Anime Review: The Mystic Archives of Dantalian

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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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.