Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? – Anime Review
Synopsis: A fateful encounter – that is what adventuring is all about! This comedy attempts to answer its title’s question as a young adventurer, blessed by the tiny Goddess Hestia, seeks to impress the perfect girl in a dungeon filled with mythical beasts. (Official HIDIVE Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Is it Wrong to try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? (Henceforth referred to in this review by the fandom title: DanMachi) generated serious interest when it first released with its quick pacing, constant energy, and consistent, fun entertainment. DanMachi remains engaging throughout its entire thirteen episode run by keeping the story moving at a brisk pace, never pausing, or dwelling for too long on one note or another. There’s a lot of moving pieces here, with sub plots popping up periodically throughout the over arching narrative of Bell-kun’s struggle to become a better adventurer. While the sub plots rarely get the development they deserve, it generates a constant ‘newness’ every episode, allowing new elements to hook you as others start to loose their luster and shine. It’s got an energy about it too, the show feeling alive and full of life that keeps events feeling fresh and interesting. Because of all this love and craftsmanship episodes rarely feel long, and sometimes even disappointingly short as you never want the journey to end.
Linny: While there have been many other shows in the past that have dealt with adventurers and dungeon crawling, DanMachi is one of the first that really implemented the RPG like element of adventurers leveling up based on their efforts during their dungeon explorations. The dungeons are an integral part of the story, being the sole source of income and a part of daily life for many characters. DanMachi also toys with the concept of mythological gods, presenting gods from various different cultures as casual beings who gave up their ethereal existence to co-exist among mankind and form their own factions who battle with monsters thanks to powers they grant their followers. The show strays as far as it can from traditional facts when creating its god characters, such as Loki being a flat chested, red headed female with a slight tint of mischief and playfulness being the only true Loki-like characteristic. So don’t start this show expecting to recognize any of the gods as anywhere close to their folklore origins and definitions.
Tom: The gods are but a few among a plethora of enjoyable and lively characters the show keeps churning out week after week. There’s the ever popular Hestia, Bell’s own Goddess and constant source of affection, wanted or unwanted. There’s Aiz Wallenstein, the super powerful, beautiful blonde woman Bell chases after, hoping to one day be as powerful as or even more so. Then there’s Lilliluka, Bell’s supporter who’s a bit shady but a quirky character in her own right. The cast keeps growing, even within the final episodes, but thanks to unique and lively portrayals it never feels like they’re cramming too much into too few episodes. This isn’t to say all the characters are wholly original, many often originating from the very archetypes so often complained about in anime. But the show uses each character sparingly, never overwhelming you with them enough to break the illusion that they’re more original than they truly are. That said, I personally found Bell-kun to be a bit annoying, too much of a righteous goodie two shoes for my taste. He’s just far too nice and way too forgiving.
Linny: I’d have to disagree with Tom regarding Bell-kun as I feel it is his innocence and faith in people that makes him likeable and someone you want to root for. In my opinion, the character that might frustrate viewers is Hestia, not because of her personality but the fact that there’s no mistaking her role as fantasy and fan service fodder for male audiences with her ample bosom and skimpy outfit. She’s still a fun character and as fan service characters go, she does fall into the tamer category so unless you despise even the slightest hint of fan service, you should be able to either overlook her or perhaps even enjoy her presence.
Tom: All the characters are voiced exceedingly well, (specifically referring to the Japanese audio track) and they’ve got some top talent here, with Bell-kun’s VA also being the same man who voiced Kirito in Sword Art Online. The excellent voice work only adds to the show’s last top quality component: its battle sequences. The show has some real stunning animation during its numerous epic encounters peppered throughout the show. In most action anime there’s an episode that can be pinpointed for a low budget, with poor animation and off artwork. But DanMachi makes that episode hard to nail down as the quality is impressively high throughout the show’s run. It easily trumps most of the other Spring shows in terms of sheer visual presence.
Linny: The dungeon mechanics in the show made for some spectacular action scenes and visual treats. The show spared no expense in ensuring that every fight and battle looked flawless and mesmerizing, even when there was an epic showdown in almost every other episode. The consistent quality of visuals and animation alone makes the show stand apart. However, I do feel like the storyline could have benefited from exploring its RPG leveling mechanics more, rather than just using it to let you know that Bell-kun is “special”. Even the battles, while entertaining and plentiful, hold potential for a lot more, given the world and mechanics the show is set in.
Tom: While the RPG elements are significantly more downplayed than I’d have preferred, it’s still a mesmerizingly enjoyable story, if a bit predictable, and perhaps that’s where the larger complaints come in for DanMachi. It’s never truly unique, the story often progressing in the most predictable patterns. But DanMachi is told with enough flair and passion that this aspect might be easy to overlook for the less critical viewer. Another disappointing element is how generic the core story can be, with heavy elements of harem creeping up in intensity as the show continues. You don’t often feel like anything original is occurring, and what few original elements it does have are left dangling with few answers given. This would be less of a problem if there was a second season, but it’s only this year that DanMachi was announced as actually getting a proper follow up, besides the mediocre spin off, Oratoria. Thankfully there’s still the ongoing Manga and Light Novel series (Both well into their Western releases) if you’re desperate for your answers.
Linny: The unanswered and abandoned plot lines are a major flaw in the show and bound to leave a lot of fans disappointed and confused. Whether it was because of bad execution or hoping for a second season, it still isn’t a valid excuse for how badly the subplots were handled. And unlike Tom, I found the generic parts of the show dull and found myself tuning out during some of them. A lot of the side storylines are soon abandoned and forgotten which is a shame as some of them held real potential to elevate the show’s entertainment value.
Tom: DanMachi isn’t perfect, heck I’d be hard pressed to try and call it a contender for best Anime of 2015. But it’s good fun all the same and quite enjoyable for what it is. With a second season now confirmed, I might even be willing to call it a must watch of 2015.
Linny: DanMachi is indeed a fun show, one you watch knowing full well it isn’t going to blow your mind but will make for a entertaining journey even so. Watching our hero and others venturing into the dungeons to face off against all kinds of monsters and exploring other mysteries of their world, combined with interesting, if stereotypical, characters make for a competent show that is likely to appeal to a shonen crowd.