October 28, 2017

days 1

Days Volume 1

Tsuyoshi Yasuda

Pub. 2013

192 pgs.

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Sports, Graphic Novel

Summary / Review / TLDR / Recommended For / Issues / Themes / Grade


Summary

Tsukuchi Tsukamoto is a nice guy, but he’s shy, insecure, and sort of a crybaby. Okay, maybe a lot of a crybaby. All through elementary and middle school he has been bullied with disturbing regularity. Now, on the eve of starting high school, things don’t appear to have any chance of improving.

That is until a chance encounter with Jin Kazama, a cool, confident, athletic guy. He beats up Tsukuchi’s bullies with almost no effort and offers him both friendship and a spot on his futsal (indoor soccer) team. Before he knows it, Tsukuchi is playing soccer for his high school team. Despite his complete newbie status, the captain and Jin both see something special in him. With a little determination and a lot of work, they know they can turn him from crybaby to superstar!

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Review

Oh, wow. The ship is strong with this one.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, “ship” is short for “relationship,” with it often heavily implied to be romantic. The ship can be canon, like Romeo and Juliet, or fanmade, like Rosaline and Mercutio. In most fanworks, ships are LGBTQA—people will pair Romeo and Mercutio or Juliet and Rosaline. Any of these are perfectly acceptable ships.

And in Days, it feels like the author himself ships Tsukuchi and Jin hardcore. There were dozens of times in the first two chapters where the romantic tension was so strong that I expected a character to just break out of the woodwork and shout at them to just kiss already, geez.

Not that I particularly approve of this pairing, mind you. Tsukuchi is kind of ridiculous in this volume, crying at the drop of a hat like he did. On the other hand, he’s a good example of showing how men can be emotionally vulnerable but still strong. His mother at one point has a flashback showing how caring and self-sacrificing a son Tsukuchi has always been to her. Even after he gets jumped by bullies, he runs six miles through a rainstorm to show up to a soccer match he promised to attend. He doesn’t want to let anyone down, even if, like Jin, he hasn’t known them that long. It’s an unusual blend of traits for a teenage guy, and I’m not entirely sure I can believe it exists to the extent shown in the book.

Jin seems like a more traditional sort of athletic male character: cocky, but with the skills to back it up; kinda goofy, to the point of being ridiculous; and almost too attractive for his own good. He’s the stereotypical friendly-type popular guy, and in the book his personality is not shown to go much deeper than that. It’s a familiar, comfortable trope after the unusual nature of Tsukuchi.

The art is pretty, and even the soccer scenes weren’t too difficult to follow. Some of the flashback scenes in chapter four, though, were jumbled. Lots of overlapping boxes and such. Because this is a Japanese manga, it’s printed from back to front and right to left. As someone who has absolutely devoured manga since high school, the fact that it’s hard to follow is saying something. People unfamiliar with manga might have trouble to start, but they’ll catch on quickly. Like I said, though, chapter four might be frustrating.

Because this is only the first volume (and at the time of this writing there are currently three volumes translated into English and thus available in the US), the story doesn’t really feel like it goes anywhere. However, if you buy the first one for your shelf, it should encourage fans to go seek more for themselves.

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TLDR

Athletes will probably enjoy the sports, and the rest might stay to see where the ship sails.

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Recommended for…

  • Soccer players
  • Manga fans
  • Anyone looking for something light and fluffy

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Issues

  • Blood: when a character is injured, there is some blood drawn on the page
  • Bullying: characters are bullied for no apparent reason, other than they seem fairly squishy-boned
  • Death: characters react to a loved-one’s death
  • Violence: characters get into physical fights

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Themes

  • Acceptance
  • Determination
  • Family
  • Friendship
  • Grief
  • Growing Up
  • Identity
  • Overcoming Adversity
  • Responsibility
  • Sports

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Grade

Main Character 2
Subcast 1
Setting Development 2
Exploration of Conflict 2
Satisfying Resolution 1
Consideration of Themes 2
Didactic Tone 1
Suspension of Disbelief 1
Imagery and Description 2
Compelling Storytelling 1
Author’s Style 2
Rhythm and Pace of Book 1
Mechanics (spelling, grammar, punctuation) 2
Predictability 1
Reader Enjoyment 2
Total 23/30
77%

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