With an absurdly long title such as, “Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?,” your first inclination is to think that the show is trying too hard to pander from just the title alone. With Romance, Fantasy, Action, and Comedy spliced in with an element of Harem, your anticipation going into this will probably sink into apathy. But fret not my dear friends, this anime, shortly titled DanMachi, actually has much more to offer than your prototypical otaku bait anime. That is, if you think story is important in anime that fit this description.
When I say otaku bait, I mean the classic stereotype of a protagonist who is relatable to your average Japanese teenager, a sexy loli girl with a fine petite body who sticks with him thick and thin, and a plot that owes itself to another shonen show’s popularity in similarities. In which case, the shonen show DanMachi wants to sort of emulate is Sword Art Online. In DanMachi, a boy, named Bell-kun, who craves to become a great adventurer to prove himself to be a strong warrior in the eyes of so many people by leveling up his attributes to accomplish this feat. Does that sound familiar? Thought so. However, DanMachi is set in an actual fantasy world, not an MMO. So it is essentially a fantasy interpretation of Sword Art in some fashion.
For those who might be discouraged by this comparison I mentioned, I assure you that DanMachi isn’t just another clone for Sword Art Online. For one thing to note, the plot itself is not of the same magnitude of Sword Art Online. In fact, DanMachi’s plot is rather barebones and can easily be summed up in a sentence or two: “Boy wants to be an adventurer to overcome difficulties in life. With the help of his sexy Goddess sidekick, he will be able to achieve this goal.” That’s pretty all there is to it. By the time I was halfway through it, I was hoping that there was more to it than just this very basic premise. By the time the last couple episodes have gone through, there wasn’t that much to go on then just that.
That’s the only big gripe DanMachi has going for that keeps it from being great. Still, with all that is said and done, there many admirable qualities to the show that can add up to a very good experience. The first one to mention is the characters Bell-kun and Hestia. Individually and together, they add a lot of great hilarious and impactful moments from their dialogue and actions. This becomes evident from the awesome chemistry they both create whenever they are both together on-screen, whether they are fighting various monsters together or happily having a lovey-dovey date together, at least to Hestia’s perspective. Bell-kun himself may seem like an weakling of an adventurer with a soft, calm voice but he proves himself worthy to rival some of the better shonen protagonists you typically see. It also helps that he has a very likable personality that puts him in an easy position for us to root for him in his journey.
Then we have the one and only goddess herself, Hestia-chan. I mean, what can you say about the bootylicious, big chested, and genki archetypical loli that hasn’t been said already? Well, I will tell you one thing that can be added into those three categories: Awesome. Why should this title be mentioned in the same breath as her name you may ask? Most of it has to do with how her personality ranges in all sorts of hilarious and adorable ways that make her very expressive. These expressions make you feel an attachment to her when she is acting serious, humorous, or just all around flirty with Bell-kun. Not to mention that her voice actress, Inori Minase, gives it her all in creating a wonderful character with her very expressive voice. It also provides a nice balance between her wild and joyful nature and Bell-kun’s quiet and gentle personality that makes their camaraderie even more interesting and hilarious to watch.
Besides our two main leads, the rest of the characters are, unfortunately, not up to par with our two main leads. In fact, the only supporting character that I can remember really liking was Lili, only because she at least had something that made her distinctive from the rest of the cast. That something being that overly large backback of hers that doubles her small size, go figure. The rest of the supporting cast can be encapsulated into one word: boring. It all comes down to how the writers put very little effort in making the supporting cast at least somewhat enjoyable so that it doesn’t seem like the only thing carrying the show is our two main leads. Needless to say, all they come down to is them making semi-funny jokes and get involved in fight scenes with Bell-kun or Hestia; which, to DanMachi’s credit, are very well done.
Here is where another of DanMachi’s strong points starts to bloom. If you thought shonen action shows fighting has gotten tedious in recent years, you’d be right. However, DanMachi manages to set the bar up pretty high with the amount of great tenacity and flair it gives to the action sequences with the monsters and other characters. What helps is how great the animation flows through these sequences with nice fluid movements with the characters and how they use their weapons in combat. There is the occasional “cutting corners” in animation, but not to the point where it becomes jarring. Even outside of action, the animation leaves a strong impression with how well detailed it shows off its medium-sized budget.
Not only does the animation work wonders, but the art design also leaves a very strong impression in DanMachi. Not only with the character design, but also the design of the world itself. The world is your general fantasy world with a few new things added that you may or may not have seen before. The backgrounds have a nice elegance to their aesthetic influence, from the massive scope of the mountains to the urban-style design of the city that our main characters live in. Character designs are quite colorful and eloquent in how beautiful they look, especially Hestia. Even if you have no taste in petite girls, Hestia will no doubt raise a few eyebrows, and maybe raise a few other things.
DanMachi was surely a surprise for me to experience this Spring. Where it lacks from a story and mostly character standpoint, it succeeds in providing a fun action/hybrid anime with its stellar art and animation department and a great duo from Hestia and Bell-kun with their amazing chemistry. It managed to tickle my action and ecchi bone enough for me to say that it was a worthwhile adventure to take part in. As far as adventures go, this is one where the journey itself is the fun part while the end of it makes you want to yearn for more. For me at least, I just want more Hestia-chan in the future. Please?