I only got back into fishing in February or so, at least that's when I started doing lots and lots of research. In my reading and watch (of videos) I saw a lot stuff about Shimano, some about Daiwa. I liked what I saw from Shimano - an understated, professional look to most of their reels. Mostly neutral tones like black and gray with very few accents. With the SLX line it seems they are trying to snazz things up a bit, maybe for a younger crowd, but I much prefer the understated look of, say, the Chronarch MGL, Bantam MGL, Curado 70, etc... That being said, if I ignore the blue tension knob and the blue SLX logo on my SLX, I really like the soft touch black look. I know it's a cheap reel and it looks semi cheap since it's not metal, but it also doesn't look like cheap shiny plastic. And that's what bothers me about Daiwa reels, even the expensive ones ($300-500). They just look cheap! Heck, the Zillion SV TW, a reel a few folks have recommended to me, for $300, has multiple colors going on, with a lot of cheap shine going on. Maybe it's just every photo I've seen, but not a single photo has made it look classy. Even the Steez looks a little cheap, but not as bad since it's mostly black with an accent. I don't mind the Steez. But, there are a few other things, like the external brake adjustment knobs on a lot of Daiwa reels that just don't look as clean to me as Shimano reels. And man, they have some really bold colors for their reels. I would never want a bright red or blue reel like the new Admira or Coastal SV. I like classy neutral blacks and grays to go with the cork on my neutrally colored rods.
So...... yeah. I'm a Shimano guy. My Bantam and SLX look and feel pretty good to me. Oh yeah and my Stradic Ci4+ is a gorgeous reel too, though the red accents are a little flashy, and I prefer the more understated look of the Stradic FK. All 3 reels perform very well and they feel good and look good. I really want to try out a mid to high end Daiwa reel, but I don't want to take the plunge myself. Not when I have this much confidence in Shimano, at least with the couple reels I have and have tried.