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
  • WolfeTCG
    (Sunday, Jul 24. 2016 10:25 PM)
    House in fata morgana! Theres more on that page I’d lile to see but thats number one.
  • AidanAK47
    (Sunday, Jul 24. 2016 09:46 PM)
    @WolfeTCG, I will be doing reviews of the Muv Luv trilogy and likely any other visual novels. Though if there any in particular in that page you want to see then feel free to name them and I will check them out.
  • WolfeTCG
    (Sunday, Jul 24. 2016 09:29 PM)
    Can the reviewers do more visual novels? Id like to see some from here http://fuwanovel.net/2016/01/looking-ahead-the-vns-of-2016/
  • afgm
    (Sunday, Jul 24. 2016 06:18 PM)
    @Aidan: fair enough
  • K-Off
    (Sunday, Jul 24. 2016 04:32 PM)
    @Aidan Length isn’t an issue so much as the complete lack of story. The main story missions are spaced out, and side ops missions are there as filler.
  • AidanAK47
    (Sunday, Jul 24. 2016 02:42 PM)
    I wonder if Qualidea Code is trying to pull a Madoka because the latest episode is hinting at some dark turns. It hasn’t quite turned yet.
    Even if it does, I don’t think it will be all that interesting.
  • AidanAK47
    (Sunday, Jul 24. 2016 02:37 PM)
    @afgm, It’s just not your thing I guess. Cause I am digging the hell out of it.
    @Bam, Nope. Shadow Hearts is on my backlog but currently I am trying to finish MGSV. This game is way too long for it’s own good.
  • afgm
    (Sunday, Jul 24. 2016 10:54 AM)
    91 days is just ok, and thats all it will be
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jul 24. 2016 10:40 AM)
    @Aidan: was it you that was playing thru Shadow Hearts recently?
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Sunday, Jul 24. 2016 07:16 AM)
    I feel 91 days has potential, at the very least the first 3 episodes have established a good tone and I like the protaganist.
    Perhaps the art/animation could be a bit higher and I don’t much care for that one crazy guy with the he-man haircut.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

EVA 01b

Neon Genesis Evangelion – 01

Truth be told, I’ve never seen any of the EVA franchise, and it’s not normal since EVA is a must for any anime viewer. I don’t really know the reason why I keep myself from watching it, maybe both because mecha is not my favorite genre, and the hype of EVA is just overwhelming that […]

Berserk - 03 2

Berserk(2016) – 03

Forgive me for the delay on this particular post but I must admit that in light of Berserks quality my interest in covering it has somewhat declined. I know that for every episode to come I will have to dance around the elephant in the room but this series isn’t making that easy for me. […]

Orange 03d

Orange – 03

So this week we finally encounter a love rival. Of course with a romance drama show like Orange there had to be someone who would stand on their way right? Except there’s not much of a rival really since Naho never stands a chance against the new girl Ueda. As she learns hard and clear […]

91 Days - 02 2

91 Days – 02

At this point I think it’s clear what kind of show we are getting. It’s not Hitman Reborn which essentially uses its mafia inspiration as window dressing for shounen battles. Nor is it Baccano with a silly yet funny atmosphere combining the prohibition setting and supernatural. No, what we have here is the old school […]

Thunderbolt Fantasy 02d

Thunderbolt Fantasy – 02

Sometimes there’s a show that so campy and fun that you just can’t help but enjoy watching it, and then sometimes there’s a show that completely takes you by surprise by how unique it is. Thunderbolt Fantasy offers both of these in a neat package and further showcases the richness of animation as a medium […]

Re Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu - 16 2

Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World – 16

Looks like the new opening and ending won’t be getting much use in this second cour either, not that I am complaining of course. This week I  wouldn’t be surprised if people were getting sick of Subaru as his actions continue to be erratic and destructive. The ending of the last episode gave hope that […]

Fate Kaleid Liner PRISMA ILLYA 3rei!! - 02 3

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 3rei – 02

It is safe to say that to get the most out of this series, you have got to be a Fate fan. There are numerous little easter eggs calling back to it, even Kirei’s signature “Rejoice” line. However I say even casual fans could get something out of this series as well. Provided they made […]

Orange 02d

Orange – 02

Let me say up front that I am not fond with either romance or melodrama. We usually mistaken romance for love but whenever I think about love I’d think of commitment. Melodrama don’t do well to me either as I always feel forced, like most of the time when the show goes big, emotional scenes, […]

Re Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu - 15 4

Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World – 15

I have a certain belief when it comes to anime and it is that in a great series there is “That” episode. You know the one, the one you will always remember. The one that comes to mind when the series is brought up. Of course depending on personal opinion, that episode can be different […]

Latest Reviews

Untitled-1

Legend of Legacy Review – 80/100

Oh Square Enix, this is the kind of avant-garde work you need to do. Developed by Furyu with the people behind SaGa, and written by Masato Kato of Chrono Trigger, I knew I was in for a unique game right from the start. But its gameplay is certainly divisive and for good reason, as this […]

My Life as a Courgette a

My Life as a Courgette (2016) Movie Review – 82/100

It’s never easy to make a good family’s animation. For movies aim at adults, the filmmakers can easily get themselves loose, go crazy and the audience can still get it. But for kids, these movies might be one of the first movies they’ve ever seen and that’s a huge responsibility. They have to aware of […]

Red Turtle a

The Red Turtle Review – 93.5/100

Welcome to my first movie review on World Animation section, the column where I wholly dedicated to indie/ art-house animated features around the world that hardly got coverage anywhere really (but rest assure our since sometimes I will review anime movies as well). And what’s a better way to start this section by reviewing one of […]

Flying witch 09d

Flying witch Review – 86/100

As I mentioned in one of my weekly posts, most of the reason why a slice-of-life anime show don’t work well is not because there’s nothing happen, but more because the cast isn’t interesting enough or the show tends to repeat the things that we already know. I’m happy to say that this is not […]

Bungou Stray Dogs 12a

Bungou Stray Dogs Review – 62/100

Well, we don’t usually give a review on the first cour of anime show, given the fact that the second part will air next autumn season. But since I’m not certain I would cover its second half, plus I don’t think this series will improve itself, I might as well give Bungou Stray Dogs a […]

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 […]