「この程度の挫折ごときで俺は負けない」 (Kono teido no zasetsugotokide ore wa makenai)
“I Won’t be Defeated by Such a Tiny Setback”
Last week I was ecstatic about DAYS’s sudden focus on the actual soccer match being played. No longer would we waste episodes on vapid character development and mad hard-ons for Tsukamoto (at least for the time being). We finally get to jump into some real excitement! Some real action! But despite some genuinely heart-racing moments last week, the show wasn’t quite able to provide a match that was either really emotionally investing or complex and multi-layered, as more successful sports anime have done.
Episode ten attempts to liven things up by introducing a few new developments, such as inner team conflict and new failures for hitherto successful players. And while these new additions do shake things up a bit, they never really take off. The show resolves these conflicts almost immediately after they’re introduced—never allowing them to build and become something which could provide real stakes and emotional investment.
For the first time ever, we get to see Kazama fail. Up until now he’s been privileged by succeeding at every crossroad he’s come up to (at least that we’ve seen in the present tense)—besting every opponent and coming out on top as the first-year prodigy he is. So it’s really something fresh and unique to see him actually struggle—to get a real taste of the bottom. This should have some lasting psychological consequences on the guy, and at first, it seems like that’s just the case. We see more flashbacks here than we ever have in the series thus far. You’d think that this is finally the time to dive deep into Kazama’s mind, and explore his internal securities and motivations.
However, we get almost none of that. Almost immediately as this conflict comes, it goes. This tiny little arc is wrapped up with the revelation “I want to win!” as per usual. It seems every time the series attempts to develop on of its leads, it gets a little trepid and runs away with its tail between its legs. Although this time around was a larger step than any previous time, this has really got to stop. The show keeps hinting at the guy’s past. It’s almost been half the season and still I really don’t know much more than at the beginning of the series. If you’re hint at something for like the fifth time, please now deliver.
Furthermore, the episode finally introduces some genuine inner team conflict. Again, this is noteworthy given how clean and sparkly the character relationships have been thus far—without the slightest hint of an issue. To finally introduce some trouble in the locker room should be a huge step in how the show will now start handling its characters. But again, the problem is wrapped up really quite nicely—so nice in fact, you could put a bow on top.
It seems as if the show is afraid to really amp up the stakes and sacrifice its safe, clean character dynamics for some genuine character conflict. Things really need to start getting nitty gritty if the show is to progress towards anything emotionally investing—especially as far as the matches go. That being said, plenty of exciting moments here ranging from the emergence of Saku’s captain to some great hustle play (once again inspired by the great and almighty Tsukamoto).