kicked in. That didn’t stop me wanting to call out with Tsukamoto as he cheered on his team mates and it didn’t stop me smiling when he finally intercepted the ball or realised what he should be doing on the field and it didn’t stop me nearly crying when he failed and felt the utter and complete devastation of that failure. It also didn’t stop that big cheesy grin spreading over my face when he got right back up again and continued to try his hardest.

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It would be great if  I could say that there was a single concrete reason for this show working for me and yet that would also be a lie. There are pacing issues, animation issues, at times characterization is an issue as someone we barely know is suddenly important and you’re left rummaging through your head for any information you remember about them (large cast of soccer players from main team and competitors). From any objective standpoint this show is average at best.

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But maybe that’s enough. It’s a story we all know so they don’t waste time trying to be clever about the premise. There are no real unexpected twists and turns in the story and while there is a large cast this works in the show’s favour as we never really get sick of any one character and even those with obnoxious personalities aren’t around long enough to bring down the overall show.

Besides, there are some fun characters in this show. Mizuki (the Captain), the other first year players, Kimishita, the manager, and many of the opponents really shine in their moments before fading back into the background. This is Tsukamoto’s story and we are seldom allowed to forget that but that doesn’t stop us learning about these characters and falling in love with them as Tsukamoto really wants to be included in their world.

The animation isn’t amazing but were we tuning in to watch animated soccer or were we watching Tsukamoto and how he develops as a character. There’s a clear correlation between his improvement on the field and his mental state and yet even at the end he is riddled with insecurities about whether he ‘deserves’ to be part of the team.

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Probably my real criticism of this show would be Kazama. He is the one who leads Tsukamoto into the world of soccer and at times it looks like his journey should be significant as well but we get so few glances at this other side of the story. Kazama is talented and confident but has some real issues with trusting a team. He’s the opposite of Tsukamoto and giving their stories equal time so the moments where they intersect and help each other could have had more meaning. Instead Kazama ends up almost like a fairy god-mother hovering around the edges of the story and giving Tsukamoto the tiniest of pushes when needed. The one moment of conflict between the two was resolved almost instantly. This is probably the weakest part of the series in my opinion.

So if you want to watch a trite (wondrous) journey of a wimpy (driven) character going from nothing to vaguely competent but still developing this first season of Days will probably be a fun watch. It’s full of warmth and heart and by the end you really will support this team in their push for Nationals – which of course we still need season 2 to find out what happens next.

Yep, season 1 leaves us without even knowing if they got to Nationals. I expected them to qualify and then if we got another season to see the Nationals but instead we still have the finals to qualify to go before we get there. Fortunately season 2 has already been announced and this one I’ll be continuing because as much as this review probably seems needlessly critical, this show made me smile and made me care about whether the ball went into the net at least for twenty minutes each week.

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Days Episode 24

Review:

Well, if you made it this far through Days you won’t come across anything surprising in this final episode of season 1 (let’s all say thank-you that season 2 has already been confirmed or this would be a very different review about a lack of resolution). Basically if you have enjoyed the ride to here you will smile, reflect, remember the journey the characters have been on and generally just be happy to be a part of the Seiseki experience. There’s no added depth here, no surprises, no last minute twists in the story. Days, as it always has been, played this last episode straight focussing on the characters we’ve come to love and then it left us wanting to see how they go in this final game and whether they go to Nationals. Thanks. I’ll do a final review of season 1 of this soon.

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Days is available on Crunchyroll.

Days Episode 23

Review:

So Days continues to surprise me as it makes me care time and again about the outcome of the game even if it feels this week like it was a foregone conclusion. The ride getting to that final goal was definitely exciting. Of course, once again, we spent the entire episode watching the game and in honesty I didn’t much care for the other team and those characters so those moments were a little less than satisfying. Looking forward to next week and how this season concludes.

Days is available on Crunchyroll.

Days Episode 22

Review:

After two full episodes the game still isn’t over and I must point out that the animation definitely took a downward turn again this episode. Normally that doesn’t bother me but the sheer number of still images this week, plus some really terrible faces on background characters, kind of ruined the overall tension of whether or not they’d win this game. I like how the benched players are still being kept involved in the game and are offering their thoughts as we go. I like that most of the players on the team, even those that usually take background roles, have all been involved. However, this week offered a lot more on field bickering for both teams than what we’ve been used to in Days and it was a welcome relief when Usui (as acting Captain) got Seiseki back on track.

Days is available on Crunchyroll.

Days Episode 21

Review:

The game from last week continues and we see both sides make some mistakes and we also get to see the team’s first years struggle to deal with the pressure of suddenly being forced into a high pressure game. At the centre though is Tsukamoto who has finally genuinely found a love of the game and not just of being included as part of the team. For once we see him playing with a smile on his face and not crumbling under the pressure or fear of letting the team down. This is a fantastic step forward for his character and it was great fun to watch. I also liked the commentary from the characters who’ve been sidelined in this match. All and all, a fun episode in this series but nothing really amazing. Of course ending the episode with a ball flying toward the goal but not knowing if it lands or not is just kind of annoying. We’re 21 episodes in, we don’t need bait to come back next week.

Days is available on Crunchyroll.

Days Episode 20

Review:

Days continues into the tournament and we injure yet more players before the semi-finals. Of course, we only make it into the first couple of minutes of that game before it is episode over.

So what did we do for the rest of the episode? Well, we spent a lot of it with the team they are facing in the semi-finals and I still haven’t figured out the point of that choice. Either they are about to win and knock Seiseki out, in which case that’s the end of the road for Seiseki. Or they are about to lose, in which case we won’t really see these guys again so why do we care about them starting up a soccer club?

So yeah, I didn’t see the point of a lot of this episode but generally I’m still enjoying Days and I’m looking forward to the last few episodes this season.

Days is available on Crunchyroll.

Days Episode 19

Review:

Days doesn’t do all that much this week and yet kind of does what it needs to. The summer camp ends (and amazingly Tsukamoto and Kazama are just over their conflict so that was a plot thread that went nowhere) and they are now in the preliminaries fighting for a spot at nationals. Events kind of blip past and we don’t spend a lot of time on the field but more watching how the players are getting read to deal with this new challenge. Of course we spend time watching Tsukamoto freak out and question his own abilities. We end the episode 1 game into the preliminaries with preparations for the next game but of course its pouring rain so there’s our new challenge ready to go. It isn’t that this wasn’t fun to watch but it is definitely a bridging episode so by itself doesn’t amount to much.

Though, if you ever want a lesson on how to have an awkward conversation with a parent, just ask Kazama. He’s nailed this as an art form.

Days is available on Crunchyroll.

Days Episode 18

Review:

My opinion about Days as a series is unchanged. There’s a number of issues with pacing and characterisation going on. This episode, however, I loved. From start to finish I was absolutely engrossed. It helped that the main focus of this episode were the characters on the team we’ve spent the most time with. It also helped that they continued their development as characters and players that was kicked off last episode. Kimishita and Tsukamoto particularly come out of this episode quite strong and even Kazama has an off-field revelation spurred on by the team manager, Ubukata. It’s a great way to finish off this two part game and it really feels like all of the episodes up to now have had some ort of purpose.

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I am starting to think that part of the problem with this team’s lack of consistency is that no-one really gets what the Captain is thinking because he’s a really poor communicator. Great soccer player or not he really isn’t a great leader and that leaves his players at loose ends far too often. That said, compared to some of the other Captains we’ve encountered in this series he isn’t too bad.

Lastly, I had to share this quote because when watching this scene I just felt like they had captured a feeling most people have at some point in their lives. This show may not be quite as deep as some others but every now and then they just nail the emotions.

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Days is available on Crunchyroll.

 

 

Days Episode 17

Review:

Okay, I was ready to call this series dead in the water after we had over 3 minutes of recap from the previous episode before the opening song. 5 minutes in and we only just started with new material. However, that’s when things got better and didn’t stop. The game this time is actually quite intense and the events at half-time (the end of this episode) leave you wanting more. You also see some of the results of the journey each of these characters have been on throughout this series which is something we’ve been wanting for awhile. This episode doesn’t make this series a must watch again. This show has been fairly hit and miss in terms of tone and pace right from the start and once the novelty of something different (for me at least because I don’t normally follow anything sport related) wore off what I was left with was a fairly generic story about someone who felt they were useless gradually finding out where they belonged and working hard to achieve a goal. All and all though, this episode was kind of exciting to watch and I really can’t wait to see what happens next.

Days is available on Crunchyroll

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Days Episode 16

Review:

After feeling like I’d hit my limit of this last week I was pleasantly surprised by this episode. I complained that Tsukamoto hadn’t really developed and they show us in the game this week that he is finally putting everything together in his own weird way. I was annoyed by the general lack of tension or anything to really keep you interested and so this week we set up a whole series of rivalries both within the team and with the opposition. So after this episode I’m looking forward to the next one again. Whether this is an ongoing change or whether this is just the last hurrah before this show falls into the forgettable realms of mediocrity still remains to be seen. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the episode this week and now I want to know how the next game goes.

Days is available on Crunchyroll.