Part of the human condition is the permanent, ultimately futile quest to attain true happiness. It’s this lifelong journey that’s been responsible for every major technological and philosophical development not related to cleaving a man’s skull, or having a bullet change chambers from that of a gun to that of a beating heart through means of a pulled trigger.
This idea, like many interesting concepts, is brought up in Dantalian no Shoka then promptly dropped for the sake of having Dalian do something cute, or having Huey be made completely ineffectual by powers outside his control. Having returned to Huey and Dalian this week after last episode’s disastrous affair, the show is finally brimming with some degree of life yet again.
The daughter of a wealthy perfume magnate, a gifted perfumer herself, accidentally creates cologne that makes people high on life. Of course, a criminal organization wants in and promptly makes things inconvenient for her and her family, before she realizes that the power of a Phantom Book is too much responsibility for her and gets rid of it as soon as the thugs are dispatched.
Also, Dalian goes apeshit over some buns. So… addiction is also a central theme, I guess in that too much happiness can be addicting and ultimately life destroying. It was an alright episode that made up for last week’s slapdash affair, but struggled too much in finding an angle to work from. It reached the point that the villain, who you won’t be surprised to learn is the perfume magnate’s daughter Fiona, knocks Huey out with perfume before running and dying. Okay then!
It’s an episode with very little closure, but at least it had a plot interesting enough to round out to a decidedly average affair.
But back to that happiness thing I mentioned earlier. The reason why everyone’s after this perfume is the power that it has over peoples’ positive emotions. People constantly chase what they perceive to be happiness, whether they know it or not. You will never, or at least very rarely, find a person who can honestly say that they don’t want anything more out of life than they have at that moment. Once again, it’s in human nature to seek happiness, whether it be through the love of others, material gains, or the broad umbrella of self actualization.
Having a physical representation of such lofty ideals that’s easy to apply before it wears off would drive anybody who knew of its existence bonkers in search of such a coveted prize. Of course it’s forbidden knowledge, so man wasn’t supposed to have a direct route to remaining satisfied according to this show. And really, that’s true. If everyone were satisfied with how they were, there would be no progress of any kind. When the girl imprisoned in Dantalian’s Library talks with Huey’s grandfather as a child, she’s perfectly content until the factor of company enters into her life, upsetting things completely and humanizing her. He’s the proverbial apple that led to the God of her complacency exiling her from everlasting peace and happiness.
Unfortunately, past junkies wanting this perfume and Dalian’s fixation with supposedly life changing buns, none of this is delved into at more than a superficial level. While this is hardly surprising, it’s quite the shame. So instead, I’m going to make another shameless movie plug and bring up that argument that was better explained in one of my favorite comedies of all time: Woody Allen’s Love and Death.
This movie, following Boris, a Russian pacifist drafted into the army during the Napoleonic Wars, explores the themes of happiness, love, and death (See what they did in the title there?) through Boris’ own escapades and mishaps. Between all the slapstick comedy, there’s the occasional moment of introspection that drives home how Boris’ struggles have all been for the sake of attaining his idea of happiness. Boris’ cousin Sonja, who he eventually marries, has one moment that best explains the Catch 22 of the journey to attain true happiness through love.
In the end though, everything is equated to wheat. The good, the bad, hate, love, jealousy, greed, happiness, sadness, faith… all add up to a crop to be harvested and eaten in various forms.
Forms like Dalian’s buns. So hey, maybe she was onto something there.
So once again, this was an episode that I didn’t have much to say about so I just inserted a tangentially related analysis of a far better movie, explaining why it explained the theme better than the anime I was covering. I honestly had no idea where I was going with it, and I’m still perplexed that I managed this how I did. But hey, it beats boring episodics!