The Bravery and Brillance of Dantalian no Shoka Episode 3

"Kashira, kashira, gozonji kashira?"

Dantalian no Shoka and I have a rocky relationship.  Upon watching the first episode, the only thing that struck me about the series was the question of how something that was so beautiful to look at and listen to could have such uninspired dialogue.

Due to this somewhat crippling handicap, the series has been hard for me to immerse myself in, which is unfortunate because, if the series excels at anything it’s creating a haunting and beautiful atmosphere.  However, it’s hard to envelop one’s self in an atmosphere when the dialogue is clunky and straightforward, jarring the viewer out of their lovely suspension of disbelief.

Fortunately, Dantalian has improved on itself week by week, with the dialogue gradually rising up in an attempt to meet the series’ far more outstanding aspects.  While others are raving about this most recent fifth episode for being show-stopping and so very “GAINAX,” I’d like to call attention to a short bit of Dantalian that occurred a few weeks ago, in the third episode.

The purpose of the beginning of the third episode, from a narrative point of view, is to introduce us to Camilla, a childhood friend of male protagonist Huey, and the entry point for the little story I’m about to call attention to.  Huey and his charge Dalian are called to investigate a group of children who were under Camilla’s friend’s tutelage until Camilla’s friend decided to use a phantom book to make the children smarter.  Unfortunately, the book made them far smarter than she was, making them monsters in her mind. When Dalian and Huey visit the schoolhouse, they are shocked when they find not monsters, but fairly quiet children who tell the pair to take the book with them as they leave.

This is all that happens.

In the entire first part of this episode.  There is no action.  A viewer could quite literally say that nothing happens and not be exaggerating.  Huey and Dalian leave with the phantom book and no violence, no Huey reaching into Dalian’s chest to access one of the other phantom books that are apparently kept within her person to fight with. They leave with the understanding that the children were not lying; these now-genius children honestly intend to do nothing with the rest of their lives (except maybe converse with each other about how intelligent they are).

The overall message, as so succinctly put by Dalian and Camilla, is that ambitious people are more likely to make their mark on the world than brilliant ones.  An intelligent person, or group of people in this case, will realize the risk involved as well as the probability of failure, and wisely choose not to try in the first place.  Perhaps it was with this message in mind that the series’s producers boldly decided not to include any sort of conflict within this section of the episode, which could have alienated a portion of their viewing audience. For one episode they, like the children, decided not to reach for the highest heights.  Then again, completely leaving conflict out of an episode is a bold, dare I say ambitious, thing to do.

After all, wouldn’t that too be so very GAINAX?


Filed under Editorials

11 responses to “The Bravery and Brillance of Dantalian no Shoka Episode 3

  1. Hogart

    Yes, it was quite nice to see that. It made the ep surprisingly intelligent, right up until the room-sized man-eating cactus with book-like blossoms that (for whatever reason) wasn’t magical. I don’t understand how the show can swings quite so wildly between semi-intellient and completely idiotic.

    • Yeah…although I love the romantic idea that surrounds “The Queen of the Night” flower, when the book actually appeared it completely broke my suspension of disbelief and I giggled a bit. Honestly, I had forgotten what the latter half of this episode was about until you brought it up again, which should tell you how much it affected me. ^ ^

      First-time commenter! Yay! Welcome and thanks for the comment!

      • Man you guys are wrong. Maaaan I liked that giant flower. GAINAX gonna do what GAINAX gonna do.

        • Hogart

          To be frank, I kind of liked the idea.. I can’t help but enjoy seeing bit-villains get their just desserts (or if you prefer, cacti getting their bit-villain desserts).

          But for it to work, all they had to do was say “it’s not real, it’s a magic cactus from the story of the demon book those guys were hunting”. Why go out of their way to pretend it was “real”? Maybe I just watched a bad translation?

  2. I have to agree, Dantalian has been quite ambitious with how they have their stories play out- it’s never what you’re expecting. The second half of this episode with the villains eaten by a cactus, but also the fourth and fifth episodes were completely unexpected, and each one in a different way.

    • Hnnn… I disagree a bit in that, the reason why I called attention to this episode was that I found it to be the only one with actual ambition, despite the fact that I’ve been enjoying the series a lot more since my initial, visceral and angry reaction to the first episode.

      The fifth episode is certainly the one that everyone (including my excitable blogging partner) has been talking about. It cribbed off of Misery a bit, but I found the fourth episode to be more enjoyable than the fifth. ^ ^ Thanks for the comment (yay, another first-time commenter!)

  3. animekritik

    Mimicry is quite advanced in nature, and this Queen of the Night just took the same principle to another level. I wasn’t bothered by it, maybe because I still can’t get over how critters like the one below actually exist:

    The super-wise kids were great, very, very unexpected and yes, it was a bold move to simply dispense with conflict in this half-episode.

    • Awww..that’s rather adorable. You would have enjoyed last night’s Red Sox baseball broadcast where they spent about a half hour talking about and filming a large praying mantis in the bullpen. I found it hilarious anyway. Thanks for commenting!

  4. Yeah I am with you on this AJ! The first half of the episode was like oh hey smart kids know everything! But lets just leave them alone and go burn some books. That felt really lame compared to the previous episodes, wait until you get up to five or so! Things get really really random….

    Second half was decent and lol yes @ Vuc that plant was great a bit random but still great xD

    • Ah, then you agree with David then. I liked the first half of the episode better than the second, and I think that he liked the latter, man-eating plant half.

      It is a bit odd that they decided to burn the book. For a series about literature, it’s a bit of a contradictory message…

      Anyway, thanks for the comment! ^ ^

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