Dantalian no Shoka – 11

Why do many anime wait until the end of the series before showing us episodes like this?  This episode showed important moments in Huey’s past, adding some detail and depth to our protagonist, while also providing a proper introduction and story for the malevolent library Raziel and her partner, the Professor.  Had this been placed earlier in the series, it would’ve improved these characters since this story and these details would be in our minds for most of the series, allowing us to better understand their actions and draw clearer conclusions on their true forms.  But alas, the most appropriate story in the series comes at the end which is a mistake all too common in anime.

The story of this episode served two significant purposes, detailing Huey’s time spent in the Royal Flying Corps/Royal Air Force (never specified) with Ilas during the Great War and presenting Raziel in a manner to show her personality, actions, and appeal.  Regarding Huey’s story, it was pleasant to see how much he has changed.  Upon graduation from flight school, the youngest we’ve seen adult Huey, he was a protégé of aviation with unmatched talent and arrogance.  This rookie pilot did quickly warm up to his superior, Captain Ilas, who showed Huey a world beyond merciless slaughtering and harmonized with his level of passion for flying.  The two struck a deep bond that was tested throughout the episode, which took place a year later in the skies above France.  The stark difference between the Huey of 1917 and Huey we see in current episodes is rather amazing, I had always assumed Huey was rather boring and polite his entire life.  The episode did an excellent job of showing the role Ilas played in his life and how the final dogfight changed his life to the Huey we see presently.  An interesting point throughout the entire episode was the key Huey possessed, the one that corresponds to Dalian.  I wonder when he obtained the key and why it was a focus of so many shots during the episode.  I would assume that the key is connected to his childhood form, from those flashbacks where we see young Huey talking to the girl locked in the library within Dalian.  The child speaks about being a pilot in one episode, so it’s not truly Huey in his childhood but another form of adult Huey.  Another mystery that hopefully gets solved soon.  Nevertheless, seeing Huey’s past like this provided some alternative dimensions to his character and showed some actual substance to his past as a pilot.

Raziel, on the other hand, was finally introduced and featured as a main component of the episode.  We had learned about her previously from Hal and Flam’s episode where she was causing trouble at the doll village but that was all.  We saw more of her personality in this episode, discovering that she is rather straightforward and honest with people despite having romantic views on war and being exploitive and selfish.  Her use of ‘Ja’ and ‘Nein’ is cute and is an enjoyable contrast from Dalian’s ‘Yes’ and ‘No’.  Her actions became clearer, wanting to use Ilas and his potential to pen a Phantom Book for her own collection.  It should be considered significant that she and the Professor would [spoilers] raise Ilas from the grave for this.[/spoilers] That’s spending an awful lot of time and resources just for a new book.  And in the end, they were ready to toss him to the side when he was no longer useful and ready to go on with their next adventure.  It would’ve been nice to see more of Raziel, to see what she’s like beyond this tyrannical library, but the episode did an excellent job of encompassing her character and relating it to the story of Huey and Ilas.  I do wonder if Raziel is a bookworm like Dalian and what types of books she enjoys the most.  Raziel does appear to be more active and engaging with people though.  She seemed to interact with Ilas well and was thoughtful in teaching him about Phantom Books and how they’re created.  I can’t say the same for the end of the episode but she’s not pure evil like previously imagined.

And that’s the important information drawn from this episode.  The only question remains, why did this episode air this late in the series?  Many anime make this same mistake, waiting until the very end to develop their protagonists and characters.  It’s such a simple but glaring mistake, you have to wonder why.  With this development earlier in the series, we would’ve had more appreciation for Huey, as well as some depth for his character on which to judge his actions on.  Seeing him go through this painful yet beneficial experience would’ve helped show why Huey is so patient and forgiving to Dalian and her aggressive personality.  Furthermore, we’d see why Huey is so interested in helping out others, something that Ilas passed onto Huey throughout the course of their friendship.  Additionally, we had never seen Huey love or feel passion for anything before in the series until we learned about his feelings toward flying.  I’d love to see him fly again but I wonder if it will draw up unwanted memories of the war and of Ilas.  Raziel’s backstory would not have mattered as much as Huey’s but her introduction would’ve been better earlier since it could have helped contrast Dalian’s character.  By showing Raziel and her wickedness earlier, we may have had more respect toward Dalian and how she continually helps those around her for no gain.  But no, one of the most important episodes in the series was saved for the end.  I’m glad they showed it but I wonder why, for what purpose, was this shown at the end.  I feel that Dantalian no Shoka, and any anime that makes this obvious mistake, would’ve benefited from showing episodes such as this one earlier in the series.  It would have improved the characters, the story, and the series as a whole.

After seeing Raziel in this episode and thinking back to Flam during her episode, I’m beginning to wonder why the other libraries never had a bigger role in the anime.  You’d figure that they’re all attracted to Phantom Books, which appear to be extremely rare, and would have met up at one point in the series.  I am still holding out on hope that there’s an episode where they all meet up but it’s starting to seem unlikely.  It took extremely long before getting to Raziel in this anime and we haven’t seen Flam, or even heard about her, since the sixth episode.  I suppose this should be somewhat expected, the series is about Huey and Dalian after all, but I still wish they made more appearances or affected the series in a more significant way.  Hope they make an appearance again soon but it’s doubtful at this point.

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  1. #1 by zammael on September 25, 2011 - 6:17 PM

    Agreed on this episode’s placement being too late in the series. After you establish the characters with a few episodes, then dip into their backstories to give them greater depth and inform us of the larger context of the world of Magical Libraries. Perhaps this isn’t necessarily a sign that the writers aren’t on the ball cuz they’re following the formula of running several bottled episodes before trying their hand at back stories or elseworld stories in order to build an audience, a loyal following, like a standard monthly comic book title of a corporate character or a popular sitcom.

    • #2 by avvesione on September 25, 2011 - 7:52 PM

      You do have a point there. But after the first three or four episodes, the audience is pretty much built and it should be around that time when the characters get their backstories and developments. That way everything thereafter, you have a better understanding and appreciation for what they’re going through for the rest of the series. You’re right that this isn’t a sign of the writer’s being absentminded but it is a sign of a missed opportunity.

      I think this episode would’ve fit nicely as the seventh in the series, right after the Hal and Flam episode. That one opened up the world of the other libraries and adding this one right after, with Raziel being a major focus, would’ve provided a nice contrast to Dalian and Flam. And with Huey’s back story in this episode, the transition back to Huey and Dalian would’ve been smooth and logical. But those are just my thoughts.

  2. #3 by zammael on September 25, 2011 - 8:32 PM

    How many more episodes are scheduled? The shorter it is, the more it might stick in your craw.

    • #4 by avvesione on September 25, 2011 - 9:15 PM

      One episode remains. At least that’s what I found when browsing a few different resources (looking at the calendar on TV-Tokyo, among English sites). So yeah, hopefully it sticks around for one more week lol

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