I could be negative again about this episode of Dantalian no Shoka. Like the past few, this episode had (surprise!) another uninteresting and meaningless plot, likely the worst yet in the series. And each episode continues to reiterate the embarrassing absence of a central plot, too, like it wants to be remembered solely for this weakness. But instead, I want to focus on the positives of this series and revisit what makes this anime enjoyable and watchable. It’s time to see what’s right in Dantalian no Shoka, rather than being like the series and continuing on what’s wrong (oops, think positive).
Almost instantly, what comes to mind when viewing Dantalain no Shoka through rose-colored glasses is the artwork and animation. Every episode has had a stunningly beautiful exhibition of colors and lighting, bringing the characters and world to life. The character designs display another level of quality, with exhaustive details in their clothing and appealing faces with a reasonable range of emotions, both appropriate for the style of the anime. And the kinetics, or how they move around when they do, are satisfactory to great, depending on the action or excitement present. And while those aspects keep my eyes smiling throughout each episode, the backdrops in this anime are noteworthy on their own merit, deserving of a paragraph all for themselves.
There are never any simple backgrounds in Dantalain no Shoka. Every scene has a thorough and charming backdrop to it, which greatly assist in establishing the setting and creating the atmosphere. That watercolor/paintbrush effect, especially with the architecture of this era, is aesthetically pleasing, and it provides a different texture than the foreground with the characters and props. The meticulous level of details, specifically noticeable in the busy bookcases and disorganized libraries, aid in making the world feel realistic, that these are places where people live rather than a room created for a scene to be staged in. It’s truly one of my favorite aspects of Dantalian no Shoka. Virtually every background in this anime has been gorgeous and meaningful.
Dalian, while far from perfect, is another positive of this series. Sure, she’s selfish, childish, and demanding, which are all characteristics I dislike in a heroine but her mature and knowledgeable side is the point of focus here. The ‘adult’ Dalian is a likeable character: she is selfless, mature, and calm, and always there to lend a hand to someone who’s possessed or cursed by those demonic novels. Sometimes the abuser must pay for their crimes but Dalian always sees each event become resolved and always in a serious manner. You can’t really hate the ‘adult’ Dalian, unless you hate people for being too nice or slightly boring (and then you have other problems on your hands than disliking a character in an anime). And honestly, this is what I feel the real Dalian is like or what her character should’ve been. That juvenile persona she often displays serves only one purpose and that’s to make her seem moe or cute. The fact that when the story becomes serious is when she changes her attitude leads me to believe she acts like a child so that people who have a weakness for that type of character love her for her antics and adorable behavior. And while I dislike that aspect of her, I don’t dislike Dalian as a character. She could be better but at least she’s enjoyable when things get real.
I could go further with other positives from the series (the setting, the music, the Phantom Books, Flam and Hal, etc) but this post will only focus on the three topics I wanted to talk about. With the story drawing most of the attention of the series exclusively in a negative light, I felt it was time to redirect the attention elsewhere. The elegant artwork and tremendous backgrounds are the first things that popped into my mind. That and I wanted to go back and talk about Dalian more as a character. I’ve heard some complaints and comments on her personality, but I haven’t had a problem with her except maybe a few times when she was ultra-tsundere, so I thought I’d explore that, too. Do others feel the same way about the positives in this anime? Are there others that I missed and are those why you keep watching Dantalian no Shoka? I’d be interested to hear what people think.
Alright, positive thinking off, onto my last, random, and final thought on this episode: Dolls again in Dantalian no Shoka? Seriously? This is the third time we’ve seen dolls play an essential role in an episode, with the other two being the Melgar and Viola story and the Flam and Hal special (and if you count the golem, 4 episodes). What’s so special about dolls in relation to Phantom Books or their connection to Huey and Dalian? They’ve been interesting and fit the role in each episode, so that’s good, but we’ve had to resort back to dolls three/four times now? It seems kinda silly to continue to revisit this theme this frequently, especially after the Flam and Hal episode, which I assumed would be the last time we saw them. It gets boring and monotonous to reuse this device in a story, especially there’s a friendship between a doll and a human. It’s one of the reasons why I felt like this episode was the weakest of the series, story-wise, thus far. And unless there’s a huge plot twist at the end where Dalian or Huey are dolls themselves or something, I’m praying we don’t see this theme reexamined again in this anime.
Unless it’s another Flam and Hal episode because those two were kick-ass and awesome. I’d be willing to ignore my resentment for dolls just to see those two appear again.