War and politics in Dog Days’
July 21, 2012 Leave a comment
Dog Days was a series that followed the classic fantasy formula of a lone hero who is summoned to a far off land to save it from impending peril. The dynamics of the series followed our hero Cinque as he attempted to save the kingdom of Biscotti from what we first assume to be annihilation at the hands of the Galette army. What differentiated Dog Days from numerous other series was its sense of humor and fun, it was a series that took this formula and instead of being overly serious decided that it should simply enjoy itself. We have two kingdoms with different attitudes and approaches towards life, with the kingdom of Biscotti as the fun-loving, calm, and caring kingdom, whereas Galette is one of warfare and strength, a kingdom that prides itself on its warriors and its record while at war.
We saw this in the way these kingsom approached warfare, along with how their rulers reacted to sudden events and changes in their situations. We saw Leonmitchelli Galette des Rois as this strong warrior, someone who leads from the front and is feared by all, wielding a mighty battle-axe and decimating all in her way. Whereas Millhiore Firianno Biscotti is a princess who seems to dislike war, even though she understands that it is a necessity. While Leo-hime is a character that embraces the life of a warrior, we see Millhiore attempt to avoid war at all costs, instead wishing to come up with the most peaceful solution possible. It is a fascinating dichotomy between two opposing attitudes towards how to rule a country and conduct yourself in front of others, that Millhiore summons Cinque as a hero who can help to save Biscotti suggests to us that she had run out of ideas and this was her last resort.
With this in mind we can see that Cinque was the perfect hero for Millhiore, and as someone who practices the fabled ‘Iron Athletics’, his movements and attacks are perfectly designed and created in order to incapacitate without killing. Of course in the world of Dog Days we have warfare as more of an athletic tournament rather than a serious, gritty affair with death and destruction on all sides. It is something that is broadcast to everyone around, and much like an athletics tournament, the pride of the nations competing rests on the prowess of its warriors. That Biscotti had lost so many battles up until Cinque’s entrances demonstrates to us how different the attitudes and ideas of Millhiore and Leo-hime truly are. With the appearance of Cinque we see Galette have its first loss under Leo-hime, along with the first proper win for Biscotti and Millhiore.
The first season of Dog Days focused primarily in Cinque and his interactions with the people of this fantasy world, watching him grow as a person and learn about his new skills and powers. We see a group of people begin to surround him, with characters such as Millhiore, Éclair, Ricotta (Rico), and Yukikaze (Yukkii) take an interest in Cinque and eventually become part of this group. It is an entertaining series where we see the kingdoms of Biscotti and Galette fight each other for the pride and glory. And yet there was a darker element to it, with the reasons behind Leo-hime’s sudden aggression becoming clearer as the series unfolded. Her recurring visions of Millhiore’s death forces her into action, and thus she plays the role of the villain in order to save her childhood friend and someone whom she cares for greatly.
The narrative here then is focused on different opinions of war, with one side seeing it as a necessary evil to protect those you care about, while the other truly dislikes it, but is forced to fight to protect their kingdom. We see how something that is quite clearly a game focused on showing off the prowess of ones warriors and people can turn into something far more serious. The wars between Biscotti and Galette during parts of Dog Days are significantly more serious in tone, even though they still maintain a certain element of fun. And yet through all of this we have Cinque, a character who simply wants to have fun, and while he learns about his new abilities we see the characters beginning to change and grow as they get to know him. His appearance eventually changes how Leo-hime thinks, forcing her to realise that in a very real way she cannot alter those visions, and actually but attempting to save Millhiore she instead only makes things worse.
The first series of Dog Days, while having a darker tone with certain ideas to do with rogue spirits and demons that lurk in the shadows was very much an anime with a sense of fun and homour. It was a series that focused on Cinque and the friends that he makes, with all these animal-eared beauties surrounding him every single day. Yes it had its serious elements, but ultimately it was capable of providing us with these darker elements while simultaneously understanding that the setting itself was preposterous and silly. What the second season of Dog Days does is pick it where we left off, with the introduction of all our main characters once again, along with the brilliant ideas of warfare as a game. However the major difference is the inclusion of two characters that were little more than shadows during the first series, and served as reminders that Cinque had come from earth rather than the kingdom of Biscotti.
Becky and Nanami make their appearance as Cinque’s companions when he returns to Bicsotti, and it appears that they will play a considerably larger part in this second series. Nanami is summed by Leo-hime and becomes the hero of Galette, while we see Becky who is considerably more timid than our Iron Athletics practicing cousins catching the eye of a new princess who has yet to make a proper appearance. It remains to be seen how the narrative will be handled now that we have three hero’s on this world, but it is clear that rather than focusing entire on Cinque we will have more time spent in each kingdom. This will be potentially very interesting since we now have a third kingdom involved in these wars, with the introduction of a squirrel tailed princess who has taken an interest in Becky.
With more characters we can expect certain characters from the first series to take a back seat at times in order to allow for this less centralized narrative. The most obvious of those would have to be Brioche d’Arquien who takes on the roll of guest analyst along with other characters from the first series to provide feedback on the battle. It will be particularly interesting to see how these character dynamics work in this second series, especially now that certain characters such as Yukkii appear to be significantly more independent than they were at first. If we include Nanami and Becky who will clearly gain their own powers and abilities and we suddenly have a much more dynamic cast that would allow for a far more varied approach to one of the central themes of warfare.
Warfare is a game for many, with the introduction of maps and generals who take o real part in the fighting other than to order icons on a map to move forward, backwards or sideways. Dog Days takes this to an extreme conclusion, turning warfare into a literal game where the combatants instead of dying turn into fur balls. While Dog Days does deal with these interesting and at times serious notions of the role of warfare, portraying it as a game, it never gets too serious. It does not take itself too seriously, with characters named after Italian or French food and drink. Names such as Millhiore Firianno Biscotti, Leonmitchelli Galette des Rois, Éclair Martinozzi, Rictotta Elmar, Yukikaze Panettone, and Brioche d’Arquien show us that this series has a sense of humour. While the themes have a serious side, the series does not, taking every opportunity to make fun at itself. It is this self-referential streak, coupled with the brilliant use of such brilliant names, along with its wonderful combat and characters that make Dog Days so much fun to watch. The first season was well made, and it looks like this second season is building upon and expanding the world and characters, adding progression rather than remaking the same series again.