Hello there. Before I begin, I must tell you that I love malware. They enter your computer and conquer it. They interfere with your download and slow your computer down. I had to reformat my damn laptop just to get it working again. I lost a lot of my programs and that prevented me to do a review the past few days. Curse on those malwares. I love them so much.
Anywas, this is review number eleven of a thousand. Today I am going to review a supernatural anime. I think it’s a mystery but I’m not entirely sure. The anime is entitled “Dantalian no Shoka”. It’s a twelve episode anime about magical books. It reminds me a lot of Go Sick, something I’ll discuss more deeply in my review. Let’s read on.
Dantalian no Shoka follows the adventures of Hugh Anthony Disward who inherits his grandfather’s mansion. His grandfather is very fond of books rumored to have sold half his land for a book once. His grandfather lefts him a will giving ownership to his book filled mansion and asking him to take care of his friend, a mysterious girl named Dalia.
Dalia is a keeper of Phantom Books. These are books that were never meant to exist. These books grant magic powers to those that wield them causing harm and chaos to the world. Together, Dalian and Hugh Anthony Disward go on adventures retrieving these books and solving mysteries along the way.
Taking the Pants Off
The idea of incorporating the dark side of history to an anime is pretty unique. Dantalian no Shoka all revolves around Phantom Books. Manuscripts that were not meant to exist. These are things that should be destroyed or sealed away. These books have a pretty nice history behind them and it often has a bit of reality and fantasy weaved into them. Make no doubt about it; this anime is a very nice one. Each episode revolves around some Phantom Books and the effects it has on people who uses these forbidden tropes.
The story follows the pairing of Hugh and Dalian. I have seen this pairing before on another anime. I have seen the tsundere girl who is petite and resembles a doll before. She wears a gothic Lolita outfit and she often goes all cute when she sees something she likes. Dalian is like that and she loves sweets. Hugh Disward is a former Lieutenant of the British aviary force. He pretty much tolerates Dalian and her cold personality. In return, Dalian would grow attach to him and often relies on him. That kind of setting is prominent in another anime: Go Sick. I was very wary of picking up this anime for that striking similarity. Go Sick was great but it rushed its ending making it subpar to its actual potential. I was expecting the same from Dantalian no Shoka.
Let’s face it. Go Sick struggled to create a firm character development despite it being twenty four episodes long. It felt rushed and completely botched. Dantalian no Shoka is twelve episodes so how can it be better than Go Sick? However, I do not advice people to watch an anime expecting it to be as good as another anime despite its resemblance. That’s wrong. It affects the overall enjoyment. But I’ll tell you now that Dantalian no Shoka did avoid Go Sick’s fatal error. It eliminated character development completely.
The anime all revolves around Hugh and Dalian discovering Phantom Books and retrieving them. Hugh is a reliable bishie up until the end. Dalian remains a cute gothic Lolita tsundere up until the end. Their relationship does get stronger with Dalian often relying of Hugh and Hugh finding Dalian’s personality cute. That’s as far as they go. They develop as far as to help them be recognized as the main characters despite each episode revolving around one shot characters and their misfortunes encountering a Phantom Book. You might think such approach is weak and, in a way, it really is but anime shines brilliantly through its supernatural elements.
Each story is intriguing. Each episode has a deep philosophical theme hidden in it. Every episode features the dark repercussion of using a taboo item and the ultimate flaw of humans leading to their downfall. The anime explores ideals such as greed, obsession, lust, vengeance and ignorance in some episodes but also serving some light hearted themes along with them. The formula works brilliantly and so effective that you’d watch the anime up until the end. The anime has a dark theme to it that works quite well with the supposed mystery aspect of the anime. Its mystery element isn’t that impressive with its lack of a bigger cast but again, the Phantom Book angle picks up the majority of the flaws letting these minor elements remain poorly conceived.
The anime had some recurring characters beside Hugh and Dalia. They are often characters that lead Hugh and Dalia to Phantom Books. They are also not that well developed and serve their main purpose. There is Camilla Keynes who dresses are heavily influenced by American fashion. She is carefree and a little energetic. She brings Dalian some sweets making Dalian go all moe. There is also Jeremiah Armand who is a former military buddy of Hugh who goes around chasing girls. They stick to their personality and offer little to the story. There are also some more important pairings in the anime very similar to Hugh and Dalian. These characters also hunts Phantom Books but their goal is far from Hugh and Dalian’s goal which is to seal away those books. These characters seems to be important in the overall plot but since the anime only focuses on some minor plots, their background and character development isn’t fully revealed as well. They only tell you enough to know how they fit in the story.
This anime is begging for a season two. I would love to see a sequel as I would like them to tell more about the characters. It would be nice to get the characters to develop perhaps in another season. The anime ended pretty openly which seems to set up a far bigger story up ahead. It does tease a grander story but the anime does wrap up quite nicely. We had a conflict and it was resolved in the end. It’s a nicely done anime despite its weak elements.
Sight and Sound
The anime is set in a Victorian era London. The character design is classic with characters wearing frilly dresses and such. The background is hand painted and there is so much detail in it that it beautifully stands out. Some background looks like a real photographed place painted over and used as background. It really looks nice especially when hand painted water effects are suddenly animated. It’s delicate and precise.
The anime has action scenes that are nicely animated. I’m talking about the golem scene particularly. Keeping with its dark theme, the anime also utilizes blood in some scenes. It enhances the enjoyment factor and the story overall.
The music is something different though. The opening song was medieval like and sang in a high soprano voice. It’s titled “Cras numquam scire” by Yucca feat. Daisuke Ono. The opening sequence summarizes the anime nicely. It’s your typical opening sequence but the music accompanying it is different making the whole thing so unique.
Speaking of unique, its ending is something completely unique. The song is goth metal that is chilling by itself. Compared with the live action ending sequence, it becomes somewhat darker. I would assume the ending sequence tells a tale about Phantom Books themselves or a cryptic detail about the story of the Librarian girl. I’m not sure; all I know is that it’s somewhat creepy but hauntingly beautiful.
5/10 “The mini plots are solid and nicely paced through despite its lack of character development”
I can’t recommend this anime easily. It’s an anime you’ll either love or hate. If you love dark themes with a supernatural background, then you’ll enjoy the anime. If you hate forgettable and one dimensional characters then the anime can be hard to sit through. It is an enjoyable watch but crucial missing elements can be a problem for some.