Dog Days’ (S2) – 3

Fanservice and ecchi are rarely associated with lighthearted or innocent themes.  Instead, it’s frequently employed as a cheap method to heighten sexual tension, to hastily advance romantic subplots, to be the content for stereotypical otaku humor, or to simply sexualize a character for the enjoyment of fans.  Because of these varying reasons and due the anime that use them, fanservice and ecchi have become condemned or detrimental elements to anime and are often a target of criticism because of how they degrade or slander the show.  Dog Days’, however, is able to maintain its lighthearted nature despite the constant presence of fanservice and the surge thereof in recent episodes.  How is it that Dog Days’ is able to use its fanservice in a way that mitigates many of these negative aspects and still finds success in its uplifting and heartwarming themes?

Dog Days’ has seen a steady increase of fanservice over its entire young season.  After a racy and uncomfortable transformation sequence in the previous episode and a number of warriors losing their armor in this one, with several reduced to their underwear or less, the fanservice in Dog Days’ has become difficult to ignore.  It’s become an unavoidable characteristic to the series now, something that was used in the first season as a means to embarrass the characters and provide a quick laugh or two has abruptly evolved into a device to sexualize the characters with minimal attention to the comedy.  Whereas before it was sudden, unexpected, and provoked a humor reaction, the ecchi scenes in Dog Days’ are now shown as focused, zoomed-in, and extended shots that force the fanservice in your face and only sometimes these scenes will end in something that might resemble a joke.  And the number of characters falling victim to this change has significantly increased, too, even claiming Shinku as well.  Unquestionably, Dog Days’ has embraced fanservice in this season with it appearing at every opportunity.

But unlike other anime which utilize these ecchi elements in ways to dramatize or sexualize their characters or story, Dog Days’ continues to be lighthearted and fun in spite of the effects of fanservice.  That isn’t to say Dog Days’ is immune to the negativity of fanservice, especially with how out-of-place it feels at times, but it has endured better because of how it has used fanservice.  In Dog Days’, the fanservice isn’t used as a device to further the story or develop the characters but instead as a conclusion to a point in the battle where one person is defeated and left in an embarrassing situation.  This is perhaps the most significant reason why the fanservice has not had as strong effect on the series as we’ve seen with other ecchi anime.  Anime that rely on these elements as core details to their story and character are often criticized on these elements, so Dog Days’ is immune from such substantial or unforgiving criticisms in part due to the fanservice.  The most Dog Days’ can sustain from such criticism directed at this fanservice while still being fair is at its warfare and comedy are inferior.  However, the majority of fanservice is a byproduct of warfare, a means of showing the heroes and generals being defeated with an embarrassing stripping of their armor, so Dog Days’ is avoiding any blood or carnage which would be even more detrimental to the lighthearted and uplifting aspects of the series than a few girls in their panties.  As for the comedy, well, I have no defense since I’m not laughing during these scenes, so… …yeah, onto the next point.

Another way Dog Days’ handles its fanservice better than other ecchi anime as a means to maintain its innocent nature is that it is often deliberate or expected.  Whereas other ecchi anime feature scene where you can see everyone’s panties due to creative camera angles and skirts that fail to reach their crotches, Dog Days’ makes it blatantly obvious when a character is about to be stripped.  Regularly at the tail-end of a massive attack which obliterates everyone around them, it’s safe to expect a subsequent ripping of clothes for the unfortunate target.  What this means is that only certain scenes are eligible for fanservice and, even then, they must meet certain conditions first.  Ecchi anime use fanservice throughout and at random, uncharacteristic times as well, relying on pantyshots or cleavage or skimpy uniforms as a means to keep its audience attracted to its characters the screen.  Dog Days’ doesn’t rely on such tricks to keep its audience attentive.  Rather, its emphasis on adventure, combat, friendship, and fun keep its fans happy and there is no way that Dog Days’ would displace any of those with fanservice.  As a result, Dog Days’ keeps its fanservice to only certain scenes as a means to prevent it from affecting the most crucial aspects of the series.

Another way that Dog Days’ doesn’t really negatively affect itself with the use of fanservice is that when it is featured, it is often not used for sexual purposes.  ‘But wait!’ you cry ‘Isn’t the very nature of fanservice sexual?  How can having these characters naked not be sexual?”  Well, it is a bit tricky, but this is an assertion based on how other anime use fanservice in comparison to Dog Days’.  That is, ecchi anime often have the characters forced into their ecchi situations which force the characters to act.  It’s often someone’s face up someone’s skirt or someone walking into a bathroom with running water or some sign of life and, surprise!, finding a naked girl there.  Dog Days’ doesn’t do that, instead opting to leave a character naked for a joke before returning to the other characters laughing or smiling or something and going on with their war.  The others force the sexual tension to rise and often end with it being a way for the characters to strengthen their relationship or distance them apart.  In Dog Days’, the fanservice is just a commonplace result of battle where a friend is embarrassed and the incident is almost immediately forgotten.  And because of this short memory, it only has a minimal effect on the more lighthearted and heartwarming aspects of the series.

One final point before closing this post is that Dog Days’ escapes some of its criticism because it does not use its fanservice for, what I like to dub, otaku humor.    Otaku humor is a bane of anime and has plagued it for quite some time, a style of humor that would only be considered funny by anime otaku about 20 years ago when it first popped up and would only be funny because it was original at that time.  Though hard to define, it is easy to recognize and includes but is not limited to: randomly groping a female character; walking in on naked characters; nosebleeding at a pantyshot or anything clothing related when first seeing a character in something; ANYTHING relating to breast sizes including jealousy, fondling, or men staring; subsequent calling the male character a “BAKA!!” and attacking him; references to otaku subculture; and so on and so forth.  This type of comedy is awful and often used as an excuse to include fanservice.  Thankfully, Dog Days’ hardly employs such dreadful or shameful tactics, but this is more a personal opinion than anything else.  Because this humor has survived for so long and a staple of many ecchi comedies, there’s got to be some people out there who find it hilarious.  I don’t and I’m often critical of anime that use this style of humor, so it’s gratifying to see Dog Days’ use these clichés scarcely.  And relating this back to the topic of this post, not using this fanservice-dependent humor keeps the anime feeling innocent and lighthearted which are positive characteristics to this anime.

With all that in mind, however, this is merely my opinion on the matter based on how I view fanservice.  While I have a critical eye toward fanservice in general, I do actually enjoy it when it is performed well or when it actually fits within the story or setting without being distracting or ‘in-your-face’.  The fanservice in Dog Days’, however, has not fallen into this category and become a more prominent aspect of the anime, spending more time focused on the naked characters and featuring quite a bit more underwear and skimpy outfits than before.  What I have noticed, though, is that this presence and increase of fanservice have not affected Dog Days’ like how fanservice affects other anime.  Dog Days’ is still an inoffensive and delightful anime, with the characters laughing and smiling and generally being friendly with each other despite trying to blast them with massive energy beams or slashing at them with swords.  So while it bothers me to see the anime use fanservice as a more considerable aspect of the series, likely as a means to excite the fans without putting any effort into the material, it has not been detrimental to the anime as one would expect.  And, of course, this is highly subjective and my opinion on the matter.  I would not be surprised to see a wide range of response to this topic since it is so variable.  Based on my perception of other anime bloggers and anime fans in general, I tend to like and accept fanservice more readily than most, so it will be interesting to see how vast the opinions are on the spectrum of anime fans.  I’ll be interested to see what people have to say should this generate any kind of discussion.

The second half of the episode, the more forgettable, non-battle themed one, served as a nice introduction to Biscotti for both Becky and Nanami.  However, what felt strange about these scenes is that they seemed to redirect the focus of the anime back on Shinku rejoining his friends and reintroducing the audience to the kingdom than showing Becky and Nanami around.  In fact, they seemed rather separated and secluded in these scenes, often together in the background, not acting in the scenes, and generally being silent or talking amongst themselves.  As for Shinku, we saw him playing Frisbee with Millhiore, be the subject of discussion for Ricotta, duel with Eclair, and reunite with Brioche.  Perhaps this is change in perspective away from the equivalent approach to the three heroes as the three main characters and back to Shinku as the top dog?  It sure seems that way but it’s hard to decipher from just these scenes alone.  All we’ve seen thus far is the battle between the three nations which lasted the better part of three episodes, so everything hereafter will be novel or innovative to the series based on the new dynamic of characters.  Will we continue to see the three characters being emphasized throughout and the topic of discussion or will the series revert back to having Shinku as the singular main character and limit the roles of Becky and Nanami to support or secondary characters?  Depending on what we see, this development could hint toward what to expect for the rest of the series and how each adventure or story may play out thereafter.

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  1. #1 by Tzaphqiel on July 23, 2012 - 5:26 PM

    I was also a bit distressed by the increase in fanservice, but I agree that it isn’t over-the-top in Dog Days, like it can be in other series. The specific conditions are also a nice touch, if only because they give you a cue as to when you should look away if you would prefer to not see a stripped-down character (something I’ve done as much as possible, lately). But the fact that it is played more for general comedy, along the lines of “naked people are funny” more than the “‘accidental’ pervert” bit that you aren’t so fond of, definitely helps this series and has helped me continue to enjoy it.

    As for the action, it was nice to see Ricotta in the fray, even if only for a short while. I was a little disappointed to see Couveru deliver that cheap second shot, though. Then again, it probably served to show that, despite being a princess, she’s still a bit of a brat.

    I was also surprised to see Rebecca defeat as many people as she did so quickly. I don’t quite think that she’s overpowered (like some other people do; after all, Millhiore did manage to beat her at the end). But, for her to beat Shinku and Nanami in one hit like that (catching them in the very center of her bomb attack, no less) is quite impressive. Her skill in shooter games definitely helped her here.

    Although you might not have liked the second half as much as the first, I’m glad we finally got to see some non-combat segments, if only for the extra character development (or what little was to be had) and additional humor. Ricotta definitely seemed to act a lot like a puppy in that one scene, and it was good to see Brioche continuing to get some screen-time. And, of course, Rebecca teasing Shinku was pretty amusing and suggests that some romantic elements may start to unfold in the next few episodes (perhaps). But, yes, the story does seem to be focusing back on Shinku more, so Rebecca and Nanami might not have prominent roles outside of battles. I’m not necessarily against that, as it seems to fit better with the original story (of course it helps that, if I was forced to choose sides, I’d side with Biscotti), but it is a bit disappointing to think that Rebecca and Nanami were brought here for just a slight bit more screen-time than last season.

    • #2 by avvesione on July 25, 2012 - 12:12 AM

      Glad to hear you think the fanservice in Dog Days is tolerable. I’m not really bothered by it, more surprised and find it awkward in this series. Still, as long as it’s played for comedy rather than romance or overtly sexualizing the characters, then I’m fine with it.

      It was nice to see both Ricotta and Becky fight in this episode to the extent they did. Ricotta has seen more involvement in warfare over the past two episodes than she did almost all last season, so it’s nice to include her in these scenes than leave her out (like they did before). I’m assuming they showed her get defeated since, well, it wouldn’t nearly be as fun having them enter the battle and get defeated right away. It also allowed those two showdowns with the other princesses as well. As for Becky, I was a bit surprised, too, at how she handled Shinku and Nanami, but I guess they wouldn’t defeat her that quickly since she just became a Hero. I assume the armor that everyone wears is rather light which allows them to move so quickly and agile, so I’m not too surprised that one direct hit would shred them.

      As for the story returning back to Shinku and moving away from Becky and Nanami, I suppose it’d be best to wait and see what really happens rather than use speculation from about half an episode to determine what’s going on. Who knows, we might have stories for each character in their country which would focus on different sets of characters and then bring them all together for one final story. If that’s the case, this one could be about Shinku with the citizens of Biscotti which would then be followed by Nanami with Galette and Becky with Pastillage. But right now, it seems shifting back toward Shinku. I’m sure we’ll see Nanami and Becky much more given how prominent they are in the opening, just that they might not be the main characters anymore.

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