DAYS – 12

screen-shot-2016-09-17-at-7-20-07-pm

The Gist: Tsukamoto’s kick goes wide at Seiseki loses the game, and is out of the tournament. Everyone is devastated and eventually cries and resolves to win in the next tourney.

Kazama is most effected because he doesn’t understand the emotion of caring and he hates it, but loves that he finally cares about a team. Tsuka and Tsundere-chan are maybe a couple now, having shared a meal and spilled tea on the table. The other first years are jealous…

The Verdict: I am officially surprised Days pulled such an utterly generic mid-show twist. However, for such an average show, the lack of a payoff for all Seiseki’s hard work totally kills my interest for watching more.

Kazama’s emotional response was well delivered, true, but man do I not care enough about any of this to want to sit through 6 episodes of ‘building back up’ to a show down episode. Not after a quarter of the season was dedicated to ONE game. Yuck.

16rating_7

Advertisements

DAYS – 11

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-1-19-57-pm

The Gist: Tsukamoto finally takes the field and his buffoonery immediately lightens the mood. Refreshed and reinforced, Seiseki puts on serious pressure and the Kazama/Tsuka duo proves too much for Saku High to beat.

However the episode ends tied 2 to 2 with under five minutes to spare. Presumably Seiseki will win it, based on next week’s preview but a cliff hanger is a cliff hanger.

The Verdict: Oy! With the opening being dedicated to recaps and the cliff hanger, this single game will have taken essentially 4 of the season’s episodes. That’s an awful lot for a relatively average looking sports show — and even with all the time given to building up this single rivalry, I still don’t know half of the cast by name, nor have a strong connection with anyone other than Tsuka and Kazama.

And really that’s a shame because a more competent hand could probably do s lot with what’s here to work with. The under dog protagonist has a dead dad and a crippled mother and his best friend is an abandoned child who’s only self value was his talent for soccer — that still didn’t stop his family from abandoning him. It’s got honest drama at stake… but not so much going on screen.

oy!

16rating_7

DAYS – 09

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 2.36.56 PM

The Gist: Sakuragi and Seiseki play about 2/3 of their game this week. Neither has the true upper hand. Tsukamoto spends the episode sitting on the sideline to absorb some general pointers from the coach (or not). We learn a little more about some of the players and Kazama develops a bit more — to the point of getting his face smashed in to save the day.

It may be surprising that Nozomi wasn’t even in the episode and that the crowd shots were all ‘nobody’ NPCs chattering about pretty much nothing. Not a lot actually happened and the budget constraints of animating soccer made that extra painful.

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 2.37.33 PM

 

The Verdict: while it actually breaks with expectations by not resolving the match within the 1.5 episodes I anticipated, the result was not particularly noteworthy. Lots of time was spent on internal monologs, or with Tsuka crying on the sideline.

We just don’t have enough of a relationship with the team to be invested in this week’s struggle, which is only compounded by meeting the upper classmen — the people who play on the team — several episodes after the first years who do not play on the team.

16rating_7

DAYS – 08

Screen Shot 2016-08-21 at 1.35.08 PM

The Gist: we finally meet Tsukamoto’s wheel-chair mom Nozomi, who’s 86 lbs, blood type A, specializes in Origami and likes children and caramel sauce. She worries that her feminine son has no friends and or is being bullied in school.

However, Tsuka gets a ton of texts from his friends before the big game and she comes to realize, like his father, who’s funeral was full of friends, Tsuka’s gonna be okay…

Then it’s time for Seiseki High to face off against Sakuragi Metropolitan for the inter-high finals that will determine who represents Tokyo in the regionals. Brooding and speeches and a few throw away jokes about Tsuka not being allowed into the match because the guards think he’s a middle schoolers eat up most of that time, which leaves next week for the actual match…

The Verdict: This was absolutely paint by the numbers as far as sports dramas go. It’s all about the big game and raising our expectations for that games’ outcome. Since it’s mid-season, I can only assume Seiseki will win next week because of some Tsuka juice but the other outcome would be to crush their spirits and force them to train for the next tourney. (chosen by shows like Haikyuu!!) I find this unlikely, because enthusiasm and ‘raw untrained tallent’ isn’t at the core of this team. So a reload wouldn’t really do anyone (except Tsuka himself) any good.

Regardless of next week’s outcome, this week wasn’t very interesting. Rather, it was completely what you would expect by the genre and uneventful. Not even the smile-moment where Tsuka’s mom see’s his texts really made an impression. She’s been introduced too late as a motivation and too slap-sticky to take serious.

Also, nice ‘dead dad’ out of left field Days. WTH?

16rating_7

DAYS – 07

days71

The Gist: Kazama finds his love for soccer again, only to realize that fun isn’t enough while watching Tsukamoto death-race laps around the campus on their day off. Tsuka doesn’t have his skill and if he doesn’t give it his all, it will all slip away in a second.

Later, in Seiseki’s semi-finals round with a brutish team in blue, Tsuka is sent in to wear out the competition. He does and almost even heads a ball into the net but is kicked in the face instead. This bad form, and the wear and tear he’d done to the other team’s stamina, is enough for Seiseki to pull out a revenge victory. Captain-kun even calls out this importance, only elevating Tsuka’s desire to belong via working his butt off.

The Verdict: This is the formula we’ve seen each week. It is effective and, because next week’s antagonists were introduced around the action of this week’s match, the formula has stayed fresh.

However, Days is a very simple formula and the cast has yet to really blossom beyond Tsuka, Kazama and the Captain. Will it last? Only time will tell…

16rating_7

DAYS – 06

days61

The Gist: Tsukamoto and Indou Kaoru face off in a casual but serious pickup game on the roof of a department store. With a bit of a nudge, Tsuka begins to realize that how he runs plays into what his team can do. After 10 sets, he blacks out and is taken home by Seiseki’s captain, who shares a nemesis moment with Indou.

The rest of the episode is devoted to Kimishita. He’s the team grouch and finds Tsuka’s style (and inabilities) frustrating. However, after Kazama takes Tsuka to Kimishita’s family sporting goods store, and Kimishita sees how serious Tsuka takes everything (he’s got soft shoes!) they become closer.

days62

Finaly, during a practice game, Tsuka figures out that he needs to not only run hard for everyone, not only drain the life from the defenders as a distraction, but he must also be in position to score if he will ever be a target for passing.

Mimicking Kazama and putting many things he’s seen together, he lines up a perfect attack on the goal and Kimishita grudgingly passes the ball.

Only for Tsuka to ‘wiff’ and fall flat on his ars. Roll credits…

days63

The Verdict: Tsukamoto is growing as a player and that was an effective vehicle for explaining what a young player should be doing to get better… if you were watching Days for some sort of instruction?

Otherwise, it’s another introduction and character name I will not remember in future reviews and Tsuka slap-stick we’ve already seen.

16rating_7

DAYS – 05

days51

The Gist: we’re introduced to Seiseki’s striker Kasahara this week. He’s a third year who puts more work into the game than anyone else, but this will be his last tourney before he must leave the school and care for his ailing grand mother.

Tsukamoto is a huge fan and helps Kasahara train for the inter-murals… only to be picked over his senpai in a surprise move by the couch. This choice does not become obvious until their first game, where nerves keep the team stiff until Tsukamoto is sent onto the field. His clumsiness lightens the mood and his intense dedication (and stamina) saves the ball.

days52

He’s still terrified by the end and has now idea how helpful he was until seeing the video from the stands. His team mates point out how relaxed the team becomes, and how Tsukamoto’s tempo keeps them racing.

Watching Tsukamoto watch the video on the train home is Indou Kaoru, Saku High’s team captain. He’s moved to tears by their support but rappidly shifts to a challenging stare. He wants to play against Tsukamoto.

Roll Credits…

days53

The Verdict: The fake out with Kasahara was a good choice. Sure, it was obvious when the couch paused on the final pick and he hadn’t been picked yet, but it’s still a nice twist. Having Tsukamoto lead a counter charge was a good payoff too.

I am dinging the score down a notch this week because it was a little uglier than usual and it feels more emotionally disposable than the previous weeks. The narrative moved and we’ve met a valuable opponent for our hero but… this was more a step than a complete thought on its own.

Also I hate Tsukamoto’s damn cheek circles still. ARGH!

16rating_7

DAYS – 04

days41

The Gist: Chikako Ubukata is a mean girl now. She used to have passion but after several rejections, she became jaded. This episode she meets and immediately dislikes Tsukamoto for all the obvious feelings his efforts bring up.

Along the path of coming to respect and like herself, Tsukamoto jogs a lot, defeats a mean guy from the judo club at soccer, and takes life seriously. It’s a well tread narrative thread and you can see her becoming the team manager a mile away.

days42

“Haven’t you realized you’re the laughingstock of the entire class?”

The Verdict: time is everything and this week’s comedy was spot on. It was also dry as hell, with fantastic lines like “oh, he fell down.” Shovel on the warm-feeling of the under dog growing, getting better, and getting the respect he’s due, and you have the perfect balance for fun.

days43

Nothing deep, no high art, no grand aesthetic. Just smooth watching. That’s more than good enough for me.

16rating_8

DAYS – 03

days31

The Gist: Tsukamoto experiences his first scrimmage. He’s terrible, as you would expect, but his absurd stamina (and the fact that the other first years rise to follow that stamina) literally drives the other team into the ground.

When those same opponents continue to bad mouth Tsukamoto after the match, after losing 4 to 0, Kurusu let’s them have it:

“You punks just lost the our worst player and we’re proud of that!”

days32

The nuisance of the various backstories and motivations for the team clicked effortlessly this week. Kurusu is here because he idolizes Kazama’s elegance from afar — but is annoyed by Kazama’s seeming lack of investment. Kazama is here because he’s naturally good but lost his love for the sport when it became a chore.

Tsuka is here because he just wants a place to belong, and that unquenchable thirst to belong AND be helpful, drives everyone else forward. At the end of the day, Tsuka is having fun. Ragged panting fun, but fun, and everyone else wants in on that action.

days33

a little human centipede while you wait!

The Verdict: The use of CG players for the wide angle scenes works much better than expected, and the smaller animations (like the above centipede) are fluid and fun. Honestly, all the visuals are impressive, even though I know how they are cutting corners.

But Really, I can’t believe this show pulled me in and kept me in three weeks in a row! This is a simple underdog tale, where the underdog is playing on one of the best teams so he probably won’t ever sniff defeat. It is absolutely predictable in a way that should not be enjoyable but it is.

16rating_8

DAYS – 02

days21

The Gist: Tsukamoto Tsukushi experiences the joy/hell of having to work harder than everyone else in order to even participate. He’s so slow that the first years have to do extra laps and everyone is pissed — but it doesn’t change his dreamy/urge to fight on. Eventually, he takes on the whole team’s laps, just to keep out of their hair …but the result is rapid improvement in stamina.

Later, while SeiSeki participates in a multi-school training camp during golden week, we get to see that absolute dedication pay off. After a few moments of all the other schools writing him off as a loser, they quickly realize that this, the shrimp of Seiseki is still better than their best. He sets an absurd pace running up the mountain trail and only his fellow first years, hardened by the challenge of repeating laps for his faults, can keep up.

days22

I’m going to revise my take on Days from last week. Slightly. It is still an underdog story, but less about the underdog who finally finds the place he belongs and how everyone was already talented enough to be the best, just needing his magic push, a la Haikyuu!!.

It’s more about finding someone who can lead that legacy forward — someone who isn’t just good out of the gate but has the drive to pull his team forward and replace Seiseki’s pro-level captain. And the captain already thinks this will by Tsukushi, because he is willing to shoulder burdens for the team and push himself harder, which only drives his team mates harder to keep up with ‘the runt.’

days23

The Verdict: I can’t lie! This format is designed to make you root for its hero from the get go and, despite being a simple hero, god damn I’m rooting for him already.

I mean, talk about pure format — Tsuka starts the episode trailing behind frustrated classmates only to end up leading them in an unimaginable blitz up a mountain. There is nothing subtle about that emotional arc!

Is it a good show? Absolutely not! It treads water just above generic with a predictable structure, likable but simple characters, and average artwork that only shines because it’s fully of bright color and depth of tone.

Should you watch it? I don’t even know, to be honest, but it has somehow ended up on my review list, despite the simplicity. Make of that what you will…

16rating_7

DAYS – 01 (First Impressions)

days11

The Gist: Tsukamoto Tsukushi is a friendly bashful boy who’s cheeks are constantly blushing. It’s the beginning of high school and he desperately wants friends. Tachibana Sayuri is his childhood friend, possible unrequited love interest, and older sister figure. Kazama is a blond athletic boy who’s great at soccer, who invites Tsukamoto out for a game on a lark.

After proving his unrelenting determination at the night game, and sharing his feelings on friendship with Kazama, Tsukamoto decides to join his high school’s soccer team, which is on the pro level. He blacks out during practices but, later, completes the initial training well into the night, again blowing Kazama’s mind with all his potential.

Roll credits…

days12

You may enjoy DAYS if… you’re into sports anime, under dog stories, slice of life and/or lite high school friendship stories. This is predictable stuff, by all genre standards, with limited humor and an unstoppably earnest hard working protagonist you’ve seen in some form a million times before.

But it is drawn well and has a beautiful color pallet. (read: superior production value to Haikyuu!!, the last sports anime I reviewed)

days13

You can probably skip DAYS… because there really isn’t anything remarkable about it. I appreciate that we saw a fair amount of this episode unfold from Kazama’s perspective, which hid Tsuka’s relatively simplistic personality and lack of charisma…

but Tsuka’s character still doesn’t have charisma or depth to justifying watching him grow and play many many games of soccer. Also, I hate his cheek blush as a style choice. (read: not as compelling a character as the psychos on Haikyuu!!)

days14

The Verdict: The bromance and general low stakes suck me interest away. I’m also not a fan of watching football (though I enjoy playing it) and, no matter how pretty it is rendered here, I don’t see reviewing more on a weekly basis.

My initial score was a 5, because it is a very safe genre piece that you will enjoy if that genre niche is for you. Having rewatched the episode, I will revise that score to a 7, for technical execution — but still drop it from the roster.

16rating_7