Is It Wrong To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? Season 2 (Cert 15)
2 Discs Blu-ray/Ltd Edition 4 discs DVD/Blu-ray (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 325 minutes approx.
Release Date: January 11th
Before we get into this review, I must warn you that I haven’t seen the first series of this fantasy harem show so my points of reference are sorely lacking. I did, however, review a spin-off show a couple of years back, On The Side: Sword Oratoria, though I don’t recall much about it, on its impact on my knowledge of this franchise remains limited.
The basic plot is the Gods decided to descend on the city of Orario to experience life like mortals. They set up their individual familia and recruit adventurers to fight monsters in an underground labyrinth called the Dungeon to claim treasure to exchange for money. The main characters are 14 year-old adventurer Bell Cranel and the goddess Hestia, along with other women in their familia, who all have a crush on Bell, though he is in love with swordswoman Ais Wallenstein.
Starting off in medias res, Bell and fellow Hestia Familia members Lilliluka Arde, Welf Crozzo, and Mikoto Yamato, are victorious in another dungeon battle and head off to the local tavern to celebrate. There, they get into a scuffle with members of the rival Apollo Familia, again coming out victorious. The next day Bell and Hestia are invited to a ball held by Apollo which was a ruse for him to make a challenge for War Games, with the prize being Bell.
Apparently, the male gods of Orario are just as infatuated with Bell as the women are, unless it is the fact Bell has just attained Level 3 (whatever that means) and Apollo wants a capable fighter in his familia. Quite what the attraction is I can’t personally say – he is 14 for a start which makes it creepy, has silver hair, and is polite and loyal, but this does not exude chick magnet vibes under any circumstances.
Regardless, the first four episodes of Is It Wrong… or using the contracted version of the full Japanese title DanMachi, are concerned with the War Games, in which the two familia do battle with an added stipulation that if Hestia wins, Apollo has to give her anything she wants. The actual battle lasts one episode, the other three cover Bell’s training and some inter-familia politicking, as it transpires Welf, Mikoto, and Lililluka are actually from other familias and need to be released by their gods.
Mikoto and Welf are granted their release but Lililluka, who has perfected transformation abilities, is jailed by her god Soma. Hestia and co. plan a break out whilst Bell is training ahead of the War Games. I’m sure this is more exciting for those who already know the show and its many active components – if you are a novice like me, this won’t mean a thing.
With this arc concluded, the next adventure covers five episodes, beginning with Mikoto receiving a message from an old acquaintance and sneaking off into the night. Bell and his nosey friends follow her to Orario’s red light district, known as the Pleasure Quarter (fnar fnar) run by the unpleasant Ishtar Familia. Bell is separated from the others and set upon by lusty hookers to keep the Ephebophilia theme going, but he escapes into the quarters of demi-fox human, Haruhime.
It transpires Haruhime was exiled from her wealthy fox god family and sold to Ishtar who forced her into prostitution, since Ishtar’s entire personal MO is all about nookie, and as a result, Haruhime believes she is worthless and tainted due to her profession and doesn’t deserve happiness. Bell thinks that is hooey and reassures Haruhime she isn’t fox trash, vowing to free her from Ishtar with a little help from his friends.
Japan’s attitude towards sex is a curious one as we know, so it is somewhat ironic that an anime of all things, a medium notorious for its deviant ideas of sexualisation, would be a platform to extend a non-judgemental olive branch to sex workers in demonising the negative opinions against them. But, for all its progressive bravado, possibly due to Haruhime being forced into this world, the rest of the Ishtar Familia prostitutes are depicted as insatiable, lascivious beasts (one of them literally), predatory and shameless in their lust for pleasure.
Under any other circumstances there is a whole discussion to be encouraged by this but there is little time as a final arc needs to be crammed into the last two episodes. So, despite Bell’s heartfelt speech in defence of Haruhime to Ishtar, and her own repost against the double standards of male and female promiscuity, it ends up feeling hollow and cynical, serving to make Haruhime sympathetic as the latest admirer of Bell.
Earlier, I wondered what the appeal of Bell was – this also applies to Hestia, who I am to assume is also a popular attraction of this franchise. Aside from her large chest and loli appearance, I am not sure what her worth is; as a Goddess, she doesn’t do much and her attitude is petulant and petty, especially where Bell is concerned. I’m happy to concede if the first season shows her in a better light, if not, there are stronger female characters here deserving of the focus.
Fans returning for a second helping will enjoy this more than I did by virtue of having prior knowledge of the plot, the world in which it takes place, and attachment to the characters. They are also rewarded with a bonus OVA based on a trip to beach because anime. As a first time viewer, I’m not sure I have identified where its popularity and success comes from, as there are better shows of this ilk in existence, though this one does boast some nice animation and artwork.
Is It Wrong To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? I don’t think I am best qualified to answer that but I would advise against viewing this release if you are not familiar with the first season. Solid but pedestrian fantasy entertainment.
English Language 2.0 DTS HD-MA
Japanese Language 2.0 DTS HD-MA
Disc 2 Only:
Clean Opening Animation
Clean Closing Animation
Limited Combi Collector’s Edition
DVD and Blu-ray Discs
Rating – ***
Man In Black