Dantalian no Shocker Episode Three

The shock being that this episode was very, very enjoyable.  There’s definitely some thoughtful people behind this series and I do hope it keeps showing as it goes along.

The episode really consisted of two half-episodes, a format that I used to think was ridiculously short but have gotten very used to since I started watching all the 15-minute shows on Adult Swim.  Here it worked really well.  The two stories were short and to the point.

In the first one, a bunch of kids read from the Book of Wisdom and become terribly smart.  The adults are terrified that the children are going to turn into criminals or  try to take over the world or do something crazy or other, but instead they decide just to hang out.  They are so smart that they’ve realized all is vanity.  Honestly, I read that Book of Wisdom when I was a kid.  It’s called Ecclesiastes.  I even memorized the opening!!  But then I forgot about it.  Yup, I became a silly adult.

The second story is about a mimic plant called the Queen of the Night that can make its leaves look like book pages so as to lure explorers into its carnivorous grasp.  Again, this might have failed as a full episode but it worked really well in the short format.

ubiquitial had mentioned to me earlier that this episode carried on with Daoist references that I had pointed out in the first episode and if it weren’t for that comment I wouldn’t have noticed Dalian’s allusion to the characters of the famous Chinese novel Journey to the West.  It’s one of those allusions that are really obvious to those acquainted with the work, but Dalian just rattles it off so quickly that for those not as familiar with the original work (like myself who’s never read it) it’s easily missed.

What is the meaning of Dalian’s constant deployment of  Daoist lore??  Might we actually find out later on that she originally hailed from China??  That’d be kinda cool for a Japanese show about British people!

Anyway, the art and lighting were really nice in this episode as well.  And I found Dalian’s obsession with certain pastries very funny, possibly because I suffer from the same plight.

~ by Haloed Bane on July 31, 2011.

30 Responses to “Dantalian no Shocker Episode Three”

  1. It seems I wasn’t the only one who found this episode surprisingly good! 🙂

  2. The second half really gave off some Lovecraft vibes – That is, silly mortals who, fueled by greed and curiosity, delve too deep for their own good and get eaten. The idea of a plant that grows books is silly as hell but then again so are flying polyps and those scared the fuck outta me.

  3. Oh, and wasn’t Journey to the West about a Buddhist monk? Sure, it has a lot of elements of folk religion and some references to Taoist deities but the core is still a particular Buddhist flavor.

    Ah well, Outlaws of the Marsh will still be my favorite.

    • Well, from what I read the priest in it is Buddhist, but the monkey is a daoist master and a bunch of daoist gods show up. In the end even the Buddha shows up, so it’s very syncretic.

      I’ve read a chunk of Fenshen Yanyi and that’s all of the Chinese myth/epic/stories I’ve read..but I’ve read a lot of the classics (which tend to be much, much shorter).

  4. I loved this episode too! The kids must have decided they already knew everything and stopped reading Ecclesiastes halfway though. From Ecclesiastes 9 (towards the end):

    “Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.”

    Doesn’t exactly seem to suggest sitting around and doing nothing.

    (On a completely unrelated note, I highly recommend the lolcat translation of Ecclesiastes. “Chasing after wind” becomes “chasing after tail”, etc.)

  5. Hold on, are you actually suggesting child marriage AND child labor???

    My god, you are harsh 😀

    I read your post on this just now. Very cool. I never watched Gosick, because the name scared me (I haven’t caught a cold in a year and I’m trying to keep away from contagion).

    • Haha I totally did not think of that when I was typing it out. 🙂

      I don’t think you’re missingmuch with Gosick, the second half is pretty good but the first half is crap. Dantalian seems to be doing the same things better anyway.

      • Good to hear.

        Actually, it just dawned on me that Ecclesiastes wasn’t mentioned in the episode, so we both hit on it through sheer referential power. How grand are we?

        I have read the Wisdom of Solomon as well, but only once. I think I remember it being a much more mainstream, “be a good person” type of book, with the interesting twist that Wisdom is personified as a woman. There are those who would say Wisdom in this book (which is part of the Catholic canon but not the Protestant one) signifies or prefigures the Logos.

        I wish I had my magical book on wisdom for my math tests in junior high.

        • Pretty grand. 🙂 It is a book about wisdom though, also written by Solomon (supposedly) so not too much of a stretch.

          I skimmed through the Wisdom of Solomon, and yeah, it seems more “mainstream” than Ecclesiastes (and not quite as interesting, at least to me). I’m guessing that you meant Sophia rather than Logos? If I remember correctly, wisdom is also referred to as a woman in Proverbs.

          And I love how we’ve turned a show about a goth-loli into a discussion of biblical criticism.

          • I meant both. Sophia = Logos = Christ, or in the conceptual history of things Solomon’s Sophia -> Philo’s Logos -> Evangelists’ Christ.
            Here for example:


            One can turn practically everything into theological criticism 😀

            • Platonic Idealism through the ages, folks.

            • Ooh, very interesting, I was not aware of Philo before. I’m more familiar with the gnostic version of Sophia / Logos, in which the two are distinct concepts but remain tightly correlated (they are consorts and whatnot). I suppose that this version would be a parallel branch to the Evangelist’s Christ descending from Philo’s Logos in your graph.

              • Yeah, quite frankly I don’t think I’ve actually ever sat down and read Philo’s writings, but I know that his concept of the Logos is big and John’s Gospel might be indebted to him.

                The Gnostic stuff is really interesting, isn’t it. The Valentinian stuff, Sophia running around… I used to own a copy of the Nag Hammadi scriptures. The Gospel of Thomas is great (I don’t remember if that’s in the Nag Hammadi too), and I also like the Acts of John. The whole concept of Docetism is very interesting to me.

                • do yourself a favor & dig up a copy of couliano’s tree of gnosis.

                  • I’ll have to look into it. I’d never even heard of this man, and when I looked him up I thought to myself: “How come I’ve never even heard of this man?!” Alas, this doesn’t happen that infrequently to me. Thanks.

                  • This is now next on my reading list as well, thanks! The author even comes with a murder mystery surrounding him, can’t believe I never heard of him either.

                    The Gospel of Thomas is my favorite as well (it is in Nag Hammadi). Btw you two are the first people I met who share my interests in both Japanese cartoons and two thousand year old religious texts, thanks for a great discussion! Those two hobbies don’t seem to come together quite as often as they should. 🙂

                    • I remember a kid in school who was always looking for new revelations etc. I remember I chided him and told him the book of revelation said that the whole thing was done, and there would be now new prophecies or anything like that. but then i caught the bug and started reading lots of apocrypha etc. Let’s hope this show continues to generate good discussion.

                    • Ah, how fascinating. And how impossible it is to read your comments. Can’t you change the format, Kritik?

  6. I like this format!!

    But I guess after a while it becomes a little hard to read, so then it’s just a matter of starting a new thread like this.

    • Wonderful.

      I just rewatched ep. 2, and there was a tiny thing that bothered me just a little.

      In the scene where Huey invokes the power of Ba’al, the sub I’m using translate his name to Ba’alzebub, while Huey’s pronouncing it Ba’al Zebul. The context refers specifically to Canaanite lore, which would imply that the name is, in fact, is Ba’al Zebul. “Zebub” was a deliberate corruption later on by the Hebrews, based off of ancient wordplay.

      I wish they’d let me edit their releases.

      • Great catch!!

        So the anime is trying to be accurate and the translators, I am sure unwittingly, wipe that off and inject some Judeo-Christian prejudice into the thing. I guess it’s possible the translators heard right but decided to write Baalzebub because it’s better known. But of course that’s just it. In trying to be clear they obscure proper origins. And of course by going with Baalzebub they make Huey to be a Satanist, whereas in the original he might simply be calling on what was, after all, a very popular and powerful ancient deity.

        One could write a paper on this!

  7. The first half sure is trying to tell us a recurring theme in biblical verses. That is, that children are vessels of God in their purest form; simple, idealistic and innocent, free from temptation and even the original sin. Even if the book opened the possibility of committing evil acts, these kids did not plot nor sin, simply because the book made them understand vanity. They may have the knowledge of kings and scholars, but they’re still kids who simply want to hang out and have fun with other kids, which is something that every kid (or adult who likes to think like a kid, such as myself) wants. Sin from knowledge be damned.

    For all we know, they have gained knowledge from just reading the title, and stopped reading from there.

    I hope I made some sense…

  8. […] Dantalian no Shocker Episode Three – Kritik Der Animationskraft […]

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