The distinctive feature of Dog Days is the fact that the entire cast has some sort of kemonomimi (animal ears) and tail that shows they’re part-human and part-cuddly creature. It’s so prevalent that it’s even the heart of the title of this anime. But what is the purpose of these characteristics? Are they merely there to differentiate the populations of the two kingdoms or provide adorable features to the cast or perhaps there is a deeper meaning to all this?
Let’s first examine this idea from the perspective that they’re only there to distinguish the warring nations. From the perspective of any foreigner to this land (Shinku and the audience), it’d be difficult to immediately identify a soldier from kingdom compared to one of the other. Or with the analogy they’re using that war is similar to athletic competition, a player from either side. Usually, we’d expect there to be uniforms used to differentiate the two sides, both in military and in sports. Picking delightful doggy ears or kitty ears on everyone is one way to accomplish this goal but is that necessary for the storyline? They could’ve easily decided on something more familiar and customary if these animal-like traits were simply to tell the difference between the two sides. So that idea is pretty much nullified. There may be some truth behind this theory but it is not the main reason behind its purpose. Next up is the idea that they are for the cuteness factor.
Animal ears and tails are common characteristics used to make someone additionally cute, cuddly, and huggable (strictly my weakness opinion). They also provide an insight into the behavior of the person, thus further helping individualize them from the rest of the cast. But usually when they are used in these ways, they are typically not widespread among the whole population. It’s not like you’re trying to make massive, muscular men like Rolan cuter by giving him droppy dog ears. If it were simply from a standpoint of making the cast cuter, then it probably would have been used primarily on the female cast. Furthermore, the series would want to draw more attention to the ears and tails if they were for making these characters more adorable. They would do that by using them to enhance character emotions and reactions by having them shift, twitch, wiggle, and wag among other things. So, again, another point has been mainly nullified. And again, there is some truth to this theory but there must be some deeper significance to the use of kemonomimi in Dog Days.
There are several other ideas out there to explaining the specific use of so much animal-ear usage. Could these animal-ears be used to make this seem more like a fantasy/alien world? Nah, the setting and plot are carrying that load on their back and doing a pretty good job at it, too, I might add. What about the idea that the features are used to make the series more light-hearted than not? Well, that could be the case, but the whole ‘our wars are really athletic competitions and no one dies and we all have fun’ is kinda the reason behind that idea. Hmmm… this is a rather tough nut to crack. However, I think I have a loose theory that might answer the original question: “what is the purpose of these characteristics?”
I began to materialize this theory when Princess Millhiore was recalling memories where she and Leonmichelle were friends, spending carefree days in the unkempt meadows stretching across the vast landscape of Flonyard. There, the two princesses are not concerned about war but instead more interested in Millhiore’s remarkable singing. But now, that is not the case. Presently, both princesses are isolated in their respective Kingdoms, separate from each other. And it becomes apparent how dissimilar their cultures are since they’ve become separated. Since those memories, Leonmichelle has developing into a respected and talented warrior for her kingdom while Millhiore is more concerned about things like singing and thanking all those who produced and participated in the previous battle. And not only that, but these cultural differences are reflected in the citizens of these kingdoms, too. As Eclair was explaining, many of the participants join in these playful wars for the fun of it all. However, Gaurus, the younger brother of Leonmichelle, sees these wars as competitions and had no second thoughts about kidnapping Princess Millhiore solely for the purpose of fighting the new hero who defeated his sister. Furthermore, it is Galette who is constantly invading Biscotti and prevailing victorious each time.
So the essence of my theory is that the animal ears and tails show the differences in cultures and backgrounds of each kingdom. It is apparent how unlike these cultures are, with the dog-eared Biscotti all playful and carefree and the cat-eared Galette strategic and aggressive. You also never see the citizens integrate with each other either, preferring to stay isolated in their home kingdoms. When the two princesses spent time with each other, they ignored their different cultures and their different ears and had fun together. Perhaps that will be the dominant theme in Dog Days: ignoring your differences (physical or cultural) and making friends. But that isn’t the case right now as it is two completely separate and dissimilar cultures, Biscotti versus Galette, dogs versus cats, warring against each other. And that’s my theory on the purpose of the kemonomimi in Dog Days.
But wait a second, probably ~10-20% of you are saying, isn’t that virtually the same as the first point? You know the one about how they’re there to differentiate the populations of the two kingdoms? Well, yeah, that’s true if my theory is to be correct. But the difference is that it is not the purpose of having the ears since there could be other characteristics used to distinguish between the two kingdoms. But you’re right, that the original theory is partially true, too. But so are all of the ones I’ve posted. The ears and tails are used to make the characters cuter so people like myself and many others would pounce right on this series. And those animal features do help enhance the fantasy/alien theme going on in the series with the setting and plot doing most of the work. And they help out with the light-heartedness of the series, too. Not every theory should be completely rejected; each theory listed holds some truth to them. So really, it is a combination of several factors which is the true purpose of the kemonomimi in Dog Days.