I realize Dantalian no Shoka has been over for quite some time now but it was not until last night that I finally sat down to watch the last two episodes. I had read a summaey of the 11th episode right after the 12th had aired and it had turned me off of watching it at all. Finally I gave in and finished though.
I was going to save writing any of my thoughts for the end of the year but I suppose, as with the AERAS post, better late than never.
When Dantalian was first announced to get an adaption, I had very high hopes. Miyuki Sawashiro voicing the main character made it a must watch. GAINAX doing the rest made me even more excited.
Some people would say the GAINAX excitement was misplaced but I don’t believe so. If the show had anything going for it, it was the great animation. Episode nine was the highlight of the entire show when the animation took a major art shift due to Huey and Dalian actually being inside the story. It was a nice effect and along the lines of what I was expecting from the start. Wish they would have employed spontaneous art shifts more often though. CG was pretty corny near the end but it is generally always corny so I won’t hold that against them. After all, one thing I did really like was the backgrounds and scenery. Not always, but sometimes it would be illustrated as if from a painting. The OP is a fine example and I thought it was a great touch to the backdrop.
One major problem I had with this show started in the very first episode. Huey had no problem swallowing whatever Dalian told him then. He got attacked by monsters and wasn’t really surprised at all. As the show went on, it seemed like nobody was and I could forget this inital misgiving in time because it /was/ nice to have a main character who didn’t scream in disbelief and bitch and moan until he finally gave in and believed that he needed to man up. It wasn’t until the show ended I also learned that the original novel(/manga?) consists of eachc hapter being an unrelated story simply tied to Dalian and Huey (or the other keykeepers) doing their thing with Phantom Books. It made the lack of structure and lack of overall plot seem to make sense. Which would have been nice to know, going in but frustrating when you expect a larger plot.
Huey and Dalian never had that much chemistry either. Dalian was cute (dat voice), sure, but that was about it. Huey got an episode that was supposed to be like Flamberge’s episode earlier only for Raziel except Raziel didn’t do much so it was mostly about Huey and some dude. Needless to say, some parts of the episode were sorta lol and not in a good way. However Raziel was pretty adorable with that certain shade of green hair and red dress that reminded me oh so much of my waifu. Raziel, however, showed me how little personality and depth Dalian also had. Because neither of them had any. I guess we could go on to add Flam and her partner to the list but Flam had some stuff going for her and she was ok. Ami Koshimizu’s voice for her was delicious also.
The last episode. NOW this is where I have a problem. This is where this whole big spiel comes from. It confused the hell out of me. Were Dalian and the Bookshelf Girl the same girl? Was Bookshelf Girl Ariadne? Was the blonde girl in the future a version of both Bookshelf Girl and Dalian? Or was that Flam and I was just too tired to tell? You get the point. Infact, I think I had more questions but I fell asleep before I could remember them. It’s stated that Bookshelf Girl is Dalian’s other self so I guess it would make sense that Bookshelf Girl would need another self and Dalian did say, “There are some things not meant to be known” which, kinda obviously, refers to Bookshelf Girl opening Pandora’s Box. She knew that, but did Dalian know about Bookshelf Girl meeting young Huey?
It seemed they finally tried to deal with what little plot they had and only had thirty minutes to do so. So this being tangled and unanswered and annoying. I found the episodes, earlier, that focused on side characters such as the writer and his girlfriend who got killed over and over and over by his stalker enough times that they evolved passed the need to die at all were far more interesting than when Dalian and Huey were doing anything for an explicit amount of time. Flam’s episode was good as well even if it led to even more unanswered questions in the end. It’s a shame she only appeared in two episodes.
In the end, I was pretty disappointed with this. Personally, I think if my mindset had been different going in (not comparing it to GOSICK, for starters) and I had known about the disjointed chapters, I might have enjoyed it more. The last episode raised more questions than answers and overall, it seemed like things were heading toward a second season. That seems unlikely but if there WAS I guess I would watch it just to see if there was any resolution and answers to me Bookshelf Girl/Dalian questions. But I don’t think there would be. An artistically open-ended finale, is what they fashioned it. Infuriating as that can be, I guess it fits here. Even if I’m not pleased with the end result. Would I reccomend Dantalian no Shoka to someone else? It depends. If you’re looking for an intricate story with deep and believable characters, you should probably pass this up. If you’ve got nothing better to do, don’t mind monster of the week type stories and want a treat for your eyes and ears maybe watch this as a last resort.