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Watch & Learn: THE MYSTIC ARCHIVES OF DANTALIAN #1

You can consider my mind blown.

Well, we can always count on Gainax to make things interesting, can't we?
Well, we can always count on Gainax to make things interesting, can't we?

I’ve never presented this as a “responsible” review outlet - - it’s just a record of my raw thoughts and reactions, nothing more - - but if it were, I’d confess that this past week has been a bad stretch. And I say that because all of these pilots have been good! Somehow, there hasn’t been much bad to say about this latest batch of shows. Each new one I see, I want to proclaim it as the best of the bunch; the one I’m going to take up to watch, for sure. Then the next one plays even better and I’m not sure whether I should be recanting anything.

Suffice it to say, then, this MYSTIC ARCHIVES OF DANTALIAN show was rather startling for making so dense a collection of ideas so effortlessly accessible. Certainly, I’m a fan of your pop entertainment bringing in material from esoteric sources and maybe even - - gasp! - - educating you along the way. However, I’ve seen an undeniable shitload of shows for this column that reach for such intellectual heights at the expense of basic storytelling concerns. Either they try to cram too much “world building” into a pilot episode, or they smother you with gobs of expository dialog or, maybe most disappointingly, they try to “weaponize” headier concepts in unintentionally silly ways.

That last failing unfortunately befell the end of [C] – CONTROL and maybe it’s fitting that this is the first pilot that’s unequivocally captured my imagination since [C]’s starter. This is just such an exciting abstract marriage of the intellectual and artistic that I’m truly struggling to think of any adequate comparisons. I’d say SANDMAN, but that doesn’t really fit. I want more. Right now! This is the #1 choice... for today, at least.

Watch this episode "Turn-Up Book" here and decide for yourself.

Tom Pinchuk’s the writer of HYBRID BASTARDS! & UNIMAGINABLE. Order them on Amazon here & here. Follow him on Twitter: @tompinchuk

ComicMan24on Oct. 10, 2011 at 6:22 a.m.

I admit I am intrigued now. Maybe I will check it later.

colorbrandonon Oct. 10, 2011 at 7:15 a.m.

It's a shame how short the series is though.

Marshal Victoryon Oct. 10, 2011 at 7:31 a.m.

Ach! This an not gosick?Maybe gosicks not avaliable ?This pales to gosick but its not bad tho. Its ending is very intresting.An um i think some one else already said it reminds them of http://www.comicvine.com/the-sandman/49-4207/

cough.. "Part of it feels like they copied some of gosick.But its episodic not much for over arching stories.Worth a watch just for the endng vid.Its almost the twilight zone meats sandman meats anime meats gothic." http://www.animevice.com/news/time-again-to-pick-the-next-watch-learn-and-submit-questions-for-videos/5540/

but im leaning more tword a old ec comics now.An yes i ment meats an not meets its weird sticking your hand in a girls chest to pull outa book.Thats my story an im sticking to it.

Synapticon Oct. 10, 2011 at 7:32 a.m.

@colorbrandon said:

It's a shame how short the series is though.

So true... Wish it was longer. I've really enjoyed it.

SergioBon Oct. 10, 2011 at 9:48 a.m.

@Synaptic said:

@colorbrandon said:

It's a shame how short the series is though.

So true... Wish it was longer. I've really enjoyed it.

Yea, it seemed too short considering how it ended. I hope it did well enough that there will be a second season and not leave us hanging.

Karkarovon Oct. 10, 2011 at 10:25 a.m.

This show is actually pretty good, even somewhat smart at points. I love the mini episode with the kids. You will know it when you see it.

Alot of people compare it to Gosick. Then you get to the episode where a woman uses a magic book to raise a dude from the dead just so she can shoot him to death and repeat the process again for personal enjoyment. After that people sort of stop making the comparison.

SergioBon Oct. 10, 2011 at 1:47 p.m.

@Karkarov: Compared to...

.Kidnapping and raping a woman in order for her to have your child, then lock up the kid in a dungeon. All in order to seize political power and cause WWII.

The comparisons generally made are that they take place in similar time periods and both have an air of mystery. The Mystic Archives of Dantalian is a bit more fantastical. Both series are good.

LifeByDegreeson Oct. 10, 2011 at 3:42 p.m.

I've never seen a more out of the blue build up to stabbing one's hand into a mystical portal in a person's chest.

zaldaron Oct. 10, 2011 at 8:12 p.m.

wait what it is on the level of SANDMAN and C (which I still think you didn't give enough credit.. but I'd rather watch something that reaches for the stars and fails than a good superhero story)..MUST WATCH THIS NOW!

How have I never heard of this before?

Karkarovon Oct. 10, 2011 at 8:12 p.m.

@SergioB: Except there is no air of mystery here, the episodes are normally laid out in pretty clear fashion. Other than time periods and two younger female leads with different varying degrees of tsundere issues the shows don't have alot in common. Though both are quite good.

zaldaron Oct. 10, 2011 at 8:54 p.m.

After watching the episode: HOLY CRAP HOW DID I NOT HERE OF THIS BEFORE! This is SO up the ally of what I like to watch. SOOO many cool ideas in this epside we need to talk about now!

For starters let us talk about the quote he read from the book at the end and the wonderful way they incorporated the words there to the pictures that tell us the story of the child and his grandfather. Is nihilism the only true philosophy? Are humans damned? We certainly do seem to still kill each other and act terribly....as was shown in the history of the characters here.

Are there truths that shouldn't be known? Hedda Gabbler (play by Henrik Ibsen) would certainly have it so.

THIS is what watch and learn was made for.

Darokion Oct. 10, 2011 at 9:21 p.m.

If you're going to do a W&L of Dantalian, it gives me the perfect opportunity to make sure it doesn't languish too long on my pile of "stuff to watch" where it currently resides. I really liked the first episode and found myself unable to crack any further into it for some reason.

arch4nonon Oct. 10, 2011 at 11:09 p.m.

Don't get your hopes up with this one, it's all style and no substance. The books and such are there just for the sake of surrounding the characters with books. They never do any actual research or detective work, all solutions are pulled out of thin air during the last five minutes of every episode. There's no overarching story either, they just use the last two episodes as a hook for the next season.

I was thoroughly disappointed. It felt like they couldn't decide if they wanted to go for a monster of the week thing or a more serious story. In the end they failed on both fronts and fell back on standard otaku-pandering moe tropes with Dalian (see: hair boner for sweets, infant-like tsundere attitude) to keep people watching.

Marshal Victoryon Oct. 11, 2011 at 1:37 p.m.

@arch4non: I think part of that is becasue if they did use detective work an books for that it be that much closer to gosick.2 of the main characters have more than a passing look to characters in gosick.

Think of it as a twilight zone style show an its not as bad.The books are the McGuffin as well as the red herring in the title.Not once did the show feel as a detective show to me. More as gota cachm all type show if it was a twilight zone show structure.

Its easy to expect much from this one .Then be let down. An i still see influance of sandman comic as well as gosick.Maybe bitterly so becasue it doesnt reach eithers level.

zaldaron Oct. 11, 2011 at 4:02 p.m.

hmm gosick always looked just like a generic moe story to me...are you saying it is more than this and delievers on the philosophy that was in this first episode while this show does not?

Should I go check this show out?

LordCmdrStrykeron Oct. 12, 2011 at 7:14 a.m.

I couldn't even make it halfway through the season when I tried to watch it. They need an editor and a script rewrite real bad.

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