First Look: Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?

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Alternative titles: Danjon ni Deai o Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka?, DanMachi
Light Novel Adaptation by J.C. Staff
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

The Goddesses have chosen to live as humans and have descended to the land of Orario. They grant powers to their Familias – groups of their followers that are dedicated to exploring the eponymous Dungeon for riches and glory, etc. etc. Bell, the sole follower of the Goddess Hestia, is inexperienced and weak but is determined to get stronger so he can attract girls.

Jel’s verdict: Trapped in the Meta Game

If you read my preview of DanMachi you’re probably expecting me to tear this to shreds, but there are actually some good things going on here. The world of Orario is an interesting place. There are RPG elements like levels and classes but it’s all very real. When you enter The Dungeon, it’s all you fighting real monsters with no game mechanics to assist you. The game elements that do exist are integrated in interesting ways, like how a goddess has to create a magic print out from your body to view your stats. Beyond that I kind of liked the main character, Bell. He actually has some personality to him, if only because he’s not a super powered Anime Jesus – for now, anyway. If you factor in that he’s supposed to be 14 years old, even his motivations are not too much of a stretch. I’d take him over the Kiritos of the world any day.

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Unfortunately, those good things are smashed to pieces by Bell’s insufferable divine partner and falling into typical anime/light novel shortcomings. Hestia is a bundle of otaku pandering clichés, from her voice, to her character design, to her hot/cold personality, to the skeevy camera angles the director chooses for her… I can’t think of a single positive trait to highlight. A lot of the dialogue is poorly written, particularly the bar scene where someone just “happens” to call out Bell’s shortcomings very specifically in the least conversational way possible. And then there’s the overall message, in which one character says verbatim “girls like guys who are strong, and can protect them.” and Bell remembers his grandpa telling him to go save a weak girl in The Dungeon so she can fall in love with him. Naturally, Bell proceeds to make this his #1 life goal. Are we really still doing this in 2015? There’s a slight attempt to flip that as the Bell acknowledges that he was the one attracted to the powerful Aiz, but that doesn’t affect his overall goal.

So while DanMachi is not the dumpster fire I was expecting, it still doesn’t do enough to break free of the shackles that come with its target audience. There’s a slim chance it could be good in the long run. If the writing improves and they tone down the fan service and Bell stays grounded and doesn’t evolve into the Chosen One and the show’s message flips the script and says it’s cool for guys to be attracted to powerful women that don’t need to be saved, maybe I’d watch it – but is all that really going to happen?

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Iro’s verdict: Yes, it is Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon

There are a few cool ideas in DanMachi (chiefly the fun fantasy town aesthetic and the RPG-verse mechanics), but they’re all overshadowed by the usual anime / light novel bullshit. Every female character save for the hefty bar matron dresses and acts like a cosplay hooker, with otaku-fantasy-bingo-winner Hestia being the most blatant offender. Bell himself lacks any real defining characteristics apart from loving the ladies, and while he’s an ineffectual adventurer for now, the plot seems like it’s going to be about him gaining power and rapidly reaching Main Character levels. I see no way this can improve over time, but if it generates a lot of positive buzz I might bother to watch a few more episodes.

Marlin’s verdict: Great Ideas, Terrible Writing

It’s so obvious that this is just another bog-standard otaku bait show, but it has so many cool ideas that it makes you almost disappointed to know that beyond the interesting world mechanics is another milquetoast protagonist that all the girls fall in love with for no reason. I mean at one point we get a scene that is basically like “Just in case you weren’t lucid for the first few minutes of the show, let’s explain our main character’s entire motivation.” It’s like the anti-Log Horizon.

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Gee’s verdict: Still In Beta Phase

If this anime wasn’t so shitty, it wouldn’t be so bad. I realize that sounds like an extremely redundant statement, but inevitably, every season gives me a couple shows like these. DanMachi has some glimmerings of wit and interesting ideas to it. The cozy fantasy town aesthetic as well as the entire ADVENTURE tone is a lot more fun and well done than I had expected. Alas, it simply doesn’t go far enough with its RPG-world conceit. So apparently you need cute girls to straddle you to read your stats? And you gain skills through the power of love? Like seriously, go all the way man. I want to see people min-maxing their stats, grinding for gear, and gaming the auction house. I have this feeling the sad sacks out there are going to compare this one to Log Horizon, despite the fact that DanMachi doesn’t do nearly enough with its premise. Overall, the setup is potentially interesting, but it simply doesn’t do enough with it to keep me hooked. It doesn’t help that DanMachi is also the skeeviest fucking show I’ve watched this season. Like seriously, Saber tied up in a skimpy dress and moaning suggestively in UBW is still less creepy than the weirdo cosplay hooker universe of DanMachi. So what you have is a show where neither the world is that interesting nor are the characters all that likeable either. Barring drastic upshift in quality, I’m done with it.

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