Having finished another acrobatics race of sorts against one of his best friends and strongest rivals, Cinque Izumi is looking forward to a vacation full of fun and games in the world of Flonyard together with his two bestest Earth friends; Nanami Takatsuki and Rebecca Anderson. However, the summoning process goes slightly awry due to an errant lightning strike, and Cinque and Nanami ends up in the company of a resident of Flonyard neither of them had met yet; the horse girl Sharu, a priestess for the huge dragons that inhabit this strange world.
The first season of Dog Days was a show that ended up being far more fun than it had any right to be. It could also not have been any less subtle about its intent, even if it tried, or any less obvious about its main source of inspiration, which is another francise that has grown beyond its origins.
The main reason the show has earned the popularity it has is... well, probably the shameless pandering, but if you asked me what I'd like to be the main reason for its popularity, then that would be its open, inviting and friendly sense of calm as well as its energetic sense of fair play and can-do attitude. Also, oodles and oodles of girls, of course.
One thing I quickly noticed about Dog Days is that it has fun leads. Cinque is a young and impressionable boy, but unlike a lot of amusingly common harem leads, he actually has a hobby he truly enjoys, which the show sells quite well too. Said hobby actually fits right in with the main objective in the world of Flonyard and its game-based "wars", which are basically humongous televised athletic competitions with some dueling aspects to it. Some bigger mass skirmishes between the almost hilariously generic "NPC" designs, and some absolutely ridiculously bombastic duels between some of our main characters. The first season was mostly Cinque against the other world, but the second season also introduced the concept to his two closest friends, Nanami and Rebecca. Nanami was chosen as a hero for Galette and favors the same direct approach as Cinque did with martial arts (of sorts), while Rebecca, who became the hero for Pastillage, a nation of squirrel people who favor aerial combat, and, as such, Rebecca became more of a sorceress/witch type with a wide range of long-range magical abilities.
Being more of a vacation, Dog Days'' doesn't really go into the game all that much, if barely at all. Originally meant as a vacation, the third season instead introduces us to our new animal girl, the horse girl Sharu, and her wards, the many dragons that roam her home area. From a design standpoint, I actually like a lot that the "dragons" are basically designed as giant animals. Regular dragons look more like dinosaurs, and the giant ones look like a giant bird or a giant turtle. And I mean giant.
It's a relief, then, that the show seems to have gotten some semblance of a budget back. The first season actually had the nerve to look pretty good on top of all its pandering, so when the second season's animation went down the toilet, it was pretty easy to see. This season doesn't have amazing animation, but the second season could look really cheap at times, with inconsistent character designs, which is a problem the third season thankfully doesn't have. In fact, this season can even get a bit fancy about its acrobatics. A bit clumsily, but with a clear sense of effort put into it, which makes the show just so much more enjoyable.
I mentioned the three main Earthlings in the series, so in all fairness, I should probably mention some of the other cast too... if it wasn't so goddamned enormous. Pretty much all of the regulars make a return, males and females alike, and they're all being their charming selves. Sharu, our first new arrival, is a deadpan slight of a girl who seems to already have a hero's abilities of her own -- probably due to her role as a guardian, and the show wastes no time throwing her and her guests into a demon possession subplot that becomes the cornerstone of this season. She has such a soft voice, I almost expected her to be voiced by Hana Kanazawa too, and was much surprised to find that her voice actor, Sumire Uesaka, has done mostly more energetic, louder roles. Most of the other new arrivals arrive at the end, with the exception of Leaf Lang de Shar Harva, who turned out to be a relative of one of the girls. (Specifically, the lone bunny girl that's showed up so far.)
I mentioned pandering too, and the third season definitely keeps the pace up here. A lot of the duel fights tend to end with clothes being completely shredded. Clearly, this is done to the girls for the benefit of the male audience, but the show is also being weirdly fair in that this also happens to the males who partake in battles, like Cinque and Gaul. Everyone is being good sports about it too; though the girls are embarrassed as all hell, nobody gets to be the target of physical abuse because of it... except Valerio, the somewhat perverted demon lord who made his arrival in the second season alongside the hero Adélaïde. This is one of the more irksome parts of the show, because he becomes more of a tool for this tiresome aspect of physical comedy. He screws up in some way, and Adélaïde doles out a punishment that seems a bit excessive for the crime committed. It's tiresome, and more importantly, it's out of place in this show, and gives Adélaïde a mildly psychotic edge compared to the others that takes me out of the show. It's thankfully contained to one episode (mostly), but I'd rather not have seen this in the show at all.
Aside from the random nudity and clothes-shredding, the show is weirdly innocent about everything it does. It's not overtly sexual despite all of this, choosing to lean more towards the squeaky clean kind of nudity that's popular among the otaku crowd. Nothing upfront, and embarrasment all around, which honestly makes the whole thing more unsettling somehow. I actually had less of an issue with the scene where Nanami gives Leonmichelle a massage as she's lying naked on a massage bench, front down. If the show is going for sexy, it's far more effective than all the shredding and the "hyaaaaan". On a more irrelevant note, Yukikaze's chest is also often animated in this show, squeezing and bouncing for every little movement. While this show certainly has its share of busty girls, this happens only to her for some odd reason.
There's also a.... different kind of fanservice in this show. This kind:
Just look at that! The doggies are so huggable and adorable, I just want to grab them and give them bellyrubs all day. Sure, it's kind of weird to have actual dogs in a show where people often come with dog ears and tails, but this is one of my own personal weaknesses when it comes to anime. Or... well, just about anything else. The show never explains it, but these dogs are also the ones who actually travels to Earth to pick up the guys, and I for one would have liked to see them more often in the show itself. It's also weird, because some of the only-half-animal characters in the show itself also have these sorta-animalistic tendencies that we apply on animals, and this goes doubly for Millhiore, who loves being petted on the head, going on walks and throwing frisbees on a meadow. When I watched the first season some time ago, I had one of those "surely they're not going to..." moments when Cinque was about to throw the frisbee towards Millhiore, half expecting her to catch it in her mouth. I knew it wasn't going to happen in this season either, but the feeling of the ridiculousness of just the thought of it was still present.
Dog Days'' is definitely a worthy sequel in all the ways that count. It's got the same strengths and weaknesses as the former seasons, so it goes without saying that you'd want to watch this if you liked the first two seasons -- especially if you too were a bit disappointed with how the second season got shafted in the economy department. It's a big, safe little slice of entertainment, shallow as the pond, but still pleasurable to look at. There is a layer of optimistic feelgood that makes the show easy to digest, and while it never takes any of its aspects in a challenging direction, the gung-ho approach still makes it something you could have recommended for a younger audience if not for the awkward otaku gaze it seems to pull out of you.
A bit shallow, but still really fun, and heads and shoulders above other shows of its type. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: There is a lot of weirdly clean nudity and fanservice here, intended as more embarrassing than outright creepy, but not entirely succeeding at that. The slapstick that gets laid out on poor Valerio can be a bit excessive since the show wants us to laugh at the thought of him being hung upside down in a dungeon and left there for an unspecified time. The violence is very clean and neat, very much in the spirit of full contact sportsmanship, and nobody ever dies here.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital source, Japanese with English subtitles.
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Dog Days'' © 2015 Seven Arcs Pictures, Aniplex.
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