Is it wrong to try to pick up girls in a dungeon? This is the first question this show throws at you, and is almost the opposite of what the premise is about. Falling very close to the ‘trapped in another world’ genre, Danmachi got its initial popularity in the west by being compared to Sword Art Online and other shows of similar ilk. But is Danmachi a show that stands on its own merits? Let’s find out.
A hulking Minotaur is heavily breathing into the camera, chasing after a weak human, crying for its life. They’re trapped against a wall, about to be torn limb from limb, until the beast is cut in twain by ‘The Sword Princess’ Aiz Wallenstein. The scared teen runs away, covered in the blood of the slain creature, leaving Aiz with a confused look. From that description, you may think that the main character of this tale is the saviour in the situation, that’d be your first mistake. Is it wrong to try to pick up girls in a dungeon? stars the scared boy named Bel Cranel, and his journey to become as strong as Aiz so that he may be worthy of her someday. Add into the mixture some big-breasted harem members and an RPG-like levelling system given by earthbound gods, and you know almost everything there is to know about this show.
The most important part of any action show is the waifus, and gee golly this has a lot of them. Need a loli with massive boobs held up by a thin string? Hestia the goddess is there for you. Voiced by Inori Minase (Actually I am, School Live, Re: zero) you can hear how she managed to voice the character who won best girl at Crunchyroll’s award show last year, while the character focuses on the ‘stay at home wife’ style of waifu, she still manages to do a very impressive heel turn when the godliness of the character is emphasised. What about some animal eared girls? Bel randomly stumbles upon a pub filled with them in the second episode. Most of these girls are just background characters, but one is a badass Elf called Ryu Lion played by Saori Hayami (Sweetness & Lightning, Anonymous Noise, A Silent Voice) who has a stereotypical, yet enjoyable character angle, even though it is definitely not her best work. Do you have a hankering for another loli with slightly smaller, but still pretty big boobs with the option of animal ears? Meet Lili, the girl who can magically change her appearance to be the best girl of your dreams. Voiced by Maaya Uchida (Charlotte, Chuunibyo, Noragami) the character is definitely the highlight of the show. I am very impartial to the more rogue-like badasses who aren’t right at the front of the action (See: Argo from Sword Art Online) and still have that innocent sweet side that they don’t show to just anybody. This isn’t a show like Nisekoi where any girl could be best girl, but there are enough strong choices that you’ll find one to suit your tastes.
Considering this is an A-1 Pictures show adapted from an incomplete light novel series, you wouldn’t be able to tell this from just watching the show through. The arc that the show finishes off on has enough of a gargantuan feel that it works as a large period in the story, whilst still allowing another sentence to flow from it.
Comparatively, some earlier parts of the show feel jagged, and out of sync. The second arc of the story is about a supporter called Lili, and her struggles with her familia (Adventuring Guild is the closest approximation). The first episode of it focuses on how Lili meets Bel, they go on an adventure and hints are strewn throughout the episode to give the viewer an idea of what is happening. The next episode is then about Bel learning how to cast fireball, like Lili isn’t even part of the plot. My guess is that the writer wanted to try and sow these seeds of curiosity earlier in the story for them to grow as time goes by, creating a thrilling narrative that the audience will enjoy. The problem with this is, the rest of Lili’s story is bashed out straight away, with no other gaps. To me, the magical upgrade episode being placed here made it feel like the writer forgot to do it earlier and decided it was necessary for the next story beat. Considering Lili is my favourite character in this series, and I do still love her arc, this is just a tarnish on a mostly competent script.
I tried to watch episode one of this show dubbed, and I managed to just about get through it without wanting to forget it ever existed. None of the VAs stuck out to me in a good light, but Hestia’s actress sounded about 30 years too old for the character. The rest is just your run of the mill Sentai Filmworks dub.
Included as bonus features are a clean opening and ending video and an assortment of trailers for other Sentai releases.
Strives for Greatness
Is it wrong to try to pick up girls in a dungeon is a fun action-harem show with high production values and a competent story. It ticks all the boxes for every category of competence and is a great anime to recommend people. The only problem is that there is almost nothing new here. If you want more of the same ‘popular’ anime, then go out and buy this, it’s a high-quality version of a well-used format. If you’re looking for something really new and exciting, then you are better looking off elsewhere.