Dantalian no Shoka is once again dragging its feet with another two part episode. I wish there was more I could write on it, but I have almost nothing to work with. At worst though, it’s a functional episode, which is more than I can say for that horrid Bizarro-episode with Anti-Huey and Anti-Dalian gallivanting around Western Europe. The dynamics actually work this episode, even if they’re rather uninspired. The plots are decent, nothing stellar. All in all, a pedestrian effort made marginally better by Huey having a chance to shine as a character, and Dalian mostly keeping quiet.
Once again though, it isn’t spectacular. The first half in particular suffers from a lack of closure, showing good buildup but ultimately having it lead to nothing. In it, Camilla makes her return to a thunderous, monumental wave of apathetic sighs, though the pain is eased somewhat by her showing up with a rather spiffy moustache.
I don’t hate Camilla, she just has no worthwhile development whatsoever, so I don’t think I can be blamed with not finding her return all that interesting. Anyway, she visits Huey and Dalian at their expansive estate with the intention of taking something from Huey. When Huey gives her a paperclip, she embarks on a journey for equivalent exchange using the power of a Phantom Book, to eventually barter for a prized teddy bear for Dalian.
The book is that of Equivalence, which basically allows the holder to trade any object of theirs to somebody else for equal value. However, since the value of an object is relative to each person, she gets to trade the paperclip for a pocket watch, and go further and further down the line until she gets the opportunity to trade with a nobleman for the teddy bear. However, she trades him the book, a move that both Huey and Dalian should find distressing considering its power. And that’s it. The three of them laugh it off before walking off the noble’s estate back to Huey’s mansion, never thinking back on the tremendous impact trading that book away could have.
To sum it up, it was a slightly enjoyable aside that really didn’t end on a good note. I mean Dalian got the teddy bear that she wanted, but I think keeping a potentially dangerous Phantom Book safe from those who would abuse its powers would take priority. Then again, I don’t have the warped sensibilities that every character but Huey seems to employ.
When the three return home, Huey’s old subordinate pays a visit, his arm covered in writhing vines that occasionally shoot fire. This segment of the episode takes what I like to call the “Trix Rabbit approach”: Making a character with completely innocuous goals out to be a bad guy, to the point of even his former commanding officer shunning him based on hearsay. Armand, the character in question, recently entered into a relationship with a woman using the power of a Phantom Book that has a counterpart… which she happens to have.
The two get along well for awhile and even get engaged, before the woman’s rampant paranoia sets in, seeing every smile that Armand bears toward another woman as him breaking their future vows and spitting on her wedding ring in a bizarre show of despondency. She curses him with the vines, which originate in his heart and wrap around him, threatening to ignite him at a moment’s notice. To put it bluntly, the guy dies, is brought back, and is scolded for getting in that situation in the first place. Not for getting with a girl clearly stricken with the craziest strain of the loony disease, but for acknowledging the presence of other women. Then he resumes his old womanizing ways with Camilla, and everything ends on an unpleasant note.
I won’t go on and on saying that each of these episodes had potential to be better. They all obviously do, but this one almost nailed everything that it possibly could’ve… except the ending to each half. The first was just plain unsatisfying, while the second felt downright cruel to Armand. Yeah, he’s an idiot and this series’ answer to the “Handsome Lech” stereotype, but he doesn’t deserve to be crucified by everyone around him for acknowledging the presence of the opposite sex.