I don’t think that I’ve been hiding this one from anybody, but I really like Days. It’s the first sports anime, besides Ping Pong: The Animation, that I’ve ever got an attachment to. This could have been a Winter 2016 in Review thing, like I plan on doing for a lot of series that are ending, but I think that Days is too special for that. It also ran for two cours as well, so I don’t think it qualifies for that either. On to the review.
(Story and Plot)
There isn’t that much to it. It’s a sports anime, so they beat the one time, beat another team, and keep winning until they are number one in the universe. That is the show on a macro point of view. As they say, the devil is the details. There are a lot of side episodes with the team working together in practice, doing homework together, or just goofing off that give each character more depth. That is the reason why the games feel so intense. You know these characters and their personalities and you want them to win. Even the other teams get development and that makes the games feel so real. Those aren’t caricatures Seiseki (the main team in Days) is playing, those are people who want to win for their own reasons. We just happened to be bias for Seiseki because we know them better.
I should also mention that Seiseki is a school that is famous for their great soccer program. Half of the fun is watching whether or not our football/soccer team and our main character Tsukamoto Tsukushi can live up to the reputation.
Since the last section was more about characters then plot, here more about those characters. The cast is huge, but I’m only going to talk about the two main characters in detail. Here is a quick desription of some of them. There is Kimishita, who is my favorite character in the show, Chikako Ubukata, who have a crush on and is Seiseki’s manager, Mizuki, the team captain who used to be like Tsukamoto, but is the best player on the team, and Usui who is the assistant captain and is a great leader on the field. This isn’t even all of them, but Days has a great cast.
Tsukamoto Tsukushi is your standard protagonist for this genre. He has never played soccer before or had any friends before joining the soccer club. He starts out as the weakest member of the team, of course, but he develops over the course of the show. Tsukushi is usually carried by the rest of the great players in the team until the last game where all of those people are out for one reason or another and his full development as a player is on display. Tsukushi’s friendship with the team blossoms as he bonds with them and finds his purpose. He’s a big motivator for the rest of the team, because as the team sees him work hard, they work hard too so they aren’t left behind.
Kazama is the second main character in Days. He was the guy who originally got Tsukushi into soccer in the first place as a fun sort of thing, but never expected the result. Tsukushi showed up for the soccer club in the next day and that’s where Days took off. Kazama is the naturally gifted and lazy character of the group until he was pushed by Tsukushi just like the rest of the team. He becomes a trustworthy asset for the Seiseki soccer team. Also, I think that Tsukushi ad Kazama have one of the best friendships in anime. They hang out a lot and just understand each other on a good level. It’s not presented in the fangirl shipping way either, because Days doesn’t do that and Kazama and Tsukushi never act that way toward each other.
This is Days’ weakest area. While there are instances of great animation, they are few and far in-between. There are a lot of still frames and bad cgi that take up a majority of the screen time. The still frames work sometimes by giving selected moments heavy impact where nothing else would, but it’s tiring seeing one shot after another like some sort of power point presentation. I think this show didn’t have that much of a budget in the first place or wasn’t studio Mappa’s focus because they were putting resources somewhere else, like Yuri on Ice? Still, this didn’t take any from the experience for me at all.
There are two other flaws I would like to point out. One is Days ends before the game that decides whether or not Seiseki makes it to the Nationals. This is rectified a little bit because there is going to be a season two. Hopefully soon.
The other flaw is the pacing. For one, we don’t know who a character who was introduced in the beginning until half way through the show’s run. For another, how did Seiseki suddenly make it to the semifinals in the first half? Why didn’t the narrative tell us these things instead of announcing it right before it happened? The pacing improves a lot in the second cour, but I wish it could have been more consistent throughout.
Days was an absolutely thrilling ride. The characters, the drama, the epic moments, and the losing moments all mesh together into an extremely entertaining show that has some good emotional backing. It is nowhere near flawless, but I recommend this anime to sports anime fans and maybe those who aren’t into sports series. I know that I am new to this genre of anime and that there might be other sports anime out there that are better than this one, but that doesn’t matter to me at the moment. What matters is the great time I had watching Days.