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
  • AidanAK47
    (Thursday, Nov 27. 2014 04:58 PM)
    @Bam, Extra Credits made a video praising Dark souls 2’s difficultly system. Never have I disagreed with them more.
    @Ninja, I read the beginning chapters of Love Tyrant but it was just too slapstick for my taste.
  • Emma
    (Thursday, Nov 27. 2014 12:52 PM)
    @Realist: I also noticed in that story arc with the talking cats, it mentioned cats of ulthar, which was also mentioned in a HP Lovecraft story.
  • Emma
    (Thursday, Nov 27. 2014 12:20 PM)
    We have reached the moment of truth and what we waited for in space brothers manga. The next chapters cannot come fast enough.
  • Emma
    (Thursday, Nov 27. 2014 12:16 PM)
    @Realist: Like that skull head guy a bit.
  • Emma
    (Thursday, Nov 27. 2014 12:15 PM)
    Apparently in bloodbourne they are upping the violence…I think.
  • Emma
    (Thursday, Nov 27. 2014 12:13 PM)
    @Bam: Scott Snyder at least…is one of them.
  • Emma
    (Thursday, Nov 27. 2014 12:11 PM)
    @Realist: I read that mahou tsukai no yome manga you mentioned, the two available volumes. After a few chapters I started getting more into it, but I’ll need more time/updates, looks like its doing a decent enough job setting up a fairly readable plot.
  • Bam
    (Thursday, Nov 27. 2014 12:10 PM)
    @Emma: also isn’t American Vampire written by two guys?
  • Bam
    (Thursday, Nov 27. 2014 12:10 PM)
    @Emma: not only Amira but also Kaiser and Favaro’s dialogue and characterization was pretty weak. Their feud and reconciliation was forced as he’ll, and I just hate it when powerful demons uncharacteristically waste too much time talking to humans they could, and should, easily defeat.
  • Bam
    (Thursday, Nov 27. 2014 12:07 PM)
    @k-off: the series has some sombre and unconventional stories, it’s just that the story is told indirectly thru lore and subtlety. Demon’s Souls had a decent amount of narrative to the whole affair, albeit short and told mostly thru items and NPC encounters. But unfortunately the series moved forward on from cryptic to straight minimal storytelling. DS2 feels lazy although it has a few cool narratives, like Luciatel, but you have to play your cards right to even get to see that.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks – 07

As expected, this week we have another action filled episode. Queue the pretty explosions and fast paced fighting. It felt too short despite the episode length being just the same as the others. I often find that with a good episode of anime it makes you lose the concept of time as you watch. Making […]

Nanatsu no Taizai – 07

  I will admit it, I laughed at the beginning. The episode started with a pretty funny joke related to Meliodas and Elizabeth sleeping in the same bed. Maybe because this one didn’t have a second agenda of providing fanservice at the same time. Actually I enjoyed this episode a lot more than the previous. […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks – 06

I was mistaken in the previous review. The action scene I thought we would be getting today has been postponed till next week. This week we have a calm before the storm episode as things seem to be setting up for the fight scene to come. I am a little disappointed with this weeks fare […]

Nanatsu no Taizai – 06

There was quite number of still frames this episode so I hope that the animation budget isn’t starting to hurt. So our heroes triumph over the villains with a little help from Elizabeth. She showed some actual enginuity for once. As I was about to sigh as the villain was preparing to blab on about […]

Shingeki no Bahamut:Genesis- 05

Ah, the story progression that I was looking for. I finally find myself having a reason to get attached to Leone and Kaisar, because this episode devotes an entire episode to their rivalry and is just all around an improvement from last episode. I’ve talked about how the slow pacing hurts this show, and this […]

Parasyte-the Maxim- 03-05

Let me put up a disclaimer: When I first started to review this series, I didn’t foresee the obvious outcome that this show would end up so mediocre. I debated whether or not I should write reviews in groups of 2-3 episodes versus reviews that would drone on about the same issues every single episode, […]

Your Lie in April – 04 & 05

Episodes 4 and 5 of Your Lie in April were crucial ones in terms of how the series would develop. Episode 4 was a very important episode in the series as we see Kousei reintroduce himself to the music world after his mother’s death left him unable to play the piano. How the writers would […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks – 05

Always elegant. That is the motto of the Tohsaka household and the mask of Tohsaka Rin. The meaning clearly that no matter what you do, do it with style and grace. It is the creed which Rin upholds by playing the honor student. Though as you can see, at times cracks can appear in the […]

Nanatsu no Taizai – 05

One of the problems facing this series is the presentation of threats. In many other shounen you can just bring out some powerful villain and have him force the protagonist to get stronger. In seven deadly sins however our main characters are already veteran legendary warriors with tremendous power. So just adding in a strong […]

Latest Reviews

Clipboard06

Nerawareta Gakuen Review – 84/100

Let me talk a bit about Ryousuke Nakamura. For a long time, this guy was my hero. He started off as an assistant director to Monster, in my opinion a big reason why that series got such a ridiculously solid adaptation, and then in 2008 he came with the groundbreaking Mouryou no Hako. No TV-series […]

Clipboard03

Kick Heart

Okay, so I didn’t want to exit 2013 without having seen Masaaki Yuasa’s Kick Heart. It’s only twelve minutes anyway, and I consider him to be one of the best anime directors out there. The story here is pretty silly and mostly serves as a backdrop, so I mostly want to talk about the nature […]

Clipboard01

Kyousogiga Review – 90/100

Everyone’s taste is different, and that’s a wonderful thing because that allows us to have so many different forms of media that all aim toward their own niche. My blog is obviously written from the perspective of my own taste, and even when a show doesn’t cater to it (which is nearly always), I love […]

Clipboard04

Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Lovecome o Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru Review – 80/100

Noucome! You do not want to know how long I have been waiting for a series like this. More than half a decade, at the very least. Finally a series comes along and puts the incredibly overused harem genre in its place. And it actually does it well. Thank you! So to elaborate: the harem […]

Clipboard01

Pokemon: The Origin Review – 75/100

Normally I try to avoid spoilers with these reviews, but screw it, it’s Pokemon. Pokemon The Origin is a bomb of nostalgia. If you haven’t played Pokemon Red, Blue or Green, then you will not enjoy this one slight bit. This really is made as pure undilluted fanservice for the fans of the first games. […]

Clipboard08

Tamayura – More Aggressive Review – 75/100

I’m not going to dedicate a post for my impression for the final three episodes of this series. It was just too boring to write much about. I guess that that gives a pretty accurate indication of what I think about this series. Right at the start of Tamayura’s second season, I asked one question: […]

Clipboard04

Silver Spoon Review – 86/100

When Noitamina started airing two series per season, it was amazing. It’s a timeslot that on average tends to be aimed at a much older audience than usual, and having two series with the same mentality definitely helped to bring more diversity to anime overall. Unfortunately it’s a schedule that could not be kept up […]

Clipboard07

Yondemasuyo, Azazel-San Z Review – 82,5/100

Reviewing a comedy sequel usually is quite simple: in most cases it just drops the bomb and runs out of inspiration, and in rare cases it actually manages to stay hilarious. The tricky thing with these kinds of series is that you need to remain funny, and you need to have the inspiration for that. […]

Clipboard05

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet Review – 81/100

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet tells the storyline of a planet that is completely submerged, with only giant ships residing on the surface, while one of those ships gets visited by this guy and his AI-mecha from this very technologically advanced civilization. Yes, this show is about world building. What this show managed to do […]