Days – 02

Days - 02 -1It’s tempting to dismiss Days as a pretty boilerplate sports shounen, and indeed that wouldn’t be the harshest judgment in the world.  A good boilerplate soccer series is a welcome addition to any schedule, and Days is clearly well-executed.  But while the skeletal structure of Days is very traditional, if one looks closely they can see the off notes that Yasuda Tsuyoshi plugs into his story, like instants of discordance in a symphony.  They aren’t as obvious as they were at this point in Over Drive (at least I don’t think so – it’s been a long time since I saw that show) but they’re definitely present.

Days - 02 -3Hazing by sempai is a commonality to high school sports everywhere, it seems – I know it’s just as bad in the States as it is in Japan.  You’ll notice it’s the second-years who’re doing all the damage here, taking out their frustrations from a year of having it done to them and still having to take orders from the seniors.  I’ve always felt this kind of stuff is one of those idiotic things that people accept because “it’s always been that way”. But it’s especially idiotic – and cruel – to make the entire team run additional laps because one boy is too slow to beat the clock.  That’s asking to get someone hurt really badly – by his angry teammates, if not by overexertion.  It’s stupid, but it’s not remotely unrealistic.

Days - 02 -4In Days, though, it does serve multiple purposes. One of them is that it shows us the defining characteristic of Tsukushi that matters most at this stage of the story: namely, that he’s effectively impossible to insult (this is made even more clear in a very brutal deleted scene from the manga).  No matter what cruel or vicious things you say to him, he’ll bow and thank you and try that much harder.  I suppose one could make an argument that this isn’t entirely healthy, but he is who he is – and it means Tsukushi never gives up.  It’s what prompts Captain Mizuki to tell the coach that Tsukushi will be the captain in two years.

Days - 02 -5The other way all that running factors in is when the Seiseki team arrives at their group training camp in the mountains.  They have quite the national reputation, it seems, and have a definite aura of intimidation about them when they arrive.  There’s more humiliation for Tsukushi here – he gets mistaken for the team manager, then laughed at as a joke when he reveals he’s actually a player.  But again, he refuses to acknowledge the slight – and when it comes time for the welcome run up the mountainside, he proves that all those extra laps didn’t go to waste (either for him or the other first-years).  I think my favorite part of this sequence, though, is that Kazama runs up the mountain Killua-style, hands in pockets.

Days - 02 -6Kazama is an interesting one.  His interaction with Tsukushi reveals that he’s a nice guy in some respects at least, but despite being a first-year, he’s never seen running laps with the others.  He doesn’t seem to be taking part in any of the other hazing rituals, either, and when the team arrives at the camp he’s the only one not wearing a team tracksuit because he “forgot to wash it”.  If hazing is an accepted part of scholastic sports, special treatment for the elites is another – and it really does seem as if the phenom Kazama is being treated quite differently than any of the other rookies.  I’ve read and watched enough sports manga to know this is an angle that’s worth keeping an eye on as the story moves forward.  Again, if you know Yasuda’s work, you know things are often not as straightforward as they seem.

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10 comments

  1. D

    I’m not really one for sports anime, with the only notable exception being Chihaya, but something pulled me into Days, and I’m really enjoying it so far. So much so, that I got caught up in the hype and decided to find another sports show to binge in the meantime. What are your thoughts on Kuroko no Basuke, Enzo?

  2. Not a fan, honestly. It’s in the class of WSJ sports manga that are completely unrealistic, which is a deal-breaker for me.

    There are some great choices out there, depending on what you’re looking for. Ginga e Kickoff, Yowapeda, Haikyuu, Giant Killing, of course the peerless Baby Steps.

  3. You missed Cross Game!!!! I was inspired to re-watch it recently and it was every bit as as awesome watching it the 3rd time as the first 2 🙂

  4. D

    Thanks for the recommendations! Will check out Baby Steps and maybe one other. I’m also looking forward to Battery, even though this season is unusually packed for me.

  5. S

    Baby steps might not be the best baby step into the sports genre, since the reward is so…. distant in the story. It’s a bit masochistic for a viewer in that sense and the graphics are pretty jarring at first. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved it in the end, and it’s good for binge-watching.

    Out of these absolute elite shows, I’d pick Yowapeda. It’s absolutely top notch from the start and impossible not to like.

  6. H

    I’m going to be honest – I feel like Days is a bit stripped. I’m wondering if I should start reading the manga alongside, or if this is intentional. We still barely know anything about our protagonist in terms of background or interactions outside of sport, and the flow of time feels uncertain.

    I do like it though, and will definitely continue watching.

  7. J

    They cut out a chapter that included a very important scene which pretty much covers what you mentioned. I really hope it’s just being rearranged because it seems inane to cut it.

  8. H

    Hm… if that’s so, I might wait a couple of weeks before I start reading, in hopes that maybe it is just rearranged. I get the feeling I would really like this manga though – it reminds me a bit of Yowapeda, which I finished recently and loved.

  9. Not as good as the first episode, but its nice to see Tsukishi make progress.

  10. e

    I got the same impression of the series being somehow ‘stripped’ as per above commenter (and somehow padded… and then we got a imho rather abrupt skills upgrade time skip of sort this week …), but I can’t precisely put my finger on how and why I got that vibe. In any case I really enjoyed the ‘reveal’ at the end. We could tell from miles away but it still was a really satysfying build up sequence.
    P.S.: needs more MC’s Mother 🙂 .

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