Posted by psgels on 1 October 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews




I feel that episodic series tend to be dismissed for the wrong reasons. “It has no story”? What do you mea, these series are filled with stories? Personally, I find that an episodic series needs to have two elements in order to really succeed:
1) Strong episodic stories.
2) Something to tie the show together.

Dantalian no Shoka has nailed one of them.

Basically, this is a show that explores various people who were given strange powers through what this show calls “Phantom Books”. These stories start off a bit clumsily, but amongst the episodes there are some real gems to be waiting. Some of the people highlighted are well fleshed out and portrayed, and when it wants to, this series can really create a great atmosphere to support them. These stories are all varied, interesting and aside from a number of duds here and there, succeed in telling their story. I’d say the ratio of episodes that don’t work to the ones that do is about 1:2.

Ironically, the main characters are some of the least interesting characters of the series. They feel more like plot devices that the show needs in order to be able to move from story to story than actual characters most of the time, and their development is just shallow, and they fail to really tie this series together or give it a satisfying conclusion. Especially Dantalian herself is just an annoying brat who spends every episode randomly insulting people and not really doing anything at all to contribute to the story.

Standalone though, the episodic stories and characters are more than enough to make this one worth watching. On top of that, Ganiax threw in a lot of eye candy as well, with some gorgeously animated action scenes (oh, ad Osamu Kobayashi also pays a visit to do one episode). The main couple is annoying, but this show has more than enough to make up for it.

Storytelling: 8/10 – An excellent array of strong individual storylines, though this series’ attempts to tie them together doesn’t really work.
Characters: 8/10 – Dull major characters, minor character.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Gorgeous visuals, animation that isn’t afraid to try out stuff.
Setting: 8/10 – A bit far-fetched at times, and the phantom books in the end are just mcguffins, but when you look at each episode individually, their settings are well fleshed out and described.

Suggestions:
Kino no Tabi
Kuchuu Buranko
Shigofumi

11 Responses

  1. Roldan says:

    Shouldn’t character be more 6 or 7? If the main characters can’t shine then there’s not much worth any character.

  2. psgels psgels says:

    Roldan: I found the rest of the cast to be good enough to make up for that. Especially because the main characters allowed them to.

  3. CJay says:

    Yeah this feels like a really high score seeing on how many not so good episodes there were.

  4. Suzushina Yuriko says:

    It’s quite interesting to see that at the beginning, you were praising Huey and Dalian’s characters, and now you think that they’s incredibly dull. I still think Huey’s an excellent protagonist and Dalian is tolerable, though.

  5. Petit says:

    For me, Huey and Dalian were always dull, and have been dull since they walked onto the screen.

  6. Fadeway says:

    It’s a flaw of the 10 point scoring system, that very, very few shows ever get a score below 7. Just pretend that scores below 6 don’t even exist, and then that 8 becomes a 3 out of 5.

  7. Tan-Tan says:

    Dantalian No Shoka is something difficult to understand for those who do not appreciate knowledge and literature.

    Look at it like you do with Penguin Drum. Dantalian is intentionally not character-driven but of meaning and symbolism. They don’t exist to entertain you but to deliver a message.

    Not all anime should be the same, so screw you all lol. Like seriously. Bland is the least of what I’d describe Dantalian. It has tinges of Kino No Tabi but the message tends to be more subtle and that’s why it’s more thought-provoking.

    Bah to you all :u I’m disappointed with psgel focusing his criticism on the characters too much too. As for the plot not linking them together, so what? It’s episodic. There’s a bigger plot behind everything but that wasn’t the focus.

    *grumble grumble sigh*

  8. Petit says:

    A story has to be character-driven. If it were lit/symbol driven, it would be a documentary, which Dantalian is not (and even doc nowadays contain main characters). True, not all anime should be the same, but that should not be an excuse for poor storytelling and character execution. And don’t relate Dantalian to Kino no Tabi. Kino shouldn’t even be part of the conversation: it is on a whole higher level of storytelling and characterizations and symbology that Dantalian has never even dipped its feet into.

  9. mds says:

    “a story has to be character-driven”

    that single sentence, It destroyed and negated all your whole argument.

    Have you read the original material,by any chance? No,isn’t it?
    I considered the depth of symbolism in the original material is as high as Haibane Renmei’s.

  10. Mushyrulez says:

    There are anime (stories) which are character-driven, and anime (sometimes characters) which are story-driven.

    In Shoka, the stories are what matters. The main characters seem like plot devices? They /are/ plot devices. That shouldn’t be a bad point – though I agree that the characters /could/ be fleshed out more, perhaps allocating time to that would take time away from the focus of the show.

    Also, whilst some episodes may have sucked to us, to another, it may have been golden – that’s the beauty of episodic series. Even if some (or most) individual episodes bore, everybody has at least one episode that personally appeals to them.

  11. Aaron says:

    Personally, I found the anime to be a love-hate situation. I absolutely love the art, the music and the themes it deals with, but overall, it’s a very cliche story that seems bland. In order to enjoy this anime, you have to look at it for the symbolism and subtle undertones. It has a lot of commentary on how people use power, knowledge, and also makes numerous allusions to fables and stories we pass around.

    Even the ending shows that the intention of the show was never to be a coherent, standalone story; it is more a piecemail of intense symbolism. I really had a hard time enjoying the stories themselves, however, the artists freely experimented with various mediums and different moods.

    As of right now, I’m watching the 9th episode and I’m impressed with how the transformation sequences are often noticed by the nearby characters. It’s certainly clear that this is an anime which was trying to be poetic and artistic. In that regard, it certainly is, but it isn’t a good anime in its own regard so much as a series of very different pieces of poetry and artistic license.

    As an anime, it was a disappointment. As a series of very intriguing ideas and imagery, it was an incredibly intense series. As a final note, the imagery and ideas are not orchestrated in any particular order, but each piece is art in its own regard. I am strongly inclined to take this anime as the work of artists and musicians, not storytellers.

Leave a Reply

Shoutbox

Name:
Email:
For:  
Mail will not be published
  • K-Off
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 05:42 AM)
    My favorite superhero movie to this day: Sam Raimi’s Spiderman 2. In fact call me a fanboy because I’ll defend it to the death.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 04:27 AM)
    Wait, what happened to that kid that was getting cute with me? Did I scare another one away?
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 04:15 AM)
    @Kaiser: now you try Gods of Egypt:
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 04:14 AM)
    I didn’t really like Civil War. It wasn’t really a Captain America movie, it was cluttered, I stopped caring about Bucky back in Winter Soldier, Cap and Tony’s roles felt reversed, there was absolutely no stakes to the fights, the villain was just lame, and it didn’t even have the joyful tone that carries the rest of the MCU. Spider Man was definitely shoehorned it, but he was good. people’ve gotten a little too crazy about him too quick, but he was sufficient.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 04:11 AM)
    @Kaiser: earlier you said it’s almost hard nowadays to dislike popular stuff cuz they just immediately accuse you of being a hipster contrarian- well albeit true, the difference is in how well you can justify your stance.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 02:59 AM)
    @Aidan: exactly! Henry Selick. I lightweight hated Burton for a while for hogging all the credit. But that was partly due to people already being familiar with Tim Burton’s name. Burton just stamped his name on it, since he funded it. I guess money also makes you a great visionary.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 02:57 AM)
    He has my respect for naming his daughter Zelda.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 02:55 AM)
    @Aidan: That’s the great late Robin Williams to you.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 02:55 AM)
    And I swore I put this up earlier but it’s disapeared but Burton ain’t exactly what made Nightmare great. That goes more to the dude who made Coraline.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 02:54 AM)
    You forgot Robin Williams.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Re Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu - 13 1

Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World – 13

When I heard about this arc being hard to watch I readied myself for a number of things. I was prepared to see Subaru die gruesomely, to see him tortured and broken. However while I was ready to see him get destroyed by others; I didn’t expect him to be the architect of his own […]

Kiznaiver - 12 1

Kiznaiver Review – 60/100

Kiznaiver is a very different faire from Studio Triggers other works in that it takes a more serious tone and has a writer who tends to go more for the melodramatic. This is a tale about a group of very different people gathered together and have their pain linked to one another. In an effort […]

Kiznaiver - 12 2

Kiznaiver -12

This was certainly pure narrative confusion at it’s zenith and in that regard I don’t mean that the events depicted were hard to understand but rather a general confusion on what mood it wants to go out on. In this episode we had comedic, drama and climatic showdown all hastily weaved together to try and […]

Bungou Stray Dogs 12c

Bungou Stray Dogs – 12 (end)

And we get to the end of Bungou Stray Dogs, but this last episode doesn’t offer any conclusive ending, instead feel more like a set up episode for the next season. This last episode functions like a typically Bungou Stray Dogs’ episode; there are many good things to say about it, mainly the technical triumphs […]

Joker Game - 12 2

Joker Game Review – 50/100

When experiencing the wave of new anime each season it can get rather tiresome to notice all the teenagers fighting supernatural forces while gathering a harem through seer luck or similarly tired concepts. So when something like Joker game comes along and takes a road less traveled with it’s story, naturally I am well on […]

3

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress – 10

After the Horobi’s laser light show and having Biba-sama completely dominate the narrative with his super cool looking henchmen, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri is back on track although it’s on different rails for here on out. Imprisoned by the Hunters and being caught in the middle of the impending final conflict between the Shogun and Biba, […]

mayoiga 07b

Mayoiga Review – 78/100

Mayoiga has to be one of the most misunderstood shows in recent years. On a surface, the premise alone has a lot of potential. The idea behind putting 30 people, each of them has very different set of personalities, together in a bus to a mysterious lost village, in order to start over new life […]

Joker Game - 12 2

Joker Game – 12

Upon finishing yet another rather uneventful episode of Joker Game, I began to wonder just what this series had planned for its finale. “How best to top off a rather mediocre series such as this?” I thought to myself. However when looking over general consensus over the episode I found out that I seen the […]

Re Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu - 12 4

Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World – 12

This looks to be the weakest episode of Re:Zero to date which does seem to be a trend when it comes to the arcs of the series. When looking over these twelve episodes I have come to find that the weakest episodes of the series are the first episode of an arc which does make […]

Latest Reviews

Kiznaiver - 12 1

Kiznaiver Review – 60/100

Kiznaiver is a very different faire from Studio Triggers other works in that it takes a more serious tone and has a writer who tends to go more for the melodramatic. This is a tale about a group of very different people gathered together and have their pain linked to one another. In an effort […]

Joker Game - 12 2

Joker Game Review – 50/100

When experiencing the wave of new anime each season it can get rather tiresome to notice all the teenagers fighting supernatural forces while gathering a harem through seer luck or similarly tired concepts. So when something like Joker game comes along and takes a road less traveled with it’s story, naturally I am well on […]

mayoiga 07b

Mayoiga Review – 78/100

Mayoiga has to be one of the most misunderstood shows in recent years. On a surface, the premise alone has a lot of potential. The idea behind putting 30 people, each of them has very different set of personalities, together in a bus to a mysterious lost village, in order to start over new life […]

akTwkhF

Stella Glow Game Review-60/100

I really should be getting Grand Kingdom or waiting for Mirage Sessions. My review of Stella Glow is way past relevancy being nearly 8 months late, but I finally completed this and it wouldn’t hurt to briefly wrap up my thoughts about the game created by the now-defunct Imageepoch. I somehow managed to get through Lord of […]

rs33

Odin Sphere Leifthrasir Game Review – 87/100

Oh my. This game was just utterly, utterly incredible when it came out, so despite disliking the usual remasters (ahem, Valkyria Chronicles), I was pretty stoked when I learned I’d be able to play this again on better hardware. It came out really late into the PS2’s lifetime in 2007, so at the time, I […]

romance of 3 kingdoms

Chinese Animation Guide – Part 4: Chinese Traditional Animated shows

Welcome to the last part of our Chinese animated guide. This part will cover Chinese traditional art style, for me personally this is the most enjoyable group. The first thing you might notice in these shows are they were in different format ratio, lean more towards the Academy ratio format. I always find their traditional art […]

20160513001913_1

Lucid9: Inciting Incident Video Game Review – 85/100

It’s not often I pick a game up without prior knowledge. I abhor the act of pre-ordering and at least do a google search on the title to get a general idea of it’s overall quality. Gone are the day you walk into a game store and buy something purely on a whim or the […]

The Totem Warrior

Chinese Animation Guide – Part 3: Haoliners inputs

This part we explore one Chinese animation studio’s works. I choose Haoliners partly because they are independent studio, and their works are not hard to find. Just established in 2013, Haoliners is an indie studio but gathered more reputation in the last few years in their homeland. My experience with them through those titles below […]

Cover

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress OST Review

This will be the first time in my anime blogging career that I have ever done one of these anime OST review. It should be known that I have a complete bias for Hiroyuki Sawano as he has become one of the biggest composer for anime in recent years in some of my favorite anime […]