Er, wait. Dantalian doesn’t really have a story to put another story inside. I guess it’s just the usual episodic story.
Why Should I Care?
One risk for a show with an episodic structure such as Dantalian’s is that the viewer will probably not be interested in all of the stories. This is compounded by the fact that Dantalian has no consistently strong characters: Huey and Dalian are impotent for most of the show. So much of Dantalian’s ability to maintain viewer interest depends on the characters in each of the short stories.
This week’s characters were decidedly lacking. We have the girl who will grow up to be a sage, the wise woman, some random soldiers, and the boyfriend. They do little to distinguish themselves beyond their basic descriptions. But it doesn’t matter, anyway: none of them have any influence on the plot. Does this mean we get an episode where Huey and Dalian do something? Of course not! (unless you count getting lost in a forest and reading a book as doing something)
Things just happen in Dantalian without rhyme or reason. Dalian and Huey wander around just because, and Ira gets dragged around by events and other people. The only “characters” we can claim are in control of the narrative are the book bugs. The story is not character driven, and the characters come across as mostly an afterthought. Is it plot driven? I don’t think so. We do get good characters and stories from time to time, but it almost seems like a coincidence. I would say that Dantalian simply isn’t driven at all.
The creators love anti-climaxes, and these have resulted in some interesting endings. But if the viewers don’t particularly care about the story in the first place (and if every other story has an anticlimactic ending too), an anti-climax will only make the story fail even harder than a traditional climax would have.
- Dalian mentions at the beginning of the episode that they are approaching the Michaux fortress. This is probably referring to Henri Michaux, a Belgian / French writer and artist. In case you thought Dantalian’s artwork became a masterpiece in this episode, it didn’t: all the pictures in this post are pieces by Michaux. I didn’t want to deface this site with screenshots from the episode: I can see what they were going for, but it sure was ugly. Also, note the bug-like objects in Michaux’s art.
- The book Huey read mentions Abdul Alhazad, who is probably Abdul Alhazred, the Mad Arab, author of the Necronomicon in the Cthulhu Mythos.
- Continuing the Arabic theme, we have Suleiman, the Arabic name of King Solomon, who hosts a court of…
- Djinn. In particular we have three types: Marid, associated with the sea, Ifrit, particularly strong Djinn, and the Shaitan, unbelieving and hideous Djinn similar to the devil. It also mentions the Cabicaj, but I couldn’t find anything about them.
I figured I should include a poem by Michaux as well, since we seem to be on a theme. This one reminded me of Dalian.
A mad being,
a beacon being,
a being erased a thousand times,
a being exiled from the far end of the horizon
a being sulking at the far end of the horizon
a being crying from the far end of the horizon
a thin being
an honest being
a proud being
a being who wanted to be
a being in the churning of two epochs which collide
a being in the deleterious gas of consciousness which succumbs,
a being like the first day