「ファイナルステージ」 (Fainau Suteji)
This wasn’t the drama-fest that was the first season’s final act, where chances were Cinque could never return to Flonyard ever again. Clear methods of travel between the two worlds have already been established, and with that knowledge in mind the characters are generally taking things much better than they did last time around. However, the time for parting is soon at hand, and for one country in particular, this is a pretty fresh experience. The penultimate episode of Dog Days’ finally turns the spotlight over to under-represented Couver, who made quite the impression on me as the singular character channeling the bittersweet undertone – one that was prevalent throughout the cast in this entire episode – to some great effect.
Perhaps it’s due to the fact that I’m a student who annually shuttles between two countries for my studies that this episode spoke to me with its interpretation of parting, with Couver’s word striking particularly close to home, especially since I’m on the cusp of leaving yet again at the end of my summer. (Oh the parallels!) I could really identify with the sense of loss, loneliness and trepidation that she spoke off when you’re separated with your closest mates for months at a time, all while holding the expectations for the next meeting close to the heart. Plus, it was endearing to see her drag Rico and Noir along (more Mizuki Nana and HanaKawa airtime!) with the excuse of showing them around when she really was seeking solace in their experience, and her confession to them had that tinge of awkwardness and uncertainty to it that makes it all the more heartfelt and relatable. (Not that it wasn’t already relatable enough to me!) The little squirrel girl completely won me over with this episode.
But it’s great that the show never loses its characteristic exuberance nor does it get wrapped up in its sentimentality, such as with the trap-filled dungeon run that Couver and company braved through as well as Becky’s eye-popping transformation, and these hijinks keep the episode entertaining throughout. It even seems to tie into the theme of the coming departure, with the characters all making the best of their small time left together, and the three countries having a last bit of fun with their exchange of heroes. Plus, the inversed gaijin 4koma–esque scene with Cinque’s attire had me spitting out my drink.
So of course, what better note is there for the episode to end on than another of Millhi’s spectacular concerts? (Well, asides from a full-scale battle royale romp.) It succinctly sums up what Dog Days has always seemed to been about: Living for the moment and relishing the company, both of which reflect the spirit of innocuous positivity that makes the series for most of its viewers.
I don’t think I could’ve asked them to do it any better. The penultimate episode of Dog Days’ bring a truly endearing episode to the table, one that never stray far from the fun-loving spirit of the series, and it set the mood up proper for the send-off after a summer of fun. Quite frankly, this time around, I’ll actually be sad to see them go.