Originally a light novel series by Mikumo Gakuto, Dantalian no Shoka (The Mystic Archives of Dantalian), takes place in England after World War 1. Hugh Anthony Disward (or Huey to his friends), returns to his ancestral home six months after receiving a letter informing him that his grandfather, Earl Wesley Disward, had been murdered by a burglar. According to the will, Huey can inherit the title, the estate, and everything contained within the mansion, but in return he must take over responsibility for the Bibliotheca Mystica de Dantalian, and look after Dalian as well. (Been wanting to write a review of it ever since I watched it a few years back and now I have my chance.)
It lacks romance… If an anime is going to have romance it needs to be already established, or planned out so it actually works and makes sense. A lot of animes with some sort of romance in it however end up just forcing it, and that sickens me. Especially if there are better options readily available and interested, but they are never even considered. In some cases I’ve seen it “called out” but never verified why. It’s like, what? Magical books have long been a staple of the fantasy genre, but unlike the majority of tales dealing with them, the main focus of Dantalian no Shoka is to seal away those works that were never meant to exist, or have fallen into the wrong hands. It’s a reasonably simple idea that can work very well with an episodic plot (Mushishi, Natsume Yuujinchou and Mokke use a similar method), but sadly that isn’t the case here. The straightforward premise doesn’t seem to have been enough for the writers, who have very clearly tried to cram as much as possible into twelve episodes. The story can often get sidetracked or bogged down in semantics, and there is a tendency towards over-explanation and melodrama. In addition to this, there are several characters who appear to have been included just to show how “good” Huey and Dalian are, and because of these issues it can often seem as though the narrative has been cobbled together with hobnails and glue.
Now it may seem as though there’s little of interest to be found in the story, but that’s not actually the case. When the plot sticks to the point there’s a surprisingly nice balance between the mystery and supernatural aspects, and there’s a good deal of imagination in the way certain phantom books are used or affect people. The series also ventures into darker territory that suits the main theme of the show very well, but these occasions tend to be spoiled by some truly inane humor. That said, while there are some major issues with the storyline, Gainax have done a decent job with the visuals. The background music so far is very appropriate to the scenes it is used in. It doesn’t seem out of place and just fits with the anime in general. I think the opening is very appropriate for the anime, it goes with its theme of being a dark mysterious anime, which the opening reflects with its mellow somber tune. I stand by my perspective of episode one; the ending… Scare the bejesus outta me! The music was creepy and the video is just REALLY REALLY creepy (it gives me nightmares! I can’t even finish watching it, plus I need to get myself into position to pause every episode right after it ends to avoid seeing the little girl in a horned mask), I didn’t particularly like it one bit.