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Dantalian no Shoka Half Season Review [Completed]

That’s because.. you need moustaches for a suit.

And in other news, Slug Designer 2 is the worst game ever. They don’t even have a moustache to put on their slugs. However, this is the best game ever. Yes, you’re welcome in advance.

Dantalian no Shoka was good. As most others have said (funny, I can’t actually /find/ many Shoka reviews), it was driven by its story, which was of an episodic nature. This was the show I should’ve blogged, instead of Tiger & Bunny or even Steins;Gate (not No. 6, though – that was a great exercise in ‘watch as my tone changes from good to bad as the series progresses’), because you can’t really blog this in half season reviews. It’s episodic, so you should blog it episodically.

Thankfully, nobody will actually be disappointed at me not blogging Shoka, as nobody reads this blog anyways (even if they did, they wouldn’t read the episodics).

Shoka felt a lot like Zekkyou Gakkyuu, with each individual episode talking about a part of human nature. The producers of Shoka could take risks, compared to more ‘connected’ shows. If a normal one-cour show fails even one episode, since that episode is connected to all the other episodes, the entire show will start failing. Since Shoka’s episodes aren’t linked together, they can screw up half of the anime and nobody would care, because the other half isn’t affected by that half screwing up. This allowed for episodes such as Episode 8’s open-endedness (The Book of Equivalence didn’t have a ‘resolution’) and Episode 9’s Fractale-like change in animation (or should I say, Fractalization?). While neither were highlights of the show, the risks the animators took definitely added variety to the show.

The thing about adaptations is that it sometimes depends on the source material, and sometimes on the animators. For source material like One Piece, there’s absolutely no way to screw up – just animate it exactly as the manga says and you’ve got yourself a hit anime, simply on the basis that the manga is already a hit. For source material like No. 6, it depends on the studio – if they choose to cram everything into one cour, of course it’ll flop; if they choose to take only a segment of it without a conclusion, it’ll probably still flop – even though the source material is good. For source material like Shoka, the stories are already written – the only variation the studios have is its presentation. And there, it succeeded, somewhat – the visuals were absolutely gorgeous, the direction was fantastic (albeit some of their risks turned out to be failures), and the music was wonderful. Actually, the music did feel a bit pretentious, infusing that one theme everywhere – no anime does that! Even now, I can’t think of an anime that has a set piece of ‘theme music’ – they only ever use the OP and ED nowadays.

I’m not sure whether this is because of the studio or the source material, but I find each story well thought out. There are various points raised so far, none of them explored – they’re left open, for us to mull about. Things like whether change and hope are actually good, even when they ruin the established calmness of life; whether knowledge is a good thing, even in the hands of a good person; how one man’s trash could be another’s treasure, but mistaking one man’s trash for his treasure will lead to your downfall, and other such things. However, nobody actually mulls about them, which makes the entire point moot. Alternatively, some people may mull about it, but actually saying that you mull about it just makes you seem pretentious, not intellectual.

There are some detracting points, though. The moe in Episode 8 was definitely unwarranted, the overarching story was shaky, and the person inside Dalian was rather… strange. Yet, various other episodes were really masterpieces, specifically Episodes 4 and 11. Its detracting points aren’t enough to balance the amazing storytelling of certain episodes, though.

The major ‘flaw’ was the lack of development in Shoka’s main characters, Huey and Dalian. Dalian just seemed like the stereotypical moe tsundere short girl, and Huey was just the stereotypical cool-headed dude who shoots zombies where you’re supposed to shoot them – in the knees. They really just seemed like plot devices… but that’s what they were. Shoka wasn’t about its characters, it was about its story, and its story wasn’t twelve episodes long. There were twelve stories, each twenty minutes long (actually, a bit more than that due to a few double-episodes). It’s a feature, not a flaw! Yet, its presentation of the feature makes it feel like it’s a flaw, which is bad – you present features as features, and flaws as flaws. Even if it wasn’t a flaw, they /made/ it into a flaw.

Similar to Nichijou, Shoka presents little vignettes of life and humanity, and does it well. However, the lack of solid structure in it all (yes, even Nichijou has better structure) and the wavering quality through different episodes definitely sets it back a bit. But it’s still good.

If Shoka was an experiment, it didn’t fail, and I don’t know whether or not it succeeded. What I do know is that I want this experiment to continue. You can’t easily tack on a second season to even shounen shows, such as Ao no Exorcist. However, you can tack however many more cours you want to Shoka, and as long as the production team stands by their original decision, it’s still going to be great.

Overall Rating: 5/10 (Great)

P.S. I rate low so 5/10 means *shot*
P.P.S. Nobody cares go away
P.P.P.S. Anybody notice how many more anime examples I put into my anime posts now? Brrr it’s elitism around here

3 responses

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