Dantalian no Shoka First Impressions

Gainax is finally out with one of the latest premieres of the summer season. Unfortunately, they’re following this weird trend of shows featuring ill-tempered, socially retarded, but moebait little girl detectives. Fortunately, Dantalian blesses us with a quite capable male lead to pick up some of the slack.

That dress is hiding a mess on the chair

Dantalian has a few nice things going for it. The animation is quite good, the score is really good, and it has a more mature, more adult-oriented feel to it compared to similar shows like Gosick or Kami Memo-chou. But the one knock on it is that the characters act like characters written for a story. They respond not how you’d expect people to normally respond, but rather in a way to keep the story moving. Hugh Anthony Disward (voiced bishie-fully by Daisuke One) visits his late grandfather’s mansion to take care of his large, forboding library of weird books. There he finds a girl sitting on a throne, alone, reading a book. And they quickly proceed to becoming partners in fighting off imaginary clowns, lions and dragons. No questions about why she’s there to begin with. No questions about why his grandtfather even mentioned her. No questions about why a book would suddenly turn Jumanji. No questions why he’s sticking his hand in her chest. Weird things happen, because weird things happen and no one bats an eyelash. Now, they might start explaining things later. And maybe there’s a reason Hugh is nonplussed about it all. But this is a terrible way to introduce the audience to the story. Everything that happens has no context and thus seems haphazard and thrown together.

bishie alert!

Which is a shame, because the episode was actually quite good. Hugh breaks from the increasing trend towards characters with no personality. He’s smart, capable, and a crack shot. Unfortunately one can’t say the same about Dalian. She’s half as cute as either Gosick’s Victorique or KamiMemo’s Yuuko, but has the same ill-tempered personality. Who do we blame for this trend of loli characters who have short tempers, no manners, and absolutely no physical skills whatsoever? They apparently hold keys to solving mysteries, yet have a propensity to need rescuing on a weekly basis, and snap at their rescuers if they don’t get fed their melon pan or whatever. Someone needs to tell these writers that the key to creating chemistry between two characters doesn’t require one of them to be an ill-mannered twerp.

Random note, is it coincidence that industry grandfathers Gainax and Gonzo used live action EDs? Both are creepy as hell for different reasons.

Still, my complaints aside, I do think Dantalian is one of the better shows this season. It’s dark, interesting and worth checking out.

11 Replies to “Dantalian no Shoka First Impressions”

  1. Thank goodness someone else is openly tired of these moeblob female leads.. they’re really dragging down recent anime. This loli’s a bit less aggravating than the one in memo-chou, but only because she at least seems to acknowledge the male lead as something more than a doormat (and that he’s also more than a doormat is a nice touch).

    Funny enough, I’m too used to Gainax anime (and these types of shows) making little or no sense. I’m just happy to see a show where the characters don’t act like they would in every other show (even if the difference is slight so far). I guess my standards have taken a nosedive in recent years..

    1. I suppose it remains to be seen as to whether the actual plot will make any sense. It’s interesting, but not quite… understandable right now. More a promise of a story than anything concrete.

      I think following anime on a seasonal basis tends to kill standards.

  2. Not a bad first episode and yes there are a few holes in the story! Hopefully we get more info as we progress through the first few episodes. I can see why everyone compares this to Gosick, yes little girl surrounded by books and they go on adventures together! For me I passed up on Gosick after episode four or five I forget.

    I see more of Toaru Majutsu no Index why? Because both have girls with magical books inside of them locked away. The only huge differences in series, Index can sometimes use those books where Dalian seems to just be a storing them for Hugh to use. Then again things might change! I can see something happening there, anyway fun characters and it’s Gainax! People usually love them or hate them I usually fall in the love them group! ;D

    Another series to add to my list wooooooo!

  3. I am actually pleased to say I managed to mostly ignore the girl, haha. Hugh is pretty fantastic, and Dalian was, for me, a source of “ignore, ignore, ignore”. I’ve been forced to get good at that.

    I’m hoping this series can keep up making me smile, and definitely fill in its holes. Otherwise I will have to be 😦 while I prefer being 🙂

    1. For somebody who claims to ignore the girl, you mention that you ignore her quite a bit!

      I also feel Index vibes here. Only Dalian is better and there’s no Mikoto. And instead of Touma speeches, we get Huey storytime.

      I’ll keep watching this, but I’m not expecting anything amazing.

      1. I’m not sure I get the Index vibes, but then again, the Touma speeches pretty much brainwashed any memories of a plotline in that show for me. That was his power right? Brainwash by epic boredom?

  4. Not asking those questions, also made me think that this might be another episodical quest. I’ll be really disappointed if it’ll turn out like that because I really prefer more if it’s about the the characters’ story and the mystery behind them. Other than that, I’m really impressed with it’s first episode, especially with Huey because I find it rare to find a balanced male character or someone who doesn’t overpower his female counterpart and so who’s not being effeminate by the heroine.

    1. Yeah, it’s hard to find a good man, in anime, no? 😛

      I think the way they structured the first ep, it seems like much of the show will follow an “episodic quest” format – but with a shorter season (I think 13 eps), hopefully they’ll be able to tie it all into a bigger, more cohesive story.

  5. Maybe they didn’t want to explain anything in to much detail because they want you to keep watching to figure it all out. They did a pretty good job making everything pretty exciting and intriguing; at least we’re asking questions! On the other hand, maybe there is no explanation, but let’s be optimistic to start.

    And sometimes people are just grumpy when they’re hungry. It’s quite natural. Besides, girls are only hungry-grumpy around people they like.

  6. I can see where your gripe is coming from, but I’m personally good with the “no questions asked” approach. I think it contributes somewhat to the general fluidity of the show. After all it’s clear that realism isn’t something the show is even close to aiming for, so if it gets the story off to a running start and accentuates the bad-assery, I think it’s fine.

    I absolutely agree on the stale character archetyping though.

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