Anime Review: The Mystic Archives of Dantalian

April 17, 2017

Huey Disward meets Dalian

I hope that everyone is doing well, and had a nice enough
weekend to get through yet another grueling week.

Things have been going fairly well, since I decided to
finally take a break after purchasing some software, which cost a bit of money,
but I recently received some iTunes credit and decided to put that break on
hold temporarily when I found out that a series I had forgotten from the early
years of this blog got released where I live.

Today, I will be reviewing that series, which is called The
Mystic Archives of Dantalian
( iTunes )
( Amazon ).

Huey Disward talking with client

An avid book collector, whose family had shunned for making
a large purchase, has recently died and left his mansion and a mysterious girl to
his grandson, Hugh Anthony Disward.

However, the books this man collected are no ordinary book
because they cause problems in the world, and Hugh finds himself and the girl being
called upon to deal with those problems, not knowing who the girl really is and
why people would want those dangerous books.

Dalian relaxing

Kind of funny, huh? This show would have been the first
simulcast I covered, instead of Another, since
I reviewed the first
episode
back in 2011, whereas I covered Another in 2012, the year I
got my domain name, and I completely forgot about it until now.

And, now that I have been able to watch this in its entirety,
I have to say that I was not that impressed.

Fortunately, there were a few things to like, so I do not
have to jump right into what I hated.

From the moment that I started watching the first episode, I
did not want to stop watching for any reason, though it was not able to keep me
interested right up until the final episode, unlike Your
Lie in April
and a few other series that I have seen in recent years.

Anime fans, just like fans of any other kind television
programming, want to be drawn into a series within only a small amount of time,
and Gainax really delivered in this area, though I would not technically put
Gainax's ability to create something decent up there with the likes of the
staff that A-1 Pictures had working on the pilot
episode
of Boku Dake ga Inai Machi.

Some of you guys might be saying that this is not
unexpected, since Gainax delivered such goodies like Fooly Cooly, Neon
Genesis Evangelion
, Gurren Lagann, and many other titles that have
numerous fans, but Gainax has not really been able to impress me too much, with
the exception of This Ugly Yet Beautiful World, though I would not
necessarily put that in any top 10 or 100 list, so seeing them be able to do
something right seems to be more of a godsend than anything else.

Honestly, if their show caught my interest as much as this
pilot episode did, I would probably be more willing to watch their titles, and
they might also at least have something of substance.

Then again, I am probably not the kind of person that Gainax
usually targets, so I do not see them changing things up any time soon, unless
fan service goes the way of mecha anime has, and I am really hoping that will
happen.

Still, Gainax did manage to do something right, so I guess I
have to give them a passing grade.

I also liked how there did not seem to be too much fan
service, if any at all.

While, I cannot say that this show would be something that
one would want children to see or that one would want to watch with others, I
am glad that the fan service was kept to a minimum.

Over the course of my time watching anime and reading manga,
I have noticed that there are quite a few moments when there are scenes with
naked or scantily dressed women, which makes things a bit embarrassing when family
members come walking in, more so those that think that the church that I belong
to is what it claims to be, or children, and those series tend to focus more on
the fan service than any kind of actual story, which can at least be found in
anime, whereas shows aired here are mostly episodic, making it harder to
actually be able to review the show.

This series, however, does not seem to have that much
reliance on fan service, and allows there to be a bit more to it than just the fan
service, with men putting their hands in the chests of women being the only
thing that occurs repeatedly.

Even though that does not make things as squeaky clean in
the family friendly category as I would consider Your Lie in April to
be, it does seem to be at least one step in the right direction, and makes me
want to give Gainax some minor applause.

Hopefully, they will be able to create higher quality titles
in the future, because this seems to be better than what usually gets
associated with them.

The thing that I liked most about this series though was
that the subtitles were easy to read.

When I watch anime, I do not usually care whether I watch
something dubbed or subbed, because I would be getting the same show, with exception
of a few titles released within the recent two decades and many early anime
titles, but I tend to prefer watching anime dubbed because, as I stated in review of Toradora!,
there are problems that can arise with subtitles that cannot be found in dubs,
such as text being too small to read or, as illustrated in a clip from Austin Powers in Goldmember that can be found
on YouTube, the text does not have good contrast, and it tends to ruin what
could have been a great show.

However, there have been people here that have done a good
job releasing subbed anime, with Discotek being among them, considering how I had
no issues with the subs used in their releases of the Lupin III vs Detective
Conan
movie
and special,
though the latter should never have been made, and FUNimation, like Discotek,
delivered subs that were easy enough to read that I could still pay attention
to the show.

While there are many anime fans who would only watch a
series subbed, I think that even they would be annoyed if the subtitles were
hard to read because of color contrast or font size, and people who commit
those mistakes would not receive the money that they hoped to gain.

After all, I did swear off NIS America's sub only releases
because they did something no official subtitling company should ever do in Toradora!
and Pandora
Hearts
.

Seriously, if more subs were like this, I would be much more
willing to watch anime subbed, at least when I do not have a headache, because
there would not be as many problems with subtitles as there are.

Unfortunately, the entertainment industry does not seem to
realize that having things being readable is just as important in a visual medium
as it is in books, so until companies get chastised and boycotted more often
for producing terrible subtitles, I do not see any improvements coming in the future,
especially because I do not see too many people talking about quality of
subtitles, other than translation accuracy.

Of course, because FUNimation has not disappointed me as
much as NIS America, I feel like giving them some major applause. Thank you,
FUNimation, for continually delivering legible subtitles.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else
that caught my interest.

Because the series started off decently, there was not too
much fan service, though not so little that I can consider the series as family
friendly, and the subtitles were legible, this was a somewhat decent release.

Lianna Schoales angry

Although there were a few nice things to like, there are
some issues.

First, I cannot tell what kind of series I am supposed to be
watching here.

In the first few episodes, I get the feeling that it is a
mystery series with some action set in a historical period of time, which seems
to match up with what a page on MAL says is what it is, and then all of the
sudden it gives off some kind of adventure feel.

What is going on Gainax, I was expecting a mystery series
that could possibly match Gosick, which will have its first twelve
episodes released next month, according to the product
page
on Amazon, or, even better Pandora Hearts, but I did not get
any feeling of this because there did not seem to really be any kind of focus
on the mystery.

For now, I can only judge this as a mystery series, even if
I do not want to call it a mystery series.

Speaking of calling this a mystery, most of the mysteries
present were absolutely horrible.

While this series cannot necessary be considered a work of
crime fiction, since crimes do not regularly occur around Hugh and Dalian, the
cases were all a bit too obvious and did not let me take my time to figure out
what was going on.

Fans of mystery might like being able to piece things
together quickly, but they do not like things being obvious enough that the
characters themselves seem like idiots for not noticing things quickly like it
was here, with only a few exceptions.

Really, Gainax? You have been producing anime for quite a
long time, and you do not even bother looking up what is necessary for a good
mystery.

Mysteries must have both a mysterious vibe when things start
up and make it so that things are not so obvious.

If this is all you guys can deliver, I sure hope you never
touch another mysteries again, because you guys have already cemented
yourselves as one of the worst anime studio to exist.

After all, I would much rather watch Gosick than
this, as Gosick's mysteries were much more satisfying, though not quite
on the same level as what could be found in the works from Agatha Christie and Pandora
Hearts
.

I also hated how I found myself hardly laughing, if at all.

While there were a few funny moments to be found here and
there in the series, everything here just came off as more of the usual humor
found in anime and manga.

Now, as most of you guys know, I can enjoy a good laugh,
regardless of the kind of humor, but that is only the case when things are done
properly.

Here, however, the comedic moments seemed to have just been
put in for the sake of having comedy.

What the heck, Gainax? You fail to create a decent mystery
series. Now, you fail to make the comedic moments funny?

No wonder I do not usually watch anything things guys
produce. These guys are bad enough that, like John Grisham, I feel like making
a list of anime studios to avoid.

For example, when Hugh was asked by Armand to help him get a
book to marry a woman, there are a bunch of men there that clouded by their
infatuation with the woman, and I was more disgusted by seeing them than in the
mood to laugh.

Some men in our society might be as moronic as these
gentlemen, but it would have been funnier seeing them get beat up as much as
Sunohara was in Clannad than having them stand up to the person that the
woman wanted to escape from.

Unfortunately, these guys just had to be revived and stand
up for her, which made me wish that things would just end.

This is not a good illustration of why I like anime so much
more than what is produced where I live, and all I can just do is agree with
the person that decides to use this anime as a reason why they think anime is
utter trash.

Thank you, Gainax, for giving me more reason to not watch
any of your titles, even if the real person responsible might be Mikumo Gakuto,
who wrote the original novel series, according to a page on Baka-Updates Manga, which I do not
even feel like trying to find out just because of how horrible the comedy was.

There were two things that I hated the most though.

First, I could not follow this series at all.

Regardless of the medium, all great works of fiction are
fairly easy to follow and see what is going, because it helps to make it easier
for the audience to connect with the characters, which is why fiction is a
great way to understand basic psychology.

However, as the series progressed, it became harder and
harder to determine what was going on.

Mystery series may not require a chronological timeline,
since The
Hound of the Baskervilles
took place before The Final Problem, even
though it was published after it, but they are easy to follow, and Gainax fails
to do that with their adaptation of this series.

How can a fan of any kind of fiction enjoy a work if they
cannot follow it?

In my eyes, nobody would, and it is a sign of a terrible
work of fiction.

Please, Gainax, if you will not leave the anime scene
permanently, go back and learn what it takes to make a great anime, because all
you are doing is tarnishing your reputation.

The other thing that I hated to no end was that nothing was
answered.

This series may or may not have covered the entire novel
series, but the smallest mysteries need to be answered, like who these girls
with key holes on their chests or eyes are exactly and why there are books that
are so troublesome that they need to be dealt with.

Throughout the entire series, I was expecting to learn more
about Dalian and the phantom books, but, aside from what brings the books into
existence, I am left mystified about everything to the point where I do not
feel like trying out the novels or the manga, even if they were officially
translated where I live.

Anime these days is produced to promote a manga or a light
novel series, and this one does not make me want to do this.

People need some answers and hints to everything, as well as
feel pulled into the entire mystery, but Gainax does not even do that right.

Honestly, at this point in time, I wish that the staff that
Zexcs had working on The Legend of the Legendary Heroes, as they ended
that series well enough that I would have checked out the original source if it
was officially translated.

Unfortunately, unless Gainax closes shop for some reason, I
fear that they will continue to ruin every series they touch.

Thankfully, that was all that bothered me, beyond things
that are too minor to talk about or were not as severe as what I already talked
about, so I do not have to continue doing what I hate to do.

Because I could not tell what kind of series this really
was, it utterly failed as a mystery series, failed to deliver funny moments,
and I was given no reason to check out the original source material, the series
went from okay to absolute trash.

Despite the fact that there were a few things to like, the
negatives outweighed them enough to make this a complete and utter waste of
time.

I recommend everyone to avoid this series, at least the
anime adaptation, like the plague, because it cannot deliver anything that
makes a good anime or mystery series, but you are free to watch the series and
express your own opinion, if you so desire.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please
consider supporting me on Patreon
or purchase one of the items mention via the provided amazon links, so that I
can continue to find more worthwhile anime to watch, and do whatever you
usually do when you find something that impresses you.

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