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Dantalian no Shoka – 05

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「魔術師の娘」 (Majutsu-shi no Musume)
“The Magician’s Daughter”

It’s funny how I can watch long chunks of Dantalian no Shoka thinking not at all about its pedigree, when all of a sudden something will prompt an instantaneous GAINAX reaction from me. It so happens that this week’s episode featured by far the longest and most recognizably GAINAX moment of the series so far.

The format of these stories is changing slightly from week to week – we’ve had two-parters which take up the entire episodes and one-shots, darkly violent stories and whimsical ones with non-ending endings. But there seems to be a common thread in that all of them are morality plays of one sort or another, and there tends to be an element of the story that sheds some light on Dalian and Huey’s past and/or their relationship.

It’s easy to see that Dalian would have a special interest in this week’s events, a sort of modern take on the Tale of the Woodcutter (a much beloved source for anime storylines over the decades). Filling the role of Princess Kaguya is a mysterious courtesan named Viola Duplessis (Yumi Kakazu), and Dalian (whose English vocabulary we now know is at least two words) sees something of herself in the tale of an obviously non-human girl and the search for true love. Among the five saps Viola has duped into bringing her phantom books as a condition for marriage is Armand Jeremiah (Takahiro Sakurai, about as dorky as you’ll hear him), who apparently served under Lieutenant Huey in the war. Viola has an ulterior motive for wanting these books, of course – to fight off her father, alchemist/magician Count Melgar (Tesshô Genda, wonderful as always in his old-school way) who created her as a homunculus as an experiment in the experience of being human.

This is all interesting in an abstract way, and the drama of the episode is played up in a preposterously campy style. It’s as if the cast of “Jeeves and Wooster” has jumped off the pages of Wodehouse and into anime, and that somewhat takes the sense of threat out of the violence that follows Melgar’s return to claim his mercury-blooded “daughter”. But the real interest here is in watching Dalian’s reactions to all this, and reading meaning into her choice to allow Huey to open the gate and bring the power of the Dantalian Archive to bear in Viola’s defense. And it’s in watching the conflict between the powers of the five phantom books do battle with Melgar’s sorcery in a vintage GAINAX action sequence that looked as if it could easily have been in Gurren-Lagann. And that’s meant as praise, believe me.

I’m not sure whether this has always been as obvious as it was this week, but it appears that when Huey enters the gate, he’s not just interacting with the fair-haired yomihime from the episode one prologue, but doing it as a young boy. I’d thought of that as a flashback, but the impression I get from this episode is that Huey in fact having that experience every time the gate is opened – though I’m not sure just what the implications of that are. When Melgar gave up in the end, I wasn’t so much interested in Viola – though I did get a chuckle out of her decision to run off with a Baron who’d done nothing to help gather the books and leave her five suitors in the lurch – as I was in Dalian. Her “drop dead” to Melgar contained something much more than her usual tsuntsun snark – there was real venom and hatred in those words, as if Melgar and what he represented hit far too close to home for her tastes. We’ve had six separate mysteries unraveled so far, but in terms of the main characters this one felt by far the most personal.

 

Preview

Dantalian no Shoka   05   Preview 01 Dantalian no Shoka   05   Preview 02 Dantalian no Shoka   05   Preview 03
August 12, 2011 at 8:56 pm
37 comments »
  • August 12, 2011 at 9:44 pmJustinnnnnn

    Damn I’m loving those screencaps…I think I’ll enjoy a lot this anime once I get to see it.
    I still think these episodes are really to make the viewer get used to the characters and show in general. Soon there will be some kind of suddent twist or plot advance in the not too distant future, that will set Dantalian No Shoka into the thick, good stuff…Still waiting for that episode though, and most of all, your impressions Enzo!
    The fact that each episode is, according to you, getting better and better, does keep my hopes up too.

  • August 12, 2011 at 9:53 pmjrj

    I loled so much in the first half of the episode when the stage was still setting up… Dalian’s kicks were awesome… oh and how that Armand gives me Masakaki vibe from C (I know it is just the seiyuu…)
    I really thought the young Huey was flashbacks, but guess not seeing the young one is getting the books… although I am more curious about the relationship between the yomihimi and Dalian now… Are they the same or different entities? Hopefully they will shed some light on that soon.

  • August 12, 2011 at 10:02 pmwendeego

    That’s a pretty interesting take! I was pretty mixed on this episode (although the ending action scene was, granted, pretty amazing) but thinking of it not as a supremely rushed and disjointed action episode but as an examination of Dalian’s character sneakily disguised as a supremely rushed and disjointed action episode helps it to come off a little better than it did before.

    I still think that this episode could have been vastly improved if they slowed it down/split it up into two, though. None of the characters came off as anything more than caricatures (especially worrying in Albert’s case, since I think he’s supposed to be a reoccurring character!) and as you said the drama was ridiculously overplayed (although perhaps intentionally?) So much of this show’s appeal for me comes from the impeccable atmosphere that speeding things up without warning or preparation felt pretty half-baked on Gainax’s part.

    Then again, turning someone’s blood into mercury is a pretty imaginative (and horrifying) way to kill somebody. Also, as previously stated, the Phantom Books battle at the end of the episode was brilliant. So I dunno. A hit and a miss?

    • August 12, 2011 at 10:54 pmGuardian Enzo

      Maybe I’m being too generous and reading too much into it, but that is what I took away from it. I do think the ridiculous characters were ridiculous on purpose – whether that works dramatically for you is another question, but I really was reminded of “Jeeves & Wooster” and I think that’s sort of the mood the piece was going for.

      But yeah, that action scene at the end really was good, eh? Classic GAINAX – I’ve really missed that.

  • August 12, 2011 at 10:22 pmlkaze

    Did you know guys? That this blog actually started by a person named Omni? My computer was stolen the other day and I of course wanted to find back this website where I then saw the old website of RC. Somehow I bring back the memories that we once have a great blogger. I then go back track to read his final blog and kinda feel bad that I never give a single comment all the time he was blogging. I believe this is the reason why I was so crazed about commenting lately.

    I know somehow this comment is kinda inappropriate to put under Dantalian but I didn’t know any better place to put. And I kinda wanted to write how I feel here. Seeing the growth of the visitor lately, I just sorta wanted to remind all the people here about Omni and if possible write a few more comment.

    P.S. I haven’t watched the Dantalian yet,so my related comment will have to come later.
    P.P.S. I have a chance for first post but don’t really wanted to put unrelated comment on first.

    • August 12, 2011 at 10:52 pmJustinnnnnn

      I know how it feels…I first found this place looking up Gurren Lagann stuff, and found the ‘Best of Anime 2007′ in the old RandomC site…It took me a while to realize it was only a blog, and not some kind of global recognition that gave true, important awards to anime studios, lol!

      But yeah, I also never commented an Omni post…He was a great blogger and, well, Divine did some amazing work keeping the site up by himself for a while (I think that’s how the story went, right…?)…

      Nostalgia hit me too, sorry!…I really am grateful to you bloggers for your hard work!

    • August 13, 2011 at 1:41 amcybersteel

      Can’t believe you guys feel the same way too. Found this blog when looking for reviews for Clannad and Gundam 00. Never really started to leave comments but when Divine said he was taking a break earlier this year, I was like crap RC might be put out off commission.

  • August 12, 2011 at 11:11 pmWanderer

    Haven’t caught this episode yet, but some of your analysis resonated with some theories I’ve been holding for a while. It makes sense to me that Dalian would sympathize with an artificially created (but still clearly alive) being. A theory I hold is that Dalian and others like her are themselves artificial beings, created to contain these libraries and the creatures connected to them. In Dalian’s case that creature would be the pale-haired girl, who I believe is not a yomihime at all, but rather the demon Dantalian. I can’t confirm that, because the first light novel (the only one I’ve been able to find translated so far) doesn’t explore either the origins of the various yomihime or the nature of that girl in any detail.

    However, it is specifically stated that Dalian’s anatomy is like that of a doll. Combining that with what information we have, and it does not seem impossible that she was made, somehow, as a cage for Dantalian and that knowledge that was never meant to exist in the world of men.

  • August 12, 2011 at 11:22 pmx

    Dalian is getting more lovable as the episodes passes. Yeah, it felt a little rushed, but the characters make up for all of it.

    • August 12, 2011 at 11:41 pmGuardian Enzo

      That blush!

      • August 13, 2011 at 2:17 amx

        That kick! At the right moment and position XD

  • August 13, 2011 at 12:12 amThousand Mistress

    Just finished watching the episode, and then again, hands down for an awesome one. I didn’t expect it would be a rushed end, but anyway it felt Gurren Lagann-like. XD
    Plus, it was surprising that this is somehow a gag episode (Viola especially on the last scenes) but the entertainment stays… *points at the count for being such a gag reel on some lines*
    Lastly, Dalian blushing after her remark about women. Then again, I don’t want to further elaborate on that XD And oh, that light-haired yomihime and Dalian, I have a feeling that they are the same…

  • August 13, 2011 at 12:34 amcybersteel

    To me this anime felt more like Kuroshitsuji then any others really. Dalian Kawaii!

    • August 13, 2011 at 1:22 amlkaze

      Oh wow, you started to use the flapping pudding kurisu for avatar.

      • August 13, 2011 at 1:43 amcybersteel

        Yeah never has a .gif affected my emotional state of being so much. Sooo glad I made this.

  • August 13, 2011 at 1:21 amlkaze

    What is this episode? Over dramatic performance, when they start shooting it sound like they are shooting machine gun? was there even invented at that time? And at the end of the day the girl run to the man just come out of nowhere and doesn’t even contribute to the battle. Man I never seen a weirder episode than this. Well I suppose the best one will be seeing Dalian blush.

    PS I was almost shocked to see a fat woman at the beginning ,thought she was viola

    • August 13, 2011 at 2:14 amx

      That’s the fun part of this anime. The fairy tale like or stage drama like surreal fantasy story elements. As for our voluptuous beauty ;) , I’d say you were not the only one who got caught XD.

  • August 13, 2011 at 1:35 amClick

    I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t expecting a Giga Drill Breaker once Huey took out the books.

    • August 13, 2011 at 3:22 amSnicket

      That or a pair of Kamina sun glasses to suddenly appear.

  • August 13, 2011 at 5:57 amtomoyostar

    Did anyone else think Yumi Kakazu sounded like Nakajima Megumi?

  • August 13, 2011 at 7:06 amSeishun Otoko

    This is the bizarreness from Gainax that I’ve been longing to see! Even the animation style and color schemes were very Gainax this week and I was half expecting the five phantom books to merge into “Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann” at one point XD
    What you pointed out regarding the presentation formats of each story is very true. They’ve all been very different and creative in their own ways, and I think I’m starting to appreciate the series more now.

  • August 13, 2011 at 9:08 amMegas

    This stuff is so bloody awesome that I can’t even begin to say how much I love it. Some of the other unamed trash out there really need to take ques from this. There are shows that have you going “WTF is goin on” & “zzzZZzzzZZZ”, & then there’s this.

  • August 13, 2011 at 9:14 amMedoi

    http://randomc.net/image/Dantalian%20no%20Shoka/Dantalian%20no%20Shoka%20-%2005%20-%20Large%2036.jpg

    MY DIABETES JUST……..hnnggg dalian why so adorable
    she seriously is the best thing for me in this series

    • August 13, 2011 at 6:16 pmlkaze

      Oww, she just too sweet.

  • August 13, 2011 at 11:43 amZzz…

    So Viola is a puppet who becomes a “real girl”.

    Yet all she does is sucker a bunch of men into dying (blood to mercury is no joke) for her. Regardless of what the end result is it’s the intent that matters here.

    And she doesn’t even give anything beside quick “thank you” in the end before dumping them for a buffoon that did nothing at all.

    What a bitch…

    If this is being a “real girl” what does it say about humanity in general.

    • August 13, 2011 at 11:49 amx

      Well, I’d say it says more about most men’s idea of a desirable girl than humanity in general. Of course how well this reflect reality is another matter.

      • August 13, 2011 at 6:20 pmlkaze

        I say it pretty real. Pretty girls get to do what they want with unlucky guy (sucking their wallet dry and whatever). Only to select another guy BECAUSE they have feeling for him.

  • August 13, 2011 at 12:40 pmdraggle

    I found it hilarious how Dalian brought up the tale of the woodcutter just to get in a jab about how men are so dumb to get twirled around that woman’s thumb.

  • August 13, 2011 at 7:46 pmDelwack

    That was some epic ham and cheese when count Melgar arrived. I kept on thinking ‘this has to be staged [in universe], this has to be staged [in universe]…’ and was waiting for the ‘ha, we got you all!’ moment which of course never came. Camp in full effect and at its best!

  • August 13, 2011 at 7:59 pmGuardian Enzo

    Nobody does camp to the fabulous max like GAINAX. They really fest it up.

  • August 13, 2011 at 9:57 pmDurifto

    Who is the white haired girl in the library?

  • August 13, 2011 at 10:10 pmSnicket

    So for all there efforts and sacrifices, they get a thank you and an awkward wink. Before being dumped and let holding the bag?..damn. I would have called that count guy back and said he could have his ‘daughter’ now.

    As for the episode, it felt kind of out of place compared to the other ones. Kinda like a filler that they threw in just for the hell of it. Tough i’m not saying it wasn’t entertaining, just that it didn’t seem to mesh well with events that happened thus far.

    • August 14, 2011 at 12:33 ambaubo

      Well, it has to do with the source material, which is made up of self-contained stories that have little overall arc(think American crime dramas). So really none of the stories really mesh with one another. You probably think it feels out of place more for the pacing rather than the story itself. The Story is pretty consistent with what has been happening.

  • August 13, 2011 at 11:50 pmdeafvader

    I’m not sure why but i had a seinen super heroes feel when the 5 beam of lights came shooting all over the place.

  • August 14, 2011 at 9:30 pmhaseo0408

    Wow! I haven´t seen this king of animation since Gurren -Laggan, it´s nice to see that GAINAX still remembers how to make good art. Regarding the plot of the episode itself, I find it really funny if not over the top ridiculous but it´s okay since it served to show a great diplay of emotions from Dalian. Dalian blushing was so cute and her hatred towards the magician was unexpected, She was angry when Wes died but this was a whole new level.

  • August 14, 2011 at 11:39 pmewok40k

    Dalian’s “Drop dead!” suggests some deeper grudge… and perhaps future conflict.
    I wonder if Count’s final jab about trying to find love in an ageless body could be also aimed at Dalian?

  • August 15, 2011 at 2:47 amcklaighe

    I enjoyed this episode very much. Hahaha!