「お前とサッカーするのはめちゃくちゃ楽しぜバカ野郎」 (Omae to Soccer Suru no wa Mechakucha Tanoshi ze Baka Yarou)
“Playing Soccer with You is Super Fun, You Idiot”
Tsukamoto is awesome. We get it.
While still an immensely entertaining episode, this week’s DAYS attempts to juggle a little bit more than it can handle. Multiple character arcs and revelations fill up screen time—but none are treated with the proper care and attention they deserve. As a result, the episode comes off feeling disjointed and awkwardly segmented.
First off, I’m glad Kazama is getting any attention. The show seems keen on making him an integral member of the main cast. However, despite coming off as cool and likable he’s been treated to nil character development. Deciding to change things up, this episode hinted at a dark past of his that significantly altered what soccer meant to him—some falling out in middle school that tainted his reputation in the world of grade school soccer. He’s presumably lost the once burning passion he had for the sport, adding a greater level of depth and planting the seed for a presumably meaty character arc. However, within the span of a few minutes, the episode rushes into resolution, revealing that Tsukamoto has completely mended his wounds and re-instilled his passion at full capacity.
This, I think, was a bit of a waste. Not to say that this arc was completely thrown out the window—as the finer details of his past have yet to come out—but from the way Kazama’s realization was presented, it sees that his inner conflict has all but been cast aside. This disappoints me, as exploring and eventually fulfilling his insecurity was just the right kind of narrative thread he could have used over the course of at least one episode. Provide something more substantial and lengthy in order to more sufficiently flesh out his struggles so that a more fitting and resolution can be provided. All the same components of the arc can stay—with Tsukmoto being the inspiration and resolution to Kazama’s turmoil. However, no time was spent doing this, as just a few minutes of the episode’s beginning seemed to solve everything.
Furthermore, Tsukamoto’s symbolic place amongst his teammates is very sloppily introduced. The idea is that all of his peers—Hiroyuki in particular—enjoys playing with him because he serves as an inspiration to soar above rhyme or reason and listen to your heart. Smashing, except that all aspects of this revelation are introduced right as its being made. We never get a sense that Hiroyuki has always wanted to play a “smart” game or even that Tsukamoto is as inspiring as he says. They’re only revealed to hastily incorporate into this large realization of what Tsukamoto’s style of play means to him. We saw a brief, momentary occasion of this last episode when they start running after him to join him in extra training, but this has nothing to do with actually playing with each other. This is literally the first time we see them play together, and the presentation of his revelation seems to imply that it’s been built up for a while when really, this is the first time we ever hear of it. Again, it’s just a waste of character development that could’ve been handled far better with more time.
Also, I gave the series a pass for delaying Tsukamoto’s character development, but with all the attention and focus even other people’s character arcs have been giving him, I think it’s really time the show steps up and delivers something to flesh him out. I’d like to better know why he’s so motivated—why he wants friends so badly, why he loves soccer, etc etc. Provide at least something to explain these so that we can better empathize with the character. Right now, he’s barely coming along as likable. Maybe before DAYS develops other characters, they properly flesh out their main one, no? Don’t get me wrong, he comes off as likeable sure, but I don’t feel really connected to him the way a little bit of development would make me.
That being said, the episode ended on a particularly strong note. We get a little more context for the captain’s seemingly outlandish prediction at the end of last week’s episode (that Tsukamoto would one day be captain himself). A parallel is drawn between the two characters, as captain-senpai was once himself a bumbling wreck of an athlete that exceeded expectations by putting in the work and living up to his passion. However, it would help if he knew Tsukamoto a little bit better so that we better understand and like him enough to feel hyped by this comparison. I want to root for him—I want to be excited that he’ll become great, but just showing him working hard (at least to the extent the show has) is not enough to make me really really like him and want him to succeed. Hopefully this will be quickly amended in future installments.
Sorry for the late post! I’ve basically been homeless for the past few weeks and was bouncing between friend’s apartments and mooching off their wi-fi, all while balancing work and school. As such, I could barely squeeze in time to work on posts. However, I finally moved into my new apartment and set up my wi-fi! As such, I’ll start being punctual and on-time with my posts again, yay! Thanks for the patience <5