Welcome back to another glorious Memory Monday, the weekly segment that is hip and cool. For those just joining the segment here in week 19, Memory Monday is a weekly segment where I take an anime that aired 4+ years ago and talk about it. This is purely for nostalgic purposes and is no way a review. I just pick at some general points that made the show memorable to me and try to convince you to or not to watch it.
This week’s pick is Dantalian no Shoka.
There will be NO spoilers this week.
Number of seasons: 1
Number of episodes: 12
Time: 25 minutes per episode
Personal rating: 6
You can (maybe) watch Dantalian no Shoka on Crunchyroll here
2011 was the year of lolis with big books and that’s not a euphemism for anything. There were many notable loli detective anime at the time such as “Gosick,” and Dantalian no Shoka was just another show that came out that year. Coming after Gosick, it felt like it was just trying to repeat the same formula that it had generated and add its own unique twist to make it look like it was original. I might go back one day and talk about the other loli detective series of that year, but today I’d like to focus on Dantalian no Shoka because to me it was the most memorable out of all the loli detective series of that year.
What It’s About:
Dantalian no Shoka starts off with a man, Hugh Anthony Disward heading to his grandfather’s mansion after inheriting it upon his death. Outside of a stunning number of antiques and books, his grandfather’s mansion seems like it holds nothing too special. It’s not until he makes his way into the basement of the mansion that he discovers something, or rather someone, very interesting. He finds a mysterious young girl named Dalian who turns out to be able to store prohibited books called “Gensho” inside her body. With a key, she can access the books and draw out their power and it just so happens that Hugh holds the key. Together they travel the English countryside searching for the Gensho in order to properly keep them out of the wrong hands.
Knowledge is Power:
Dantalian no Shoka reminds me of a more adult Zatch Bell. Hugh could draw out different types of power depending on the book who pulled from Dalian. I guess in this case it was more like Hugh controlling the power than him directing his partner to do it, In any case, they could not only wield a power to defeat the wielder of the Gensho that they were against, they could also discern the Gensho’s true name so that they could trap it (almost like Card Captors). It teaches in a very direct way that knowledge is power. In this world, without knowledge, you’ll die. I’m not going to jump to conclusions to say that the true aim of the anime was to stress upon its viewers the importance and strength of knowledge, but it definitely showed at every twist and turn that knowledge gives people an advantage. For whatever reason, Hugh had a lot of knowledge himself and was able to translate that into his own strength in many sticky situations. Thanks to the combined knowledge of him and Dalian, they were able to overcome their opponents and put another Gensho under their custody.
Key to Your Heart!
I guess after more than a couple of times of having a man reach into your very being to pull out a tome of power you start to develop feelings for him. This is exactly what happened to Dalian whether she’d admit it or not. The key to Dalian’s library of Gensho was left to Hugh for a reason. It was because his grandfather believed that he would be able to help to lock up all the Gensho around the world that people were using for their own selfish gains. It gets kind of repetitive to see the same “transformation” scene every episode where Hugh holds Dalian close to him while he inserts the key into her lock (still not a euphemism) to be able to draw out the strength of one of the Gensho’s she has locked within her. Even if it gets repetitive though, it’s still entertaining to see their relationship develop as the anime progresses. though it ultimately won’t be seen go further than it did in the anime which is basically not very far at all, it was still a start I guess. That being said, it still does the same thing that a lot of other anime do where they just leave it with the girl and guy barely noticing that they have feelings for each other. It’s another open ending which is understandable since the source material goes further than the anime does, but still very frustrating to see because it just feels incomplete through and through.
One of the “cooler” things that happened during the anime was the method with which they discerned the true name/nature of the Gensho that they were after. With Dalian’s power, Hugh could basically speed read anything which made him not only able to learn about the Gensho but wield another one that he pulled from within Dalian’s collection. Of course, Dalian was a pretty great reader too. I mean, she was locked up for a while with nothing else to do but read and she’s also the vessel that holds hundreds of thousands of tomes within her. She’s almost like Index from To aru Majutsu no Index, just she’s voiced by Sawashiro Miyuki, so she’s automatically better. In general, the series kind of felt like it was a Tl;dr– a basic summary of a more lengthy, complicated topic. They went through teh same experiences over and over again– go to a town with a rumor of the Gensho, meet some people, those people turn out to have the Gensho, fight them, get the Gensho. There was never anything really much deeper than that. There were hints to other people like Dalian who hosted tomes within their bodies and at one point they even meet another one, but aside from that, it felt like a very general and incomplete glimpse into their world.
Dantalian no Shoka obviously did not gain the popularity that the producers might have wanted out of it because not only was it a mere twelve episodes, it left more loose ends than it began with. There were so many unanswered questions that it just left a bad taste in my mouth. I never felt the urge to read the light novel series though because it wasn’t like the mysteries left in the anime’s wake were that interesting that I couldn’t bear not knowing. One of the bigger things that they could have expanded on just a little bit is about the existence of Dalian and her kind. Even a vague hint would’ve been fine, but it’s just kind of left alone for the entire series. Everything is just kind of accepted as “this is the way it is” making it incredibly jarring to dive into because Hugh comes from the world we live in and yet is forced to meet the supernatural world that Dalian is in charge of. It’s hard to accept their world when you’re just thrown headfirst into it without too much explanation along the way. Dantalian no Shoka really needed some more focus on the story points that they set up, but ultimately they end without resolving anything making it very unsatisfactory.
Should You Watch It?
Dantalian no Shoka was a show that I watched for two reasons. It was during the times when I would indiscriminately watch any anime that was airing and it had Sawashiro Miyuki as the main character. Even with the best Seiyuu on the market, it wasn’t enough to support the anime’s shortcomings which were quite a bit. Dantalian no Shoka is an incomplete series that tries to focus on the loli/romance aspect of the show while pretending to focus on the detective side of the show. The show begins with some potential but ends with nothing. It’s not interesting enough to want to pursue outside of the anime and not well done enough to feel satisfying. The only reason it got a 6 from me was mostly because of Sawashiro Miyuki bias. I think without her in the show, I would’ve easily given the show a 5 or a 4. But if you’re interested or you’re like me and watch anything that Sawashiro Miyuki it is, give it a shot. It’s not the worst show out there but definitely not worth your time.