Dantalian no Shoka continues to evade any form of established story in favor of darting between various storylines with minimal overlap. And with the entire episode lacking our normal heroes, or any character from any previous episode, it seemed like another random episode with no connection to any previous content. But that might be wrong in the long run. The sixth episode of Dantalin no Shoka did provide a chance to introduce two other sets of keykeepers and libraries allowing us the chance to discover who will be playing the roles of good, neutral, and evil in perhaps the eventual story of this anime.
Rather than watching another episode where Huey and Dalian get caught up in someone stranger’s misadventures with archaic tomes, this episode revolved around two entirely new characters with completely dissimilar personalities. Hal, the keykeeper of the Long Lost Library, is a determined and industrious Libricide Officer whose duty is to destroy Phantom Books and those who come into contact with them (wonder if that even includes those using them for positive purposes, too). His partner, Flamberge, is an untamed, unrestricted, and inappropriate deviant who often teases Hal frequently on sex and women. However, she’s shown flashes of seriousness and sociability when needed and within her lies the Long Lost Library. Quite a contrasting pair of personalities compared to Huey and Dalian although it depends on your scope of judgment.
It’s almost certain that this pair will fulfill the role of neutral. Hal’s purpose was clearly stated in this episode, saying that he will destroy Phantom Books when found, eradicate their abusers, and indirectly solve the problem at hand. While confusingly noble, Hal and Flam fail to be identified as ‘good’, likely due to their motives and, to a lesser extent, their personalities. Hal and Flam do not see Phantom Books as good or evil but rather as targets for destruction. As a result, they will most likely see Dalian and the evil library as enemies since they, themselves, are archives of Phantom Books. But they aren’t necessarily evil, even if they face off against Dalian since they are doing it to prevent problems rather than misuse the books for absolute power. And when considering their personalities, the characters are hardly saintly. Sure, Hal and Flam solve the problem at the village but they pay no attention to the after effect of their actions. A true champion would’ve stayed to make sure Patricia, Mabel, and the others were going to be alright rather than abandoning them once their one mission was completed. Plus the brash and unruly attitude of Flam is hardly anti-hero and more rogue.
And if one couple of keykeeper and library weren’t enough, we also saw a glimpse of the evil twosome of this anime. Again, we see an older gentleman and young girl paired together. Hardly anything is known about these two though as their appearance was entirely within a flashback and a quick line was mentioned Hal near the beginning of the episode before we knew what he was referencing. Their physical appearance will be obvious when we see them since we know the young maiden has an eyepatch (the opening sequence also reveals that’s where the keyhole is, too) and the gentleman wears a ponytail. And while that’s hardly enough to determine they are the ‘evil’ group already, their behavior during the flashback and subsequent effect should be enough to formulate a verdict.
The ‘Eyepatch Pair’, as I will now call them, happened to create the entire problem in the village due to their actions and are likely responsible for other Phantom Book catastrophes in rural England. While watching the Germans bomb a military complex near the end of the First World War (I would’ve assumed zeppelins but biplanes are okay), Mabel cannot believe her eyes seeing her beloved village go up in flames. Enjoying the view alongside the grieving lady are the Eyepatch Pair, remarking on the contradictory and asinine behavior of man. Feeling the need to intervene, the Eyepatch Pair hand Mabel a book as the village is consumed by flames. The purpose of the book was to recreate the village by bringing puppets to life to replace those who died in the bombings. And the plan worked greatly. However, the village was a mere illusion preventing the survivors from moving on, trapping them in their former pleasant memory of alcohol, industry, and whores. Also, the dolls were defective and began killing people. And all those things are bad. So the Eyepatch Pair should be labeled as such, seeing they were the source of this plith and could be responsible for other calamities across the English countryside, especially if they hand out a Phantom Book to everyone in emotional distress or other issues that prevent irrational thought. Oh, and they were smiling like bastards when they handed her the book knowing exactly what was going to happen. They’re so evil.
And there you have it. Fairly soon we’ll likely see Huey and Dalian cross paths with the two other couples which will undoubtedly result in conflict given their ideologies on Phantom Books and their personalities. This could also be the first sign of a central plot in the anime, especially if the malign magic man Melgar of last week fails to frequently reappear to create a meaningful story and build tension. However, that idea needs to wait until we see how the three pairs interact with each other since all three have been isolated from each other. If this is indeed the first step toward a main story, then I am very impressed and definitely pleased with this episode and its new developments. If not, then I still enjoyed this episode for a completely unexpected change and new perspective on Phantom Books, Libraries, and other characters in the world of Dantalian no Shoka.
Transformation sequences in anime are often scenes used to transition between forms of a character while showcasing expert animation, snazzy special effects, and music that alters the atmosphere for the following scenes. Sequences such as these are used in Dantalian no Shoka whenever a library is being opened and a new Phantom Book is being used, so they’re not exactly transformation like you’d see in a mecha or magical girl anime. In the sixth episode of Dantalian no Shoka, we were able to watch as Hal opened the Long Lost Library from within Flam, complete with impressive sequence. And wow, was this ever impressive. It was another level above Huey and Dalian, largely due to the brutal nature in which Flam’s body ruptures across her abdomen. That alone makes the whole sequences somewhat painful, emotional, and all the more exciting to watch. And the vague romantic undertones of Dalian’s transformation (looking into each other’s eyes, faces closing in, Huey reaching into Dalian’s heart) were all absent. Without those subtle details, the transformation seems more business-like between Hal and Flam, which feels appropriate given their personalities, duties, and relationship. It’s just something I prefer in that sequence over Huey and Dalian’s. The third transformation sequence should be something else entirely, seeing as the lock is over the young maiden’s eye and that they’re evil. Probably going to be the best of the three, hopefully showing more pain and emotion than the two that we’ve seen.