DOG DAYS’ – 13 (END)
This won’t be one of those series-defining finales that an anime will be remembered for. As it stands, I won’t even be counting it among the finer episodes the second season of Dog Days has seen. But for what’s it is worth, and there’s probably no other way to describe it, I can simply say that this was a fittingly feel-good end to a series that was pure, unadulterated summer fun.
If there’s one word I’d use to describe the finale to Dog Days’, it’s this: Fluffy. In stark contrast to the heavy-handed, melodramatic finale of the last season, the ending to Dog Days’ is perhaps the season’s simplest episode yet, a fluffy, low-calories treat for the viewers who like it that way. So much of the second season has been characterized by loudness and pomp, from the crazy fantasy hijinks of the earlier episodes and Millhi’s concerts to the celebratory wars courtesy of the Union Fest. So it’s oddly fitting how this final episode was a low-key, private moment of the small group of characters here enjoying their last day in Flonyard together, with some quietly simple activities. We see the heroes and rulers going out on a last picnic together, Millhi and Becky having another private girl-talk session in the bath, a sleepover for the Biscotte and Pastillage cohort, and amusingly enough, Couver asking Cinque some romantically-provoking questions while in the bath together.
It’s always in these last moments are always when feelings come to surface the easiest. Here we were thinking that the confession from the final moments of the first season was completely forgotten; but nope, Millhi just never found a good time to bring it up until here! That was a really sweet moment between the two characters when Millhi innocently asked him about it, and while Cinque might not have meant it quite the same way when he confessed to loving her back, we did get a really cute cuddle in bed out of it. D’awww! I’d say for us viewers, that’s as good as we’re probably going to get. And speaking about feelings, Becky also has her moment at the end of the episode where she finally managed to get in a semi-confession to Cinque as well. D’awww!
And so, here we are again at the farewells. There’s little hooray about it, just a simple gesture of parting gifts that double as items for the returning ritual, before life continues on, as the epilogue shows. It’s exceedingly simple, with a touch of sentimentality at this temporary parting, but it’s perhaps the reason why it felt particularly fitting to me. As Cinque puts it when Becky muses about how she missed sleeping beside Couver, “this is what every hero has to deal with”, this temporary parting while they – and us viewers – hold the expectations of the next meeting close to heart.
What a turnabout for Dog Days’! I’ve always liked to describe the first season as an incredibly fun, if flawed series, one that felt lost in the dichotomy of its dramatic overarching plot and it’s lighthearted fantasy nature. But with its new, episodic direction here, Dog Days’ had been a joy to follow week after week.
I know that not everyone will agree with me; I’ve seen complains about the direction this season has taken across its run, mostly from the people who preferred how the first season played out with the overarching storyline interspersed with the lighter moments of the series. Dog Days’ had plenty of potential ideas to expand on, from the ridiculously number of additions to the already ridiculously large cast, to the massive amount of plot points brought up here. We’ve got world-building setups like the introduction of the legendary Hero and Demon King, their demon hunting party with Brioche and Isuka, background exposition on the demons and gods of Flonyard and the Hero transformations, among many others new ideas. Sadly, most of these either had their development stunted or completely eschewed, and I understand how that must’ve been a pretty frustrating point for people, to go on episode after episode and have absolutely nothing come out of these ideas. Furthermore, the oversized cast made balancing the exposure of characters a truly tricky aspect, and many a character got shafted in favor of giving the spotlight to the more popular ones. This was most notable with those from the Galette side of things, such as with Gaul, Leo, Nanami, as well as Vert and Juane from Genoise, whose underwhelming showings in the series was a real sticking point for me. Maybe we’ll get a 3rd season for this!
But personally speaking, I’ve immensely enjoyed the simple but far more exuberant, episodic take on the Dog Days concept. To be “enjoying the little things”, Dog Days’ seemed to have taken this statement and made it the core vision of the second season. While there’s little depth to the show asides from them comically fooling about and having pure summer fun every week, Dog Days’ captured the moment-to-moment onscreen hijinks brilliantly, moments which encapsulated the simple, lighthearted entertainment that brings me back to Dog Days’ every week. The different approach taken in the show, with the self-contained episodes that had their own little quirks and hooks to it, contributed immensely to this. And strikingly, the show is interspersed with moments of emotional honesty and sentimentality that correspond to the innocuous nature of the show surprisingly well, moments that thankfully never forces itself into melodrama.
The most telling thing I can say here is that I’ve enjoyed this season of Dog Days far more than I had originally expected. It not only delivered on its promise of a lighthearted fluff piece well, but executed it with a considerable understanding of what makes the show ticks, and it shows from the different direction of the new season. While I might not jump to recommend the series to anyone, I certainly would encourage a person to check it out if they were showing an interest in it.