Despite the lacking frequency with which I talk about them, my favorite genre is Adventure. And while it might not be your typical “Point A to Point B” quest, DanMachi checks all the right boxes.
Is It Wrong to Try and Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? is set in the world of Orario, where adventurers band together and look for treasures in an underground labyrinth known as Dungeon. However, for Bell Cranel, fame and riches are secondary to what he wants to find the most: girls. He soon finds out though, that anything can happen in Dungeon, and winds up being the damsel in distress instead! -Crunchyroll
Is It Wrong to Try and Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?
(Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka)
Studio(s): J.C Staff
Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Romance
About time I actually deliver on this one, as well. Like I said, my favorite genre, overall, is adventure. I love epic quests to get from one place to another, facing numerous challenges along the way. It’s also one of the best genres for big casts of characters, and showing how all of them interact and affect one another. And DanMachi doesn’t disappoint in the slightest.
One of the best things about this series is its characters. And there are tons of them. For the purposes of keeping this simple, we’ll stick to the main few – Bell, Hestia, Liliruca, Welf, and Ais. One of the things that make this series so overwhelmingly fun is how the characters play off of one another. There’s a really strong chemistry between many of them. And while not every relationship is explored in the one season we have, the relationships they do explore are great. Amusing when they want to be, and heartwarming when they want to go for something a bit more tender.
On paper, Bell seems like a textbook harem protagonist. Selfless to the point of folly, driving him to go and help everyone around him, but especially girls. But there are some things that actually help him stand out. For one, he isn’t selfless to the exclusion of self-interest, as many such protagonists tend to be. He has desires and goals of his own. And while he’s certainly oblivious to the attraction that those around him have to him, he’s a lovably awkward goober with low self-esteem. So it’s not hard to see why. Or maybe that bit is me reading too heavily into something that’s entirely there for comedic effect. In which case, your mileage may vary. With all that in mind, his kindness is an additional trait that just makes him likeable, as does it steadfast determination.
Hestia might seem like she exists solely to be hopelessly in love with the protagonist. And from a narrative standpoint, that’s most likely true to some extent. Some may find her clingy, possessive nature grating. But it seems pretty justified, given what little we have of her backstory. Being such a little-known goddess that she had few friends in heaven and couldn’t get anyone to join her Familia in the mortal world until Bell came along. She’s clingy and possessive for a reason, is all I’m saying. It helps that it’s always played for laughs when she is being this way, and doesn’t lead to any real drama. When she’s not being this way, she’s absolutely precious. Especially any time she gets to interact with Bell. The two are simply adorable, any time they’re together.
There’s also something indisputably admirable about the lengths to which she’ll go for Bell. And it’s not like it’s a one-way street, either. By all accounts, she apparently used to be a lazy freeloader. Then she met Bell. And seeing him constantly striving to better himself has clearly had an impact on her. As evidenced by her speech to Hephaestus in episode two. The blacksmith goddess clearly sees this, even if she doesn’t say as much. Hestia doesn’t like idling around, waiting for Bell to return or rescue her. She actively goes out of her way to help him however she can. And that doesn’t necessarily have to be through direct combat. She’s unyieldingly supportive, and that’s something great about her. Something he brought out of her. Which just makes the dynamic between the two of them even greater. They bring the best out of one another.
Strangely enough, it seems like the most fleshed out character is Liliruca – Bell’s supporter, and the first member he adds to his party. While most every other character’s backstory is mentioned in passing, Lili is the only character (shy of Bell) whose backstory is explored. I’m certain there’s more that can be done with her, but I think what we got may have been necessary in order to make her sympathetic, given how her arc goes. I also think in terms of her actual character, she’s a welcome addition. Being the pragmatic sort with a more jaded worldview in contrast to Bell’s idealistic nature. This helps make the resolution of her arc all the more impactful.
Welf and Ais are perhaps the least fleshed out of the main bunch. Though in Ais’s case, there’s some implied backstory. And she very clearly has goals of her own. Still, her fairly stoic and oblivious personality, combined with how little we actually get to know her, makes for a fairly uninteresting character. Perhaps the spin-off elaborates upon her a bit. But that’s something for another time. Welf, by contrast, does have an arc and strong convictions, likely brought about by a backstory of his own. But for now we only really know that he has these convictions and how they’ve affected him. I’d like to see more of why he got the way he did, as I find his position interesting. Especially considering how big a deal they make of his arc’s conclusion. Even if it was just to give him something to do.
The rest of the characters are also a lot of fun. Bete being voiced by Okamoto Nobuhiko is something I don’t know why I didn’t recognize sooner. To be fair, I guess it’s been a while since I watched this. But, in retrospect, it makes far too much sense, hearing friggin’ Bakugo’s voice coming out of that arrogant arse. Syr is also a lot of fun, with her mischievous nature. And there are several other quirky little side characters I can’t wait to see more of in the next season.
If there’s one thing I like in any story, it’s the “found family” dynamic. A bunch of nobodies who don’t really fit into society, for one reason or another, but wind up finding a place to belong among one another. This story is, of course, entirely built around that concept. And in this case, playing largely with the theme of loneliness. Suffice it to say, it works wonders. I really enjoyed how all the characters linked back to this central theme in some way, rather than each having their own, completely unrelated ones. It makes the viewing experience somehow a lot more satisfying, in a way.
Of course, I’d be remiss to not bring up the action in the series because, hot damn, this series has some good sequences. As we all know, I love me a good fight scene. And I’m not particularly picky about what I get out of them. If they’re just flashy and fun or intense and meaningful, a good action sequence is a good way to suck me in. While I could certainly see there being an issue for some with the… suspect use of CGI for the monsters, I think what makes these fights as great as they are is a combination of choreography and shot composition. Basically the movement of the camera, in other words. This show’s action scenes do great things with the camera angles and such that convey some really intense motion and allow for some sleek fights.
The CGI is very noticeable. It’s not the worst. Not by a long shot. But it’s not the best, either. It’s not distractingly bad. And it’s at least consistent, getting the job done. The only real reason I have to question its use comes from the first really intense action sequence of the series, when Bell singlehandedly kills the Silverback in the city. That fight was entirely 2D. So I can’t really figure why the Minotaurs and Goliaths took the CG route. That being said, it’s a minor gripe and not one that detracts from the overall experience. I can say, with confidence, that every action sequence was awesome, paired up with a musical track – “Eiyuu Ganbou” – that, when it started playing, you knew Bell was about to do something awesome.
But make no mistake. Despite Bell being a light novel protagonist, and that usually meaning “at least slightly OP,” he’s handed nothing. Yes, Bell’s abilities grow at an excessive rate. But he’s still a scrub. So while it might not take quite as long as ordinary adventurers, the boy still has to earn his way up. He literally walks out of every significant fight bruised and bloodied. Nothing is easy. And, true to the way the show had been building up, to that point, the further down into the dungeon he goes, the more evident it is that even with his powers growing exponentially, well…
Bell has to rely on others. Throughout the entire series, personal resolve is great and does take him far. But he still has to rely on the help of others, constantly. Hestia giving him his new knife. Eina helping him get new armor. Ais helping him train. Lili, Welf, all these people contribute to helping him get as far as he does. And it all culminates in the epitome of this in the final battle, where an army’s worth of adventurers bands together to help fight the Black Goliath and pretty much every major player, up to that point, basically spends the last moments of it just buying him enough time to build up to the one big hit he needs. It’s a great way to bookend all of it and ties together well with the family themes.
I also think the lack of a single narrative throughline actually works to the advantage of the series. Perhaps this is still my looking too far into things, but having the very thin plotline of Freya causing all of this because she gets off on watching Bell get stronger works with the world setup. Everything is based on classical mythology. Many of those myths featured heroes going out and completing a number of trials. It’s the classic formula that inspired the likes of the typical Hero’s Journey story structure. The Odyssey, the Illiad, the list goes on. Having Bell deal with a series of things, rather than just one long plot actually works really well, based on that. And it also gives us an interesting world, with a city we can actually get familiar with. Speaking of which…
Another thing this series does incredibly well is worldbuilding. Yes, it’s your standard pseudo-JRPG style setting. It has all the stuff you’d expect from that kind of game. But the actual way it’s set up makes the world feel very lived-in as new details come up naturally as they become relevant. That or they’re casually brought up, but as foreshadowing. There’s very little (if any) blatant exposition outside of the opening monologue. And it makes the world a lot more fun.
Overall, DanMachi is just a delight. Some of the characters aren’t that tight, yet. Also, while I love the OP’s adorable visuals, I’m not big on the music selection. The CGI was a bit off-putting, as well. But none of that really dragged down the series for me at all. I wouldn’t call it “dumb fun” either, because there’s clearly more to it than that. When I first started up this series, I legitimately thought it was going to be a mindless Harem Comedy with maybe some neat action. What I got was something that, honestly, barely qualifies as a Harem, but leans hard on being pure, adventurous fun. Fun characters, really fun action, just plain fun. And on top of that, some surprisingly good character building, to boot. It’s a favorite of mine and, as it honestly surpassed my expectations, I honestly believe it to be among the World’s Finest.
So what do you think of DanMachi? Did you have as much fun with it as I did? Let me know, down below. That’s all I’ve got for ya here. As always, thanks for reading, folks. Keep up the Awesome.