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Light Novel / The Mystic Archives of Dantalian
aka: Bibliotheca Mystica De Dantalian

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The Mystic Archives of Dantalian (Dantalian no Shoka) is a Light Novel series written by Gakuto Mikumo (who wrote Asura Cryin' and would later write Strike the Blood) between 2008-2011, which concluded at 8 volumes. It had a manga adaptation by Chako Abeno and a Summer 2011 Anime series by Studio Gainax.

Huey, a young ex-pilot of the Great War, inherited the old mansion of his deceased bibliomaniac grandfather and the book collection stored within. However, there was one condition: he also had to inherit the "Bibliotheca".

When he inspects the mansion, he discovers a cellar that is filled with piles of books. Sitting amongst them is a girl dressed in black who is silently reading a book. She is called Dalian and has a big lock hanging before her. She herself is the gateway to the "Bibliotheca Mystica de Dantalian", which contains the prohibited "Phantom Books".

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The Mystic Tropes of Dantalian:

  • Anti-Hero: Hal. All Libricide Officers are probably similar to him.
    "Who says anything about reading it?"
  • Art Shift: Most of Episode 9 is drawn in a different style than usual to represent the fact that it took place inside a story.
  • Artificial Human:
  • In Episode 12, Rasiel refers to Dalian as a "doll" — with strong implications that all three Biblioprincesses are puppets / golems of some kind.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Huey's full name is Lord Hugh Anthony Disward, but he prefers the nickname Huey. His Humble Hero personality might be the primary reason, but it's possible that the envious, failed aristocrats of the Disward clan who antagonized his grandfather, father, and mother are a factor.
    • His grandfather is Viscount Wesley Disward.
  • Badass Long Coat: Huey.
  • Berserk Button: Dalian has plenty when it concerns books or food. Or Camilla making a joke about Dalian being Huey's "daughter".
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Episode 12 implies that the Biblioprincesses accompanied many famous historical figures (such as Dalian seen at the side of who is very likely Joan of Arc). It's also implied that the girl trapped in the Black Library is in fact the classical Pandora.
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  • Big Eater: When she's not solving mysteries or obsessing over books, Dalian can be quite the eater.
  • Blood-Splattered Innocents: Estella Lilburn's cousin gets brutally murdered in front of her. Nope, sorry, she killed him.
  • Body Horror: Paula Dickinson was constantly killing Lenny Lents and his lover over and over again to revive them using each as a sacrifice for the other. They become resistant and evolve into a merged being that is unable to be killed.
    • In Episode 8, Armand is taken over by vines which engulf his whole body and burn him to death. He gets better, though.
  • Butterfly of Doom: Mentioned as part of the... incantation in Episode 1.
  • Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: Also mentioned in the same incantation.
  • Chain of Deals: The Book of Exchange enables this. Notably, it starts with a red paper clip (sound familiar?) and ends with Dalian getting a teddy bear she wanted.
  • Cute and Psycho: Estella Lilburn, being a female of the Lilburn family and all.
  • Declaration of Protection: Armand, Lord Roskin, and the other three rivals vying for Viola's heart.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Although it can actually not be redundant since it could say that it's a supposed flying machine that actually works, the newspaper article Ilas discovers as a boy qualifies. It's entitled "A Flying-Machine That Flies".
  • Did Not Get the Girl: When Viola is asked to choose between Armand and his four rivals, she walks over to Armand and runs off with a sixth guy who shows up at the end.
  • Died During Production: In-universe. Lenny Lents dies before he can complete his Crown of the Dog Days trilogy.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Flamberge wears a blend of stockings and leg warmers that cover her heels, but not the rest of her feet. Then there is Shoka no Shoujo, also known as the Bookshelf Girl, who apparently doesn't even know what footwear is.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • When Dalian opens up her clothing and Huey uses his key in her lock (which is located over her heart), red liquid spurts out.
      • And the (not so) subtle innuendo of Dalian's phrase right before he sticks his key into her: "No, I am heaven... the heaven in a pot."
    • Subtlety is virtually nonexistent with Flamberge; her unlock is clearly meant to be an abortion.
  • Elegant Gothic Lolita: Dalian (especially if her skirt was shorter).
  • Equivalent Exchange: Episodes 4 and 8.
  • Expressive Hair: Dalian has a tuft of hair that perks up whenever she anticipates eating sugar.
  • Fan Dumb: Invoked. See the bit about Fangirl below.
  • Fangirl: The first chapter has Dalian gush over Crown of the Dog Days, which she insists is a romance novel and desires to read the last of the trilogy. Paula Dickinson has the same idea, but only acted on it through torturing the author and his lover countless times to get the ending of the book that she preferred.
  • Fantastic Drug:
    • Relic in Episode 6. It's a failed product that turns out to be heavily addictive.
    • Somewhat Truth in Television, as the effects of Relic closely mimic a real-life drug, PCP.
  • Fix Fic: Invoked. Dalian's first instinct upon reading the final book in Episode 4 is to write one.
  • Girls with Moustaches: Camilla wears a top hat and fake moustache, and then sticks the latter on Dalian.
  • Golem: One of these guards the Lilburn house. Huey and Dalian have to fight it off.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: When Paula Dickinson is killed, the viewers are shown the wall near Huey's and Dalian's cell, but we can clearly see her body being viciously ripped apart and blood spattering everywhere.
  • Gratuitous English: Dalian always says yes (and sometimes no).
    • Also, Japanese honorifics are rarely used; instead, the characters use their English equivalents like Mister, Lord, and in one case Huey was even corrected to say "Mrs." instead of "Miss".
  • Gratuitous German: Rasiel, Dalian's Evil Counterpart, uses ja and nein. She's even used Es ist das Ende (It is the end) once.
  • Gratuitous Latin: The original Japanese cover has "Bibliotheca Mystica de Dantalian" in English.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Flamberge spends all her time wearing a custom straitjacket that extends down and splits at her hip like a dress, and shackles on her ankles. She says that she wears it to mess with Hal, who counters that she simply enjoys wearing it. She doesn't deny it, and even when on the way to a fight she does not ask Hal to untie her, and actually knows how to defend herself while bound anyway, so everything points to her simply enjoying 24/7 restraint unless Hal needs her to unlock his full power. Any inconveniences she experiences (like getting out of the sidecar of Hal's bike without the use of her hands) are Played for Laughs.
  • Hero of Another Story: Hal and Flamberge.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Doubles as Karmic Death:
    • Paula Dickinson's cycle of killing and reviving Lenny Lents and his lover eventually makes them immune and resistant to death itself, allowing them to become one body and soul that ultimately destroys their captor.
    • The people who wanted to enthrall everyone with music and locked themselves in a soundproof room ended up still in the building when it collapsed since they were the only ones who didn't hear the violinist's warning to get out.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Huey and Dalian.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Fiona fights with perfume. And she's good at it.
  • Invocation:
    "I ask of thee, art thou mankind?"
    "Nay, I am the world... the world inside the gourd."
  • Large Ham: The magician in Episode 5.
  • Loony Fan: Paula Dickinson has been torturing Lenny Lents and his lover all because the character Dyer from his novel series Crown of the Dog Days gets killed off in the upcoming third book, a reveal that made Paula furious.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: Viola.
  • Magical Library: Dantalian's archives, a more magical variety apparently placed in another dimension.
  • Man-Eating Plant: The rare cactus that the main characters keep in their greenhouse. In keeping with the series' theme, it has book page-like petals which it uses to attract prey.
  • Marionette Master: Mabel Nash, although she's more of a doll master.
  • Meaningful Name: Dalian is the name of a port city in China, and the "world inside the gourd" is associated with Li Tieguai, one of the country's mythological figures.
  • Mind Screw: Thanks to its mixed-up chronology (not to mention that freaky cloud giant), Episode 11 is nearly impossible to follow until the end, and even then it left a lot of questions unanswered.
  • Named by the Adaptation: The deceased wife of Lenny Lents was unnamed in the original light novel, but the anime revealed it to be Bevis.
  • Nice Hat: Dalian when she goes out.
  • Number of the Beast: Dalian's incantation for summoning sealed Phantom Books:
    "Labyrinth of bookcases, warden of 900,666 sealed Phantom Books, open the gates to wisdom."
  • Our Homunculi Are Different: Viola.
  • Parlor Games: Dalian loves sweets so much that she started playing shiritori with names of different sweets during the On the Next ______ for Episode 3.
  • Phenotype Stereotype: While there certainly are blondes in Britain, they're not quite as numerous as shown in the anime.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Huey and Dalian are arguably this. In spite of Dalian's Tsundere tendencies, there is nothing remotely romantic about their relationship.
  • Pretty in Mink: Dalian has a black coat trimmed with white fur, complemented by a white fur hat.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Dalian and Flamberge.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Deconstructed in Episode 6.
  • Second Love: After his wife Bevis died five years before the events of The Book of Soul Exchange, Lenny Lents fell in love with Leticia Serkis. The anime shows that his love for Bevis hasn't changed; in a Freeze-Frame Bonus, he dedicated volume two of his Crown of the Dog Days trilogy- possibly the entire trilogy- to "his loving wife Bevis".
  • Serious Business: Dalian takes sweets and books very seriously.
  • Shout-Out:
    • All of Episode 4 is pretty much an anime homage of Misery condensed into thirty minutes. An homage that somehow makes the original look tame in comparison.
    • From the same episode, a chapter title page (or something similar) in the book Dalian is reading says "Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones", the title of a short story by Samuel R. Delany.
    • Hal's staff greatly resembles Raising Heart. It even speaks the words "Cartridge Load" when he stuffs a Phantom Book into one end to fuel his attack magic.
    • In Episode 8, a stuffed bear appears in an auction catalog, whose design is noted to have become famous thanks to "a certain president".
    • A certain scene in Episode 3 looks strikingly similar to Gainax's earlier mini-series Wish Upon the Pleiades.
  • Snow Means Death: Used in Episode 4 of the anime.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The Title Sequence uses a calm operatic piece of music with action sequences overlaid.
  • Spell Book: 900,666 of them!
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Is it Dalian or Dariane? The former is more likely because of Meaningful Name above.
  • Stalker Without a Crush: Paula Dickinson is explicitly this in the anime version. Unusually for this trope, she isn't jealous of her favorite author having a lover.
  • Stop Motion: Used in the anime ending.
  • Sweet Tooth: Dalian loves sweets so much, during the On the Next ______ for Episode 3, she started playing shiritori with names of different sweets.
  • Talking Is a Free Action:
    • Even though they're in the middle of combat, Huey can still read out loud some pretty long lines from the Phantom Books.
    • Inverted in Episode 6: Mabel mentions that Hal has little time to read the book. He then shows that he doesn't have to read it by loading it into his staff and firing away... with fire.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: Huey recites and weaponizes the opening theme (in Japanese) in the final episode to blow away the advancing zombies.
  • Together in Death: An unusual version of this happens with Lenny Lents and his lover. When their captor subjects them to the cycle of death and resurrection in rapid succession via her Phantom Book, their very cells get infused with the book's power and fuse together into an entity that she is unable to kill. Killing her finally grants them a true death.
  • Tsundere/Shana Clone: Dalian has hints of this to Huey.
  • Two Shorts: Episode 3 consists of two separate stories.
  • Verbal Tic: Dalian ends nearly all of her sentences with "-desu".
  • Waistcoat of Style: Huey has one under his coat.
  • Yandere: Subverted with Paula Dickinson. She killed both Lenny and his lover in order to get the ending she wanted for Crown of the Dog Days.
    • Miss Lilburn from Episode 2 is a better fit.
  • Yaoi Fangirl: Both Dalian and Paula Dickinson were hoping Dyer in Crown of the Dog Days would end up with either Ignatius or Arthur, and even ended up engaging in in-universe Ship-to-Ship Combat.

Alternative Title(s): Bibliotheca Mystica De Dantalian, The Mystic Archives Of Dantalian

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