Dantalian no Shocker 11: Wagner Returns
What an episode!!
Here’s one great scene. World War I is coming to an end. We’re in a bar somewhere very close to the French-German battlelines. There is a huge sign on the wall with two layers. The oldest layer is a French flag with the words “Viva la France” in an aesthetically pleasing (and definitely non-warlike) cursive font. The second layer is a huge Iron Cross over it, and a line from Wagner’s opera Die Meistersinger, which translates as “Do not scorn/spite/look down on the master”.
The two layers work on several levels. This is WWI, so we know Germany is eventually beaten back and defeated (even though the battleline was on French ground throughout pretty much the entire conflict). But here’s the deal: in 1940 Adolf Hitler will try to take over France again and will succeed brilliantly. So the words here in 1917 or 1918 is very ominous. And guess what was Hitler’s favorite opera bar none: Die Meistersinger.
The quote can itself be taken many ways, since the mastersingers were just that, singers, but taken out of context it reads like a “master of fate” and not a “master of singing”. And this (mis)reading of the quote was so prevalent that I’ve read the line was cut off from the opera when performed in other countries after the War!!
And then there’s this: the head bartender/owner in Japanese bars is usually called the “master” (masutaa in their pronunciation). So the quote is actually a bit of a joke too: the head bartender is telling his customers: “Don’t you misbehave, don’t you look down on me!!” And since I’ve been to many a Japanese bar and talked to various masters, when I first saw the quote that’s the first thing I thought it was: the head bartender was messing around…it was only after some digging I realized this was a Wagner quote. And yet, by the end of the episode the meaning of the quote gets linked to the bartender in a very direct way!!
Finally, I’m very tempted to say that the sign below is supposed to be a farcical version of the tragic sign at the bar:
The introduction of Raziel was great. There was a heck of a lot of details thrown in. The piano playing throughout is perfect in its simplicity. I actually was (pleasantly) surprised to hear her say “Ja” and “Nein”. It’s such a ridiculously simple way to link her to Dalian but it somehow clicked for me and I welcomed it. Note also that when Raziel flies from the table to the chair near the Faceless Phantom and her overactive skirt is offering some major underwear fanservice (that we do not get to see) you can see him averting his face. It’s really subtle but it’s a very nice detail, especially since it’s synchronized with Raziel’s first mention of the phantom books, something the man is acquainted with, intrigued and disturbed by [does he feel the same way about women’s panties?].
I think if you’ve watched Soul Eater you’ll notice the similarities. The talk of madness, the talk of madness producing evil eggs, and then the eggs creating evil things, is very much what the first 2 or 3 episodes of Soul Eater is all about.
The basketball scene was silly, and there were a lot of other silly things happening (the newspaper headline is ridiculous, though considering how many flying machines DIDN’T fly, the phrasing might actually be warranted!)… All in all I liked the episode very much.
The episode ended beautifully, but I just don’t see how the next and final episode could provide a satisfying ending. Too many episodes have gone by without laying a groundwork for the last (you’d have needed at least two more episodes like this one to set this up). But never mind, let’s hope that the last episode is very good and that it sets up a nice 1-2 hour OVA special where all the biblioprincesses get to meet and wreck havoc on each other (via a butter roll throwing contest). Wouldn’t it be great?