“You can’t learn about the world from books alone.”
“I can. You can find everything in a book. The smell of the sun, the sweet taste of a scone, even the warmth of a bed… “
“Is any of it real?”
“Yes, it is for me.”
I may be going off on a bit of a tangent, but this part of the anime bothered me a bit. It’s possible to learn a multitude of things from a book, but to have color qualia by simply reading a book… well, I very much doubt that. Qualia are necessarily subjective; they’re our mind’s interpretation of the data collected by our sense organs. Someone can tell a blind person that the color yellow feels warm and bright — that a yellow object reflects a certain wavelength of light, but this can’t translate to qualia. Could a blind person really have an experience akin to someone actually perceiving a yellow patch in his or her mind’s eye? I doubt it. And if you’ve never experienced color qualia, how can you really say that you know color?
Like I said above, I might just be nitpicking something the anime itself isn’t taking seriously, but “Dantalian no Shoka” does put forth a rather specious ideology regarding the infallibility of text. In every single episode thus far, the anime’s characters have used the power of books and the written word to combat everything from imaginary circus beings to a magician armed with mercurial homunculi. Since the anime’s ontology depends so heavily on the power of knowledge, it would help if, well, the anime would get its knowledge right every now and then.
But that’s assuming, of course, the anime actually cares about its own logical consistency. It probably doesn’t, however, since it usually trots out obscure texts from ages long forgotten. This week, a cadre of color-coded chumps defeat a magician by each arming themselves with a Phantom Book few of the audience will have ever heard of. The anime wouldn’t want too many of its viewers to be familiar enough with the works that they might attempt to deconstruct the many books being referenced.
After all, this would destroy the narrative illusion that books can be serious juju in the hands of the undeserving. In that case, however, might “Dantalian no Shoka” amount to nothing more than just a cheap, transparent ruse — a thought experiment of just how much an animation studio can get away with? After all, even the backgrounds are so poorly rendered that the characters may as well be standing on stage before a sophomoric set design. The episodes are so self-contained and disconnected from one another that they more resemble a series of acts within a play rather than a continuous filmic narrative. Then again, I might be giving the anime’s creators too much credit.
What makes love real?
The episode also puts forth a lazy argument attempting to justify the love for a representation. This week, the maiden in distress is also just another mercurial homunculus; she’s not human. Despite this, her many courters sacrifice life and limb to protect her against her father. Can their love for her be real even though she’s only a facsimile of a person? Gosh, why does this debate sound so familiar?
Of course, within the world of “Dantalian no Shoka,” Miss Viola is no less “real” than any of the males pursuing her. Their characterizations are all one-dimensional regardless of whether or not one person is anime flesh and blood and the other is mercury. As a result, the distinction between man and homunculus is meaningless within the context of the story. The same, however, cannot be said for other female representations….
No anime character, no matter how well written, should ever measure up to the depth and complexity of a real life woman, but hey — that’s the point, isn’t it? Some people don’t actually want a real girl and all the difficulties a real relationship might entail,
Has Dalian’s character improved any?
There was some pretty derpy animation this week:
That guy on the left has seen better days. This must have been an intentional joke. Seriously, if you still got a copy of this episode, just rewatch this short scene and pay close attention to his eyes. You’ll understand what I mean.
When the characters go on a carriage ride through the dark and foreboding forest yet again, I wonder if “Dantalian no Shoka” are reusing backgrounds from episode one. To verify this, I would actually have to re-download the first episode and, gosh, I dunno if it’s worth the trouble.