Is It Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? or Will Reading This Post Get Me on a Government List?
God I hope not. I will give it to you, this series definitely could have done better with the name. It does indeed sound like the type of film that would only be purchased at an adult store. But I promise you it isn’t. Is It Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? or DanMachi is the subject of our review today. What is it? One of the most highly rated new anime of recent years.
Question, what do you get when you combine an insane love of mythology with the crazy world building of D&D? Well I mean, one of the games I have probably run at some point. But what do you get with a better writer and an animation studio? YOU GET THE FREAKING AWESOMENESS THAT IS DANMACHI. There are really three things that make this show so good. The excellent world building, the lovable characters, and the thrilling story telling.
The World Building
If you have ever played a role playing game, you understand, on some level, that most RPG worlds have one glaring flaw. That when you get down to it, a group of villagers cannot continually pay adventurers to clear off monsters. Eventually either the villagers will run out of money, starve, or the adventurers will kill all the monsters. We need only to look at how many species we have killed off to see that this will be the case. But what would a world look like that could go on like this forever? An RPG world that actually worked. Enter the city of Orario, the city above the dungeon. No one knows the true origins of the dungeon. All we know is that it is it lies beneath the tower Babel, is impossibly deep, and shows at least some level of sentience. That’s right the dungeon is alive, and is open for the business of killing hero’s.
And this is the first thing that excites me about DanMachi. The detail put into the world building. You just fall into it, and everything, even if you don’t know what it means at first, makes sense. So let’s start at the beginning. In their bordom, the gods, all of the gods (Greek, Japanese, Norse, Indian, ALL OF THEM), decided to come down to the mortal world. In exchange for leaving most of their power in Heaven, the gods could enjoy living by their “Children”. Enjoying the drama, joys, sorrow, and love of those mortals they grant power to. The gods formed for themselves familia, groups of mortals who pledge themselves to their god or goddess in exchange for power. The lower world is inhabited by every race you have ever thought of playing in an RPG, gnomes, halfings (called Pallums), dwarfs, elves, amazons, Conan style barbarians, humans, werewolves, you get the idea. And each race has its own in-world history. And every day the adventurers of Orario head for the dungeon, whether for glory or profit, they delve ever further into it. The world building here is amazing. The dungeon, as I said above, spawns monsters to kill the heroes that infect it. Like antibodies they attack any who enter, but at different levels. Each floor, as you descend, becomes more difficult. The monsters more numerous and fierce. Each one holds within it a magical stone, that if you can kill it, you can claim. The magic stones and magic items that drop from monsters in the dungeon are the basis of the economy. The more you watch this show, the more you see how much thought has gone into this show.
The Lovable Characters
This is Bell. Bell Cranel. Bell is a loser, but he wants to be a hero. Bell was rejected by every single god, because, again, he’s a loser. Every god except the goddess Hestia. Hestia is kind of a loser too. Neither had a familia, neither knows what it is like to be part of one, and neither one of them exactly knows how to express their feelings for the other. Bell, however, is the main character of the story. He is overly kind, naive, and innocent. He is exactly the type of person you would want as a friend and ally. Hestia is the cute girl in your group who loves him, but he is completely oblivious to the whole thing. What makes Bell such a compelling character though, is that even though he is so innocent, he knows what he wants. And he wants to be a hero. So that his grandfather, would call him a hero. Through his dedication and hard work, he stops being a loser. In fact by the end of season 1, if your hairs on the back of your neck don’t stand at full attention every time you hear Bell’s theme as he does something insanely hard core, you don’t have a sense of excitement in your body. Bell in one season grows from a worthless wimp to a knife wielding god of death, but still cuddly and kind. I loved watching him grow, I loved watching those around him change as he changes them for the better. The dialog can be a little iffy at times, but you will love watching Bell and Company, grow as well.
The Thrilling Story Telling
DanMachi currently has a season 1 and 2 of the main story, as well as a parallel story called Sword of Oratoria. All of these play together seamlessly. Each season is only 13 episodes, so easily bingeable in a day, but nothing feels rushed or crammed in. You go through watching the episodes surprised at how much they manage to get out of each minute, but yet again, it doesn’t feel rushed. They don’t skip character development or jump past world building. They are just very, very good at using every available minute instead of wasting it. Belle’s quest is intense. At every moment of it, you get the real sense that Bell and crew could die. In fact, they frequently do come home badly beaten by the dungeon. That doesn’t even add in the other machinations going on within the city. Gods play off against each other, trying to steal the best heroes from each other. Heroes develop their own rivalries between each other. And some familias are not all they seem. In that world. There is only one thing to do. Fight.
And fight they do. Whether it is against monsters or the other heroes, Bell and his slowly growing family drive their world. Will they ever meet their goals or will the world eat them up?
If I have piqued your interest. Season 1, with an English Dub (They did a great job with it) is on both Netflix and Hulu. Season 2, is currently only available in subtitled version on Hulu. Sword of Oratoria is available on Amazon Prime but only in Japanese. Sometimes it does turn up on the tube of ewe’s. Let me know what you think of the show in the comments. And enjoy.