Dog Days’ (S2) – 4

With the plot of the first season of Dog Days, that of an uncharacteristically aggressive and polarizing series of wars waged by Galette against Biscotti, the character relationships were merely established and remained static.  That is, we were introduced to citizens of Biscotti and Galette throughout the anime yet they rarely intermingled with each other and chose to remain with their association rather than socialize with the perceived enemy.  With that story thankfully concluded and the world returning to a familiar amiable one, the various warriors can rekindle their friendships with one another allowing for new character relationships to develop before our eyes. Not only are we seeing the other humans (Becky and Nanami) interact with the various inhabitants of Flonyard but we’re able to see members of Biscotti and Galette rekindle relationships that would otherwise be unknown to the audience.  And this gratifying trend asserted itself in this episode with a substantial focus on the relationship between Eclair and Noir.

The second season of Dog Days has quickly surpassed the original in terms of its character relationships.  Not only has the cast expanded to include Becky, Nanami, and the entire nation of Pastillage, thus allowing last friendships to be revealed and new friendships to develop, but it has integrated its familiar cast, too, as we saw with the training session in this video.  Whereas before, Eclair was limited to only interacting with other residents of Biscotti and Noir was always shown with Jaune and Vert as a member of Génoise from Galette, this season revealed that there a strong bond exists between these two warriors and that they see each other as rivals.  Not only that but their friendship is among the strongest in the series and that they enjoy spending time with Ricotta as well.  The first season gave no hint at anything like that and resorted to basic relationships and limited contact between nations.  Now, we realize, how durable the friendships are in Dog Days and how integrated these societies are.

Dog Days goes beyond exposition as a means of storytelling, too, and used the content of the episode to explore the relationship between Eclair and Noir further.  Talking about a friendship or rivalship between two characters can only get to far as it is a weak method of developing characters, so we experienced the intimacy of their relationship through lengthy, skillful battles and unnecessary breast groping.  Maybe a little too intimate with Noir keeping tabs on the size of Eclair’s breasts, but it does show how close the two are in terms of their friendship.  The battles, both their experience fighting each other and their tenacity toward each other, show the rivalry between the two warriors which, at times, can outweigh their friendship as we saw when Noir was teasing Eclair.  What is amazing to consider is that this relationship existed within the story of the first season of Dog Days yet it was never hinted at or even assumed.  By combining a narrative with various actions scenes (as well as an undressing scene), we’re able to visualize the extent of the relationships in Dog Days and understand their nature better.  It also helps break down the idea that the citizens of these nations act separately or independently of each other considering that Eclair is probably closer to Noir than just about everyone else from Biscotti given what we learned in this episode.

As with the presence of unexpected characters together to show a new character dynamic, the opposite is also true and was presented in this episode as a way to show individuality on Noir’s part.  Being the leader of Génoise, we would always assume that everything Noir does is in conjunction with Jaune and Vert.  That, however, was not the case in this episode as Noir was enjoying her earned vacation with her dear friend Eclair and studying under Yukikaze on how to establish a demon hunting unit for the nation of Galette.  Not only are these actions free from the whole Génoise business, but Noir wanting to begin a demon unit further emphasizes her distinctiveness and show that she has some complexity to her design.  By removing her from her familiar spot between Jaune and Vert, we’re able to enhance her character’s uniqueness more effectively which strengthens her character and helps create new opportunities for character relationships to form and grow.  In fact, we were able to see her progress her relationship with Shinku more than ever before given the amount of time she was able to spend with him.  This fact plays a major role in determining how character relationships begin and advance because otherwise, characters would remain in their old friendships and hardly ever interact outside their groups.  Separating Noir from her posse and centering the episode around her not only enriched her character but it expanded her relationships as well, revitalizing it with Eclair and maturing it with Shinku.

Character relationships, especially those that seem bizarre or unexpected, are among my favorite character traits in anime.  It’s always delightful to see characters from different backgrounds and opposing personalities or behaviors to join together for things like friendship and understanding each other.  I always find it a strength for a character and an author to break the character out of their comfort zone and show them forming and advancing a friendship with someone else.  Seeing a villain, not like a misunderstood goodie, reaching out and helping a good-guy and spending time together outside of their usual roles is something I will always appreciate, celebrate, and support in anime.  Though Noir is technically a misunderstood goodie given the context of the first season, I still deeply and thoroughly enjoyed seeing these relationships blossom on our screen in the fourth episode of Dog Days’.  I can only hope this trend continues with other character as well, especially with the support or minor characters, because it quickly became a favorite of mine for this season.

Considering that one of the specialties or assets of Dog Days’ is its adorable-earred cast of catgirls, doggirls, and whatnot, you’d figure the series would pay special attention to it.  Without it, the setting becomes populated with boring humans who aren’t nearly as cute or pet-able and the anime loses one of its most distinctive aspects and its characteristic charm.  So that’s why it’s surprising to see some of the characters be animated without their tails as saw shown a couple times in this episode.  You’d figure the series would keep a sharp eye on this aspect as these animal-traits are what give the characters their personal touches.  Seeing characters with their tails missing for a shot really doesn’t wreck the anime by any means, but it’s still an animation mistake that made it into the final product.  I’d imagine it might be more disastrous if it were a character’s ears or something, but it seems like they pay plenty of attention to those already as they are harder to miss (being next to the face).  Still, it’s a concerning oversight by the anime and hopefully not a reflection of the animation studio displaying an unfortunate lack of awareness or experience.  Hopefully the trend won’t continue, as it probably won’t, but it’s still something worth mentioning since it does alter the characters quite significantly.

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  1. #1 by Tzaphqiel on July 31, 2012 - 8:32 AM

    I agree that this characterization was nice, especially now that there isn’t so much of a focus on the earlier wars. The development of Noir’s relationships with Shinku and Eclair was definitely a welcomed point. But I also appreciated the additional development in Shinku and Eclair’s relationship with each other (even if it was pretty well covered in the first season), if only because it has become a lot friendlier and also seemed to suggest the potential for romantic development between the two of them. Becky’s teasing in the last episode also seemed to hint at potential romantic development later in the series, though I could be reading too far into it.

    I was also amused at the segment covering Nanami’s interaction with Gaul and Leonmitchelli, especially the contrast between Gaul running away from being petted and Leonmitchelli inviting Nanami to her room specifically so that Nanami could pet her. Gaul’s comment on the latter made it even more amusing. That said, both that scene and the scene where Eclair expressed her annoyance at Shinku’s relative lack-of-respect of space (along with Eclair chastising Ricotta last episode) highlights the local mores regarding interpersonal interaction, especially regarding what is appropriate when there is a gender or nationality difference. I’m not certain, but I think that issue is going to be popping up more often later in the series, and may even be a major point later on.

    As for the animation, I must be among the less observant of anime viewers because I never noticed any instances of a missing tail (though that also works in my favor, because it keeps the more subtle uses of fanservice from getting in the way of the story). Of course, any DVD or Blu-Ray release of this series will most likely have that error fixed (hopefully).

    One last bit that I found interesting in this episode was the Bright Power Gear that Eclair and Noir had. I don’t recall Bright Power Gear having ever being mentioned in the series until recently and I am rather curious about how it is different from the regular Emblem Skills. At first I thought that it was a power exclusive to the Holy Swords of each nation and, consequently, could only be used by Leonmitchelli, Millhiore, Couvre, Nanami, Shinku, and Becky. But this episode proved otherwise, as Noir and Eclair had developed their own Bright Power Gear and it was revealed that Brioche’s Demon-Sealing skill also involved Bright Power Gear. It could be that the only difference in that Bright Power actually manifests physical objects, whereas Emblem Skills are energy-based powers, but I didn’t think that until this episode, and it makes me wonder who else has developed these skills and what they can do, because these also seem much more powerful regular Emblem Skills.

    • #2 by Sonya on July 31, 2012 - 10:30 AM

      If Bright Power Gear is a manifestation of energy as objects, then it’s actually safe to say Gaul’s claws can be considered as such too, making them the very first instance of them shown in the series from season 1.

      This series needs more Noir and Eclair, in fact I could watch an entire season with just those two in the spotlight. So much win in a single episode.

      • #3 by avvesione on August 2, 2012 - 2:47 AM

        Yeah, hopefully we continue to see more of those two together, especially considering the fact that they are rivals much like Shinku is with Gaul. Hopefully we learn more of their history, too, since that’s something we really never have seen in Dog Days besides Millhiore and Leonmichelle.

    • #4 by avvesione on August 2, 2012 - 2:45 AM

      I appreciate the series taking the time to include all this characterization and relationship development, especially between characters not named Shinku. But even then it’s great to see Shinku and Eclair have their friendship strengthen and put Eclair in a place where she can be honest with her feelings and begin treating Shinku in a more respectable and thoughtful way.

      You do bring up a good point about the differences in how characters interpret their personal space, though I think the issues here were the whole aspect of boys/girls being together which caused both problems. Keep in mind that these are rather innocent and carefree middle-schoolers who are having these boy/girl issues regarding space and playfulness. I’m not sure if it will be a big point later on unless it involves itself in the romance, but more an instance for Nanami to have a storyline with the nation of Galette (that is, earning Gaul’s respect and friendship and then finally petting him as maybe a full episode later on). Beyond that, I don’t think we’ll see more of this.

      I’m not exactly certain on how the Bright Power Gears originated and what their limitations are nor their differences in comparison tot he Emblem Skills, but it is nice to see other characters with super abilities besides the leaders and the heroes. It will certainly make every fight and any demon-hunting from here on out more exciting, that’s for sure!

      • #5 by Tzaphqiel on August 2, 2012 - 4:13 PM

        You are probably right about the whole gender issue. They are at that relatively awkward age (if that’s the appropriate way to refer to it), which does make them more relatable or, at least, more realistic. But it may just be a minor point. As for the nationality portion of my earlier comment, that was mostly because of Eclair’s lecturing mid-episode.

        I will say that I am looking forward to what other Bright Power skills there are (and if they explain the difference), though I wonder if it is specifically related to the demon-hunting. If that is the case then, given Noir’s interest in demon-hunting and her general interest in those stories that was alluded to last season (right before the second battle, I believe) along with the reactions of the other characters to her talking about it, I am starting to think that neither Jaune nor Vert have Bright Power skills of their own. But that will have to wait for at least another episode, if not several.

        • #6 by avvesione on August 3, 2012 - 1:13 AM

          Ah, yes, forgot about Eclair’s little nationalist bit in there about Shinku spending time with Noir. I think that she used that as an excuse to try to divide them, which is why Noir was quick to tease her since she was able to see through her works and look at her true intentions.

          And, no, I didn’t mean that Bright Power skills are all related to demon-hunting, but it seems like it’s a prerequisite for fighters to hunt demons since they’re probably invulnerable to other (physical) attacks. I figure it’s a way for characters without the Emblem skills to have powerful attacks that can damage demons and other unworldly beings. And since they’ve been connected to Brioche who is a demon-slayer, I figure that Bright Power skills are only really used by those who hunt demons rather than being used in those playful wars that they have.

  2. #7 by Kerry on July 31, 2012 - 3:25 PM

    Concerning Noir and Ricotta, I remembered they had some interaction in Season 1. In the last episode, Noir had brought some books and in the process of giving them to Ricotta they found the letter that outlined the procedure for a hero to return.

    • #8 by avvesione on August 2, 2012 - 2:49 AM

      You’re right! I also used a screenshot of Noir in that library in my post for Dog Days 13 as well. Can’t believe I forgot something so important and something so relevant to this episode. Thanks for mentioning it because I had completely forgotten about it until now.

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