Arte – 04 – The First Step to Hell

When Arte first experiences heartache, she has no idea what it is, just that it is negatively affecting her work and making her absent-minded. All of that makes Leo annoyed with her. Fortunately, his regular patron Veronica, who requests that Arte paint her portrait, is a font of wisdom in matters of love.

Arte comes right out and says she doesn’t necessarily respect Veronica’s profession, but does respect the hard work and resolve Veronica puts into it. Veronica is flattered, but makes it clear that her job and success is only possible because she avoids falling in love. If she falls for one of the men she entertains, she could end up ruined and in the gutter like one of her former contemporaries.

When Arte learn part of Veronica’s routine with men is to play hard-to-get and intentionally make them wait for days so they’ll be more devoted when they do see her. This angers Arte because she knows what heartache feels like and can’t imagine someone being okay with causing suffering on purpose.

While Arte was initially smitten with Veronica’s smile and charms, she soon see’s it’s to a large degree by design. Veronica and her manner is a brand, and the portrait is part of that—posing in a library with a book to evoke intellectualism). But Arte’s condemnation of how she manipulates men doesn’t preclude their becoming friends who can talk to one another anytime.

As for avoiding love, Arte tries to bury herself in her work and not let Leo distract her. It may seem like cynical advice from Veronica, but in their day and age women who want to live by their own power must fiercely maintain that power, and not cede it to others. Of course, in Leo’s case, maybe clearing the air could be advantageous?

Dantalian no Shoka 5

Yet another solid outing for Dantalian no Shoka. What the famous courtesan Viola lacks in memories and answers, she makes up for in charm and beauty, such that no less than five wealthy suitors propose to marry her, promising to retrieve five phantom books for some unspecified use.

Turns out this Viola lady is too good to be true, as in she’s a homonculus, created by a true magician of a level that surprises even Dalian. Count Megar is his name, and he has a mustache to twirl and everything. He wants her back so he can dissect her, so he unleashes magical attacks her hapless suitors cannot hope to defend. This makes for some excellent action sequences.

Enter Dalian, who lets Huey unlock the biblioteca and grab the real books. The magician’s illusory magic is neutralized, and the battle ends with a stalemate, though everyone is saved. We also see the lilac-haried Inner Dalian, who interacts with young Huey, and tells him she’d forgotten about lonliness until he arrived. She may give him a hard time, but there’s definitely affection there, and Huey knows it.


Rating: 3.5