Saturday, 29 September 2012

ドッグデイズダッシュ/ Dog Days’/Dog Days Dash

Last year’s Dog Days was a funny, pretty little series that, perhaps because it followed Madoka so closely, everyone expected to take a darker turn. This didn’t happen, despite hints at darker elements, so that in the end it felt almost incongruous, how simple a moé series it was. A cute boy went to a cute kemonomimi world where there was no danger of dying in battle, became the hero of the country and won the hearts of all the girls, then had to go home amidst tears and promises of a swift return.

Well, that return came here. But while at the end of the first season I was surprised by the lightness of the tone throughout, here I ended up more disappointed. Rather than explore any of the hints from the original series about areas where the spell preventing death in battle doesn’t hold, or the origins of the world, Dog Days Dash is determined to have very little happen in a very cute way. It is inconsequential, superficial and adorable. But I wanted more.

Shinku returns to the world of Biscotti and Pastilage to again act as the hero of the dog-eared cuties against the cat-eared cuteys. But this time, he’s brought the girl who used to beat him in the Sasuke-esque challenges to serve as hero for the cats. And his best friend – a girl named Becky – is along for the ride. Of course, a third country – squirrels – gets involved and have Becky as their own underdog hero. And so the games resume.

That’s about it, really. They end up doing a variety of the usual things that fill moé series – bathe together, have awkward romantic moments where they fall on each other and accidentally kiss, magically swap bodies and go to visit each other for tea. About the most interesting thing they do is free an ancient evil – who of course turns out to be pretty harmless, does perverted things and then along with the ancient good who counters him, becomes something of a mentor.

The cast becomes rather too large – there are a lot of random knights and guardians who barely get any screentime, or who become interchangeable – and with only thirteen episodes some characters get rather more attention than they really ought to. The worst part, I thought, was the way poor Éclair was treated, especially since while Shinku would be cute in a couple with just about any of the girls interested in him, she was my favourite – she gets about the most dramatic relationship moment in the series, a bit of the fall-out from it, but then it never really gets fully addressed and she doesn’t even get a goodbye scene in the final episode of the series.

I get the feeling Dog Days is a hit in Japan. It got a second season, after all! But there was a real chance to be ambitious here, only for the fanservice option seemingly to be more appealing. I can only hope Dog Days gets a third chance, and this time takes a few risks instead of treading water. If not, though…well, I have to say I’ll keep watching, enjoying and feeling the brainless pleasure that comes from looking at irresistibly cute character designs in cute contexts.

And perhaps if there’s a third season, I’ll see more of London. I have to admit, I got a kick out of seeing Soho Square

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