Dantalian no Shoka – 02
OP: 「Cras numquam scire」 by Yucca
Watch the OP!: Streaming ▼
「胎児の書」 (Taiji no Sho)
“Book of the Fetus”
Two eps in, and I’m still not quite sure what to make of Dantalian no Shoka.
On the one hand, I find the focus on hard-core occultism in the mode of Lovecraft to be rather interesting – there haven’t been all that many real gothic horror series in recent years, and this appears to be just that. It seems that the author genuinely loves occult literature because some homework has been done here. When I saw the golem I immediately thought “Oh – it’s a golem!” and so it was, and the idea of an episode based on the Kabbalah is an interesting one.
It also seems clear that this show is going to be decidedly unsentimental. While the rather grisly events were playing out around them, Huey and Dalian were quite nonchalant, even blase’. “Aloof and brittle” is the phrase I used in my first impression last week (in contrast to Gosick) and I’m still happy with that. Huey and Dalian are quite an unusual leading pair. The both of them appear to be smart and knowledgeable, and despite a few stereotypical nods towards the tsundere from Dalian they’re refreshingly free of the “male and female lead” baggage we see in most anime. She’s a demon, and he’s a rather callous and hard man who’s seen far too much death, apparently. I guess a world war and family tragedy can turn anyone from Kana Hanazawa into a cold-hearted badass.
For all that, it may just be a little too austere for my tastes. It’s nice to have a rooting interest or at least a connection to the characters in any series, and that hurdle hasn’t been leapt for me. Huey is cool and Dalian is hot and cold, but neither of them project any warmth yet. As for supporting characters, you could hardly have anyone less emotionally connected than Estella Lillburn (Kawasumi Ayako), the young woman who hires Huey (after having tried to hire his grandfather) to investigate the “curse” afflicting her family. And so far it seems as if any supporting cast introduced will all be dead by the end of the episode, so best not get too attached anyway.
In terms of the mystery, well – again in contrast to Gosick – it really wasn’t a mystery so much as a Hammer Horror style disaster. The reality of what was happening – the girl was behind the killings, and the golem created by her Grandfather to hide the evidence – was spelled out in the first half of the episode. It was really just a matter of counting bodies, a transformation sequence, a cool golden shield and poetic justice after that. The most interesting story element was Dalian’s musing on what might have been the source of the “curse” than turns random Lillburn women into serial murderers.
Technically the show is still very solid, though with a few exceptions it still seems pretty conventional to me for a GAINAX anime. The projection of the past murders afflicting the family onto the stacks in the library was insanely clever, and there are a few very interestingly staged soft-focus character shots, but apart from that the look was straight-on, very classic modern anime executed well. The OP was introduced this week, and it’s a stunner – a beautiful hymn in Latin with a very striking bit of traditional animation that’s more stylish than anything in the program itself. Bookended with the stop-action and live (and uber-creepy) ED, they show a lot of the GAINAX flair I hope to see more of in between.
This is good, no question, but still a closed book (sorry) for me. I want to know more about these characters and – quite the opposite of what happens in most series – I want to see more of their flaws. I want to see them at their weakest and most vulnerable, as that will make them more sympathetic. There’s good mystery still in the overall premise – why, for example, does the yomihime in the transformation sequence look different from Dalian? Is it a different demon? And just what has made Huey such a hard man at such a young age (hints are teased in the OP)? Answers will be forthcoming, I’m sure, and I’m more than curious enough to stick around for them.