Dantalian no Shoka 1 – First Impressions

A relatively ordinary young man is chosen by fate to protect a delicate, pallid, otherworldly girl who happens to be a repository for 900,666 mystical grimoires. She’s a walking, talking, bratty library who likes to eat. Sound familiar?

Well fear not, this isn’t an Index ripoff…far from it. It’s GAINAX, back with something completely different after the yet-to-be-concluded Panty & Stocking. Dantalian no Shoka (which refers to the girl, Dalian) is a 1920s era magical mystery romp, which so far happens to be quite good.

The chemistry between Dalian and her new keeper, ex-pilot Huey (or Lord Henry Disward) is more dynamic and complex than that of Index and Touma, the former was pretty much a pet of the latter – with magical powers. Dalian may look childish, but she has a sharp tongue and is quick to scold Huey for his ignorance.

Their literary banter is infectious, as is all the mystical exposition that forms the climax. , It also features drop-dead gorgeous lighting and backgrounds, a trippy live-action ED, and Miyuki Sawashiro lending her strong voice to Dalian. This makes a fine addition to an already very promising summer season. Rating: 4

Blood-C 2

This week Saya continues to juggle her cute, klutzy, kind side at school with her ass-kickin’ superhero shrine chick persona by night. It continues to be a most intriguing juxtaposition of lives. The school scenes are as light and breezy as her battle scenes are dark, exciting, and genuinely scary at moments.

After all, her mother used to do what she does, and she died doing it. You can tell her doting pop hates putting her in harms way, but apparently there’s no way around it; only she can wield the sacred sword. This week she fought two; a humanoid demon and a giant evil plant. She won, but got more and more messed up.

Her extracurricular activities are leaving marks that questions will be asked about, and somehow I’m doubtful Saya’s not looking forward to talking to her friends about such things. So far, she’s fighting the elder bairns deep in the forest, isolated from civilization. But that could change, and with it her secrets may be revealed. Rating: 3.5

Mawaru Penguindrum 2

“Which holes do her legs go through?”
“Fool, those holes lead to the Cosmos.”

-Shouma/Kanba @ a lingerie store

Good lord, that was…brilliant. Awesome in every way. If anything, better than the first episode, since some things were already established. This just added more. More places, more people, more layers of story, more comedy, more mysteries; more lingerie and more stalking!

It’s all in the details: For instance, there’s a little animated PSA on the Sky Metro in which warns against groping in no uncertain terms…then Shouma is accused of just that, groping a girl on the train because his preguin friends (whom no one else can see) did so. The girl just happens to be friends with the person Shouma and Kanba are tailing – Ringo Oginome – the proverbial apple in the opening and ending sequences – which one really looks forward to, like the cherry atop the proverbial sundae. Ringo loves fate.

Hardly anything we’d seen from Ringo seemed all that suspicious, but it turns out she’s far from normal, compulsively stalking a teacher she’s fallen for (lying on a blanket under his house listening to him) as the brothers stalk her (with their penguins acting as their eyes and ears). While Himari is wearing her penguin hat, she has another “Incoming Message From The Big Giant Head” moment, ordering the bros to fetch the Penguindrum from Ringo. Problem is, she doesn’t tell them what it is.

So now, having followed Ringo, and learned the stalked is also a stalker, they have to gain possession of something they know not what from someone who is clearly unstable. Hell, she herself could be the drum thing. Who knows? All I know is, this episode was fantastic, and I can’t wait for the next one. Rating: 4

Sket Dance 15

With this, Sket Dance has proven it has lost none of the novel, potent absurdity of the best episodes of the first half. Bossun, Himeko and Switch are firing on all cylinders (though Switch has a reduced role this week) attempting to help an extremely frightening-looking wood shop teacher find a wife, then attempting to decode a Visual Kei dude’s cryptic speech.

The first part does a nice job of pulling the rug out from under us in the end. A potential wife arrives who doesn’t care about J-son’s looks, and everything seems to be going swimmingly. But just as the Sket-dan is dusting off thei hands, J-son blows it, and the woman runs out screaming and drives away with screaching tires. Hmm…Sket-dan can’t solve everything.

Perhaps more hilarious were Bossun and Himeko’s interaction with Date (or whatever his real name is), a purple-haired kid who grinds the show to a halt everytime he responds to a question by pausing in a super-dramatic imagined scene. It doesn’t help that everything he says is baffling, and results in Hime putting him in a different wrestling hold each time. Date’s friend translates at the end, and suddenly it all makes sense…sort of. Rating: 3