Review for Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon?! - Season 2 Collector's Edition
Don’t underestimate the boob ribbon! It’s hard to tell which shows will be a success, and which will flop, and I have to admit that when I first saw Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? (henceforth referred to by its diminutive, Danmachi) I would have thought flop. But then the show gets a spin-off, and then it gets a movie, and then it gets not one, but two sequel series, the second of which is airing now in Japan, and streaming worldwide, and I begin to get the idea that maybe Danmachi isn’t that bad.
Actually it was the spin-off series that managed that. I didn’t think much of the original series when Animatsu released it, thinking it was a great premise, let down by unimpressive, fan-service led execution. But then I saw Sword Oratoria - Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? On the Side, which followed one of the side characters’ story arc, Ais Wallenstein’s. The cool thing is this story ran in parallel with Season 1 of Danmachi, crossing over on more than one occasion, and it did a better job of developing the premise, which rubbed off on the original series by osmosis, making it seem better in retrospect. I’ve only recently re-watched Sword Oratoria, and I’m really in the mood to watch season 2 of Danmachi, now better versed in its back story, its world building and the character dynamics.
I suppose it could get pretty stolid being a god, lounging about atop Mount Olympus, sipping ambrosia, reminiscing about the good old days when there was more smiting. It could also get pretty boring just looking down on the world instead of interacting with it. Apparently long ago, the gods sealed their powers, and descended to the mortal realm seeking excitement. All that was left was the ability to bless adventurers enabling them to fight monsters. Those blessed would become part of a god’s Familia. Although some gods would have more worshippers than others, have more status in the world. The goddess Hestia has just one adventurer in her Familia, the unlikely Bell Cranel, who is a whole novice at this dungeoneering thing. It’s getting so bad that Hestia has to take a part time job. But Bell Cranel has an unexpected talent...
13 episodes are presented across 2 Blu-rays in this Collector’s Edition release from MVM. You also get the show on DVD as well.
1. (Party) Banquet of the Gods
2. (Apollo) God of the Sun
3. (Conversion) Assemble
4. (War Game) War Game
5. (Home) Hearthstone Manor
6. (Ishtar Familia) Pleasure Quarter
7. (Renard) The Fox Girl
8. (A Fleeting Dream) Killing Stone
9. (Barbera) Warrior Prostitutes
10. (Argonaut) A Hero’s Will
11. (Rakia) Marching Forward
12. (A Song of Love) A Goddess and Her Child
OVA. Is It Wrong to Go Searching For Herbs on a Deserted Island?
Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? gets a 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer on these discs. We have a solid transfer of an anime series here, clear and sharp throughout with strong consistent colours. The image also comes across without aliasing, with smooth and fluid animation. However this second season release suffers from more obvious digital banding, especially as there are more in the way of darker scenes this time around. Hestia’s boob ribbon is the gateway into this show, and that little element of costume design is carried off well, but the show has generally agreeable character designs, and a solid, fantasy inspired world design. The animation is of good quality for the most part, but it really does perk up for the action sequences, touching theatrical quality at its best.
The show offers the usual DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo English and Japanese, with English subtitles and signs locked to the appropriate track. I have to admit that I didn’t even try the dub this time around, sticking to the original Japanese audio. The characters are cast well for their archetypes, and the actors deliver enthusiastic and lively performances. The action comes across well, as does the music, with the stereo offering much in the way of dynamic sound design. This time I paid attention to the music a lot more, and was really impressed with a music score that wouldn’t be out of place in a feature film. The orchestration and emotional impact of the music can’t be understated in this show. The subtitles are timed accurately and are free of typographical error.
The discs present their contents with static menus. There are translated English credits at the end of each episode.
You get three sets of textless openings and closings, 5:47 of Japanese Promos, and trailers for O Maidens in Your Savage Season, Beyond the Boundary, Shirobako, and Sword Oratoria: Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? On the Side.
I haven’t seen the physical goodies that come with this Collector’s Edition to comment.
I may not have clicked with the first series, but following the spin-off, Sword Oratoria, and the feature film Arrow Of Orion, I had a better inkling of what this franchise was about, and I had a lot more time for Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Season 2. I think my initial reluctance was because the show really concentrates on the fan service antics of Hestia and Bell, as well as the rest of his harem, letting the story unfold in the background, and I just didn’t have enough of a grasp on that story. It’s much the same in this second season, although the background stuff feels a lot more important and well-defined; either that or I’m actually invested in the story.
It’s all a fantasy anime reinterpretation of the classical gods playing games with mortal lives idea, seen through the tropes of online fantasy RPGs with adventurers heading into dungeons to battle monster and gain accolades, stats and points. The gods, tiring of their never-ending idyll, have sacrificed their immortality and most of their powers to live amongst their ‘children’, setting up ‘Familia’ that compete for status. Hestia is the most minor of goddesses, a pint-sized bombshell whose sole Familia member at the start of this second season is the unlikely adventurer Bell Cranel, hopelessly out of his depth at the start of the story, but revealing an amazing ability to learn and level up, and a refusal to quit. He’s also shy when it comes to girls, and worships the ground his goddess walks on. In the second season, he’s the Little Rookie, no longer the butt of everyone’s jokes, and making plenty of friends as he takes on more and more dangerous quests. He may be the only member of the Hestia Familia, but he gets help from Welf of the Hephaistos Familia, and Lili of the Soma Familia, blacksmith and supporter respectively.
It was made clear at the end of season 1, that the goddess Freya, master manipulator had her eye on Bell Cranel, and those machinations continue in this season. But really the emphasis in this season is on three other deities. The first story arc concerns Apollo, an obnoxious god with an obnoxious and large familia. He has history with Hestia, none of it good, and when he sees her loyal servant Bell, he decides that to hurt her, he’ll take Bell away from her. This seems to be a common theme in the show, and he manoeuvres Bell into a War Game with his cohort, and doing so in the worst way possible, while in the process Lili is found by her familia, a group that she had run away from. Meeting the god Soma is revealing in that not all gods deserve the adoration of disciples. Not only must the outnumbered Bell face a veritable army alone, Lili needs rescuing as well.
The end result is that not only does the Hestia Familia get a new home, but it gets some new members as well, as both Welf and Lili become members, but also Mikoto of the Takemikazuchi Familia who was introduced in the first season. The Apollo Familia expecting to easily defeat one man, Bell wind up having to deal with strategy as well.
It’s Mikoto who kicks off the second arc in the series, as it transpires that her childhood friend, a rare fox girl of noble birth named Haruhime, is actually in Orario, rumoured to now be a prostitute in the pleasure quarter, a member of the Ishtar Familia. Mikoto wants to rescue her, but the Ishtar Familia is one of the strongest, if not the strongest familia in the city. Crossing them is unwise, especially as their members are mostly Amazons, whose aggressive sexuality can defeat the nervous Bell without any weapons being drawn. It’s the balance of power that can’t be challenged, and the Hestia Familia is far too small to challenge Ishtar. Bell faces a crisis of confidence over doing the right thing, and doing the political thing, but it turns out that the Ishtar Familia are putting plans into motion that threatens that balance of power anyway, plans which don’t bode well for Haruhime.
The final, short arc is played more for laughs, with the impotent Ares constantly attacking Orario with his army of a Familia, and easily being bested by a handful of whatever adventurers are free to deal with them. This time he comes up with a new plan, of kidnapping one of Orario’s gods and using them as a bargaining chip. He winds up snatching Hestia, and now it fall to Bell to rescue her for a change. It’s silliness up to a point, but this story arc also is the most emotionally affecting one, as it concerns a god’s relationship with a favoured child, and whether love can blossom between an immortal deity, and a mortal with a mayfly existence. Bell continues to see Hestia as a goddess before seeing her as a person, which infuriates her no end, especially with all the other girls in Bell’s life, particularly Ais Wallenstein, and Bell finally gets an inkling that it might not be blasphemy to return a goddess’ affections.
There were a few complaints that the first season lacked the first OVA episode, and season 2 remedies that by including the second OVA episode with its collection. It’s a beach and bikini episode as so many of these things are, although a little out of place with its story. Given the quality of this one, losing the first OVA may not be such a lamentable thing, as the one here is a disposable bit of nonsense with not much to redeem it. It’s actually a bit disappointing given how good the rest of the series is. But if you want your pointless fan service, here it is.
I like Danmachi a lot more now than when I reviewed the first season, there are depths and qualities to the story that the deceptively light and silly surface tend to obscure. It’s classic mythology, actually a blend of mythologies given a modern makeover, and it makes for great fun. This second season builds further on what has come before, and I already have the third season (currently being broadcast in Japan) in my streaming queue, lined up to watch next. Technically this release has a niggle when it comes to digital banding, but otherwise it’s a nice collection to have on your shelf.