Those poor animals. What if they’re just trying to level up, too? What if they need to harvest human organs for money? It’s a dog eat dog world out there, son. So we’re back with yet another installment of DanMachi. When we last left off, our heroes were in dire straits. Surrounded by tough, scary rabbits and puppies, Bellri and his friends had no choice but to push on towards the 18th floor, a.k.a. the safe zone. But they have to hurry, because there’s a floor boss on the 17th floor! Wow, that sounds intense! Chased by dungeon mobs on one side, and a race against time on the other side! So how much do you want to bet that all the tension and drama will be sucked away from the narrative in less than half the episode?
— Hestia’s search party easily makes their way through these early floors of the dungeon. In fact, Loki’s group has gone a lot, lot further. Unfortunately, we’re stuck tracing Bellri’s development. Supposedly, he’s advancing faster than anyone ever has… but when the end result is still battling axe-wielding bunnies, we have ourselves a terribly boring narrative. Think about it, though. The first hour of an RPG might be slow as it sets the player up for a grand, epic adventure. But after that hour, the game doesn’t hold back. On the other hand, for an anime series, we must sit here and painstakingly wait a week between each episode. And after eleven weeks, our hero is only level two. After eleven weeks, he’s still traversing nothing but bland cave tunnels. After eleven weeks, the most exciting monster encounter is some Attack on Titan ripoff Goliath. Even SAO didn’t do it this bad. Could you imagine the first eleven episodes only dealing Kirito grinding on mobs? Now, SAO had the other problem: Kirito was instantly the best. He never had to grow, he never had to truly struggle, his duel-wielding prowess was just handed to him on a silver platter (much like Bellri’s traits…). But on the bright side, his Gary Stu strength at least allowed him to actually go on adventures… kind of. There were still a lot of boring caves and dungeons in SAO, but not 100% of the time. What adventures do we see here?
Give me a break, mon cheri.
— Hermes admits to Hestia that he has taken a very keen interest in our boy hero because the latter might just take them to a new era. A new era. Are you serious? What new era? What do gods and goddesses even do? What is the point of this whole universe? But expect nothing, because this little scrap of plot development is all we get after eleven episodes.
— Like I said, it’s an Attack on Titan ripoff. Bellri doesn’t stay and fight this time, though. He just runs as hard as he can and jumps down a hole. When we next see him, he is perfectly safe and sound. Not only that, good ol’ Eyes is here!
— Now hold up. We’re not even halfway through the episode (I’d say about 40% of the way through), and Bellri is already okay. And suffice it to say, you know the next 60% of the episode is just going to be fluff. Bellri’s going to spend time with Eyes, see that his friends are okay, reunite with Hestia, blah blah blah. And they’ll just talk and talk and talk. Like… isn’t this such an ass-backwards way to tell the story? This started out as a search-and-rescue subplot. Bellri and his group are in big trouble, and Hestia has recruited the best adventurers she could get at such a short notice in order to save her kid. If anything, we should have barely seen Bellri this week. We should have only gotten glimpses of him and his friends, and those glimpses would do nothing but drive home the drama and tension. Are they okay? Did they make it? Meanwhile, Hestia’s frantic search should leave us at the edge of our seats. Here, a desperate mother and the neighborhood are moving as fast as they can to find Bellri and his friends.
It’s no different from, say, when some children go missing in the woods, and everyone starts looking for them in the dark of night. In doing so, you might even feel pity for Hestia. Then finally, her group makes it to the 18th floor, and they find that Bellri’s okay… but that’s not what happens. Instead, we know ahead of time that Bellri’s okay. In fact, we spend all of our boring ass time with him. Then when he and Hestia finally unites, it’s hardly special. It certainly isn’t emotional one bit. C’mon.
— And of course, you can argue that Bellri is a hero, so nothing bad would happen to him anyway. Sure, stories are predictable. But that does mean you shouldn’t even bother to do the bare minimum? Is the alternative, i.e. watching these boring moments on the 18th floor, really that much more entertaining? I fucking doubt it. If the writer was really brave, then something tragic would have happened. Bellri might have lost a limb, or even worse, one of his friends. But this is one of those hugfest shows, so of course, nothing truly bad ever happens. Some faceless adventurers might die once in a while, but I’m sure they’re just smirking assholes anyway. In fact, have we even seen a female character get slaughtered in this series?
— Oh yeah, this is a much better way to tell the story.
— In fact, the safe zone is more like the harem zone.
— This is just case there are still any lingering doubts about what I just said…
— So how is there light on this floor? It’s all thanks to this ugly mass:
And these crystals somehow exactly just like the sun would. After a few hours, they’ll dim and thereby give way to nighttime. Hilarious. What if there was actually a sun on this floor? What if there was actually a blue sky? Of course, it wouldn’t make any physical sense this way. How do you jump down cave tunnels only to end up in an open area? But then again, it would make this dungeon so goddamn trippy. Not only that, the dungeon should be a main character in this narrative. It should have a role just as important as the one that Bellri plays. Alas, the dungeon feels like an afterthought.
— That looks like some diseased scrotum.
— Like I’ve said, Hestia eventually reunites with Bellri, and it’s an emotionless scene. Neither of them had to struggle all that much, so there’s no payoff here. Bellri did struggle for a little bit, but we quickly get to see that he’s just fine, so…
— As you can see, the girls are quite repentant and eager to apologize for their misdeeds. The guy, though…
— Again, most of the guys in this universe are assholes. I wonder if the writer even notices the gender bias in his characters, because it’s fucking hilarious.
— Oh shut the fuck up. No, you wouldn’t have. You would have done some heroic bullshit just like you always do and try to save everyone.
— There’s some subplot involving Welf and Hephaestus, but… meh. I’m so disengaged from the story already. I might as well just tell you that he ends up clutching that thing in a scene after the credits as he recalls a painful moment with Hephaestus. There, we at least got that out of the way.
— Meanwhile, there’s supposedly a town down here. So it has people living there. Enough people to keep the town running for generations. People who have needs. Like food and running water. And medicine. And do they trade for supplies whenever a good group of adventurers make it down here? Like once in a blue moon? I mean, I can hardly imagine how a town would function in a place so cut-off from the rest of the world, but we’ll see…
— Of course, we can’t do any proper world-building, because he must focus instead on the barely-tangible love triangle…
— But tune in next week for an exciting adventure… to a town!