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Dantalian no Shoka – 04

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「換魂の書」 (Kan Kon no Sho)
"Book of Soul Exchange"

It’s hard to believe that the author of Dantlian no Shoka, Gakuto Mikumo, is also the author of the eminently forgettable (an opinion I confess is based only on the anime, not the light novels) Asura Cryin’.  There are frequently moments when it feels like this series is genuinely profound – and that’s not a word I toss around much when it comes to anime.

In contrast to last week, which was really all about (successfully) making the regular cast come alive as characters, this week was all about the story.  And it was easily the most interesting of the four mysteries Dantalian has offered so far, dark and ugly and sad and even a little deep.  As for Huey and Dalian, once the story was in full swing they were really observers more than participants, and indeed had no direct bearing on the final outcome other than to be our eyes and ears on the scene.

It’s always dangerous to try and read too much into the motives of a writer, but it’s hard to escape the conclusion that Umerura-sensei was making a little comment about the nature of fandom with this piece.  Dalian is a fujoshi, apparently – a huge fan of a yaoi love story – “Crown of the Dog Days” – by a young writer named Lenny Lents (Hino Satoshi).  But Lenny died after writing the first two novels in the trilogy, not before having left behind a letter to Huey’s Grandfather pleading for help.  Dalian is only too eager to investigate, clinging to the hope of a resolution to the trilogy.

As bad as Dalian is, the real dark side of the otaku image here is Paula Dickinson (Takayama Minami).  If you’ve read Stephen King’s “Misery” or seen the adaptation you have some idea what to expect from Paula, but Annie Wilkes has nothing on this yandere – Paula makes Yuno Gasai look like Yune from Ikoku Meiro.  Through the phantom Book of Soul Exchange “Ras Alhague” she’s found a way to keep Lenny alive and under her thumb – by killing him and his lover Leticia Serkis (Satou Rina) over and over, with each exchanging places among the living with the other.  For the flaw in the soul exchange is that the deceased can only be resurrected for one day before their body begins to decay.  With this brutal form of blackmail, Paula – posing as Lenny’s wife – intends to keep Lenny around until he writes an ending that satisfies her fujoshi sensibilities, with her favorite characters alive and paired off and none of that icky hetero love.

This is a pretty grisly scenario, and the sheer horror of it is brought off beautifully here, along with the depth of Paula’s depravity.  I’d forgive you if you felt the resolution to their situation was a bit of a deux ex machina, but I’m happy to forgive it because I’m a big fan of poetic justice if it’s done as well as it is here.  As I said it’s risky to assume too much about what an author intended, but I can’t help feel a statement is being made about taking fandom to an extreme – and this is an area that GAINAX has some experience with as well, it being  a favorite topic of Hideki Anno’s.

With two very solid and dramatically different episodes back-to-back, I can’t help but be encouraged about Dantalian no Shoka and where it’s headed. As a little bonus, both thematically and visually this felt more like GAINAX than any of the earlier episodes.  I was especially struck by the animation in the final scene with Huey and Dalian driving home, which had an absolutely classic GAINAX look to it.  I’m happy with this show being what it’s been the last two weeks, but if GAINAX put their own stamp on it so much the better as far as I’m concerned.

 

Preview

Dantalian no Shoka   04   Preview 01 Dantalian no Shoka   04   Preview 02 Dantalian no Shoka   04   Preview 03
August 5, 2011 at 10:40 pm
50 comments »
  • August 5, 2011 at 10:51 pmPaultassium

    great episode!

  • August 5, 2011 at 10:59 pmLuxorcist

    I’m still waiting to be GAINAX’d…

  • August 5, 2011 at 11:06 pmDeus Ex Machina

    Even as a god, I can’t seem to watch animes before they are broadcast.
    I too want to watch my Mirai Nikki…

    • August 7, 2011 at 9:43 amkaz

      is there an anime series of mirai nikki already? if so, where can i find it?

      • August 7, 2011 at 12:44 pmGuardian Enzo

        Only a 5-minute promo OVA. The series airs in the fall.

      • August 8, 2011 at 3:27 amdeafvader

        Delicious

  • August 5, 2011 at 11:17 pmThousand Mistress

    I’ve been waiting for this. oAo
    Watched it online, I am such a fail XD My DL speed is slow, so….mkv version later XD

    Great episode as always. Half of Higurashi has been shared =w=
    Still, the manga looked better with all the gore stuff. And what the hell did they do to manga!Paula Lentz ._.
    I like her look better in the manga XD

  • August 5, 2011 at 11:22 pmhaseo0408

    I´m not sure if Paula is at the level of Yuno Gasai but she is definetly one crazy yandere. By the way, I´m fan of Stephen King and you are right ENZO, this episode has a lot of similarities with Misery, just add a little supernatural elelment and multiplie the crszinies for a millon.

    In another matter, I desagree with you ENZO, both Asura Cryin´and Dantalian no Shoka have many similarities but they have two very different styles ( love-comedy and mistery-gore). They share the topic of humans playing with something under the contol of God, for their own selfish ends and how they bring misery to those around them in consequence, at least that´s my oppinion.

    • August 5, 2011 at 11:44 pmGuardian Enzo

      I admit, my opinion of A.C. may have been poisoned by the extremely mediocre anime adaptation.

    • August 6, 2011 at 6:43 amKarmafan

      I liked Asura Cryin’ as well. It was not perfect but had alot of fun to watch stuff going on. Was worth 24 minutes of my life each week.

    • August 6, 2011 at 10:21 amsalbazier

      That DoS and AC shares a author is something new to me but it doesn’t hard to believe at all. IMHO, I think Asura Crying was a great story. How to say this, it was a mediocre/bad adaptation but the ‘goodness’ of the original can still be felt… I wonder if I’m being undestandable here.

      Anyway, I’ve only read few chapter of the LN (wish I could read more) bt its clear they are much better than the anime adaptation.

      On Dantalian no Shoka itself, echoing other people this is really not a mystery series. It is a story about books, esoteric knowledge, Huey’s relationship with Dalian, and Dalian’s cuteness. :)

    • August 6, 2011 at 2:47 pmMMBinNC

      The ending to Asura Cryin’ sucked. The book was far worse, but still I hate that kind of no-resolution, resolution. And in no other anime have I been so confused as to what was going on. Once I read the books I got it, but then I was left with their horrible ending. World 1, 2, 3 wtf? Needs to be explained better. I like DNS alot because it has the cute romance aspect of AC without all the crazy sci-fi stuff. I normally like sci-fi…well when it’s explained.

  • August 6, 2011 at 12:23 amdeafvader

    @Enzo
    Perhaps the word fan girl would be a better choice of word.
    Since fan girl both equals a fanatic girl which she is and could mean Fujoshi. Therein lies the pun.
    Paula Dick did not spoil any otaku image as she is not one. That was a novel. A hardcover book.
    According to the first episode, not anyone can use a phantom book, which is why the circus came to life. But so far we have kids reading them and an insane woman. So what is the exact qualifications needed?

    • August 6, 2011 at 2:59 amYs10

      Well in episode 3 they left out the explanation that the book of wisdom can only be read by children, if an adult tries to read it they won’t see anything legible. Also since this story isn’t translated except in the manga but I don’t remember seeing them mention anything about this book’s requirements if it had any.

    • August 6, 2011 at 7:09 amHrmmm

      I think Dalian meant that only a select few can read the books and use it the way it was intended. I see you’re point though, more grisly accidents would make more sense.

  • August 6, 2011 at 12:27 amGuardian Enzo

    You can be an otaku of anything, really, not just anime or manga.

    • August 8, 2011 at 2:35 pmSora no Kaze

      ^this

      The original meaning is someone with an obsessive interest or rather just about any fan of any topic. Most of the time, it refers to those who like manga, video games, and anime, but you could practically apply it for anything.

      Like a friend of mine likes Diane Agron, so we can refer to her as a Diane Agron Otaku. Or someone who likes the Twilight or Harry Potter series as otakus as well. It’s certainly sterotype for certain fandoms, but that doesn’t mean you can only use it for those fandoms. Also doesn’t help that there is some negative connotation with the word either, when really, there shouldn’t be.

  • August 6, 2011 at 12:44 amx

    Heh, Yuno can’t even come close to Paula in terms of craziness. Though Yuno is way smarter than Paula.

    Great episode. Watching this series is starting to pay off. Too bad it’s only 13 episodes.

    • August 6, 2011 at 1:40 amdeafvader

      Yuno is crazy to the effect of doing anything for Yuki and their good end.
      Paula won’t do anything to get the story straight except repeatedly killing the same two people. Yuno kills everyone. Her family included.

      • August 6, 2011 at 2:34 amx

        Well, as crazy as it seems, all of Yuno’s actions are done carefully. Everything is done for a purpose, and she will be willing to do even not so “crazy” things to achieve that purpose.

        Paula on the other hand can’t even think of how to achieve her purpose of getting the story ending she wants except to keep killing two people excessively in frustration.

        It’s not the number of people they kill or the identity of who they kill that measures their sanity in my opinion.

  • August 6, 2011 at 2:02 amSarge

    i may have remembered incorrectly but, didn’t dalia say something in the first episode how you could just let the phantom books unravel themselves? i could be reading too much into it but it seems like our protagonists don’t actually have to do anything except prevent the phantom books from doing more harm, ‘chain message’ style, by re-appropriating said books. the series feels like the characters are just reading a book, in that sense :o

    • August 6, 2011 at 2:20 amx

      Well, what they are doing is not preventing the phantom books from doing more harm. They are trying to stop people who are using the phantom books to do harm. Not that they have been very successful at that so far.

  • August 6, 2011 at 2:18 ammomogoldfish

    You left out the final commentary on the quirks of fandom, if you don’t like the canon, write your own fanfic XD

    But yes Paula’s obsession is indeed scary. And was I the only one who thought the two of them look like an Angel?

    Is the next episode’s title a reference to The Magician’s Nephew?

  • August 6, 2011 at 2:39 amReverry

    Enzo, your “Dalian” is missing a “n” in your 4th word of your 4th paragraph. =)

    I have to agree with momogoldfish’s statement above =D.
    That is why fanfics are around for, prevent angry fans from going after the writer.

  • August 6, 2011 at 3:43 amJellyfish Marine

    I like to think of Dantalian no Shoka as a slightly dark slice-of-life anime/novel/manga with a little touch of mystery, rather than a full-fledged mystery work. I have heard many people ranting about how the mysteries and tricks in this anime are way too simple, because they were anticipating a great mystery work with action packed from GAINAX. To me, this work gives a similar feel to Kino no Tabi, where subtle mystery atmosphere is merely used as a tool for delivering the main idea of each story, and I really like this kind of episodes where events just unfold in front of the main characters who play more passive roles.

    Nevertheless, on the action scenes, I still find the pacing are quite off…I mean, you see, reading paragraphs to paragraphs while the opponent are about to strike. In the comic it makes more sense that Dalian directly use the books rather than having Huey read them…

  • August 6, 2011 at 4:25 amewok40k

    Dalian the yaoi fangirl… lol!
    And the winter-landscape-lonely-farm brought to me visions of King books too…
    All I can say in the end, amounts to the prayer Huey recited…
    Though, I think, that book could be useful to punish multiple murderers… On the other hand, risk of misuse is too great.
    And Dalian descends into the depths of fanfiction! Dont give up the ship! Die for our ship!

  • August 6, 2011 at 5:20 amcklaighe

    dissappointed actually…

    they changed a lot in the manga… and when i say a lot… i meant gigantic revisions.. :(
    Camilla change was ok… but this… :(

    • August 6, 2011 at 8:38 amx

      Well, deviation from a different adaptation is not unexpected. After all they have a third source (the novel). Question is, how much of this deviated from the novel? I read the manga as well, but I still like this episode.

      • September 20, 2011 at 8:11 pmMatilda

        I want to send you an award for most helpful itnrenet writer.

  • August 6, 2011 at 5:24 amtotoum

    I’m sorry Enzo,but I can’t agree with you on the Yuno Gazai comment

    A yandere isn’t “Yuno level” until:

    Show Spoiler ▼

    Liked this as much as the last episode and I’m starting to get addicted to Dalian’s “yes”

    • August 6, 2011 at 8:26 amcklaighe

      You should try the manga to check out the difference in their yandere level. :)

    • August 6, 2011 at 4:28 pmznail

      Show Spoiler ▼

  • August 6, 2011 at 6:09 amrobz86

    Though I don’t really know much about novel industry nor do I read a lot of books, I do know that there are authors who write stories with the main character(s)/narrator as opposite of their own gender. However, a (seemingly)straight man writing a novel with homosexual main characters is something I have never encountered. Maybe he has some *cough* experience. =D

    P.S. Am I the only one who instantly thought of Shinjin(Celestials) from Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu when I saw the thing(?) the couple transformed into? Honestly, it was the first thing that came to mind with it being clear/translucent and all, only with a different color. But maybe that’s because I just read the chapters 10-11 of the light novel(finally translated to English) so the series is still pretty fresh in my mind.

    • August 6, 2011 at 7:21 amewok40k

      I thought rather of the Angels from the gainax most famous series…

      • August 6, 2011 at 9:44 amrobz86

        Eva? I guess it would remind remind people of angels. Although I have watched the movie(s), I’m too young to have gotten into eva when it first came out so it isn’t very prominent in my mind. But what reminds me of shinjin in this one is that it’s clear/translucent and glowing.

  • August 6, 2011 at 7:06 amKGFJ

    So far this is the only anime in this season I dare say I will dearly miss when it ends later. And I still like how smart this anime is and surprisingly deep. I like the part about the resistance. Although the part when they turned into some kind of monster is still WTF at least the resistance explanation still gives a nice vibe.
    Is the manga even better than this? If yes I need to get my hand on it soon!!

  • August 6, 2011 at 8:48 amThejewbomb

    I hope Stephen King does not watch anime.

    • August 6, 2011 at 10:08 amewok40k

      actually I could see King making a damn good book about cursed/possessed book…

  • August 6, 2011 at 9:03 amLitho

    Whoah!! … bloodier than past eps!!
    Yandere Fujoshi!! O_O

  • August 6, 2011 at 9:58 amcybersteel

    Dalian sooo cute especially in the first scene.

  • August 6, 2011 at 10:25 amShinmarizu

    Gainax this, Gainax that…. As long as I have my Dalian intake, I am good.
    Dammit, I want to take her home and keep her…

  • August 7, 2011 at 12:56 amThe M0onDOgg

    So Stephen King… /yawn
    So being an Otaku is as old as dirt huh? No surprise there.
    Gainax is getting generic….=P

  • August 7, 2011 at 4:34 amKumakaori

    Certainly a great ep,… T^T but no Sawashiro Miyuki deep voice declaring “Nay, I am the world” … I NEED MY FIX MAN!. T__T;. sad sad creature I be. Anywho, onto next week :D!.

  • August 8, 2011 at 2:21 amDivine

    This episode covered the first case in the manga, which is what sold me on the series. It was much more graphic in the manga.

    • August 8, 2011 at 3:28 amdeafvader

      think the story line was slightly different in the manga and that it was not exactly the first chapter

    • August 9, 2011 at 5:19 pmHunter-Wolf

      @Divine
      More graphic than seeing Lenny Lents head shot off his body, flying and falling next to him .. ewww (and i have read my share of graphic manga, but still within the context of the story and style this scene was pretty creepy in the anime as it is)

  • August 9, 2011 at 4:51 pmlala

    nice post

  • August 9, 2011 at 5:14 pmHunter-Wolf

    Pretty wicked episode .. the “killing” scene was pretty spine chilling and this series truly proves again and again that it is meant to please book readers the most (seeing how the story here is somewhat based on “Misery” by King).

    Also .. love the moral of the story .. obsessive fans can be very dangerous and in their excessive love to the writer/creator of the original work and wanting to impose their own views over it they actually disrespect it the most .. and that includes Dalian not just Paula .. although Dalian is much less obsessed than Paula .. who even beat the crazy lady from Misery XD

    • August 10, 2011 at 6:48 pmx

      Well, as obsessive as she gets, I can’t see Dalian imposing her view on the writer/creator. She might get angry, complain, lost love for the writer, eventually ignore the writer’s work, if she disagree with the writer. As the ending hinted, fanfic is the way forward. Sometimes fanfic may even become new works that are considered really good (this has been proven in history many times).

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