Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? First Impressions
Well, as far as first impressions go, Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? already has a pretty large hurdle to clear with that title. Not only is it annoyingly long, but it rather clearly serves to establishes itself as a show of limited depth. This is a shame though, as there are at least a handful of interesting ideas here. However, in keeping with it’s name it gets dragged down some by occasionally annoying fanservice and some irritating romance cliches. Still, while it may not completely shed the implications of its title, it does have enough going for it to at least warrant giving it a look.
Girls in a Dungeon takes place in a world where gods descended from the heavens to offer their blessings to mortals and provide them the strength to become adventurers. Our main character is an albino adventurer named Bell who is the only member of his god’s familia, or the group of followers that a deity possesses. One day while adventuring at a lower level in the dungeon than normal, he finds himself cornered by a minotaur, but is saved by a prominent adventurer, Aizu Wallenstein, who is a patron of the deity Loki. Both his Guild advisor, Eina, as well as his god Hestia tell him that Aizu is out of his league, and that he should be more careful and patient in his approach to adventuring. However, Bell aspires to meet a girl in the dungeon and have a romantic encounter with her and, as such, uses his encounter with Aizu to motivate himself and train harder. However, when eating at a local tavern, Bell overhears the other members of the Loki familia discussing the weakling that Aizu ran into in the dungeon. The biggest offender is an adventurer named Bete who seems to be trying to check every box on the belligerent bully checklist. While I don’t like how the scene is set up with every line of dialogue clearly set up to prod Bell, at least it isn’t as bad as the bully in World Break’s first episode. Furthermore, the fact that Bete’s allies call him out on being drunk and disorderly helps it feel slightly more natural than it might have felt otherwise. After overhearing their mockery for a while, Bell eventually reaches his limit and flees the tavern, catching Aizu’s eye as he does so.
So aside from the rather cartoonish bully, what is my big problem with this show? To put it simply, I can’t stand Bell’s god, Hestia. The first two female characters that we are shown are Aizu and Eina, and, much to my surprise, neither of them looked like they were intended to be fanservice fodder. In fact, Aizu’s battle attire looked outright restrained. But upon seeing Hestia, it occurred to me that perhaps the series intended to shove all of its fanservice elements into a single character. Her body and personality are like what would happen if you took Nico from Love Live! and simply increased her bust size exponentially. She’s petulant, jealous, and constantly hinting at her crush on Bell, but never comes out and says it. She is almost everything wrong with this show and she pisses me right the fuck off. I’ve often been opposed to fanservice in the past, but there are occasions where it has worked for me. Shows like Haruhi or Black Lagoon make it work by using it as a source of comedy or to establish a raunchy tone. Girls in a Dungeon uses it to evoke rage in me by having Hestia constantly rubbing up against Bell and shifting her boobs about like she’s about to attempt a bizarre juggling routine.
Before I wrap up, a few Notes and Nitpicks:
- According to the Wikipedia page, Hestia is nicknamed the Loli Boob goddess… because of course she is.
- My earlier comparison of Hestia to Nico is not meant as a knock against Nico. Nico’s character works well because she’s balanced by a variety of other personalities that keep her in check. And you know… she isn’t used for fanservice.
- The art in this episode is… okay. It’s nothing special, but it has a somewhat distinctive style and the characters look relatively crisp. Some of the backgrounds look rather weak or nondescript though. The dungeon is apparently nothing but a dirt tunnel from the looks of it.
- It probably won’t come as much of a surprise that this was based off of a series of light novels. That being said, I’ve seen worse light novel adaptations… I’m looking at you World Dank: Barrio of MRSA for a Lonely Doorman.
- Is it just me or are there a lot of albino-looking anime characters this season? Between this, The Heroic Legend of Arslan, and Plastic Memories, I’m starting to feel like I stumbled across the Hekmatyar family reunion.
Girls in a Dungeon has some good ideas. The idea of blending a romantic comedy with a dungeon crawl is bizarre, but not necessarily bad, and seeing mechanics like leveling and item drops get included is intriguing. Of course, those game-like mechanics could potentially be a crutch for story-telling rather than an actual organic element of the world the show is trying to create, but for the time being I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. However, the show suffers from an exceptionally annoying primary character who essentially embodies all of my concerns over what I thought this show might be. As it stands Girls in a Dungeon is worth giving a shot, but it’s hardly a standout show for this season. If it ultimately wants even be a halfway decent show, it needs to do one of two things. It needs to either make Hestia’s character more tolerable, or it needs to catapult her directly into the sun.
Despite some problems, Girls in a Dungeon succeeds in getting a mild recommendation, but it needs to make some changes if it wants to be legitimately good.