「勇者誕生！」 (Yuusha Tanjou!)
“Birth of a Hero!”
I should have known better with the director and screenwriter of Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha behind this original anime by Seven Arcs, but that doesn’t change how I feel pretty cheated with the way they purposely misled me with premise for DOG DAYS. Mention of a “war” between the Republic of Biscotti and the Lion Domain of Galette that our hero from Japan, Izumi Shinku (Miyano Mamoru), gets caught in between quickly turns out to be sport-like battles in the spirit of competition. It plays out like a war in the fantasy world of Fronaldo, except there aren’t any casualties to make it feel like one. What’s more, we have commentators from both countries, and the only thing at stake are the good spirits of Princess Millhiore F Biscotti’s (Horie Yui) people from seeing their “army” constantly losing. So in short, Shinku’s been summoned from Japan to be a “star” who compete in “games” because Millhiore’s “team” is on a losing stretch and its fans are dejected. The writers simply rewrote definitions to confuse us.
The serious start to the episode with Princess Leonmichelis Galette des Rois (Koshimizu Ami) talking to her knight-captain Godwin (Wakamoto Norio) about the next phase of their attack, followed by a gloomy meeting between Millhiore, her knight-captain Rolan Martinozzi (Koyasu Takehito), personal guard captain Eclair Martinozzi (Taketatsu Ayana), chief engineer Ricotta Elmar (Mizuki Nana), and various elders was nothing short of a huge fake-out that was confirmed by Shinku’s surprise when Millhiore explained everything to him. Judging from Shinku’s surprise, it’s pretty clear in my mind that this plot twist (if you can call it one) was the intention all along. After all, you can only expect so much when all the nameless cat-like soldiers of Galette explode in a puff of smoke and turn into big cat heads when they’re defeated.
Back in the Spring 2011 Preview, I expressed my moderate expectations of this original series given its goofy title and cute character designs, so it doesn’t really disappoint me to learn that this will be more of a lighthearted fantasy type of anime. There was very little to indicate otherwise, so I can still see myself following DOG DAYS for what it truly is. Its best selling point is the all-star cast featured in something other than a high school setting, backed by an above average production. Seven Arc’s work here isn’t anything amazing, but it definitely doesn’t fall in the lower end of the spectrum. However, I’ll admit that this revelation does make me less inclined to follow this show in a season that’s absolutely bustling with new titles.
From the look of things, the focus will be on Shinku’s love for circus-style gymnastics and finally having an entire world to play in, which I can see providing some level of enjoyment when he impresses the people of Fronaldo but not a lot else. In fact, I get the feeling that everyone on both Biscotti and Galette’s side will become friends when this series is over, simply because this comes off as a show intended for all ages. For me, DOG DAYS has Horie Yui and Mizuki Nana going for it, including opening and ending themes performed by them, and just enough other little things to keep me interested for a few more episodes. It’ll likely end up as a guilty pleasure of mine this season, in that I can’t give you a good reason why I’m watching it yet will continue doing so. It’s definitely difficult to recommend.