OK, this show has genuinely the longest title of an anime I have ever encountered. I saw it as “Is It Wrong to Try to Pick up Girls in a Dungeon?”(“Danjon ni Deai o Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darō ka”), but also known as “DanMachi” for short, and with English subtitle “Familia Myth”. It is hard to classify this show, as it wants to be both dramatic and comedic and that doesn’t usually work out well for either approach. The initial idea is strange enough as it goes.
The story takes place in the fictional world of Orario whose main feature place is the Dungeon, which contains an assortment of monsters from goblins to dragons. Adventurers visit the dungeon to defeat monsters and take their shards (which look like crystals), and are used to craft magic items, among other treasures, and are also exchanged for the world’s currency. But this dungeon goes both up and down, so it is more like a huge tower (of which you see a bit of it in the back), plus those dangerous lower levels, where the aforementioned nasties reside.
The people of Orario join groups called Familia, who serve a range of functions from dungeon crawling to crafting items. Each Familia is named after and serves a resident deity. The adventurers are ranked by a level and their attributes and abilities are also rated on a letter scale. Got it? It’s like the Boy Scouts, but you get something far better than a merit badge. You need a team to go down there, as the upper levels are rather stingy with the amount of shards you can get, but the lower levels, although having bigger and better quality shards and nicer prizes, also have bigger and badder monsters and people are killed in their pursuit of things. Are you sure you want to go into this profession? The local tavern is hiring.
Living in an abandoned church are Bell Cranel and his goddess Hestia. They make up Familia Hestia. He is a decent kind of guy and he treats the work in the dungeon (remember, he is a solo performer) as something akin to a nine-to-five job. He would like to join a familia, but no one will have him. He would like to expand his own familia, but no one wishes to sign up. So, the First Season (yes, this is at least a three-season run of things) contends itself with Bell becoming a better adventurer and building his familia.
He slowly gathers them up. The first member he gets is Lilliluka Erde or “Lily”. She is a porter, in that she totes around the equipment and items that Bell might need. She is short and carries a pack the size of a Buick on her back. She also has a hidden agenda, owing to her background (which gets revealed; don’t worry). Another member is Welf Crozzo. He makes armor and, when they first meet, Bell is wearing something that Welf made, but no one wanted (Bell has a lot of second-hand, remaindered and discontinued armor and the like. He’s on a tight budget).
Yeah, I probably should talk about Hestia. Also known as the Loli Boob Goddess (and I can give you two reasons for that), for the most part, she wears that skimpy outfit. (Don’t ask about that blue ribbon she sports. It makes no sense at all.) She really protects Bell and we feel she is hiding something from him (and us as well), so she is not as forthcoming with information. She and Lily fight constantly for Bell’s attention and affection.
But Bell has his eyes set on someone else: Aiz Wallenstein. She is tall, beautiful and a devastating swordsman (Swordswoman? Swordsperson? Someone, help me out!). Everyone loves and adores her, as she is willing to help all who ask. She even teaches Bell how to fight. Bell needs this, as he fights with a dagger, later a pair of daggers. That is nice for close fighting, but you really need a sword.
There are a few other folks about, but most of them are jealous/angry/critical of him, as he seems to be leveling up so quickly. He does something in two months that have taken other people a year to attain. Everyone in this series has some hidden aspect of their past that intrudes on their present and makes for a complicated future. These folks know more than we do, so initial motivations are not made clear for us…which I assume a second season would clear up or at least point us in a better direction.
One aspect of the show that confused me was the dungeon itself. Again, populated by all calibers of ‘mythic’ creatures, but what actually stops them from rising up, leaving the dungeon and wreaking havoc upon the city? And would you like to spend your entire existence in a darkened cave, waiting for some adventurer to slice you up like cold cuts? Some of the logistics do not make sense, like, if I am in a dungeon, where does all the light come from? And where did this dungeon come from in the first place?
However, it is a more or less free-wheeling show, as Bell is a bit too wide-eyed for his own good (especially when he gets someone else’s monsters dumped on him) and never seems to hold a grudge against anyone for any real reason. Also, the ‘fight’ between Lily and Hestia provides for some well-needed comic relief. Do understand that the unsatisfying conclusion to the first season may rankle you a bit, but then it gives us a second chance for these people to really grow and shine.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (Bright and shiny)
Plot 6 (Because of hidden agendas)
Pacing 7 (Good balance of fighting)
Effectiveness 7 (The lack of a solid season ender)
Conclusion 5 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 5 (A similar show would be “Maburaho”)
Overall 7 (Too many secrets)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. I must get stronger.