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Dantalian no Shoka – 11

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「ラジエルの書架」 (Rajieru no Shoka)
“Raisel’s Library”

Dantalian no Shoka continues to nibble around the edges of the truth, giving us tantalizing glimpses of the deeper reality behind the episodic stories we’ve been given so far and the characters that drive them.

At the heart of this episode is the first world war, glimpsed in the OP and strongly hinted to be an important part of Huey’s past. As he learned to fly his Sopwtih Camel, his Captain and hero was Ilas (Nakata Jouji Hayami Sho). As usual we don’t get a lot of explanation, but there’s more to Ilas than the stereotypical pipe-smoking Tommy officer. He and Huey share a love of flight that’s only made clear later in the episode.

The other important bond the two men share is a connection to the world of phantom books. Through a flashback of Ilas’ meeting with the yomihime Raisel (Yahagi Sayuri) we get a little lesson in the birth of phantom books, and why wars are such a fertile birthing ground. After his introduction Ilas reappears at the stick of a Fokker tri-wing, now shooting down British pilots for the Germans as “The Faceless Phantom”. Though we don’t know it at first, he’s actually died and been brought back by Raisel and her keykeeper The Professor (no sign of Mary Ann) in order that might continue to write his poems borne of the fear and madness of war. Huey finally puts an end to this as a kind of act of mercy, and as he has no further use to them, Raisel and The Professor dispatch Ilas to the next world.

As with so many episodes of this series, there’s an air of deep sadness that pervades affairs here. Huey and Ilas both harbored a love of flying from the time they’d read about the Wright Brothers flights as children, yet they’ve found the chance to fly only as killers. It’s no mean act of symbolism when Huey calmly discards his Victoria Cross (the highest military honor in Britain) by giving it to a very young Armand at the close of the episode. The sense here is that even if capable of doing good, phantom books are born of evil and inherently evil themselves. Huey’s innate kindness has always been evident in his brief scenes with the pink-haired yomihime as a child, so there’s no telling the kind of trauma he lives with as a result of all the men he killed during the war.

What we still don’t know is how Huey became involved with phantom books and demon libraries in the first place, and whether it was mere chance that brought he and Ilas together. Likewise we have only a taste of The Professor and Raisel, but combined with the events of the sixth episode it’s enough to be pretty convincing that most keykeeper-yomihime combinations aren’t as responsible as Huey and Dalian. But as so often, we’re only dancing around the edges of the truth and these characters’ real feelings.

With only one episode to go, it seems very unlikely that we’re to see any real exploration of these questions in the anime. The preview gives no clues as to what the finale will hold, but I think it would be foolish to expect anything really enlightening or definitive. Some of it is the frustration of living in the one-cour world of anime that currently dominates, but there’s a great deal that can be chalked up to the choices GAINAX made with the adaptation as well. It’s too bad – I can see the germ of a fascinating and powerful story here, though whether even the novels ever really get at it I don’t know.

Two other questions: did they really have one-handed power slams in 1917’s version of basketball? And in 1903, what bombs were more dangerous to a British child than working in a coal mine?

 

Preview

Dantalian no Shoka   11   Preview 01 Dantalian no Shoka   11   Preview 02 Dantalian no Shoka   11   Preview 03
September 24, 2011 at 8:36 pm
28 comments »
  • September 24, 2011 at 9:28 pmDurifto

    Hope the last one at least explains who the white haired girl in Dalian is.

    • September 25, 2011 at 8:40 amYs10

      Not even the novels have explained who she is for sure. Huey just refers to her as Dantalion.

  • September 24, 2011 at 9:33 pmMomogoldfish

    Pretty sure Ilas is actually voiced by Hayami Sho (aka Aizen) rather than Jouji Nakata (though I was fooled till I checked the credits). Really love the voice cast for this show, which must have been chosen by someone with a fetish for having nice voices reciting poetic lines. XD

    • September 24, 2011 at 9:36 pmGuardian Enzo

      Hmm. The disadvantage of not reading kanji. Thanks for the correction – I was sure fooled.

  • September 24, 2011 at 9:40 pmDrew

    Leaving a comment, because such a lovely series deserves more love than it gets.

    It’s possible the bomb statement is a clumsy allusion to how mines were a prime target for aerial bombardment, so if you worked at one, you might claim it’d be safer to be working underground than up top. And, yes, I can see the holes in this line of thought, but just putting out a possible explanation for Ilas’ comments.

    • September 24, 2011 at 9:43 pmDrew

      Though as I actually give this some though, seeing as how he’s a child, unless this version of World War I was vastly different from the real WW I, there shouldn’t have been a war in which he’d have to worry about being bombed as a child.

      So, maybe it’s a very clumsy allusion to the incredibly short life span of the average pilot instead, compared to even the horrors of being a child coal miner.

      • September 24, 2011 at 10:13 pmGuardian Enzo

        Well, that was just my point Drew – there was nobody bombing England in 1903. Since we’ve seen no evidence that this is an alternate world line à la Gosick, the bomb comment just didn’t make any sense.

      • September 24, 2011 at 11:37 pmHakarum

        technically Germany did bomb England during WWI using the zeppelins…

      • September 24, 2011 at 11:55 pmGuardian Enzo

        And WW I started in 1914, not 1903…

    • September 25, 2011 at 3:07 amaiueo123

      Didn’t this story happened during world war 2? Or is there a direct hint that shows that this episode happen during 1903?

      • September 25, 2011 at 2:43 pmFoofiebeast

        The most immediate thing I can think of is that beginning of this episode says 1917, but yes it is set then.

  • September 24, 2011 at 10:25 pmQwerty1

    Think there might be two episodes left? Saw this listed as a 13 episode series somewhere.

    Though I can’t tell seeing how this is episode 11 but the preview says next time is episode 14, not sure if the numbering has always been that off like that.

  • September 24, 2011 at 11:07 pmAlec

    Thought this anime would go beyond 12 episodes. *sigh. Here I was thinking about how awesome the anime would’ve been if they kept showing us those episodes.

  • September 25, 2011 at 12:31 amZaku Fan

    The thing i’m interested in is why are there so many bookshelves. Are they they same library? Or are they each a different entity? What exactly is their function? Are they rivals or are each a component in a bigger cycle? too bad no answers for those given only 1 episode left

    I remember watching the first 2 episodes and finding Dalian extremely irritating. Over the series she has developed into a much more multi dimensional character with childlike shyness with strangers (even though she is probably immortal), a side of kindness and her venomous tongue.

    Huey’s carefree and seemingly unflappable attitude was probably borne of this episode, giving him a reason for being so unconcerned even with Dalian’s venomous tongue.

  • September 25, 2011 at 2:16 amx

    Next episode is the last one. They even canceled the OVA :(. This episode made me feel like it could have been the last one as well. Felt like full circle after knowing what happened in the past. I hope that somehow we get more of this story someday. I’ll really miss Dalian :(

  • September 25, 2011 at 7:50 amM0rg0th

    The storytelling of this episode was just terrible! They managed to tell the story in a way that made it partly impossible to follow it. Dantalian no Shoka really lost much of its charm that I expected it to have when I had seen the first episode. There’s no way this series can end on a good note next episode the way it has developed until now.

  • September 25, 2011 at 7:58 amMedoi

    this series is such a tease….and i was pretty disappointed there wasn’t any dalian in this. also, there was not much rasiel either! even she is somewhat ….creepy, i do find her adorable. especially when she said “nein, es ist das ende.” surpsrisingly good german, haha.

  • September 25, 2011 at 9:04 amKentaiyoshimi

    I think this series served more as an advertisement for the novels, rather than a standalone anime series. It seems like it’s being used to get audiences familiar with the characters/plot, thus encouraging poeple to buy the novels for the full story. Afterall, this IS a series about books.

    • September 25, 2011 at 11:15 amGuardian Enzo

      Maybe – but for me, that’s a failure by GAINAX if so. If you’re going to make an anime, I think you need to try and make one that stands on it’s own.

      • September 25, 2011 at 12:27 pmYs10

        From what I’ve read of the novels it’s a pretty decent adaptation for the most part. They cut some details out of the stories but all the novels were basically each separate chapter being a stand alone story just like each episode in the anime has been.

    • September 25, 2011 at 2:46 pmFoofiebeast

      Yeah, I can’t say I haven’t been disappointed by the series, but I have enjoyed it nonetheless. It is one of the more unique shows I’ve seen in awhile in terms of the way it tells its story, and I appreciate that. The characters are great, it’s just really too bad they won’t get fleshed out more, which they desperately need to be.

  • September 25, 2011 at 1:51 pminfinite

    If they were playing basketball in 1903 the sport was only around for 12 years. I dont know how much fact is in this but they say Bob Kurland started using the dunk around 1945 in collage.

    • September 26, 2011 at 4:05 amMockman

      No overhand jump shots either at that time.

      The mining stuff didn’t make any sense, especially given his aristocratic origins. And as several have mentioned, there wasn’t any aerial bombing in 1903, by anyone. The first flight by the Wright brothers was still several years away. Even during the war, it took a while for airplanes to turn into combat vehicles.

      I thought the tossing of the VC was clumsily done. But otherwise, I enjoyed the letter and the leaving. And after his drive and seeing his destination, I watched episode one again.

      As an aside, there are too many phantom books. People have only been writing for a few thousand years. For most of this time, you could probably count the number of people who could write.

      One of the things that has kept me watching this show is that I’m curious about whether Huey has a unique destiny with Dalian, or the woman in the gourd. His nature is different from that of the other keykeepers. Dalian’s response to him in episode one felt like he was different from others who she might have bonded with, although I can’t really explain why. And I don’t recall any of the other keepers having the same type of dreams that he does about the gourd woman. But we don’t really know much about them except that they act cynically. He must have had the key for a while, since it seemed that all he physically received from his grandfather was the letter. There is a lot of mystery here and I am wondering how they’ll deal with it in only a single episode.

  • September 25, 2011 at 5:19 pmEroThraX

    I had assumed from the start that Huey had received the key from his Grandfather, presuming that his Grandfather was the key holder before him…

    Yet now we are seeing that Huey already possessed the key before the estate and Dalian were left to him, will they explain the key in the final episode or will it focus on something else?

  • September 25, 2011 at 8:39 pmsomar514

    Not sure if I can bring myself to watch Gosick now after hearing all the comparisons with Dantalian no Shoka. Hugh seems to be a much more likeable character than Kujo. A shame the series is going to end rather abruptly. Back to searching for another interesting anime…

  • September 25, 2011 at 9:46 pmOroboros

    I’m disappointed to learn that there are only 1-2 episodes left. A rich universe is wasted with far too many bottled episodes and not a single plot to unite them together. No confrontation between the contesting Mystical Libraries.

    A damned shame.

  • September 26, 2011 at 1:09 amgawrshness

    Hey I didn’t pick something up, Dalin says Yes in English, Raisel says Yes and No in German, so the third lady in straight jacket whose name I don’t know did she have any specific none Japanese words in her dialogues?

    • September 26, 2011 at 10:07 amGuardian Enzo

      Flamberge didn’t use any non-Japanese in the ep she appeared in, I don’t believe.