Paperclip Millionaire – Dantalian 8 and Japan’s 1920’s Europe

The first half of Dantalian episode 8 revolves around Camilla’s quest to obtain a rare and expensive teddy bear through a sequence of trades made possible by a phantom book’s guidance. The half-episode is titled “The Straw Millionaire,” after the Japanese folk tale on which it is based (and which Camilla verbally alludes to in the episode).

Interestingly, the sequence of trades begins with a red paperclip that Camilla takes off of Huey. This is an obvious reference to the One Red Paperclip project, wherein Canadian blogger Kyle MacDonald obtained a house through a series of internet trades beginning with a red paperclip—a real-life, modern enactment of the folk tale.

I learned about the red paperclip project from researching the straw millionaire story, but what caught my attention in the first place was that the last place I’d encountered this folk tale was in the JRPG Shadow Hearts Covenant. Early in the game, there’s an NPC who tells you that he became a millionaire from a series of trades beginning with a piece of straw, and then gives you one so you can try it for yourself. Throughout the game, you can make trades with NPCs which eventually lead to obtaining a secret weapon. This is noteworthy because Shadow Hearts Covenant takes place in Europe in the time after World War I—the same period and setting in which Dantalian takes place.

Why on Earth does this story come up in two different tales of 1920s Europe? It would make sense for this to happen if the Japanese folk tale had somehow achieved popularity in Europe during that period, but I can’t find any evidence to suggest this from my minimal google research. Still, it’s way too weird to be a coincidence. What gives?

7 thoughts on “Paperclip Millionaire – Dantalian 8 and Japan’s 1920’s Europe

  1. Probably a coincidence, but to speculate, perhaps they associate straw itself with Europe. You know, because Europeans live on farms, have bales of straw lying around, and build the roofs of their cottages out of straw.

  2. I guess the most likely explanation is that the writer of Dantalian is a fan of the game…though I don’t know any evidence to support that.

    • Yeah that’s actually what I’m thinking now. With light novels often being influenced by video games and such anyway it’s no stretch to imagine the author having gotten interested both in the time period and other things because of the game.

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