Impression – Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka, Episode 13

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Episode 13 – “Familia Myth: The Story of a Familia”

Considering how well DanMachi captured the progression of its hero by maintaining a leisurely pace in the first half of the series, it’s almost not surprising that things nearly unravel completely by the show’s end. As I pecked at last time, DanMachi introduced a slew of plot points, literally throwing them out on the ground for us poor viewers to pick up, and by the end of the series, I would say none of them are ever resolved. It’s forgivable that this is a light novel series that’s longer than the anime was ever going to be, but the truncation of plot during the show’s last stretch could have been avoided if the animators had formulated a better trajectory beforehand.

Several elements are given focus throughout DanMachi, and we’re never really sure where to shift our attention to and for how long. Is this series about Bell’s growth from zero to hero? For the first third of DanMachi, this is what I thought the path would be, and I would’ve been quite satisfied had the story been built around that aspect. However, once more characters and plot began to accumulate, the series started to lose focus. As much as I loved the world building in DanMachi, it would have been better had there been a more coherent, concrete narrative binding all of the elements together.

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As for the final episode, I can describe it as a mess of characters vying for on-screen attention, with none of them truly attaining the limelight. Too much happens in too little time, which is an issue that, once again, could have been remedied with better planning of the story. What really bothered me this episode was Bell’s line when he goes to attack the Goliath. He says something to the effect of “I want to protect my friends,” which is a big cliche pitfall and something I previously praised Bell for avoiding in the past.

If the main premise of DanMachi is seeing Bell develop into a full-fledged hero, I don’t want one of his defining moments to be the realization that he wants to be strong to protect his friends. I get that this trope is overused because, in earnest, this motivation is a wholly pure one and makes us want to like the protagonist more. But, I can’t help but wonder if there’s not a more compelling, provocative impetus for a male hero out there. When DanMachi first began, I thought it could have had one, but at the anime’s end, it turns out that it’s like all the others out there, and that’s honestly a little disappointing.

Not to say that I didn’t enjoy my time with DanMachi. For my closing remarks, I want to reiterate how much I loved the world, characters, and atmosphere of the series. Despite all of his shounen shortcomings, I still believe Bell is a good and largely refreshing protagonist in a genre plagued by wish-fulfillment. While I want a second season, it’s not exactly for the right reasons. I’m less excited to see where the story goes and more left hanging by loose ends. But to go back to the title: “Is it wrong to try to pick up girls in a dungeon?” I’d say there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

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“Things are about to change! And I shall see it with my own eyes.” ~ Hermes

B.W.

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