… Apart from the shows I didn’t decide to watch …
At first glance, one look at Dantalian no Shoka makes you think “Ah, Gainax is trying to cash in on Gosick.” But I wonder if Gosick had anything to do with Dantalian. At first glance it appears obvious, with no Victorique there would be no Dalian, right? But Gosick only ended a month ago. Gainax (really??) must have made the decision a while back. Or not. I don’t know how long it takes to put a series together. Well, most shows. Softenni was probably put out on a drunken weekend. My point is, this at first seems to be a Gosick clone. Our hero Huey inherits an estate, and finds a girl in a frilly dress, surrounded by books, reading away, named Victori–
The other similarity, of course, comes from Index, because Dalian happens to have stored away in her gourd (heh) thousands of grimoires. That is hopefully the only Index reference we’ll get unless the series starts throwing arcane-sounding names at us (and with “Bibliotecha Mystica de Dantalian,” they already have).
On to the plot. After discovering Dalian in his new basement, Huey sets out to talk to Conrad, the man who might have killed his grandfather and stolen a forbidden book. He is only slightly surprised to find a girl in his basement entrusted to his care, but let that pass. Those expecting a shrewd confrontation between the two men, with Dalian tossing out barbed asides, are in for a disappointment. Conrad is already dead and nasty things from the book are running amok. They must seal the book. And here the show presents us with a distinct difference between itself and Gosick. The latter stayed in reality; all of its magic were illusions, while Dantalian gets extremely weird.
I won’t go into detail about the cosmic-erotic bit that follows, only that Huey starts reading a book aloud, and reading, and reading, while flashbacks of the war he had fought through play on, mixed with black-and-white drawings of the victims. And finally we get a bit of history of the pop-up book. Oh, and closing credits that look like a gothy art house movie. Maybe this IS Gainax, after all. It’s too soon to tell if the entire series will be worthwhile, but I enjoyed its subdued sober nature, well, until the dragon showed up, and Huey stuck his arm in, well, you know.