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Dantalian no Shoka – 03

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「叡智の書/月下美人」 (Eichi no Sho / Gekkabijin)
“Book of Wisdom/Queen of the Night”

I’m certainly not the first person to point this out, but one of the refreshing things about Dantalian no Shoka is that pretty much everyone in it is smart. It’s expected of Dalian given the function she serves in the story, but it applies to the rest of the cast as well. Huey, Camilla, even the villains have all been smart, if not necessarily wise. It certainly spares us a lot of cliched moments of people doing stupid things and asking stupid questions. And it’s nice to have an anime respect me enough not to try and explain everything somebody says.

I suspect I’ll be in the minority in stating that this was my favorite episode of the three so far, but it absolutely was. While the story has been interesting and stylish from the start, this was the first time I felt strongly connected to events and characters on an emotional level. Primarily I think this was because the dialogue was superb. The banter between Dalian and Huey was top-notch, but Camilla (the very busy Noto Mamiko) provided a welcome addition to the chemistry. Refreshingly, she also appears to be extremely clever in addition to cute and quirky – but her bright visual appearance and carefree personality are a nice contrast with Huey and Dalian. And I liked the way she took Dalian’s abuse – with a good-natured condescension that both earned Dalian’s respect and pissed her off all the more. To give Dalian her due, though, getting off the “You should be happy to hear that, Huey” and then jumping right into “Come, Spinster” was a zinger double-play of superb style.

I guess it’s inevitable that people will bring up Gosick again now, especially with Camilla added to the cast. I’ll admit the chemistry between the three of them – with Camilla in the Avril role – was reminiscent. But Camilla is no Avril, Huey is no Kujo and Dalian is no Victorique. The other two are not under Dalian’s thumb nearly so much, for one – and the overall tone of the series remains very different. Though there was much more warmth and humor this week, Dantalian remains darker and far more unsentimental than Gosick. And rather than formula, it proved itself this week to be quite unconcerned with traditional story structure at all. The first tale, of the Book of Wisdom and the children of the damned (or whoever they were) ended up as something quite different than I expected. Armed with the knowledge of the phantom book, what will they do with it? If taking over the world is too boring, then what? Tough luck – we’re not getting any answers, as this was left completely open-ended. A bunch of kids who, all of a sudden, think they know everything? Sounds like teenagers to me.

The second tale was a juicy little morality play that I rather enjoyed. Full points to GAINAX for including Dalian’s reference to “Journey to the West” as regards the pig and the monkey – and even more for giving the audience enough credit not to explain it. The love of esoteric knowledge is clearly important here, and as someone with a brain full of minutiae just waiting and hoping for an opportunity to be played like a trump card (usually fruitlessly) I appreciate that this author places value on knowing things just for the sake of knowing them. This is a story of books for people who love books, there’s no question about it. One suspects that in Dalian’s eyes, the worst crime the burglars committed was damaging the spine of her book, and that alone was enough for them to deserve their fate. And what a fate, dissolved in the stomach acid of a carnivorous cactus – but then, the whole notion of a “Queen of the Night” that blooms every 13 years with a flower shaped like a book, the pages filled with the memories of its victims, had the feel of a biblical allegory anyway.

Now that I’m really buying into these characters I’m pretty excited about where this show might go from here. I wasn’t sold on Dalian’s charms but her combination of snark and shyness hit just the right note this week, and I’m a buyer. I don’t know how involved Camilla will be but I hope it will be a lot, if for no other reason than to enjoy the hilarious send-ups of American clothing of the roaring 20′s (so far we’ve had Flapper and Cowgirl). The interesting premise has always been there, so you’re looking at a powerful combination for future development. I’m still not convinced this is a GAINAX show no matter what my brain says – the animation and character design look extremeley BONES-y to me, though we do get just the occasional bit of off-the-wall creativity to let us know who the studio is. And I’ll repeat myself – I absolutely love the OP. Every note and every frame is spot-on, and I love the way the theme was worked into the BGM at various points in various disguises during the episode. I can’t wait for the full-length version.

 

Preview

Dantalian no Shoka   03   Preview 01 Dantalian no Shoka   03   Preview 02 Dantalian no Shoka   03   Preview 03
July 29, 2011 at 10:01 pm
46 comments »
  • July 29, 2011 at 10:07 pmZangkin

    Am I first?

    • July 29, 2011 at 10:08 pmZangkin

      Ha I am. Just wanted to say that this episode was awesome. Can’t wait for the next one.

  • July 29, 2011 at 10:23 pmJX

    Dantalian is an incredible show to watch, and like Enzo stated, if you love books even more so.

  • July 29, 2011 at 10:37 pmThousand Mistress

    Just as I was about to watch the episode, this review appeared. XDDD
    I already watched it online, and another episode awesome for me, no need for further explanations and stuff XD

  • July 29, 2011 at 10:44 pmaiueo123

    Just want to comment, why Dalian thinks the burglar deserve their fate is not for damaging the books, but for hurting Huey(she only said that the burglar deserve their fate for damaging something she takes an interest for, and it’s heavily implied, even more in the anime, that it’s Huey instead of the book).

    As for the first story, they don’t plan to take over the world not because it’s boring, but because there’s too many factor that will make them fail(like getting assassinated after you get the throne, or people revolting), and in the first place, why should the kids do something for other people who will only hinder them anyway. Their interesting and logical line of thought toward why they should just do nothing and just leech from other people who’s less smarter than them is very interesting in the novel. Too bad they cut too much in here, and a lot of people ends up doesn’t get it why they decide that they will do nothing instead of using their intelligence for something.

    • July 29, 2011 at 11:00 pmEstron

      I would have missed the fact that Dalian was referring to Huey not the her book if they not shown Camilla’s reaction to it.

    • July 31, 2011 at 5:17 amlkaze

      You know, it was this sort of hidden tsundere that earn point with me. I could watch an entire series of 2 person banter(spice and wolf). Also I believe Enzo already said I don’t need people explain thing that happen in the anime, so I believe he already knew.

  • July 29, 2011 at 11:00 pmmikelink

    hi genzo, you have a really good point that i had ‘t noticed, and you’re absolutely right about the smartness of the characters and this series is full of common sense.

    about the genius kids, the fact that they know everything doesn’t make them bad people,
    maybe there’s bad and good people among them so someday they will figth each other, or they will just care about they own benefit, knowledge is only bad in the wrong hands.

    other thing is… im not expecting any romatic development from this series, but it would be somehow interesting to see huey grow some feelings for dalian

  • July 29, 2011 at 11:02 pmmikelink

    i want the phantom book of the first porn novel xD

  • July 30, 2011 at 12:01 amAlec

    I really hope, we won’t be seeing Kujo-type characters for a while

  • July 30, 2011 at 12:58 amtutzi

    • July 30, 2011 at 4:57 amRex

      I thought exactly the same lol

  • July 30, 2011 at 1:11 ammomogoldfish

    I love the OP as well, also the entire BGM. If only someone would provide subtitles for the Latin lyrics…

    Is the first costume Camilla worn (designed by someone from France but popular in America) a reference to Chanel?

    And now I feel bad for all the books whose spines I’ve inadvertently damaged by leaving them open face down T-T

  • July 30, 2011 at 2:11 amdeafvader

    Seems interesting that there all so many phantom books lying around and most people don’t really know about them yet our duo always seems to get into the midst of things.
    Next week seems to be one of the manga chapters, Finally.
    Show Spoiler ▼

  • July 30, 2011 at 3:44 amProoof

    Totally agree with the bit about the smart characters.
    and also I completely missed that reference to the Journey of the West =/
    I felt that the two parts of this episode was rather disconnected though and the flow didn’t feel right; perhaps more on the book of knowledge and the smart kids will be exposed on later.

  • July 30, 2011 at 4:57 amRex

    I really, REALLY like the characters are not ultra dense teenagers. Thank you Gainax! Thank god its a nice change of pace and scenery.

    We have Heuy who acts like an ADULT, is a war veteran and shoots first, ask question later type. THANK YOU!

    Then Danlian who you would think is your typical loli tsundere type, which she is for only a few seconds at a time, but is not afraid or hides behind the main character. THANK YOU!

    And to finish the triangle, Camilla, who ALSO acts like an adult.

    And heck, it even makes ME believe im clever, catching the references, like Journey to the West that Genzo mentioned.

    On another note, this season actually has more than a handful og MC’s that isnt full of angst, teenger’ish, dense as fuck, no balls etc. Lets hope this “new” tradition keeps up. Though far from the same level as Dantalian which has just plain awesome characters.

  • July 30, 2011 at 4:57 amx

    Great episode. Totally not what I expected. Agree on the bit about smart characters. I also love how they do not try to explain every single little thing. I love how Camilla (unlike Avril) interacts with the rest of the cast, specially where she does not force them to do things her way.

  • July 30, 2011 at 6:27 amewok40k

    Yes, I think it was hurting Huey that offended Dalian the most. Hidden supposition is thta she can read him like an open book…
    Everybody is smart, save, of course, the stupid burglars!
    The suddenly omniscient children probably know enough of the law of unforeseen consequences to surmiss they can bring about their own destruction by trying some grandiose schemes. Isn’t it that true wisdom lies in accepting own imperfection?
    Also Dantalian is too cute when wanting sweets! Bonus points for her mad hair!

  • July 30, 2011 at 6:36 amMedoi

    dalian is so cute i can’t help it. so far i’m really enjoying this series, i’m not exactly into books like the whole cast seems to in this series, but it is nice to watch nontheless.

  • July 30, 2011 at 7:44 amPassBy

    Just wonder…. shouldn’t Huey keep that book of wisdom into the forbidden library instead of burn it? or just having the first edition of it is more than enough?

    • July 30, 2011 at 8:12 amx

      Well, Dalian does not want to keep it. She is the “gatekeeper” after all. And if the book gives ultimate wisdom and knowledge, what difference will a new edition make?

    • July 30, 2011 at 10:18 amYs10

      Yeah like X said, Dalian doesn’t want it, therefor it doesn’t get put it in. I was kind of disappointed that they cut the part where Huey tried to read the book and found it totally illegible because apparently only children can read it.

      • July 30, 2011 at 11:00 amx

        Wow, that sounds dangerous. That’ll just tempt folks to abuse it on children. I’d definitely burn that book (then again, I’m not a wise person, so what do I know?). Though as we have seen from this episode, it doesn’t always work out the way they plan. Maybe Dalian is right, they could have left it alone. Though, it’s tempting to imagine more and more children pick up the book… I guess, I’ll burn it after all.

    • July 31, 2011 at 12:46 amewok40k

      Dalian specified that she laready has a first edition of this book in the library, hence she doesnt need it. With such dangerous book, Huey took sensible precautions.

  • July 30, 2011 at 8:51 amJack Spicer

    I am just waiting for this show to get passed the “monster of the week” premise, hopefully.

  • July 30, 2011 at 10:57 amSeishun Otoko

    I’m still not quite sold on Dantalian no Shoka yet. I agree that this is the best episode so far but I’m just not sure what the show is trying to achieve. For now, it seems like Huey and Dalian are just always at the right place and at the right time as supernatural events which so happen involve “books” unfold.
    A minor gripe I have is that the mysteries are only mildly interesting and has so far failed to keep me guessing . Part of what made Gosick worked no matter how bizarre the mysteries were is that we were always left with the desire to know more at the end of each episode.
    The show is by no means bad and I do enjoy the characters especially with Camilla’s addition to the cast, but it certainly hasn’t wow-ed me yet.

    • July 30, 2011 at 7:53 pmYs10

      A lot of people seem to have made this mistake but this series is not a mystery show, it’s a fantasy one.

  • July 30, 2011 at 11:43 amMegas

    With all the piss-poor anime this season, this show shines so bright…uh yeah, I’m getting ahead of myself. This show is nothing but a bunch of fairly related short stories, nothing too deep or mind-boggling. But I still like it. Its really nice to see a show NOT based off of utter stupidity, crazy characters, & (pissy-sissy) awful male protagonists.

    • July 30, 2011 at 11:48 amKurisu Vi Britannia

      生存戦略 ! ! !

      Seizon Senryakuuuuuu!

      • July 30, 2011 at 1:45 pmMegas

        Yeah, you can completely get by on watching this along with the other 2-3 decent shows this season. The other junk just makes me feel like I’m losing brain cells. The number of sane ‘real’ (so-what if Dalian’s a gate) characters in this is nearly too good to be true.

      • July 30, 2011 at 7:41 pmKurisu Vi Britannia

        I think we’re all naturally losing brain cells anyway, Anime ain’t going to hasten it I hope.

      • July 31, 2011 at 5:24 amlkaze

        Don’t you know, if you don’t watch other stupid anime. You will not be able to appreciate how intelligent this anime is.

  • July 30, 2011 at 12:36 pmAnon

    oh hay Avril.

  • July 30, 2011 at 1:09 pmKurisu Vi Britannia

    I’m loving the setting of this anime. Those smart kids at the start will be back, i hope cos if not then it’s very random.

  • July 30, 2011 at 1:54 pmKumaKaori

    Lovely Ep, but I missed Sawashiro dropping into her deep “Nay, I am the World” Ghhh that voice sends shivers through me.

    A friend of mine also started playing Catherine for PS3, I’m such a fcking JPN VA Otaku, Sawashiro voices Catherine, T__T WANT JPN Ver. NAO.

  • July 30, 2011 at 6:27 pmTFOG

    @GuardianEnzo I think when Dalian said they deserved their fate she meant they deserved it for hurting Huey, not the book, as evident from Camilla’s reaction.

  • July 30, 2011 at 9:37 pmNhelraios

    It might just be me but they way she pronounces “YES” makes me really cringe.

  • July 30, 2011 at 9:38 pmhaseo0408

    The relationship betwen Dalian and Huey is really interesting, you could say she is a total tsundere but with a bit of more sofistication for her cute personality. I can´t even imagine the loneliness Dalian shuold have felt, being all alone for hundreds of years and then loosing Wes all of the sudden. Huey is probably the most valuable treasure at the eyes of Dalian, dearest to her more than any book because he is her companion.

  • July 31, 2011 at 12:19 amKGFJ

    I love Camilla MUCH MORE than avril already, I love how she brings new perspective into the series. And definitely love how mature she is at handling Dalian’s cynical outburst.
    And this episode is also my favorite! Loving the reference of Journey to the west, and some kind of moral stories about those overly smart-ass kids. The flower book is very intriguing, I would love to encounter it too (too bad it doesn’t exist in real life)
    And finally, one of few animes that doesn’t underestimate the viewers!! :D

    • July 31, 2011 at 2:14 pmKurisu Vi Britannia

      Those were the days, where a woman was mature and composed at all times and knew proper manners.

      Not like these days were a lot of them are more akin to a miner’s level of manners lol.

  • July 31, 2011 at 5:09 amlkaze

    Does anyone else think that their banter remind you of Horo X Lawrence? If this is how this show will moved on, I’ll definitely like it.

    • August 1, 2011 at 6:52 amaiueo123

      Horo is much more less sharp-tongue than Dalian(as in she calls insult Lawrence less) and she’s not as clingy(or jealous) as Dalian. Both pair do have the same nuance to their relationship though.

  • July 31, 2011 at 12:50 pmmike

    the ending still scares me, imagine watching an episode at night with all lights turn off then the ending rolls, remind me of like blair witch project except without the boring part.

  • July 31, 2011 at 2:39 pmZaku Fan

    This episode is much better than they first 2. Although each is a sub story by itself, the premise for each half is strong enough to stand on their own.

    I would have to agree with the thinking of the children with enhanced intellect. Ruling the world is a thankless task that earns you what? At best you have lots of material stuff (which you could get through making tons of money) and power. But think about it. Do you want power over 100,000 or more monkeys? Because when your IQ has reached the gap between human and monkey, thats the scenerio. I would imagine the monkey ruler would have a headache when everything is so simple and clear to him or her but the monkeys keep asking why, rebel or don’t understand. So why bother?

    The second half is interesting simply for the fantastical plant and the trading of words between the two mains

    • August 1, 2011 at 6:56 amaiueo123

      There’s also the, “What use is it for us to work hard by using our brain to research or invent something only to earn money that’s going to be used to live leisurely in retirement when we can leisurely live like that from now by leeching from others”. Very logical, but seems very wrong for us who’s been poisoned by society’s value who makes us think that our live is only fulfilled when we’re useful for society.

  • July 31, 2011 at 2:54 pmZreon

    This is the first episode where not everyone of the supportive cast is dead at the end! Yay!