Dantalian no Shoka – 08 Review
Did you ever ask yourself how it’s like to meet your soulmate? Well, Armand did and look at what happened to him, that fool…
A bit late, I know, but well, better late than never. So Dantalian no Shoka 08 back with episode 09 and 10 in its 08th episode because the series loves to confuse you with numbers; it kinda works, I have to admit, not because its difficult to understand but because it’s difficult to figure out why someone would bother to count the stories like that. Whatever, this weeks topics: Teddybears are valuable treasures and finding your soulmate is an experience full of fiery passion.
Another episode that tells two episodic stories about two different phantom books.
The first story begins with Camilla appearing suddenly and telling Dantalian that she has a present for her. But after asking Huey for something he has with him and giving her a paper-clip in response to that, she leaves again. Later Huey and Dantalian visit a book-seller who has a phantom book that he wants to show to Dantalian. But as they arrive he realizes that he sold it by accident and the description of the person who bought it matches Camilla. Therefore Huey and Dantalian drive to her villa where they only meet the butler who apparentle traded his broken pocket-watch for a Huey’s paperclip. Dantalian explains that the phantom book is the “Book of Equivalence” that magically supports bartering and ensures a fair trade. They follow the trail of trades Carmilla leaves behind and finally find her leaving a mansion with the teddybear that Dantalian liked most from the ones she saw earlier in an auction catalogue and which she showed Carmilla. She also reveals that to get the last trade done she traded the phantom book itself for the teddy bear that Dantalian wanted complaining how greedy this makes the former owner of the teddybear.
The second story puts Armand in its centre who arrives frightened and in search of help. He found a phantom book called the “Book of Relatinship, a book that exists two times and the two persons possessing it are soulmates. Armand searched for the other half and found Lizzie. They instantly fall in love with each other but the relationship complicates as Lizzie appears to be jealous in a paranoid way. Because of her fears that Armand has a relationship with another woman the curse of the “Book of Relationship” activates. And now Armand searches help from Huey and Dantalian because of it. As he reaches the end of his story, the doorbell rings. As Armand feared it’s Lizzie and Huey lets her in. She confronts Armand with her accusations and then kills him with the “Book of Relationships”. After Armand died she gives the two phantom books to Dantalian. With her leaving Huey reveals that they’ll revive Armand with another Phantom Book because only dying would end the curse that had befallen Armand. Even though Armand states that he will distance himself from women and phantom books in the future he quickly shows with his interest in Carmilla that he hasn’t truly learned from his mistakes.
Huey: “Believe it or not, this paperclip is worth exactly one cute furry teddybear. Stop that! Stop looking at me like that! I didn’t say that! That’s what the guy who I gave the teddybear to told me.”
One thing that always bothers me about episodic stories is when they are badly constructed. An episodic story is a one-note-melody and if that one sounds bad, the whole thing becomes terrible. Dantalian no Shoka was good in the beginning but it certainly shows now how it isn’t like what I’ve expected to be. It tries to be soft and fluffy instead of dark and mystical. And yeah, I think, that’s a bad thing.
The first story was already a sort of disappointment because it didn’t make much sense with which I don’t mean that it makes no sense, it’s just sort of a parody of a classic tale about bartering and trading. This story which is basically just a metaphor about a boy who takes a simple cheap thing and with a long sequence of trading for something and then trading that for something else again who ends up rich is great by itself. A poor guy getting rich by being a manipulative salesman is a good story by anyone’s standards that being adopted would’ve been good enough. Instead of that they put Carmilla at the centre of the tale and she’s totally spontaneous with her approach of trading things seemingly asking anyone who just happened to pass along for a trade. And the end was completely ridiculous. I mean, she is sly enough to buy a phantom book from a senile bookstore-owner for a low price making use of the mistake of the old man without hesitation. She also must have known that it’s a phantom book because I can’t imagine Carmilla buying a book like “Book of Equivalence” for herself and reading a few random pages before buying it not knowing that it’s a phantom book. Phantom books are weird shit that’s for sure, you don’t read one of them and be like “Well, the story is good but the writing isn’t that great.”, there’s no “Everyone’s a critic” with Phantom Books. A Phantom Book is sort of like a laser gun but you have to read a manual first to use the laser gun but it’s user-friendly so even if an idiot like Carmille has no clue about bartering and trading she still is qualified to use the “Book of Equivalence” because it’s written userfriendly. *sigh* Yeah, I know, a pity nobody writes scientific books like those anymore. So the idiot has the power to enforce just deals (with which I mean deals involving “justice” and not “only deals”, I know, it’s hard to imagine that justice has something to do with getting rich) and she pesters all sorts of persons to trade with her. But she’s followed by Huey and Dantalian who fear for her life because this book works like: The owner of the Phantom Book says something like “I want that. How much is it worth to you?” and if the other says “It’s worth my life.”, well, you’re pretty much screwed. Because when the trade begins you have to go through with it and so there’s this thing you want to have and the other says that he only takes a complete life as payment for it and you have to pay that then. It really shows that you should ask for the price of the thing before stating that you want it. But luckily the last one with his precious teddybear-collection just exaggerated with his assessment that the teddybear is worth his life. He was just a normal person investing in a valuable teddybear-collection because that’s where the real diamonds are found – teddybears, real furry teddybears. Teddybears are an investment in your future. So if you have a teddybear at home, consider yourself a millionaire – in a few hundred years or so. And it’s also great how Huey and Dantalian forgave her so easily for selling a phantom book – for a teddybear. I guess, they just wanted to show with this story how valuable teddybears are. Screw phantombooks, screw diamonds, screw gold – it’s teddybears you should invest in.
Armand: “You know, what I’ve thought first when you revived me? I know, it shames me to say this but I’ve thought: ‘Well, should make the best out of my new life or like James Bond said: You Only Live Twice.’ “
And after that furry point of view on bartering comes another story that is just great, I mean it, it’s really great. Every man will probably agree with the morale of this story: Women are evil. Men are just naïve innocent fools haunted by wicked vengeful women, how about that as a lovestory? Medea is always a great trope for a nice lovestory and I think, this was also a good parody of the original story (or Dantalian no Shoka has just gotten that bad, take your pick) because Armand is this guy who finds a phantom book that will lead him to his soulmate, perfect relationship, everlasting happiness and all, that’s what they had written on the receipt when he had bought the book from another senile bookstore-owner forgetting to separate the phantom books from other books. But! Great plottwist: His soulmate is a great woman – as long as you aren’t loved by her. She literally loves Armand to death. Somehow this “Book of Relationship” isn’t as romantic as one would be led to believe but the explanation doesn’t make sense anyway. You have two books and having one of them leads you to your soulmate who also has the other half of the book supposedly. So it’s not only like this book leads you to your soulmate, that “soulmate” also has the other half by chance. That means that either a thing like fate, god or whatever arranges the whole thing or these two books just lead the two persons together and forces them to fall in love with each other. But back to the story, so Armand isn’t really the best husband you can imagine since he pays far too much attention to other women and it’s worse if you’re also a paranoid and vengeful woman which Lizzie is. So she thinks Armand has betrayed her and tries to kill him because she thinks that’s a good way of ending a relationship. But Armand flees thinking himself innocent and not deserving death. Lizzie finds him hiding in Huey’s mansion and kills him – no redemption-scene, no doubts about killing, nothing, she just arrives, kills him, gives Dantalian the two Phantom Books and leaves again. I don’t know but I remember the Medea-story to be a bit more dramatic and Medea had a good reason to get suspicious, there was no flimsy air of unsound suspicion when she voiced her accusations. Here Lizzie is just pure insane with her possessiveness and it’s treated like Armand simply should’ve had better taste in women à la “Dude, she’s a basket case, can’t do nothing about it, you wanna hear my advice for the future: don’t date mad women, honestly it’s like inviting Stalin to the Muppet-Show.”. It also led to harden my suspicions about the power of this Phantom Book, I mean, is Armand’s “Soulmate” really such a mad person? Aren’t soulmates supposed to be something like finding the right screwdriver for the right screw? It usually shouldn’t involve something that screwed up as an ending where the woman kills the man because of unsound suspicions… I know, it’s a bad pun. Anyway Armand dies and for a moment there I’ve thought it would end with an grotesque scene of calmly discussing why Armand had died but instead they remembered that Phantom Book from a few episodes before and with it they simply revived him. Yeah, they cured death in this episode, great, isn’t it? So basically as long as the characters stick to Dantalian with this Phantom Book nobody can die or they can die but can be revived again. Death is no big deal, even kids can handle it when the series can explain that everybody can be revived naturally with supernatural means. Ultimately this episode shied away from tackling the real topics of revenge, justice, love and so on which are connected to the Medea-Trope. What’s left is a rather silly story of an idiotic guy loving a possessive mad woman and how the latter then tries to kill the former because of insane reasons. Also, the whole thing is resolved with cheating using the setting for a rather convenient “happy ending” of sorts.
Dantalian no Shoka has lost much of its charm and perhaps the charm was never there and it was only me dreaming about what this series could be instead of what it was. With no real story to be told and rather uninspiring short-stories this series really does nothing to spark any interest for it.