Being a book lover myself, I was quite curious on what a show about a walking library can possibly offer me. And with it being placed under the ‘detective’ genre, I became more interested. Upon watching the show, well, it’s curiouser and curiouser, I say. Let us walk alongside the Black Biblioprincess with Dantalian no Shoka.
Upon the death of his grandfather, Hugh Anthony Disward inherits his estate, his title and his most precious possession of all: a vast library containing thousands of books. This also includes Dalian, a small girl who happens to be the Bibliotheca Mystica de Dantalian — a vessel containing the forbidden Phantom Books. Kind of like Index, only less scientific. Later on, Dalian appoints Hugh as her Key Keeper, giving him the power to use the Phantom Books within her to defeat the evil being spread by other Phantom Books that wander into the wrong hands.
Mixed feelings abound while watching Dantalian. It’s quite evident after a few episodes that it won’t bring any crazy plot twist of some sort. The possibility existed upon the appearance of other Key Keepers and Libraries but that happened in the later parts of the show already which practically killed that possibility. Their appearance was too late, in other words.
The main star of this show — and the only thing that would probably keep you going — would be the Phantom Books themselves. Each episode gives us a different Phantom Book, each with their own unique abilities. I thought this was especially creative as the books varied from something very powerful like the Book of Soul Exchange to something as mundane as the Book of Equivalence which allows you to barter something for anything.
Again, the appearance of these two other Libraries sparked the hope of an awesome Key Keeper battle for me but that was to be extinguished when the last episode ends with something more of an inner, emotional battle between Hugh and his desire to save the inner Dalian. The struggle wasn’t much but it wasn’t that all petty for me either. I’m kind of wondering actually why Hugh didn’t think of the possibility that Dalian might die if he took out the inner Dalian. They are one, in a way, after all.
I wouldn’t say the ending was anti-climactic since the show already established an almost easy-going mood from the very beginning. I sometimes find it funny how Hugh and Dalian can be so calm when they’re dealing with very dangerous business. I guess the show is like reading a book — nice and slow as it takes you chapter by chapter.
I do have to say that the series is wonderfully drawn. Dalian is so cute in all her tsundere glory. Don’t worry about being a washboard, Dalian. You’re as cute as cute can be. As for the OP and ED…well, the ED was creepy and the OP was very calming. Kind of reminded me of Lilium, actually. Oh yes, if there’s something I absolutely loved about this show, it would be the classical background music.
It’s not particularly cathartic but it wasn’t epically bad either. The episodes are engaging enough as they are unique in their own right. It’s just that it could’ve offered more — lots, lots more — than it already has. Seriously, a second season would be a really good treat.