July 23, 2011

Dog Days -- addictive

I'm rather taken with Dog Days. In fact, I'm a bit surprised by how much I enjoy rewatching it.

It's in the current top rotation, but it was being broadcast when I did that, so I only had a few episodes to plunder. Now I've got them all, and I've also realized that there were good images in the first few episodes which I missed the first time.

But I am also rather taken with the deep resemblance it has with Nanoha StrikerS. You can tell that it's the same director. He isn't trying to revolutionize the industry, and he isn't trying to preach. What he wants to do is to create characters, make you like them, and then put them in critical situations. And because you like the characters, and because they're real, then the adventure means more. You feel the danger.

If I watch a character that I don't know, or don't care about, in a dangerous situation I don't really feel anything. Indeed, if it's a character I dislike I may be feeling, "I sure hope he dies!" But that doesn't happen here. And it didn't happen in StrikerS, either.

There are obviously a lot of differences between the two. But some of the structural similarities are pretty important.

1. Introduce characters.
2. Make the audience like them.
3. Put them through early combat which is risk-free, or low risk.
4. Then we get the big one, where the opponent is titanically dangerous and the characters really might not win, and might not even survive.

In StrikerS, the problem with the final arc was that the director had a big cast, and they were spread all over the place. He had to tell each of those stories, in sufficient depth so that we didn't feel shortchanged, and he had to skip around. He had Tiana alone, Subaru alone, Erio and Caro together, Fate alone, Nanoha alone, Vita alone, Signum and Rein, Hayate, and eventually a brief appearance by Shamal and Zafira.

That was too many stories to tell. It took too long. This time he didn't make that mistake: the ending story (after everything gets serious and terrifying) is Shinku and Eclair, and then Shinku and Milhiore.

As far as I can tell, Dog Days was an original story idea. There has since been a manga, and one or more light novels, but the anime came first. The director inherited a lot of the background in the Nanoha series, but this time he was able to create it all himself.

And it has to be admitted that it's an interesting world. The fundamental conceit of wargames being held as a form of voluntary taxation is really quite fascinating, for example.

And the core cast -- Shinku, Milhiore, Leonmichelle, Gaul, and Eclair -- are well conceived and vividly presented. I like 'em all.

This director knows how to use fan service: there is some, in Strikers and in Dog Days, but it isn't "in your face" and it doesn't overwhelm the story. For me, at least, it doesn't really feel out of place.

Of course, when the first BD comes out next Wednesday we'll see if anything got uncensored.

Anyway, the biggest reason I'm going through it again for top rotation pictures is that last time I only got a very small number of pictures of Yukikaze. Can't have that!




UPDATE: I forgot! One signature of this director is name puns. A lot of the names in StrikerS are from motor vehicles. This time the theme is French and Italian food, hence "Biscotti" and "Ricotta" and "Eclair".

Also "Panettone" and "Brioche".

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in System at 04:16 PM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
Post contains 607 words, total size 4 kb.

1 Went back and finished the series. Good ending!

It's tough to put a good fantasy story together without some kind of evil antagonist. These guys seem to have the trick to it.

Here's a link to UFO catchers from Dog Days that were shown at Wonderfest this weekend... I'd link to the page they're from but some of the stuff isn't work-safe.

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at July 24, 2011 12:19 AM (mRjOr)

2 It was a very satisfying ending but I don't know if I'd really call it "good". It's very contrived. It was what I wanted, though, and it's to their credit that they gave it to me.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 24, 2011 09:09 AM (+rSRq)

3 Well, for what the series is, right? It's a kids' show, not high art. But it's got an interesting hook, engaging characters, and a satisfying ending. It also doesn't indulge in too many otaku tropes (maybe a bit more skin than you'd think was appropriate, and one clumsy drink-spiller... okay, and Eclair's more than a little tsundere...)

In my head I'm comparing it somewhat to FFU, which was pitched at approximately the same level of audience, but turned out to be a miserable failure. Mess of a plot, cardboard villains, and incredibly pretentious as it failed to deliver.

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at July 24, 2011 10:32 AM (mRjOr)

4 I don't know what "FFU" is.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 24, 2011 12:24 PM (+rSRq)

5 You had me at divine-fox-ninja.


Posted by: J Greely at July 24, 2011 01:13 PM (2XtN5)

6 "Final Fantasy: Unlimited". You're happier not knowing. ;p

You know what else I like about the show? It did a good job of leaving itself open for a sequel while still having a good ending. I wouldn't mind watching a second season of this show (this time with some Becky, huh?) But there's nothing incomplete or unfinished about the first season either.

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at July 24, 2011 01:35 PM (mRjOr)


I'm actually a little afraid of what a sequel might become. If Becky and Nanami go with him next time, Becky might end up being a big floating ball of angst the whole time when she sees Shinku flirting with Milhiore and Eclair.

On the other hand, if it makes him admit to himself that he's sweet on Becky, and her the same, it could be OK. But even if I like that destination, I fear the journey.

What I can imagine happening elsewhere is that Nanami and Gaul end up a couple.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 24, 2011 02:17 PM (+rSRq)

8 Or someone else summons Nanami. There's your story hook - a different country gets involved, and Nanami's their hero. Solves the problem of not really having a conflict set up for when everyone goes back. And Nanami would obviously get a charge out of fighting Shinku.

It's interesting that the "why not just stay here" card never got played, not even once. Nobody even asked Shinku if he would rather stay than go home, even if they really wanted him to stay.

I wonder if it wouldn't work better if they left Becky at home? If she tags along, like you say, she's just an angst character waiting to happen. But in a show that's absolutely unafraid of a contrived ending, it wouldn't be too hard to have Becky doing something really important back home. (Alternately, Becky the wizard? She wouldn't really work as a summoned hero...)

Also, if you go back, Shinku, bring physics textbooks! Rico will love you forever...

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at July 24, 2011 02:58 PM (mRjOr)

9 From the blogging, DD sounds similar to Fairy Musketeers in a way, which was pretty good for this kind of thing.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at July 24, 2011 04:52 PM (9KseV)

10  Avatar, I think I know what the real conflict is for the second series: where do all those damned swords come from?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 24, 2011 05:39 PM (+rSRq)

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