The Mystic Archives of Dantalian

Alt title: Dantalian no Shoka

TV (12 eps)
3.616 out of 5 from 6,507 votes
Rank #3,566

After his grandfather’s untimely death, Hugh Anthony Disward visits the estate of his inheritance where he discovers a library that’s out of this world. Embodying the archive is Dalian, a clever girl with a sharp tongue as biting as her sweet tooth. Circumstance leads to necessity, and she teaches Huey how to harness the power within—a handy trick to learn, seeing as it’s the only way to subdue the monsters brought forth by magical works of literature.

Source: Crunchyroll

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Reviews

ThatAnimeSnob
4

Dantalian is the Victorian era based story of a boy named Kujo meeting a girl who reads many books named Victorique and they team up to solve mysteries concerning the supernatural. … Hey wait a second, that’s not Dantalian I am describing; that’s Gosick! Damn these shows are identical in their premise! … In fact all loli detective shows are so much alike. … In fact all loli detective shows ever made aired at the same year. I hereby name 2011 the year of the loli detectives. Damn anime industry, I know you are running out of ideas but copying each other so soon and so obviously will be your death. Variety is the spice of life or did you forget? Ok, back to describing the anime properly. Dantalian is the Victorian era based story of a boy named Anthony meeting a girl who reads many books named Dalian and they team up to solve mysteries concerning the supernatural. What we have here is a library full of demonic books that bring into reality their contents. Anthony doesn’t think much before he decides to befriend the girl and prevent the evil knowledge of the books from spreading. The production values look good; GAINAX is a studio with big pockets. There is a lot of detail given to the Victorian setting of the show and the special effects are abundant. The character designs look generic and the soundtrack didn’t strike a chord with me despite trying to be all sad and mysterious. The detail to shading shows various quality drops as if they eventually don’t bother adding layers of shadows or even smooth character outlines.Story-wise Dantalian is episodic, as well as extremely rushed and messy. Too many things happen too fast and with too much telling instead of showing, so my enjoyment was very low. I mean the storyboard is about introducing a whole new cast in each episode, explaining it, as well as developing and find a conclusion all in just 18 minutes of duration. There is absolutely no time to get to bond with the story or the characters. The episodic missions create an information overflow and by the time you learn something new, it is already almost over and you are left with no reward for bothering to follow through and understand it. No time to build tension or drama or sympathy at all. I like how they are trying not to repeat the exact same things each time, like NOT fighting a cursed book on episode two, or NOT having to fight the cursed book on episode 3. That is still hardly enough to give a rat's ass about characters and storylines who come and go in one episode.Character-wise, we have cop-outs of the typical boy-loli duet. Having aired so close to the similar Gosick, Kamisama Memo-chou and Milky Holmes makes them look completely boring right away. I mean five minutes after they meet and she is already going tsundere on a guy who lies defenceless at her feet. How original! The cast on later episodes ain’t any better; five minutes after you meet them they start to die and the rest just disappear. I find it impossible to like them. Action-wise, the show is completely random. Monsters appear and Anthony fights them by reading books he plunges out of the girl, after shoving his hand deep inside her. And for some reason the monsters are sitting still for several minutes as he is chatting with Dalian and then reading fairy tales and mystical passages that somehow banish them. LOLWUT??? As cool as it looks at first, it is completely ridiculous and unexciting as there is no choreography or enough duration to even bother to care about it. But at least he also carries this normal looking gun that he uses before he goes for the books. You know, in case he can kill a monster with more conventional means before he has to start READING BOOKS in the MIDDLE OF A BATTLE with MURDERING FREAKS. But it’s not like it matters what he is doing since the monsters are just sitting still as he does his stuff. As for fighting in more conventional ways, well, he is easily owned by a normal human guy just because he doesn’t freeze while he is reading poetry. Completely retarded. Not even the era means anything after awhile, since all of a sudden there are cars and airplanes. My impressions are not positive. It is just an episodic and poorly written loli detective show with added magic for kicks. It also tries to pass for sophisticated by adding passages from famous works, as well as mystical theories and ghost stories, yet all that mean nothing if you are not made to care. And I didn’t, since without proper duration to each case and further developing of the stereotypical duo, this anime is a flop just like the rest of its brood.

onesecond
7.3

    Story Dantalian no Shoka is set in post World War I England. Hugh Anthony Disward is the keykeeper of the Bibliotheca Mystica de Dantalian, an otherworldly library which is embodied by the magical being Dalian, who takes the form of a young raven haired girl. Together, they investigate incidents related to phantom books, books containing knowledge and power beyond human reach, which if misused, may bring about disastrous effects. The series starts with Hugh driving through a scenic English countryside, with the series’ fantastical theme playing in the background. He is travelling to the mansion of his recently deceased grandfather to inherit his grandfather’s estate, and where he will take his first steps into the world of phantom books. The question is will you want to follow? The premise and setup of the series show great promise. The early 20th century is a suitable period, when superstitions and belief in the supernatural was more common. The idea that historical books possessed of magical properties gives room to incorporate a wealth of lore into the plot. Adding to this mix Gainax’s polished rendering of the visuals, which communicate a vibe of mystery and a dark atmosphere, Dantalian no Shoka might have proved to be an exceptional series. Unfortunately, the series doesn’t quite deliver. My main disappointment was with the lack of depth in the plot. The series is episodic, and while this is not categorically fatal to a strong story, the producers didn’t quite manage to handle this element in the best way. The individual stories might be taken to be tied together by a loose theme of human nature and desire, where the characters attempt to use the powers of the phantom books achieve their goals, but usually for one reason or another, bring about tragedy instead. However, this theme isn’t well developed. For a large part of each episode, the viewer is left guessing at what at all is going on, which is a good technique for mystery, but not the best way to quickly develop a compelling story. When the revelation is made, the explanations are rushed and usually clichéd, lacking a convincing background. The same can be said for the central characters of each story. They are not developed enough to get the viewer involved in their stories, which makes it difficult for us to be affected by their eventual fate. There are hints at a larger plot, but this only happens in the background. We are introduced to two other keykeepers and their partner “libraries”, or yomi hime, as they are called in the story. There is the morally ambiguous pair, keykeeper Hal, and his partner Flamberge, who destroy phantom books, because Hal regards them as unneeded items in the world. And there is the more obviously evil pair, the Professor and his partner Rasiel, who have an as yet unknown agenda. They collectively appear only in a quarter of the total number of episodes, and their characters and stories are unexplored for the most part. We’ll have to rely on a second season – if we get one – to develop this angle of the story. Animation Gainax has done an admirable job with the visuals. The colours used effectively paint the story in an aura of mystery. The actions sequences are also well rendered, and flow smoothly. But sadly, after the first two episodes, the number of action scenes drops significantly. But viewers can still enjoy the backgrounds. While not exceptionally memorable, the setting of early 20th century England is quite charmingly reproduced with a good level of detail. Some of the backgrounds appeared to me to be recreated from real pictures, and I quite liked the effect, though you may or may not agree. Sound The opening theme is an enchanting piece, which is also used to rather good effect in creating the image of a fantasy setting in some scenes. It was one of the main factors that gave me high expectations for the series, which the series sadly, did not match. The overall soundtrack also did its work to set the mood for each scene. The voice acting suitably carried the personalities of the characters, and I thought Dalian’s character was made nicely distinct by the delivery of her verbal quirks, though some might find it too cutesy for their taste. Characters One refreshing aspect of the series is the dynamics of the relationship between Hugh and Dalian. In most shonen series, where the female lead is bossy and overbearing, the male lead is usually dragged along at her pace all the time. But here, Hugh is portrayed as mature – fitting for a veteran pilot – and is well able to keep up with Dalian, even occasionally adding a few jibes of his own. It felt somewhat like the relationship between Lawrence and Holo in Spice and Wolf, without the sexual overtones. Hugh can also hold his own in a fight, which makes him a nice break from a stock character overall. On the downside, besides what I mentioned about the characters in each story not being sufficiently developed, the main characters are also hardly developed, even over the entire course of twelve episodes. The viewer get close to no information on Dalian’s past, and only one episode of when Hugh was serving in the air services. The character’s impassive reactions in most of the stories also mean that we rarely get to understand their thoughts. Overall Dantalian no Shoka distinguishes itself from the usual fare in a number of ways. The time period it’s set in is not too common. The darker themes of the stories are also not something you get every day, and are more sombre in the sense that the main characters are not all powerful, and can be counted on to always save the day. In fact, the reverse is probably true for this series. There is also a nice change to the dynamics of the main characters’ relationship. But the flaws in the series mean that it doesn’t quite take itself completely out of the realm of the usual. It’s not something that I would call amazing, but I wouldn’t say it were mediocre either. I was probably more disappointed than I should have been because the first episode really got my hopes up. If you have time on your hands, go ahead and try this series without too high expectations, and you might find yourself pleasantly entertained.

MrShadowzs
7.8

Story So as the show starts Huey Anthony Disward gets a letter saying his grandfather has died and that his whole estate has been left to none other than Huey. Not only his enormous house, and his vast and very famous book collection, but also something named Dalian, who Huey assumes is a pet. He however quickly finds out that it is actually a girl who just happens to be a bookshelf for containing phantom books, phantom books being books that contain knowledge that should not be known and can bend the fabric of time and space, so they have to travel around England finding and either destroy or retrieve all of the phantom books. Confused yet, well you should be, Dantalian has a bad habit of not really explaining things and just assumes you'll go along with it. Since the show is quite episodic let me give you a run down of a basic episode, Dalian and Huey are off doing something of no real importance when someone has a problem, it's written off as just strange, but is found out to be the work of a phantom book, so they go and find the phantom book and more often than not have to defeat something using one of their own phantom books, Huey reads the book in a very dramatic fashion, something from beyond the veil of space and time somehow saves them, everyone is saved, except someone usually dies...like a lot of the time. The show this reminds of most is probably GOSICK, take that how you will, except that there was no real magic in GOSICK and they usually at least tried to explain what the hell was going one.  Again the biggest problem I have is that it just throws way to much at you all at once and usually just expects you to go with it. So really people who don't want a somewhat confusing show or likes one that kind of holds your hand, you can stop reading now, but for the people who can just go with it and be like "so they just happened to have a book that can do just what they needed done, why not" you'll be fine. Actually one of the strangest things in the whole series is that basically everyone knows about phantom books, some just write it off as a rumor, but it seems everyone and their dog has seen or even used one. Also there really isn't any sort of closer at the end of episode 12, just warning you. Characters Remember how I said this show was like GOSICK, I really hope you do it was only like 5 sentences ago, well Dalian and Victorique could easily be cousins. While Dalian is no where near as smart as Victorique, they both have that same bossy, tsundere, Haruhi Suzumiya, kind of personality that is basically required by law if you're a petite, long haired, girl in gothic lolita. However unlike Victorique, who I felt was just kind of an asshole because.... well because, Dalian is really just trying to tease Huey because she knew his grandfather for so long and really is just trying to understand him. While we are on Huey, comparing him to Kujou is just insulting, Huey is the exact opposite of Kujou who couldn't fight his way out of a paper bag, was disliked by his classmates, and only had that super thickheaded will most Shounen characters have. Huey on the other hand was not only a fighter pilot, but is a great shot with his pistol, good at hand to hand, a very smooth talker, and just a really good character, he really is one of the things that made me want to keep watching. There are some other side characters, some are Huey's friends, some are random people, and some are others who are looking for the phantom books and some are other bookshelves. The best of these characters are Hal Kamhout and Flam, Hal is a book keeper and Flam is a bookshelf. Hal is determined to find every phantom book and burn them all, while Flam is just going along for the ride, Flam comes off as kind of crazy, but she is really actually very good, and Hal is mostly silent, but somehow that really works, also he calls Flam a piece of trash a lot, but we know he doesn't mean it. They may of only had one episode and a brief role in the last episode, but I really warmed up to them, ha warmed cuz he burns books, funny, anyway. So while I've been harping on how much I love this show's characters, and I do, there is one major problem, let's talk about character development. Character development is when a big change occurs in a characters personality or thinking, but it's also when we are given background information on a character, this is a big problem for this show, they really don't give any background on anyone, we get a little on Huey back in the war, which is all well and good, but it doesn't tell us a whole bunch, it does explain more about phantom books which is good. Yet Dalain herself we know next to nothing about, where did she come from, why must she carry this curse, what was her relationship with Huey's grandfather. One of the biggest questions in the whole series, which is never actually answered, is who the frack is that white haired chick and how does she know Huey, I NEED ANSWERS MAN. Animation What do you want me to say, it's GAINAX, it looks freaking amazing. All of the actions scenes are sleek, the parts where Huey is reading from a phantom book are beautiful, and all of the character designs look great. The only thing I'm wondering is why is everyone blond, it's not really a problem but it's kind of weird. There is no over exaggeration like in Gurren Lagann, or super symbolism like in Eva, just clean visuals, except in one episode where they go into a phantom book, it's not bad just different.   Sound The OP for this show is BEAUTIFUL, seriously, if you've ever heard Lilium from Elfen Lied that's what it sounds like, only less depressing, gorgeous Latin vocals over good orchestration. I've heard people complain they don't like how some parts of the OP animation is slow, fitting the song, and other parts are fast action scenes, but personally I really liked the contrast. The ED is... live action, hmmm interesting, it's got a very creepy song playing over it that suddenly goes into hard rock at the end, I don't know, I thought it was good. The rest of the OST hasn't been released yet, but most of the other songs, like Elfen Lied, are variations on the OP, which if you're gonna play the same song over and over in different ways, might as well make it a really good one.   Overall So despite all of the flaws, little character development, some what confusing stories, no real closure, I really enjoyed Dantalian, the most obvious reason is it feels like a more polished version of GOSICK, which had so much going for it but didn't really do anything with it's potential, however it's still not quite there yet. You know what could solve all these problems, two words, Season 2, yes I feel if this show got a second season and they really worked hard, they could tie up all the loose ends, give all the characters meaning and back story,  and really make a good show out of this. Episode 12 ends in such a way that would be perfect for another season, also there are six books so far, so there is no reason for you not to make more GIANAX. So overall good show, few flaws, you can go watch it on Crunchyroll if you want, can't wait for season 2. I'm MrShadowzs and this has been my two cents.

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