Dog Days’ (S2) – 7

Though I have been singing the praises of Dog Days’ since about the start of this second season, it’s time to mention some of the negatives of this series seeing as they’re often ignored or overlooked in recent posts.  And while the anime has been a step up of the first season in many key components, there are still some aspects of the original series that outclassed this sequel in additional to other questionable differences.  Here, we’ll look at some of the areas where Dog Days’ is inferior or subpar to first season or general subjects where there’s room for improvement and growth.

Though I have a favorable impression of Dog Days’ and am delighted by its charming and inspiring adventures, there are still some faults with this anime despite enjoying it more than the first season.  Starting off, this season appears to be a haphazard slew of loosely connected escapades that lacks structure and direction.  Where the first season had a story that endured through its entire run, with each episode interlocked with the next, Dog Days’ has taken a lenient approach to its plot, highlighting various adventures across the kingdoms that typically result in fighting and fanservice.  But there’s no consistency or development going on within these episodes, no evident progress being made by each adventure to the characters in their relationship or any central plot that’s driving this season.  Sure, each episode accomplishes a task, such as introducing new characters, explaining new battle mechanics (the Noir episode), or presenting these new hero stones (the ones Shinku and Gaul obtained) that will likely find some way to reappear later on.  But it’s unlike the first season where Shinku had to test himself in battle, forge friendships among his hopeless nation, all while aiming to protect Millhiore and uncover the true intentions of Leonmichelle’s aggression.  This, there’s no such thing, even with the ambitions of three heroes among three separate nations.  Though I believe a storyline will appear sometime down the road, the series thus far has been substandard in terms of its central story.  Not to say that the episodes haven’t been fun or interesting, but the story for the first season has greatly outperformed that of this second season.

Another weakness of Dog Days’ has been the complete reliance on deus ex machina mechanics that are derived from either poor explanation or poor execution (which are both derivatives of poor writing, so go figure it’s a pretty prominent part of the prior paragraph’s point).  For one, the BraveConnect system, the communication system used by Adélaïde to immediately reach Shinku, Nanami, and Rebecca, was never hinted at, not its capabilities made aware at any previous point but just suddenly appeared.  Not only that but it is exactly what the trapped warriors needed to deal with the demonic mice that were draining their life energy.  And not only that but the warp system, too, was just too convenient for this situation without any prior knowledge or hint to such fantastic and broken powers.  Or what about Couvre being able to bring everyone’s clothes and armor after all the girls lost their clothes and were left naked… again… (happened in every episode this season).  It’s like the anime was intending for there to be some brief nudity again to make this anime pretty much an ecchi one but didn’t have the guts to see it through and threw some clothes as its cast to make it more of a lighthearted comedy scene than anything uncomfortably sexual.  Either way, the anime has trouble with its constant reliance on deus ex machine for its plot holes and other unsolvable details with its stories and characters.  Things are able to happen because they need to happen and, without any prior hints or knowledge, it almost seems like the characters are cheating by bending the rules to fit their needs whenever they’re faced with even the slightest bit of a challenge.  Ultimately, this is a weakness in the writing because these situations are avoidable and would actually enhance the setting, the story, and the characters by mentioning these details prior to needing them.  An example would be to see Adélaïde setting up the system with Shinku, Nanami, and Becky, perhaps joking around that they should call her if they’re even in a pinch (simple dramatic irony, too), so that we know such a system exists before it was used in this episode.  Or Couvre bringing a spare set of clothes just because she knows every girl get stripped to their panties or less in every episode.  Something like that; just any freedom from these woeful deus ex machine mechanics and that would be a substantial improvement for the Dog Days’.

A final disadvantage in this second season of Dog Days is the battles.  Though there have been no significant differences in how they’re choreographed, animated, or their importance to the story, they’re seemingly unexciting and tedious when compared to the first season.  What made the first season sensational and exhilarating were the battles between these overpowered fighters, these super-soldiers with unimaginable destructive power and the ability to defeat dozens of soldiers with as much as a glance in their general direction.  Not only that but the battles meant something back then, too, with each side having their own motivations and concerns, with each fight having ramifications for their nations and their people.  It made the fights worthwhile and engaging to watch.  Now, the fights carry little weight, are disturbingly predictable, and an area where the first season outdoes this second one.  What were the consequences of this episode?  Oh, a giant demonic rat just makes everyone younger but can’t leave the cave to destroy the region.  Others?  Girls lose their clothes (which is something that happens anyway, so why fight it?) and a pervert goes around looking for girls with no clothes on (again, why fight the enviable?).  The first season?  National treasures were being wagered and these wars were fought due to the prospect of character deaths through shoddy fortune-telling techniques.  And while the first season had characters brawling with each other, this second season enjoys pitting its characters against monsters, which unfortunately never seem to end well for these terrorizing demons.  And it’s the same for the fighting, too.  Dog Days’ has taken a few steps back in terms of its combat and its significance.  If it’s able to give us battles we care about, between characters fighting over something noteworthy to their characters or the story, then perhaps the combat wouldn’t feel so tired or mundane.

And while there are indeed other areas where this anime can improve, just those three are the ones that bother me the most and deserve some recognition.  While I continue to rant on the persistent fanservice, ultimately turning this show from an innocent, lighthearted adventure into a naïve ecchi comedy/adventure, it hasn’t been detrimental to the anime.  Sure, it’s unnecessary and constantly prevalent, but it does add some amusement to the series, never leads to any substandard romantic developments, and is often over in the matter of seconds meaning it’s gone before it really offends anyone.  The incorporation of new characters and subsequent loss of old characters, too, is another point that could be raised in this season of Dog Days’ but it matters on opinions, much like the ecchi section prior.  The new characters require screen time so that they can be properly established and find their place in the series, even at the expense of older characters who have been reduced to the bare minimum.  I can understand some fan frustration over these developments and how the series employees its characters, but the new cast has nee fantastic and quite delightful.  There’s no reason to complain on this point unless your favorite character has only appeared in one or two episodes.  There are others, too, but progressing any further, it becomes a jungle of people’s opinions and personal preferences which, if anyone is interested in voicing, belongs in a comments section or on a community forum.

Considering these points and any others, it’s clear to see that Dog Days’ has extensive room for improvement. The writing alone receives a bulk of this assignment, particularly in structuring an intriguing and enchanting story for which to be told over the course of the anime.  Beyond that, simple changes in using explanations and technologies to provide clarity and understanding before using them would also greatly improve the series.  And working in some importance into the fights would be another way the series can improve itself.  Of course, I’m sure others would be excited for less fanservice and more older characters, too.  Whatever it is, despite Dog Days’ being a fun, relaxing, and always entertaining anime, it is an anime with its faults and some flaws.  Addressing and resolving these issues are perhaps the best ways for an anime to significantly improve itself and earn some praise and recognition.  If Dog Days’ is up for the challenge, it shouldn’t take long to fix these major flaws, which would then earn the anime a much higher score and rank among its peers.  But that’s only if the anime is up to such a challenge…

Considering how extensive the world appears to be, using a jet-powered dragon to fly to the cave with the gargantuan demonic mouse, where are the other countries that inhabit this fantastic fantasy realm?  Thus far, we’ve only see three nations which all share roughly the same cultures and societies.  Where are the nations with different customs and populated by people with different animal-ears (kemonomimi)?  What about a bunny girl nation?  And bear ears are popular, too.  Same with bird wings and deer horns.  And what about nations with differing architectures, technologies, ways of life, and ways of battling with each other?  Hopefully the series will change to accommodate this desire of mine, but it seems unlikely given its ever-growing and always-extensive cast of characters.  Maybe one of these days we’ll see a side story on the BD/DVD extras but any more geographic exploration and understanding probably won’t happen given what Dog Days’ wants to be.  That’s too bad considering how interesting I am in the world, its nations, its people, and its various socities.  Oh well.

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  1. #1 by Tzaphqiel on August 20, 2012 - 4:43 PM

    As much as I liked episode 7 (or most of it, at least), the series does seem to be taking a more episodic approach which, as you pointed out, isn’t being done as well as it could. This episode used deus ex machina too much, including not just the BraveConnect and subsequent “Hero” summon, but also the hero crystals and the fact that Nanami and Becky happened to be at that restaurant in Vanette at the same time as several fisherman and all of that right when they are asked to bring a large number of nets. As for the clothes, as much as that is a deus ex machina resolution to the fanservice for this episode (which was, again, relatively short and given with enough warning for me to either scroll the window so that only the subtitles appeared or cover the parts of the screen that didn’t show Brioche), I was more upset at both how Yukikaze seemed to expect for her skill to fail and, seemingly, did nothing to warn anyone else and at why their clothes were even in a completely different area in the first place. I’ll admit that a dangerous situation makes ensuring that you have a change of clothes a relatively low-priority point, but I doubt it would have been that hard for the kid-sized versions of the affected characters to, perhaps, carry their own clothing/equipment as they fled.

    Honestly, I’m still a little annoyed at the amount of fanservice that has been appearing, even if it’s being done more “tastefully”/humorously than in other series of this genre (with the fact that the battle outfits in this series being more practical/believable than those used in other series playing part of a role in this), if only because of the people it tends to affect and because of how it seems to come from out of nowhere. Admittedly, there is a bit of a cultural difference regarding the former that has to be taken into account, and the series does seem to be going for the adult characters a bit more, what with Brioche getting stripped down this time. But the latter issue hurts this series a bit for me, and I’m starting to get a little worried for its future. It makes me hope that the next episode, which the preview said would be about an Art and Music festival, will either be free of fanservice (as if) or will end up focusing on some historic and, somehow, very important piece of artwork that turns out to be a tastefully done nude (maybe of Brioche or Adel, if it is an historic piece), which is, admittedly, still a little sleazy, but seems a bit better than the more likely alternative of a concert featuring a catastrophic wardrobe malfunction.

    As for the battles, they do seem a little lackluster, especially in comparison to the battles in the first few episodes, and mainly because they tend to focus on a (somewhat) clear “good-and-bad” conflict instead of the more ambiguous conflicts that occurred with the wars between the nations. Then there was the battle against all of the little rats, with Becky pulling out that Gravity spell and effectively demonstrating that everybody else who was summoned weren’t really needed (which is especially amusing when paralleled with Noir slowly scooping mice into a basket with a small fishing net). But, to be honest, I’m not too saddened by that, if only because I’ve gotten used to seeing some action scenes get repetitive (and also because Shinku and Gaul looked really cool when grown-up and provided that nice bit of comic relief when they suddenly realized that they grew up).

    I am also both surprised and disappointed that there’s no major trace of other nations as of yet (Pastillage itself seemed to come from nowhere despite being right next to Biscotti), as I really would like to learn more about the world itself. And, considering how some of the stories are being told, this series does seem to be taking a bit of a sci-fi approach to storytelling by making the stories as much about the setting as they are about the characters, even if only very slightly. At the very least, they are trying to connect some of the characters to the world, such as giving Brioche a deeper connection to the world by starting to explain some of her earlier work, even if they haven’t explained how she (and, technically, her brother as well) has lived for over 150 years and not aged. But I would like to know more about the world, including all of the curiosities that you’ve mentioned. If nothing else, a spin-off following Brioche (it’s pretty painfully obvious that she’s my favorite character, isn’t it?), Yukikaze, Isuka, and the others going about their earlier sealing work would do wonders for this.

    And, along with the other cultures, there’s a lot of the basic mechanics of the world that isn’t being described or which seems unsatisfactorily answered so far. With the dragon, as well as with Shinku’s Tornada, Becky’s Mercurius, and Couvre’s flying-carpet-car-thingy, there’s no real explanation for their ability to tolerate the g-forces associated with the sudden accelerations they seem to make. Admittedly, Wikipedia (which I really shouldn’t be citing in this manner) does suggest that humans are more capable of tolerating g-forces perpendicular to the spine than those parallel, but the accelerations they seem to pull of still seem like they’d be causing some problems. Also, the seal system (and that BraveConnect spell, once again) really makes me wonder how bright power and the other skills really work, because I’m still not completely satisfied with the “It’s Magic” explanation, especially when we know that some of the “magic” still requires some sort of machinery or magic circuitry to operate at all. Maybe Ricotta will be able to explain some of that for us if/when she gets some more screen-time (like she was hoping for with that adorable temper tantrum she threw at the end of the episode).

    Overall, though, I agree that this series can still overcome its problems if it tries (which it hopefully will). These flaws, while noticeable enough that they shouldn’t be ignored, aren’t so bad that the series completely suffers as a result. But any lack of a resolution or fixing of these issues will be problematic, even if most of the solutions that come to mind aren’t happy ones (and, consequently, wouldn’t really fit with this series’ goals).

    • #2 by avvesione on August 25, 2012 - 10:48 PM

      Though I do complain about the fanservice in Dog Days’, I personally don’t mind it all that much nor am I offended by it. Why I continue to harp on it is because it doesn’t really fit in with the whole mindset of the anime nor does it feel necessary. It can do better without it, but since it’s there, might as well try to enjoy it.

      The battles are probably at their best when characters are fighting characters, like you mentioned with this one being a bit underwhelming. Hopefully we can see characters battle each other again soon and not just another training session.

      I, too, am interested in the world but it doesn’t seem to be within the scope of the story, so we probably won’t be hearing about it anytime soon besides tidbits and whatnot. Hope they eventually get around to doing it though but it will need to be incorporated into the story (what story?) somehow.

      Regarding the physics, I seriously doubt you’ll get any answer (and if you’re lucky enough, it will be unsatisfying) just because no anime ever takes the time to explain their physics. Pretty much any anime with fighting or action will alter physics to adhere to how they want everything to look and work. It’s the same in any form of media, taking what looks good over what’s real. It may be a bit disappointing to not know why things happen the way they do, but that’s the case with every anime or movie or TV show or anything really.

      And thankfully, there’s enough time in the series for it to work on these areas and hopefully improve. Any positive trend in any of these areas will keep me happy with this anime. Just hope it begins happening sooner rather than later.

      • #3 by Tzaphqiel on August 26, 2012 - 7:20 PM

        I’ll agree that it isn’t particularly offensive, but the fact that most of the fanservice so far involved teenaged characters is potentially off-putting to other people, even if it is being done more for Schadenfreude and setting-appropriateness than suggestivity. This is part of why I was glad to see Brioche get caught up in the fanservice this time, as she is an adult (technically, the same is true for Yukikaze, but she’s too obvious of a target, so it doesn’t quite work out so well) and, thus, not so disagreeable of a target.

        I kind of figured that asking about the world and, more importantly, the physics of it, would be asking a bit too much. I guess I just hoped to get more of a “sci-fi/fantasy” treatment than just a fantasy setting, because I really do like this setting and would love to either see this series continue a little longer (but, hopefully not too long) or for similar settings to come up in future series.

        • #4 by Tzaphqiel on August 26, 2012 - 7:22 PM

          I should note that “setting-appropriateness” is intended to refer to scenes where being dressed-down would be expected, such as in a changing room or a bath, as you can hardly expect people to walk around in a bath with all of their clothes on.

  2. #5 by elior1 on August 20, 2012 - 11:11 PM

    the eachi and fanservice moments was in season 1 as well so it not something new

    • #6 by avvesione on August 25, 2012 - 10:50 PM

      Yeah, but season 1 never had fanservice to this extent. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this were classified as an ecchi anime now given all the panties and nudity this season.

      • #7 by elior1 on August 27, 2012 - 10:24 PM

        can you please do a review for episode 8 with the great and cute scence of eclair and shinku we waited for long time?

  3. #8 by elior1 on August 27, 2012 - 11:22 PM

    @avvesione and by cute and great scence this scence is not eachi in episode 8 and this happend for the first time in the show with eclair and shinku

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