Random Curiosity

Dantalian no Shoka – 03 »« Dantalian no Shoka – 01

Dantalian no Shoka – 02

OP Sequence

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.



July 22, 2011 at 8:26 pm
  • July 22, 2011 at 8:31 pmkokoalim

    “I ask of thee, art thou mankind?”
    “Nay, I am the world.”

    Too much epicness.

    • July 22, 2011 at 8:41 pmSissy

      Oh, nice! That sounds awesome! X3

    • July 22, 2011 at 9:34 pmXziled

      if thats a quote from the episode, then ima watch it just to hear that :D

      still not sure if im going to watch this on a weekly basis or to marathon it yet

    • July 23, 2011 at 1:06 pmeharper256

      Yep, actually thats been in both episodes, its Dalian’s unlocking mantra. The “Nay, I am the world” fades into an echoed awesome voice. And then he thrusts his hand into her chest to grab some good reads. LOL.

      Man, they seriously abuse ‘Talking is a Free Action’ in this show. Or maybe its just that Huey has Nagato-type hyper incantation and its slowed down for us to comprehend.

      Oh look its a golem, excuse me Dalian, please pass the book on Indignation, ta much!

      Theres a risk of monster of the week at the moment, but even so its fine. Estella did Yangire correctly, and Dalian does Tsundere without domestic violence. So cool beans.

  • July 22, 2011 at 9:28 pmPeepQ

    Seems like a good show to take up gosick’s spot.

  • July 22, 2011 at 9:29 pmAex

    Estella was friggen awesome!! She was just so broken you felt bad for her even as she’s killing people. Kinda wish it had ended differently.

    I get what GE means about no warmth from the two leads, though. Most of the time they come across as two old friends that’ve been doing this kinda thing for way too long. When Dalian’s tsundere kicks in its pretty adorable, but then Huey just hand-waves or misses it and it feels like a wasted effort. The hair thing at the end was priceless!

    I still want to know more about the pink-haired “librarian” that it seems Huey met was he was younger. That’ll be an interesting story.

  • July 22, 2011 at 9:56 pmDude

    Ok…whoever wrote the script is obviously in love with Ono Daisuke’s voice. Not that its bad but those ‘incantations’ are really frigging long. Not even Negima incantations are long enough that nobody would want to step up and disrupt casting.

    • July 23, 2011 at 5:57 amKarmafan

      I like this series but the long ass incantations are momentium killers just like Nichijou’s (continuously showing traffic lights and such).

    • July 23, 2011 at 3:34 pmKurisu Vi Britannia

      I agree, i’m hoping that it’s going to be like Sailor Moon and Digimon where they shorten the transformation sequences after a few eps just so that we’re not trolled with incessant dribble for a few minutes each episode.

    • July 23, 2011 at 9:58 pmlkaze

      haha long incantation. And i thought how enemy wait for magical girl transformation is lame. Now we have enemy that wait for Huey to finish reading a book.

    • July 24, 2011 at 1:43 pmFallenrock

      I’m actually a fan of the long incantations, the flashbacks help flesh out the story in a way that doesn’t waste too much time; all the while listening (for those of us who arent fluent in japanese; reading) to the epic poetry/stories written ages ago by some mysterious author. Maybe its just my love of books but I haven’t had chills like that since watching R.O.D. ova on adult swim for the first time

  • July 22, 2011 at 10:01 pmFlameStrike

    This episode was pretty interesting. I rather like how Huey and Dalian stay so cool even with random murders and golems popping up in front of them. It sure beats the “OMFG WHAT HAPPEN!?” reaction most typical characters put out. Although it does translated into a lack of warmth from the characters.

    Dalian was pretty clever in deduceing that Estella was the murderer. She knew right away that Estella was bad news! Hahaha, also Dalian bits of tsundere are fun to watch. Tsundere without random unjustified violence is tsundere done right.

    The whole book battle was done better this episode too. It felt more like Huey was a wizard with long ass spell chants than “LOL read a book, vanish your enemy”. Using that golden shield to hold off the golem made a lot more sense then a dragon just sitting there watching him chant for 3 minutes doing nothing.

  • July 22, 2011 at 10:10 pmThousand Mistress

    Episode 2 is as epic as the first one. The main characters remained cool and amazing, and Estella Liliburn is just so awesome. Speaking of Estella, to those who have read the manga may have compared her to Paula Lentz (also one of my favorites) since Estella’s psychotic personality is similar to Paula (although Paula’s is to a greater and horrifying extent).

    Golems, huh. I wasn’t the wee bit surprised seeing a golem in this episode. Something would be connected to history, and I was right. The mentions of Beelzebub and Canaan was no surprise for me as well. And yeah, Ono Daisuke is one heck of an epic seiyuu…the scenes where Huey was incanting and reading some kind of spell in both the Phantom Book and tablet, is just amazing.

    Dalian stays as epic as ever as usual (lol long~) A tsundere, no less. XD I like the way her jealousy towards Estella shows, but Huey doesn’t seem to see it, but that’s okay, right? It’s much more safer that way if Dalian keeps her unwanted jealousy all for herself. And LOL at the end, Dalian pinning up her hair, is that to imitate Estella and to impress Huey in some sort? For short, Dalian really is cute, hands down. XD

  • July 22, 2011 at 10:28 pmKumaKaori

    The ep title for the Stub on the main page reads for Episode one “Shikake Ehon” – Popup Book; Instead of the true title for ep 2 ” Taiji no Sho” (ewww. brb need to go watch o3o;;.)

    • July 22, 2011 at 10:42 pmGuardian Enzo

      No it doesn’t! ;-)

    • July 22, 2011 at 11:25 pmKumaKaori

      Correct, it certainly doesn’t. What madness must’ve taken hold of me? ;).

  • July 22, 2011 at 11:47 pmsto

    was huey crying at the end of the episode?
    and if he was… i wonder why?

  • July 23, 2011 at 12:17 amEirias

    This isn’t the place, but I have to ask: What is the anime the Random Curiosity banner references? It looks rather amazing.

    • July 23, 2011 at 12:17 amEirias

      The current banner, to wit.

    • July 23, 2011 at 12:20 amEirias

      Given that I just read the site note referencing Guilty Crown, it appears I need to work on my reading comprehension. Or general awareness, to be honest. Yeesh.

  • July 23, 2011 at 5:18 amhaga

    yea? fuck you, delete this.

  • July 23, 2011 at 5:37 amx

    I guess this proves that GAINAX can make a good “conventional” anime. I like it so far.

  • July 23, 2011 at 6:29 amKurofaise

    I like it, alot. It’s nothing crazy or doesn’t stand out as much but it’s still very good and put together nicely. I will enjoy it for what it is and not expect some crazy twists or more gainax-ness, but I will happily welcome it. Otherwise, the art is stunning and I’m still in love with Huey and Dalian’s eyes, they are just perfectly drawn and coloured and instantly attract my attention when watching.

  • July 23, 2011 at 8:14 amSeishun Otoko

    I agree that the most interesting part of this week’s episode was Dalian’s theory behind the reason that turns Lillburn women into serial murderers.
    The animation quality continues to be top-notch with the unique photo realistic backgdrop, but it still very much seems like your generic fantasy series done well at this point. Not that it’s a bad thing, but we’re talking about Gainax over here and I would like to be wow-ed.

  • July 23, 2011 at 9:22 amasdf

    that sound dalian makes at the very end of the episode was certainly not human

  • July 23, 2011 at 9:37 amJustinnnnnn

    I still haven’t watched the series, but I’ll damn do when I have the time.

    That said, I’m commenting just to give you credit Guardian Enzo for such such such in-depth reviews of the episode…And not just this one, but with other episodes and series too. You really have the vibe of a true, professional critic. You have some great analysis, then great one-phrasers and lastly a good sense of humor…At least that’s my opinion. You are a very good blogger Enzo, and I can say I’ll be happily waiting your posts for each new episode! Hats off to you sir!

    • July 23, 2011 at 9:47 amGuardian Enzo

      Thanks. You got the check, then?;-)

      Seriously, awfully nice of you to say. I’m just trying to contribute something meaningful to the conversation and never be less than totally honest.

    • July 23, 2011 at 12:44 pmJustinnnnnn

      Same with Steins Gate…Haven’t watched the show, and though I skip through some of your comments to avoid spoilers, you’re damn well convincing me to watch it (the show itself also does so too).
      Keep up the with the awesome job you’re doing, Enzo!

  • July 23, 2011 at 10:14 amKGFJ

    “I guess a world war and family tragedy can turn anyone from Kana Hanazawa into a cold-hearted badass” this comment instantly put a huge grin on my face.
    I think the 2nd episode stands out more than the 1st episode. It shows what the effect the extremely long incantation has is related (in a seemingly pretty complicated way) with its history. They didn’t show it in the 1st episode.
    One thing that budges me this episode is Dalian and Huey’s reactions towards Estelle when they found out the man got killed. I mean, that Estelle lady was standing right next to his dead body, her clothes drenched in blood and she didn’t even look sorry about him getting murdered (even more concerned about her clothes) yet Dalian and Huey didn’t find it odd. Huey especially didn’t even think of her as the killer.
    apart from that (and the painfully long incantation) this anime has been great! I love all the references and the main leads, nothing stereotypical esp about Huey ^^
    and since this is Gainax I kind of expect to be mind fucked :D

  • July 23, 2011 at 3:37 pmKurisu Vi Britannia

    Just watched the first two eps of this series, definitely added it to my ever-growing pile of shows this season.

    I like the non-violent tsundere and the olden days setting ;)


    • July 23, 2011 at 10:01 pmlkaze

      You like non-violent tsundere? Don’t you feel bad for Rie Kugimiya lately? She only have a job in Idolm@ster and she not even the main character(I think, not sure cuz too many of them).

  • July 23, 2011 at 3:54 pmMegas

    This stuff is beyond awesome. Just thinking of all the bloody research of the lore from different cultures that had to be done to not make the epicness sound like a ton of BS gibberish brought me to tears, seriously. I love production companies that ACTUALLY think out an anime (I can’t believe I’m saying that about GAINAX). I got the same feeling with Demonbane, but the research required for that is in a league of its own.

  • July 23, 2011 at 5:48 pmhrmm

    I’m more interested in the light novels from watching this. Since that’s impossible, I’ll be eagerly awaiting the next episode :>

  • July 23, 2011 at 9:56 pmlkaze

    So when Huey cast that cool shield to block the golem attack. Does anyone think of the cool shield made by Shiro(Fate Stay Night) [Rho Aias ~ The Seven Rings that Covers the Fiery Heavens ]

    Since both of them are getting their power based on mystical tale, perhaps soon we’ll see Avalon or Excalibur. I highly doubt unlimited blade works.

  • July 23, 2011 at 10:54 pmcybersteel


  • July 24, 2011 at 2:54 amewok40k

    the Tablets of Ugarit are actually real:
    also possibly a reference to the Dead Sea Scrolls? :P
    lol, never thought being archeology student and anime fan can intersect…

  • July 24, 2011 at 11:45 amannamoss

    I’m just speculating, but I think Dalian is just the gateway or the gatekeeper of the mystical library of Dantalian, while as the yomihime is the librarian and the one that gives books to the user.
    On the contrary, I like the characters as they are, cold and nonchalant, alot different from the other animes this season, and I prefer it that way. Although, I expected a mystery, there’s not much going on, the series is really straightforward….and not much thinking…

    • July 24, 2011 at 4:06 pmWanderer

      Dalian IS the Black Yomihime: yomihime is the title for creatures like her who serve as a gateway or a container for a mystical archive. The girl within the library, however, I don’t know much about. She only appeared once in the first novel, in the flashback shown in the first episode where young Huey asked her what that place was called. She may be the demon Dantalian. Huey, at least, came to identify her by that name.

  • July 26, 2011 at 8:07 pmsealouse

    Dalian is really growing on me. Her voice actress is epic.

  • July 30, 2011 at 1:44 amkylone

    Coming at this from a sideways direction, I’m a big fan of the Dresden Files book series and I keep wanting to put Harry where Huey is. Dalian is pretty much an Elegent Gothic Lolita version of Bob the Skull anyways. (Exchanging tsundere for Bob’s debauchery)

    Or not. :) I guess I’d like Huey a bit more if he has some Epic Wise-ass in him, I guess.

    That being said, I’m enjoying the show!