「等価の書 / 連理の書」 (Tōka no Sho / Renri no Sho)
“Book of Equivalence / Book of Connectionr”
Well, there’s no denying that this was a pretty lightweight pair of stories for Dantalian no Shoka this week. But you know, I think this is a face that the series wears well – I find the series quite charmer when it shows its warmer, funnier side.
For openers, it’s the return of the flapper/cowgirl Camille – only this time she’s in a topcoat ‘n tails with a very unconvincing fake mustache. Camille is a character type I can easily see rubbing some people the wrong way, but I quite like her. She’s ditzy and a bit daft without being stupid, and she’s cute and charming without trying too hard. She seems pretty sweet on Dalian as well, though there’s no chemistry with Huey whatsoever, for some reason.
Her phantom book is an interesting one – The Book of Equivalency, which allows the owner to trade anything with anyone for something of equal or lesser value. I like the deceptively dangerous nature of this one, as Dalian points out. Value is subjective for starters, and what if the bearer of the book wants something they’d give their life for? There’s also a nice bit of historical trivia, as Dalian has fallen for a teddy bear – newly in demand due to the popularity of American ex-President Teddy Roosevelt – made by the great German bear maker Steiff. The trail of trades that forms behind Camille and ends with Dalian getting her bear is amusing, though I do wonder about the wisdom of leaving the book with the cutthroat trader Camille swapped it to in exchange for the bear.
The second story features the return of romantic doofus and Bertie Wooster wannabe Armand, who’s managed to land his hands on a phantom book called The Book of Connection (which, for a change, Huey has never heard of). The two with each half of this one are soul mates, and destined to be together forever – and for Armand, that’s Lianna Scholes (Kuwashima Houko). Alas she turns out to be a yandere who’s consumed with jealousy every time Armand talks with a woman, and the only way out of their lifetime bond is for him to die. This being Dantalian we have to have at least one in the body count, so Dalian proposes that they allow Lianna to kill him in flames and then resurrect him using another phantom book after her departure. It isn’t a pleasant experience for Armand, but he learns a valuable lesson – phantom books and women are very dangerous. And also, big breasts are nice, too.
I’m not sure the series was advanced in any meaningful way here, but it’s getting pretty late in the game for the development of any kind of overarching plot (though we do have the KanaHana pink-haired yomihime showing up every few weeks). At this point I’m pretty satisfied with an entertaining stand-alone episode, because I’m not sure we’re going to get anything more than that, and I think this was the most entertaining episode since the Lennie Lents storyline. Dalian and Camille have a nice chemistry, Armand was good for a few years, and the overall tone was pleasing. As for the unbelievably confusing chapter and episode numbering GAINAX is throwing at us, I’ve given up – I’m not even going to try and make sense of it.