Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Review: The Mystic Archives of Dantalian (2011)

The Mystic Archives of Dantalian ~Bibliotheca Mystica De Dantalian~ (2011) is a Japanese supernatural mystery anime. The story takes place in England after World War I (late 1910s). It contains 12 episodes.

After the death of his grandfather, Hugh (Huey) Anthony Disward inherits an old, musty mansion, which contains an entire book collection. In the basement of the mansion, Huey meets a mysterious girl quietly reading among a pile of books -- Dalian. She is a Dantalian (guardian), and the lock on her chest is a gateway to the "Bibliotheca Mystica de Dantalian", which stores the forbidden books of demonic magic and wisdom.

These "phantom books" endanger the balance of the world, but people are always fascinated by their taboo. Those who misuse the powers of the phantom books often suffer tragic consequences. Huey learns the mysterious key that he carries with him at all times serves a special purpose: he has the ability to ability to access the Bibliotheca Mystica de Dantalian (literal meaning: Dantalian's Bookshelf). Upon agreeding to become Dalian's new keykeeper, they investigate local phantom book cases together. As the keykeeper, Huey uses his power to seal the demonic magic and restore order to the local area.

It was sheer coincidence that I stumbled upon this title when I was searching for another anime. The concept behind the "phantom books" and English setting intrigued me. (I am always looking for anime that remind me of Victorian Romance Emma with a supernatural twist.) After a couple of episodes, I enjoyed the plot as Huey and Dalian work together as expert phantom books detectives to solve unexplainable mysteries. What I also liked about this show was each episode was unpredictable because the characters had different motives and consequences for their actions. As a result, the cases were always amusing.

I also adored the opening and ending music, which matched the dark mystery theme of the show. he opening theme is "Cras numquam scire" (Tomorrow is Never to Know) by Yucca (feat. Daisuke Ono) whilst the ending theme is "yes, prisoner" by maRIONnetTe. The song tracks reminded me of the opening theme, Lillium, of Elfen Lied and Japanese visual kei bands I used to hear when I was a teenager, such as Malice Mizer and Janne da Arc. The songs are catchy and symbolic, especially if you are into neo-classical rock music. I highly recommend this show.

Opening Theme: Cras numquam scire" by Yucca feat. Hugh Anthony Disward

Ending Theme: "yes, prisoner" by maRIONnetTe

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