Dantalian no Shoka certainly has a penchant for keeping its viewers on their toes. The directions this show takes are just downright bizarre. Two weeks ago, we had evil geniuses who were too lazy to do anything and villains who randomly got eaten by a cactus. Last week the victims of a phantom book evolved to gain immunity from death. This week we have a set of suitors who look like they’re cut out of a cheesy soap opera who end up becoming the five heroes of light. The direction is bizarre, but aside from last week’s ending, I love it. It’s just the right mix of absurdity and profundity.
Last week I had trouble with Dalian and Huey impassively observing a killing spree, but this week I had no problem at all with them rolling their eyes by the sidelines. The whole setup looked like it was taken out of a bad play filled with incompetent actors. The humor the creators used in this situation was top-notch as well. I was eagerly awaiting Dalian’s kick to Huey’s friend, and the interruption by Huey in favor of an even stronger kick was unexpected and delightful. Fortunately Dalian got her turn later on. I enjoyed Dalian’s retelling of the story of princess Kaguya just to get in a jab about how men are so stupid to get twirled around the woman’s thumb. I also liked how corny the ending fight scene was. Viola’s final choice of suitor was the icing on the cake.
We did get a little more development of Huey and Dalian, in particular with the flashback to the mystical library, but the show could bear to put more of the focus on its main characters. I’m starting to wonder if this is part of the series’ charm, though: by not becoming intimately involved in each of the mysteries, Dalian, Huey and the viewers are able to view the unfolding events as cynical outsiders. Which leads back to the scene in the mystical library: Dalian, Huey and the viewers have seen all there is to see about each of the short stories, but have they really experienced them by remaining as outsiders? Dalian claimed to know about sleeping in a warm bed by reading a book. The two could say they know about love by observing the suitors in this episode and the couple in the last. But do they truly know love?
As for this week’s phantom books:
- The Salamander’s Tablet. This may refer to the Book of Mormon, or, as is more likely, is fictional. The salamander is believed to have powers associated with fire.
- The Anthology of the Burning, Golden Pearls. Apparently one way to tell if a pearl is authentic or fake is by putting it in a fire- real ones won’t burn. All I could find about golden pearls were references to jewelry and a quote from some crazy Frenchman who intended to summon Nessie at Loch Ness: “Nessie will breathe golden pearls for all the children from the earth, this endangered innocence that badly needs air.” I wouldn’t attach much significance to that.
- The Sage’s Lithograph. Couldn’t find anything about this.
- The King’s Codex. This one looks like it’s an actual book. I haven’t read it, so I’m not sure how it relates to healing.
- The Manuscript of Nagarjuna. Nagarjuna was a Buddhist philosopher who thought about existence and non-existence, so the power to revive those killed by illusions is both pertinent and convenient. The book is most likely the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā.