I’ve gotten ambitious. Two reviews in a single weekend. This is unheard of! Especially when I can’t even keep to the schedule and review things on Saturday like I promise. I set my own deadlines, and even then I don’t succeed to meet them. Think how well I do in school…
Anyhow, Dantalian No Shoka is a Gainax anime. That’s all I really know about it’s background other than the fact it is based off of a light novel series, which seems readily apparent when watching any anime. It’s either based off of a manga, light novel, or visual novel. So either a book, a comic book, or a book with pictures that is a mixture of a manga and a book.
Is this anime worth your time? Well, let me tell you.
She knows I’m about to say something bad…
Dantalian No Shoka is twelve episodes long and when I think of twelve episodes, I think of a cohesive plot that has a satisfying climax. Dantalian No Shoka is like the polar opposite of that. While the series does have a small amount of cohesive plot (a lot more during the final episode), most of the series is episodic in nature. The plot revolves around Hugh Anthony Disward, a Keykeeper for a mystical library inside of Dalian, who I think is some sort of doll come to life or something. This all takes place in Post World War I England which does give us a really nice, fresh setting. Each episode Dalian and Hugh go after books that can be used for a myriad of bad things. And that’s about it. The plot never expressly explains who Dalian really is, why she has a library inside of her, where Phantom Books really came from. I get the feeling that the biblioprincess’s (as Dalian and another girl later on are called) are the libraries of the archangel’s, but this only comes up once and is never stated as a fact. The last episode seems to explain a bit about how Dalian became a Biblioprincess (something about Pandora’s box and we see the minotaur of Crete as well), but once again we are never told anything and I guess we are meant to make assumptions ourselves.
There are two episodes that I need to talk about. One features a guy who burns Phantom Books but has a biblioprincess like companion with him. Whether she is or not, I don’t know. There is another episode where we meet the red biblioprincess. Both of these episodes seemed like filler until the very end when they showed up for the final faceoff.
The last episode should have resolved something but instead leaves more questions, doesn’t resolve anything, and makes me want a second season.
I also want to state that the vast majority of the episodes, maybe two are exceptions, focus on girls or women as the bad guys or as people taken advantage of. There are only two or three male bad guys in the whole show and the rest are crazy women. I don’t know why that bothered me, maybe it was the fact it made the show more predictable.
So it has a loose plot, but a good idea for episodic adventure. It’s just too short to be episodic.
Typical of how English people think American’s dress.
If there is one thing this show has going for it it is the spectacular animation. While characters look average at best, the backgrounds and setting are amazing looking. The colors are bright and vivid and the I heard that this was the only place that Gainax had anything to do with. The characters don’t look like Gainax characters particularly, but then again, Gainax tends to change things up every anime they do. There is one episode where the animation changes into something out of an older edition of a Lewis Carrol novel and it looks amazing.
She’s cool. I’d like to know more about her…and about all the other characters too.
The opening theme is fantastic. The ending theme is also great. The music during the show is good as well. Voice work is good and sound effects are good. This sound section is hard to write a really long, compelling paragraph about most of the time…
Hugh and Dalian are fun characters to follow around, although they are both fairly generic and their personalities can be seen in dozens of anime, especially Dalian’s. There are very few recurring characters. There is a girl that I guess is the love interest, but a complete idiot. There is Hugh’s friend, a womanizing guy who at one point is turned into a tree and set on fire. There is the book burning guy and his white haired companion chick. The companion chick is pretty awesome, but doesn’t get enough screen time. The red biblioprincess is kind of there, as is the main bad guy. The characters are all pretty static.
The series is good. But it’s bogged down by the fact there are only twelve episodes, there is not really a cohesive plot, and the ending begs a second season that I don’t know if we’ll ever see. It’s a solid anime, it’s got a lot of redeeming factors and has a lot of cool ideas, but I just don’t feel like it really accomplishes anything. As a weekly adventure, it was a fun watch. If you were to watch the episodes one after another though, you’d probably be bored. There is never a To Be Continued moment that leaves you on the edge and makes you keep watching.
So it’s good as a weekly show, not quite as much as something to watch over an afternoon. On top of that, quite a few episodes are rather dull, boring, or feel like an episode from before.
As much as I did like it, it is ultimately a 7.5/10. We can hope for a second season.
Next Review: Baccano!