“The Book Burner”
Well now, that was certainly an odd turn for those of us (like me) who hadn’t read the LNs before. The entire episode focused on two characters we’ve never met, with no prior explanation as to who they are and what they’re up to. Huey and Dalian were never present, and only mentioned briefly.
I guess in judging the episode, one has to look at it both in context and in terms of pure stand-along entertainment value. To tackle the latter first, I guess I’d say it was pretty good. It’s an interesting story – a small-town lady police officer, Mabel Nash (Aya Endo) encounters two strangers, a man on a motorbike and a girl in a sidecar. This is Hal Kamhout (Katou Masayuki) and Flamberge (Koshimizu Ami). It’s immediately obvious that this is another yomihime and human tag team, and almost as immediately obvious that they’re very different from Huey and Dalian (whom Hal announces they’re searching for). Flamberge is chained at the wrists and ankles for starters, and the two of them are verbally abusive to each other in the mold of Margery Daw and Marchosias from Shakugan no Shana. Hal claims to be a “Libricide”, some sort of book cop whose job is to eliminate phantom books and those whose beings are touched by them, through the use, apparently, of Nanoha’s staff.
I never quite bought into the drama of the English village destroyed by German bombs, the plot by Mabel to replace the 80% who died with animated dolls, and the little sister Patti (Hidaka Rina) who seems to be one of the few living humans left, beyond an intellectual level. There was a nugget of interesting information in that the phantom book that allowed Mabel to pull this off was given to her by yet another yomihime, a loli-esque redhead named Rasiel (yes, I did check the source for that, but that’s all I know), who must be the mischievous sort to have done such a thing. Most of the entertainment value was derived from the interplay between Hal and Flamberge, who were quite entertaining in their cheerful bickering.
But to finally judge this ep on the first standard I raised, I’m not overly pleased. In the simplest terms I missed Huey and Dalian – I guess I hadn’t really realized how much I’d come to like both their characters, but I have. A larger issue, though, is that this episode felt confusing coming unannounced in the middle of the series with no exposition, and the matters on screen lost some impact because of that same lack of context. I’m sure these are important characters in the novels, but so what? They mean nothing to me, and I’d have liked a more compelling argument for whey that shouldn’t be the case. I can only assume we’ll see them again in the seven remaining episodes, or GAINAX wouldn’t have bothered to introduce them at all.
The previews for Dantalian aren’t too helpful, so I can only take it on faith that our main pair will be back next week. If I’m anxious for anything other than that, it’s for a reappearance by Camilla – who I really enjoyed in her one appearance – and some clue as to who the blonde yomihime that lives inside Dalian and interacts with Chibi-Huey is.