Dog Days takes place in the world of Flonyard, an alternate Earth inhabited by beings who resemble humans, but also have the ears and tails of specific animals. The Republic of Biscotti, a union of dog-like citizens, has come under attack by the feline forces of the Galette Leo Knights. In an effort to save Biscotti, Princess Millhiore summons a champion from another world in order to defend her people. That champion is Cinque Izumi, a normal junior high student from Earth.
Agreeing to assist Biscotti, Cinque retrieves a sacred weapon called the Palladion and prepares for war. In Flonyard, wars are fought with no casualties and are more akin to sports competitions with the goal of raising money for the participating kingdoms. Cinque is successful in his role as Biscotti’s champion, but learns that a summoned champion cannot be returned to their home world. The scientists of Biscotti will endeavor to find a way for Cinque to return home, but until they figure something out, he must serve Princess Millhiore by continuing to fight as Biscotti’s hero.
Dog Days was one of those series that pleasantly surprised me. At first I thought the series wouldn't get anywhere, but it sure proved me wrong. As the weeks passed by, the series just kept getting better, and it just goes to show that first impressions aren't everything.
Dog Days starts off like a number of fantasy series, with our protagonist getting summoned to another world to assist with a war that is currently going on. Although the word “war” makes it sound like something big is going on, a war is more like a game with a protective barrier to prevent anyone
from getting seriously harmed. However as the series goes on a catastrophe begins to develop and the characters are forced to stop it.
When the series first started, it looked like it wouldn’t actually have a plot because the series was all happy, cheerful and Flonyard (the name of the alternate world)seemed like a perfect world. However one plot twist would change all that and gave the series a foundation to build a plot on. The plot twist itself was also unforeseeable because it completely changed the mood from happy and cheerful to something more serious and dark . It just goes to show you that things aren’t always what they seem. The plot itself is pretty simple, doesn’t over complicate things and is pretty easy to follow. The story is also paced well too as it doesn’t try to squeeze it’s plot into 2 episodes like some series, and because of this the plot actually has time to develop. However I think that there could have been a little bit more added to the story if they had they introduced the plot a bit earlier, but nonetheless the story is pretty solid.Dog Days also excels in an area where I’ve seen a number of series fail, the ending . Not only is it really emotional and heartwarming but it also gives hope for a possible second season. Despite getting off to a slow start, for a 13 episode series the story is really well developed and well paced. Not masterpiece work but the story definitely exceeded my expectations for this series.
The animation was beautiful, the vibrant colors really added to the happy and cheerful mood that the series had initially. Also during battles the visual effects used to animate the magic are visually appealing too. The fights themselves are well done too.
The opening really fit the anime because of the heroic feel it had to it. The ending sounded more sweet and had a really catchy rhythm. All the voice actors matched the character they were playing. The insert songs in the anime were pretty good too. All around a pretty solid job on sound.
With the exception of the protagonist and the minor characters from earth, all the other characters are half animal. However they still look like humans, they just have animal features like ears and tail which make them look cute.
I’ve noticed that a number of recent series have these weak and useless protagonists that really don’t do much, but this is not the case in Dog Days. The protagonist Cinque/Shinku Izumi is called the hero for good reason, he’s always ready to fight and plays a significant role in many of the battles. For a human he has incredible strength and speed and looks like he can be on Ninja Warrior (search it on youtube if you don't know what it is). He’s also able to handle the other character’s emotions really well being able to cheer them up when they are down and really is a nice and likeable character.
The main female Millhoire F. Biscotti is a gentle, soft spoken and well mannered princess but she does have some unique qualities that seperates her from most typical princesses. During the middle of the series and toward the end she did fight the demon with Cinque/Shinku showing that she can fight and defend herself. Also as an added bonus, she can sing and songs she sings are always nice to hear and on top of that being half dog makes her and a lot of the other characters pretty cute.
A lot of other characters also play a role in the story instead of just being pushed to the side. Ricotta helping with her artillery support and trying to get Cinque/Shinku home, Éclair assisting Cinque/Shinku in battle and also
Leonmitchelli who’s secretly trying to prevent the catastrophe.
To be honest when Dog Days first started, I thought it was fun to watch but kind of stupid. However as the plot slowly revealed itself, my desire to watch Dog Days also increased. The random comedy at times was also hilarious and overall was an enjoyable watch.
Dog Days started out slow but once it got going it never looked back. The plot that was presented may be simple but it’s well paced and well developed and definitely worth the watch.
On a personal note, I had quite high hopes for this show. With a good amount of successful anime stemming from being original anime series, Dog Days, having that element, combined with having an excellent seiyuu cast and being animated and directed by the staff from the animation studio Seven Arcs, seemed highly promising to deliver a successful show. However for the most part they did not.
Story and Setting
Dog Days is a 13 episode original series which revolves around a boy called Cinque or Shinku who is transported into a medieval fantasy land called Flonyard as a hero of the country Biscotti, to fight
against the nation of Gallette. From this premise, it was possible for the show to develop into something complex, but the setting of the show, being light-hearted in a manner suiting children, nullified most prospects of there being any serious conflicts or development from the get-go. As viewers will soon discover in Episode 1, war between nations is almost perfectly safe, with inhabitants either turning into animal fluff-balls or having their clothes blown off, a somewhat hilarious foil to the seriousness of actual warfare. However, this is not to say that Dog Days is a show completely suited to children. Seven Arcs being Seven Arcs, there are traces of fanservice here and there and a darkish twist when the 'villain' emerges.
The story, being set in a medieval war-like setting gives way to the strength of the series, that is the action scenes. Most of the fighting and action scenes were nicely choreographed with bows, swords, staves, shurikens and even magical artillery as weaponry. There was much flashiness, especially from the character's special Seal Cannon moves which are comparable to the much loved beamspam from the Nanoha series. The action was also quite prevalent throughout the series with several episodes being fully devoted to fights between the characters. Despite the action, I have criticisms of how certain fights were completely skipped and looking back now, I felt the series could've been improved if they choose to extend the fights instead of focusing on minor show elements such as fanservice.
The overall plot though is unfortunately very shallow and unimaginative and is something I have to be very critical of. There are perhaps only two major important points in the story, one which is resolved in the time span of one episode and the other is full of glaring plot holes and unlikely coincidences.
This brings me to the pacing of the series. Dog Days can either drag out one conflict or story element for several episodes, or resolve another story element in a single episode. This I found was quite detrimental to the series and marked a serious flaw in the storyboard and directing of the series overall.
My final opinion on the story is that I'm quite disappointed with it. It had potential to become something interesting and complex, but Seven Arcs decided to pull off the same twist too many times. Attempting to garner sympathy for the 'villain'.
Character designers these days are attempting to add more and more different elements to the characters and their outfits and designs and for the most part they are quite successful. Dog Days also follows in this fashion, creating a very large cast of different unique and mostly flavourful characters with their own quirks, features and personality.
Each major character who participates in combat (that is to say the great majority of them) possesses their own unique Seal, which is displayed as an emblem when they perform special attacks. Each character also fights in a unique style which is separate from the other characters using a large variety of weapons from bows, magical artillery, giant axes to even anchors. The characters also all have separate personalities, despite some being archetypical, it was strange yet pleasant that Seven Arcs managed to juggle all the different natures of the characters together.
For example, our male hero, Cinque, fights with his divine staff/sword (and no it's not Raising Heart) Paladion with incredible acrobatic, athletic manoeuvres and with his multiple Seal Cannon techniques such as summoning a divine jetboard or playing with flaming sticks. It's actually quite refreshing to have a male protagonist like Cinque who doesn't get beat upon or is a hesitant sissy when the action comes and for actually making a likeable male protagonist in the sea of boring males protagonists out there, Seven Arcs deserve some credit.
My only criticism is with such a large cast of characters, it's nearly impossible to give all of them the screen time that fans would desire. The character Godwin Dorure, who is voiced by Norio Wakamoto, is one example of a character I would've liked to have witnessed more. I felt other important characters such as Yukikaze and the Countess d’Arquien also needed more screen time.
My final opinion on the characters is that I'm pleased with depth of uniqueness most characters possess in things such as personality, fighting style and appearance. With such a large cast of characters, viewers will probably find a character they'll like to cheer for, although this brings me back to my criticism of the amount of screen time characters get.
Art, Animation and Music
The art and animation for Dog Days isn't a strength but nor is it a weakness. There are a few pluses for the show, notably the fighting and the art for the seal cannons and their emblems. They are very flashy and pretty to look at, and the design for the Emblems have quite a bit of depth to them. One of the more average aspects of art for the show was the rather uninspiring backgrounds. With the potential of the fantasy setting, Seven Arcs could've been considerably more creative then the very average backgrounds of floating islands, blue skies and clouds and lush green battlefields which is used quite a bit throughout the series. A minus for the show in the art and animation department was the crudely drawn faces of the grunt soldiers which features throughout almost all the episodes and in one of the later episodes, a singing scene which the animation really goes downhill.
What I feel is an underrated, or rather unmentioned aspect of Dog Days is the music. The battle music is slightly similar to music I've heard from games, such as Megaman, especially the music from battles which is to say they're of good quality. The music in general feels appropriate for the scenes they're accompanying and adds to the atmosphere.
Overall, there's nothing super flashy to mention about the art of the show aside from the special moves. The animation was average in most parts aside from large dips towards the end of the series. The music is a praiseworthy aspect which accompanies the progression of the scenes well.
In the end, Dog Days shapes itself to be a a bit mediocre at best. There's nothing inspiring or largely original with its story or background and the only real strength it has are the characters (which is the case for a lot of shows nowadays), the action (which it decided to skip out a lot of) and the music. For action fans, Dog Days may intrigue you with a decent amount of action. For fantasy fans, Dog Days is likely nothing new and there's probably better shows to watch out there. Enjoyment-wise, Dog Days proved to be a mildly entertaining light-hearted series with the action and a few comedic scenes here and there and gets an enjoyment score of 7.5. However from a critical perspective, Dog Days fares worse with a score of 7.
Riddle me this; a boy has been summoned to a faraway land full of animal-human hybrids and has become the centerpiece of an on-going war between the kingdom of dogs and the kingdom of cats. This boy is thirteen, small in stature, incredibly gifted athletically, and always believes in the right way, as opposed to the wrong way; the way of evil and immoral purposes. Typically, boys like this are somewhat hard to come by, as thirteen year old boys are usually at the point of transition between childhood and puberty, in which case, their minds begin to wonder, about everything. So, to point out
the fact that this boy, who was transported to a world predominantly controlled by colorful-haired, big eyed women, is so pure of heart, it's safe to say that there shouldn't be any issues with his likability, as we all enjoy the good guy. Except not everyone does, but that doesn't stop Dog Days from making it the message to be learned from its content.
It wouldn't be very rare to find someone who has imagined leaving their current reality and partaking in a world where mundane tasks and the perils of responsibility don't matter. Whether they choose to escape their current dimension for purposes of necessity or pleasure, worlds such as the one portrayed in Dog Days are typical starting points for those looking for an image of peace and tranquility. This being said, the main character, Cinque, doesn't ask to be saved from his less than stellar lifestyle, he simply follows through on his curiosity and steps into a portal to another land. Unfortunately for him, he has no way back. That doesn't stop him from having a good time, however, as he's introduced to the colorful... colors of the new world and the inhabitants that make it up. Before long, he's deemed a hero by his summoner, the princess of the dog kingdom, Millhiore, and is rushed into battle with nothing but a ring on his hand. This is certainly not a very subtle introduction.
The world in which Cinque arrives in is a bit of a sight to behold. While two kingdoms are at war, it's not the kind of war that one would probably imagine. These two kingdoms are actually on good terms. The princesses (because kings and queens aren't cute enough to hold a position in this world) are childhood friends, and hold each other as dearly as I do with my own pets. These "wars" that their kingdoms' people partake in are simply a giant game. There is no evil intent, there is no killing, no injuries, no marauding. Every purpose of these wars is to make sure that their kingdoms' citizens are all entertained equally. I suppose one could infer that if partaking in war was the most enjoyable thing in this world, some might want to partake in an actual war. Just for fun. The issue with this becomes simple: there is no suspense. If the princess is captured, what of it? They won't do anything to her because this is all just a big game. If your entire army is wiped out, oh well. Those who had fallen in battle are allowed to come back after a certain time limit. It ruins any sense of dread within the plot, and ultimately kills most of the entertainment value for those expecting an enthralling action anime.
The cast of Dog Days is as wide of an array of characters as I've ever seen. We have the hero, Cinque, with his pure intentions and heart of a true warrior. We have the princess of the dog kingdom, Millhiore, and the princess of the cat kingdom, Leo, both of whom are very beautifully designed. We also have a captain of the knight faction in the dog kingdom, Eclair, who is fourteen years old. Let me just reiterate; a fourteen year old girl is the captain of the knight faction in the dog kingdom army. We also have Rico, who looks as if she just came out of her mother's womb and is already smarter than everyone else on the planet. There are many other characters that could be highlighted, but, overall, they don't hold as much importance to the role of the anime as the characters already listed. And with an anime that spans thirteen episodes, it isn't hard to imagine that each character gets a healthy dose of negligence. All except for Cinque, because he's the hero, of course.
Speaking of which, Cinque is as unlikable a character as I've ever seen from a (implied) harem. His constant obsession with meeting everyone's standards and his one for all attitude is enough to cause an uproar among the minds of those waiting for a more original character. He's optimistic, he's everything any person would want in a hero, but what hurts him the most is that he simply doesn't act his age. This boy is thirteen. Why is he so willing to go along with everything that is entrusted to him? Wouldn't someone as young as him think, maybe, the fact that he cannot return to his own world would be somewhat of a hindrance to his mindset as a person who enjoyed their former life? Not to mention, the minute skin shows (and it shows a lot), he's the first to turn away with no desire to look back. Thirteen years old.
Other important characters include the two princesses, Millhiore and Leo; Eclair, and Rico. Millhiore is the standard love interest for the main character and a not-really-original-anymore archetype for the not-so damsel in distress. Leo is among the first victims of this series' desire to show some developed chests, and her personality is the equivalent of a dedicated older sister towards Millhiore, somewhat like the relationship between a dog and its owner, except she's a cat. Eclair is among Cinque's (implied) harem and boasts the most adorable tsundere act throughout this entire anime. Rico, as mentioned before, has the body of a baby and has the intelligence of Einstein. She is solely responsible for finding out how to return Cinque back to his own world. That doesn't stop Dog Days from showing her naked, but that's unimportant to her character. By the way, every character mentioned in this paragraph gets naked at some point during the anime. You're welcome.
Where Dog Days shines brightest is in its character design. Every single female character in this entire series is incredibly attractive. All of them. Whether their designs range from sexy to adorable, they all have the same sort of aura about them that makes them pleasurable to the eyes of the audience. And not just that, but the creatures (which, randomly, aren't human hybrids) that reside within the world of Dog Days are also laced with creativity from beak to claw. Unfortunately, a single drawback from this is that it may come across as completely disgusting. A kingdom full of rainbows and fuzzy animals and colorful characters and big-eyed freaks and chibi balls of what once were normal cat and/or dog-human hybrids; it's all a little much. Perhaps this kind of animation and character design would be completely lost on the color blind. Regardless, if being dazzling was a profession, Dog Days would be its CEO.
What Dog Days does best, in my eyes, is being committed to its audience. Because of this, I simply couldn't enjoy it. There are multiple signs of fan service prevalent throughout this entire anime. Characters with colorful hairstyles and big eyes, and the fact that their combined with basic domestic animals. Sexual fan service. A majority of the characters are female and attractive, with impressive figures. The main character, excluding his can-do, pure attitude, has no personality. War within this series is a game, so no one gets hurt and everyone is happy. And when conflict finally does arise, it's taken care of in a flash, with no explanations of where it came from in the first place. Characters that appear youthful are actually well over a hundred years old. The fact that men don't hold any importance outside of the main character. Combine these points with a plethora of cliches (if what was listed wasn't cliche enough) and you have the world Dog Days hopes to embody. Nothing but fun and fantasies, through and through.
While Dog Days isn't anything extraordinary on the surface, the possibilities that are thrown away along with most of the male characters are a troubling thought, and leaves me with a feeling of regret. The series tries its very best to sugarcoat the series and squeeze every possible cliche it can in order to appease its audience, but underneath it all, it's basically a rehashed fantasy/adventure story that lets itself get far too out of hand. If only heroes existed in the world of literature, so stories like this could be given a fair chance to flourish with multi-dimensional characters and an effort to create instability within the fun world that Dog Days creates.
Dog Days is not Zero no Tsukaima. I say this because I've seen a lot of people saying that they are alike, and to me, Dog Days pales greatly in comparison to Zero no Tsukaima. I am writing this review because I honestly don't like the idea of people going into Dog Days thinking that they will definitely get the same experience they did when they went into watching Zero no Tsukaima. Some may, others like myself won't.
Both Dog Days and Zero no Tsukaima are built on using a cliché storyline. Actually, this kind of cliché story line is one of the more popular
ones when people write fanfiction, the “girl falls into another universe.” Actually, this cliché is used in a lot of Anime, like Fushigi Yugi and Inuyasha being a few examples. The difference here is, the story involves a guy.
This said, it needs to be said that using clichés when one writes any story is not the bad thing, is is how that cliché is used. To me, Zero no Tsukaima used this particular cliché well and built upon it well, while Dog Days fell flat. This review is not going to detail why Zero no Tsukaima happened to work, but it will detail why Dog Days fell flat in comparison.
I think one of the biggest problems with Dog Days is, that unlike Zero no Tsukaima, the entire plot line was overly predictable. I knew where the Anime was going to go from the very beginning. And I don't just mean how the major plot points would progress, but a lot of the minor ones, not to mention character development. It was overly basic.
There is also the fact that the story line for Dog Days is overly sappy. Nobody, for a good part of the Anime gets hurt because there is special magic to prevent such things from happening. The entire series was overly perfect with the characters everyday life. No one really struggled to get anything, even when the big bad finally got introduced. Everyone got their happy ending easily pretty much. Not so with Zero no Tsukaima.
This isn't to say that this kind of storyline doesn't have its place though. I think though, you kind of have to be expecting the storyline to be overly simplistic when you go into something like this, which is one of the reasons I am writing my review, so people who want to enjoy Dog Days while they watch it will in fact enjoy it, that... and so people don't go in with any misconceptions.
The thing that makes Dog Days stand out is the art work and animation involved. The animation is detailed and the characters are cute. In these ways, it can stand up to the other Anime in the Fantasy genre, as its elements are on that level. But there is actually another genre that this show encompassed that the animation fell short.
That was the action sequences. As I watched the actions between the characters and their movements, there were a bit far to many scenes where they did a particular kind of movement and the scale of the person doing the movement seemed awkward and out of scale at times. There were three or four times while watching the show that I had to pause.
The two shows also use what I call “panty humor”. With Zero no Tsukaima, I didn't feel overwhelmed until the second season. It might be said that the “panty humor” kind of fit and was even used well, but not the best I've seen. However, with Dog Days, it felt like the humor was thrown in there for fan service and nothing more.
There were a few other things that bothered me with the animation. One of which was the fact that... and people need to be warned about this... when I first went in, I had a hard time telling the dog people and the cat people apart unless I saw their tales. I mean, some of the dog people had floppy ears, but others had pointed ears. There was no facial traits that really set them as being cat or dog except on a select few.
The other thing that bothered me was the fact the scenes where the princess has her concerts. (Yes... she has concerts.) I know that one of the newer trends in Anime is to have special pop star music sessions. I may be wrong, but there is likely a program to do these kinds of scenes, and I think Dog Days is one of the ones to implement this program, which has a rather three dimensional look to it.
I've seen other Anime, like Angel Beats use such a generator well, with their band scenes, but to me... the band scenes were horrible. The three dimensional graphics looked cheesy in comparison to others I have seen, not to mention... if I didn't know it was the princess, I wouldn't be able to recognize them as being the same character. Aka, the facial features, unlike others I've seen did not match well.
Nothing really stood out to me sound wise. Not even the Princess concert songs. I guess one might say I found it to be bland, but then... sound tends to not be my strong point unless it is something that stands out as very good, or very bad. Or... the show is so bad the sound is the only redeeming quality, which is not the case for Dog Days.
Part of the charm of the characters when it comes to Zero no Tsukaima was the fact that they can be panned as parody characters for the Harry Potter series. (Not only was Zero no Tsukaima created over five years after HP started, that was how I got into the series, someone made the comparison to HP.) However, that aside, the characters in the show have their own charm and they grow throughout the series.
With Dog Days, this isn't the case. Actually, the main male character in the show is a major Gary Stu and there were the typical attempts to hide this fact from the audience. And no, it isn't because he fell into another world. The main male character from Zero no Tsukaima fell into another world too, but he didn't start off as a very strong character.
In contrast, Cinque is the very picture of unbelievable strength. I guess the best place to start is the fact that he participates at the age of twelve in a major sports competition. I guess a way that you can describe it is, it is kind of the Olympics, but more like the shows Wipe Out and American Gladiator. You know, those kind of shows where ADULT athletes have struggled to get through the obstacles, yet a twelve to thirteen year old, would in fact wouldn't be allowed in such a competition due to age restrictions seems to far out pass them.
And if that isn't enough to prove it, he does the inhumanly impossible feet of jumping from a height of over twenty feet roughly and landing without injury. In would be one thing, if this was a show like Ranma ½ or Yu Yu Hakashu where more then one human character has strength aplenty and actually shows up and isn't the mentor, but he's the only one.
This wouldn't be such a problem if the show didn't try to pander him with faults that failed with every turn the show made. For example, in the very second episode, he is called an idiot for something that is obviously an accident on his part, not to mention the fact that he accidentally cuts off the cloths of a female. (When he is supposed to be this amazing athlete and technically, it shouldn't have been possible.) Later on, you find that he is very smart.
The other way is they try panning him as a failure and he mopes about the fact he let his family down because he came in second place in the contest I was talking about a few paragraphs too. He lost, get this, to his mentor and ANOTHER family member. How can it be letting his family down when BOTH first and second place were filled by family members?
As for the other characters, they really don't stand out. They are like cut out, cardboard stereotypes. I didn't feel any character growth in the entire series. It was honestly hard to find a character that I liked because of this. I think the closest I came was liking the cat prince, but I think that has to do with the fact that I thought he was cute, not because his character actually stood out to me.
Despite being a flawed show, it was enjoyable to watch, but I think I was enjoying it more because I felt it was one of those shows that was so bad, it was good. Some people, simply won't like it because it won't hold their attention. Others will like it simply because it is mind numbing. I may watch a second season of this, but it isn't likely that I'll be re-watching the Anime.
Overall: 4.6 (5)
This show is something that people should give a shot at, even if it is just once because it is that kind of show that watching once is worth it. It isn't going to be for everyone, for some it will be to mundane, but for others, it will be something that they need.