Hey Japan! Please stop with these absurdly long titles! I can only write these joke titles so many times before the punchline gets old.
‘Is It Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon’ is an odd show. By all accounts, it shouldn’t work as well as it does. It is filled to the brim with light-novel tropes that drag other shows down into total mediocrity. A large cast of female characters (most of whom are very scantily clad) who are almost all attracted to the main character. A protagonist who quickly becomes grossly overpowered. A loli waifu who is often made the joke for her oversized features.
If you look at each piece of the individual puzzle, this series shouldn’t work. But as it turns out, it’s when the pieces of the puzzle work together that they complete picture come into view! And the complete picture is actually pretty awesome!
It helps that it features excellent art and animation, incredible music, and fun characters. That might have something to do with it.
*Note: I’ll be talking exclusively about the first season in this review. While the second season has been of equal quality thus far, it isn’t over yet. I’ll give that one it’s fair time during the seasonal wrap up.
Plot: What Will You Do to Get Laid?
I get that love can make men do stupid things. But… Jesus, dude! Way to make me feel inadequate!
Not too long ago, the Gods descended from heaven to join in day-to-day life with mortals. These gods formed Familias, gatherings of humans that worship them in exchange for the power to fight evil. These adventurers go through a tall dungeon, seeking power, riches and adventure.
One of these adventurers is Bell Cranel, a simple but weak boy with a heart of gold. One day, he runs into a monster far above his pay grade. Luckily, he’s rescued by the powerful beauty Aiz Wallenstein, whom Bell falls immediately in love with. However, he feels that he isn’t worthy of standing beside her. So, with the help of his Goddess, Hestia, Bell sets out to catch up with the woman he loves.
As I mentioned earlier, this story really shouldn’t work. However, it’s saved by fantastic character writing, perfect pacing, and some incredible action sequences. It is excellently executed!
Bell isn’t the deepest character out there. He’s got a heart of gold and quickly becomes overpowered. But they take several steps to make him far more likable. First, it’s clear that Bell, while he does become very powerful very quickly, he is clearly never as strong as some of the other characters. He has to struggle and work hard to gain his power, which makes it feel well-earned. Plus, he’s so clumsy, honest and pure that it’s hard not to like him!
The other characters are all just as likable! Hestia is bright, bubbly, jealous, and supportive and kind. Lily is rough, no-nonsense and crafty with a jealousy streak rivaled only by Hestia. Welf is honest, friendly, and hard-working, refusing to take the easy way out of anything. Aiz is an airhead with a cold exterior hiding a sweetheart. I can keep going for a long time, as each character has enough depth and personality to make the cast both diverse and incredibly likable.
The action scenes are also amazing! The animation, besides the rough CGI monsters, takes a huge leap forward when the action goes nuts. The choreography is equal parts impressive and gorgeous! Plus, there is not a single fight that doesn’t play into the larger story, which makes them all the more impactful!
This isn’t the best fantasy story out there. It doesn’t have the depth or intriguing themes of other stories like this one. But that doesn’t mean this story is bad. It is a ton of fun through and through and I love it!
Visuals: Janky But Gorgeous
This show has no right to look this good!
I already mentioned the action sequences. But what I haven’t mentioned is that the moments in-between are still well animated and colorful, which helps each shot pop off of the screen. The character design is great, as each character is completely distinct from one-another and memorable. Better yet, you can always tell what the character is feeling just by looking at them, as all good animation should!
The only real problem is with the CGI. There are several monsters that, while cool looking, are dragged down by some really poor computer effects. They stick out like the sorest of thumbs. Everything around them during the action scenes are amazing. But then you take a look at them, and a sour taste fills your mouth.
Which is immediately put off by the music. Oh my fucking GOD this soundtrack is amazing! They bust out the orchestral symphony and it is gorgeous! In terms of anime OSTs, this show has one of my absolute favorites!
I wouldn’t call it the prettiest show I’ve ever seen, but it is certainly up there. While the art and animation is dragged down by the mediocre CGI, it is more than made up for by the spectacular score! It is an aesthetically pleasing show ninety-five percent of the time. Which, by American standards, is still an A.
Is this show the most flawless thing to ever exist? Nope. But it is certainly well-written, well-animated, and most importantly: fun! This is a power fantasy through and through, but it’s clear that there was genuine talent and heart put behind every moment of it!
If you want something action-packed, engaging and fun, I would highly recommend Dan Machi (Or ‘Is it Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?’, if you don’t mind wasting both your time and the air in your lungs)! It is a fantastic piece of fantasy action! Plus, with season two currently airing, this is the best possible time to catch up!
If for no other reason than to listen to the music. I must reiterate: this soundtrack is spectacular!