That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.
-One potential translation of a couplet said to come from the fictional "Necronomicon" often referenced by never fully detailed in HP Lovecraft's work. Of course if you have story that tells of a book written by a madman and lost to antiquity that contains truths about our world no mortal mind can bare them and remain whole- you can't then detail its contents. Obviously it can't live up to expectations unless half your readers are rendered drooling gibbering idiots after reading it. He was probably one of the earliest people to get that some of the scariest parts of the story are the things you do not show the audience outright.
I love this series by the way- not because it is especially good, by itself but because it is at once a very thurough use of references and elements from the Cthulhu Mythos created by HP Lovecraft as well completely incongruous in tone and theme with any of his works.
Now when I said this anime wasn't especially good I'm not saying it's unenjoyable for those who don't get the references. As take on the magical girlfriend+arcane mecha archetypes and tropes it is one of the decent examples of the formula though not likely among genre enthusiasts top 10 lists.
As far as their incorperations of elements of the larger mythos go it is hard to decide whether they intended their use of each reference to be as ironic as I find them to be or whether they simply thought the names and descriptions were interesting pieces of a fictional mythology that viewers would not likely be familiar with. is like the authors read the vast majority of his collected works and used what they read to fill in a mad-libs of a very cliched and familiar anime story outline. For someone very familiar with the writings of of HP Lovecraft the result ends up being, surprisingly addictive and hilarious rather than plan awful as one would expect. At the same time it is hard to argue it is good or that this is intentional because while HP Lovecraft's writings is referenced in so much of modern fiction from horror novels to science fiction movies and has even found its way into music and art - it seems so few people besides those artists are ever directly familiar with any of his writings.
The name of the female lead is one of the alternate, and supposed original, names of the Necronomicon. Rather than merely being a powerful grimoire of spells and rites - it does have those in the Mythos to be sure - it is also most complete depiction of the true terror that is the reality of the universe. The "truth" of man's precarious survival, that the universe and its denisens are far more cold and powerful than a sane mind can possibly imagine, and that powerful and utterly alien god-like beings lay slumbering beneath the brief flicker of civilization that constitutes the whole of human existance. In the writings of HP Lovecraft and other contributors to the Mythos the complete and unaltered contents of the original book, Al Azif, are so terrifying that they can rend any trace of sanity and hope from the reader.
All who glimpse too much of the truth of our world, within the context of the Mythos, are doomed to eventually go mad. Sanity in this context is most often the self-deception that allows people to beleive the world is rational and ordered. In Lovecraft's writings that is the delusion - the man seeing tentacled beasts phasing in and out of space and great phantasmal entities dancing amongst the stars is not hallucinating but merely seeing what should never be seen. So eventually aanyone whose eyes have been opened too long and too wide to the fact that a rational and stable world is a thin illusion created by the mind so it can continue to function finds they can not return to the comfort of the lie. To see this always, to know always that the dark vastness of the universe is prowled by beings far too strange and terrible to ever truly understand is to deny the possibility of sanity forever.
A little darker than this show is right? Anyone else familiar with Lovecraft's fiction? Can you think of any stranger adaptation of his work than this?
I close with one of his poems, "The Nightmare Lake", as it is a particularly dark one as well as in the public domain since it was published before 1923:
There is a lake in distant Zan,
Beyond the wonted haunts of man,
Where broods alone in a hideous state
A spirit dead and desolate;
A spirit ancient and unholy,
Heavy with fearsome melancholy,
Which from the waters dull and dense
Draws vapors cursed with pestilence.
Around the banks, a mire of clay,
Sprawl things offensive in decay,
And curious birds that reach that shore
Are seen by mortals nevermore.
Here shines by day the searing sun
On glassy wastes beheld by none,
And here by night pale moonbeams flow
Into the deeps that yawn below.
In nightmares only is it told
What scenes beneath those beams unfold;
What scenes, too old for human sight,
Lie sunken there in endless night;
For in those depths there only pace
The shadows of a voiceless race.
One midnight, redolent of ill,
I saw that lake, asleep and still;
While in the lurid sky there rode
A gibbous moon that glow’d and glow’d.
I saw the stretching marshy shore,
And the foul things those marshes bore:
Lizards and snakes convuls’d and dying;
Ravens and vampires putrefying;
All these, and hov’ring o’er the dead,
Narcophagi that on them fed.
And as the dreadful moon climb’d high,
Fright’ning the stars from out the sky,
I saw the lake’s dull water glow
Till sunken things appear’d below.
There shone unnumber’d fathoms down,
The tow’rs of a forgotten town;
The tarnish’d domes and mossy walls;
Weed-tangled spires and empty halls;
Deserted fanes and vaults of dread,
And streets of gold uncoveted.
These I beheld, and saw beside
A horde of shapeless shadows glide;
A noxious horde which to my glance
Seem’d moving in a hideous dance
Round slimy sepulchres that lay
Beside a never-travell’d way.
Straight from those tombs a heaving rose
That vex’d the waters’ dull repose,
While lethal shades of upper space
Howl’d at the moon’s sardonic face.
Then sank the lake within its bed,
Suck’d down to caverns of the dead,
Till from the reeking, new-stript earth
Curl’d foetid fumes of noisome birth.
About the city, nigh uncover’d,
The monstrous dancing shadows hover’d,
When lo! there oped with sudden stir
The portal of each sepulchre!
No ear may learn, no tongue may tell
What nameless horror then befell.
I see that lake—that moon agrin—
That city and the things within—
Waking, I pray that on that shore
The nightmare lake may sink no more!