DanMachi Review Season 2 Episode 2 – Let The Games Begin

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So cool.
This episode was just great to watch. I was really looking forward to seeing this part of the story animated and it absolutely didn’t disappoint. I may however have gone slightly overboard with the screencaps, and still didn’t manage to get any of Welf or Lily. What did you think Irina?

 Um…well… It was not bad…

Ok, it was not my favourite. There were definitely aspects I liked but some of DanManchi’s weaknesses (in my opinion) were also on display in this one. It is a very pretty show though. I`decided to hold back on screencaps for this one but it took a lot of discipline!

Alright, this episode starts us off exactly where we ended last week with Apollo challenging Hestia familia to a war game. Hestia turns him down flat and leaves despite Apollo taunting her by saying she’d regret it. While I don’t think much of Apollo as a character given he seems to exist just to create motives for other characters to act, I really like the conflict this sets up. They have made such a big point about Hestia familia being so small and weak but given we haven’t seen conflict between the gods previously that hasn’t really been an important point. Now it becomes very important as Apollo has a very large family.

I also think Apollo so far is just to shallow a character to be an interesting antagonist. As are his goons.  Mind you, this is pretty normal for episode 2. You got to give people a chance to grow. But they made him into such a moustache twirling bad guy that I have trouble taking him, or the threat he represents, seriously in any way.

Yeah, you just can’t take this guy seriously.

This is the first weakness I was talking about, the lack of interesting villains. Again, this can change a lot but in the context of this episode only, I just couldn’t care about them much.

I was disappointed that Hestia didn’t accept the challenge. Don’t get me wrong, it makes perfect sense for her to react that way but I was just looking forward to it. In my head I imagined it as a hunger games type tournament or something. I like tournament arcs.

The rest of the episode is more or less Bell and Hestia running about the city trying to escape the pursuit of Apollo familia. It is really such a clear throw back to the time they were chased by the big gorilla monster thing in season one around the town, and just like then this was fun and thrilling.

This would be the second weakness. Designs and art are stunning but animation is a little stiff. Some of the movement were jagged, as if fewer frames were used and we got several stills or static scenery with the camera panning through to simulate movement. I always thought that a series as beautiful and action oriented as DanMachi could really benefit from more fluid animation.

I did like the sequence with Daphne and Cassandra where they point out that they don’t particularly want to fight Bell. More than that though, they make it clear that Apollo has done this to other adventurers as well and generally speaking Apollo gets what he wants. It kind of gives us a sense that Bell is a little more cornered right now than we might have initially thought. Then we have the other guy who just kind of hates Bell because he can’t figure out why Apollo’s interested. I’ve definitely noticed that Bell brings out strong emotions in almost everyone he is around. They either want to protect and help him, possess him, or crush him.

Did we know these characters from season 1? Either way, it was a nice scene and good foreshadowing for inner turmoil in the Apollo familia. I’m calling it now! I guess everyone else already called it but humour me.

No. Daphne and Cassandra are new and we haven’t seen very much of them yet other than the delivery of the mail.

If it isn’t bad enough that a large and powerful family are chasing them around, Hestia notices another familia is involved. While we don’t get much in this episode about it, Soma familia has made a move and suddenly Lily’s backstory and faking her own death as a supporter for Soma familia is becoming much more important. I’m really looking forward to them getting into that, though you have to wonder how Welf felt getting left on his own in a fight after Lily just picked up and left.

I always wanted to know a bit more about Lily’s past, so I find this turn of events promising, if not particularly happy. Welf didn’t seem to hold it against Lily in any way, he’s a very accepting guy!

One of the things I didn’t care for as much is how utterly helpless Hestia was during this entire sequence. I know it’s part of the character but we saw a glimpse of her being all goddess like in season 1 and that was one of my very favourite moments. I was really hoping that seeing Bell in such a though spot would bring it out of her again and I was disappointed that random returning characters had to do all the saving. It made her feel rather useless in that moment.

To make it worse, she chooses the worst possible time to have a high school do you like me moment with Bell. The guy could be killed any moment, maybe you can talk about this later? I think Hestia as a character deserves better representation. She’s cooler than this.

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	IS IT WRONG TO TRY TO PICK UP GIRLS IN A DUNGEON? INFINITE COMBATE

True, but the gods and goddesses seem to view the importance of things a little differently to us mere mortals. Apparently Hestia really needed to know right then and there how Bell felt even though she had to have known how he was going to respond.

Though thinking of things in this episode that feel like throwbacks, Bell ending up asking Ais to help train him again is definitely another point where it feels like we’ve come full circle. I’m not saying this as a complaint. I think it is nice that events and characters keep coming back and regardless of the progress Bell made last season, he’s still a fairly new adventurer so it makes sense that he repeats the same mistakes or scenarios and needs to go back to training.

I had forgotten how majorly stoic Ais is. She really has that robot girl trope down. If that’s what Bell goes for, poor Hestia doesn’t stand much of a chance«.

In  the end, they just ended up accepting the War Game. YAY! but also why? Because Hestia didn’t get to smooch her child? That can’t be it. It also made the entire episode seem a bit useless. They could have just accepted the challenge in the opening tag and on to episode 3 we go. The only event of any real impact is Lily’s involuntary return to the Soma familia.

I’m making it sound way more negative than it is but that’s because Karandi said all the good parts. Also, one of my biggest problems is that I don’t remember a lot of the characters so I need to rebuild my attachments. Obviously, this is going to take a few more episodes for me. Still, I did enjoy the episode and look forward to finally learning more about this War Game.

I think your side is needed here. I’m clearly in love with the original series and the source here so objectivity got tossed straight out the window. I think your view is going to ground these reviews quite a bit because every issue you’ve pointed out, is actually an issue I just don’t care because I’m having too much fun.

I just had so much fun during this episode. I loved watching the chase and Bell’s friends coming to his aid. I’m really looking forward to watching Welf and Hestia trying to help Lily and I’m also looking forward to the War Game once it gets going for real. This was a delightful start and it really felt like getting back together with an old friend. Loving it so far.

Thanks for Reading From
Irina and Karandi

Want more discussions of DanMachi Season 2 from Irina and Karandi?

Images from: DanMachi 2nd Season. Dir. T Hideki. J.C. Staff. 2019.

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20 thoughts on “DanMachi Review Season 2 Episode 2 – Let The Games Begin

  1. I think Bell would willingly have taken on the entire Apollo familia, for however long his strength would have lasted, for Hestia.

    Sure, he respects Ais.

    But he’s willing to put his life on the line, almost like it’s instinct, for his goddess.

    The only reason he responded with “respect” to her confession is that he thinks she’s so far above him that it would be sacrilegious to respond to her with merely human love.

    To me, that’s the tragedy that underlies this series. In the beginning of this season the only thing that made Bell fight was an insult to Hestia. In the previous season, she released her divinity to protect him.

    Their relationship is wonderful! if tragic.

  2. I wasn’t expecting Hestia to turn down Apollo, but can say that I am fairly satisfied with how the second episode worked out for the new season. I was pleased Hestia gave Apollo that realistic no, but was later forced into it due to Apollo’s willingness to embrace an extreme stance to take Bell from Hestia. It made for heightened drama, and played out better than I had imagined it could.

        1. Hopefully the anime will get into the difficulties with leaving a familia very soon. It is something that hasn’t been touched upon up until now but it helps it all make sense.

  3. Issue 1: Why would Hestia accept the War Game?

    Because her choices are limited – she can either accept the War Game, Flee Orario, or try to take the Apollo Familia on in a no-holds-bar battle as we have seen in this episode. At least with the War Game, there is a possibility of creating terms for a fight with rules, that gives Bell and friends a chance for victory. The second option was rejected by Bell Carnel. And the third option, as we see this episode is completely unworkable – the Apollo Familia are just too numerous to be fought in a direct confrontation. Now a confrontation with rules and a delay before the games begin can give her a chance if she can secure the right rules and the longest delay possible.

    I don’t exactly buy the critique about Hestia just accepting the War Game – you’d need to offer some other alternative beyond these three and establish these alternatives as plausible to be convincing on that point. It’s abit of a shame that the anime medium is very poor at tackling character internal thoughts – since Hestia in the source material does indeed believe that those are the three options open to her. She has few allies, minimal financial resources, and one member in her Familia as of the current moment. To Hestia’s mind (and keep in mind she’s doing this reasoning while under duress), the War Game has been reduced to the best of the three options as a result of Apollo’s move.

    Why does Apollo want a War Game? Because, that way, his seizure of Bell would be done with some pretense of “legality” to it, because the gods are itching for a War Game, and because he is petty enough to seek to humiliate Hestia in the most public manner possible in front of all of the gods. Simply driving Hestia out or Kidnapping Bell doesn’t accomplish these whims – and the gods are often very whimsical beings.

    Issue 2: Apollo is not a deep villain

    The problem with a deep and nuanced “antagonistic” figure, is that such figures are likely to be much more careful with the way they meddle with Bell – Hermes, and Freya comes to mind. If Apollo wasn’t this impulsive but more nuanced, he would likely have tried to play a longer game to get Bell into his Familia. But Apollo is a very impulsive and lustful god that pursues his passions with little subtlety and is not known for his patience. Hence, we get this escalation. Hence we get Apollo being a mustache-twirling villain. He is not the only god with his eyes for Bell – but in a city full of gods, it is likely inevitable that someone would be as impulsive as Apollo.

    Now, this kind of Villain cannot sustain a season. He could sustain a short arc, that drives home to Bell that there are many gods lusting after him after Bell’s historical achievements. It would not be the strongest of arcs, definitely, but I think it doesn’t have to be – it’s this arc that forces Hestia out of the “my Familia must be just between me and Bell” mentality. The good news is that we are more than halfway through this arc in the source material as of the end of this episode, so this arc should end in around two episodes.

    Issue 3: Hestia is useless

    Hestia is a goddess of the Hearth and the Family, not a goddess of war – so without her Arcana, she’s basically no better than a normal civilian… against a mob of adventurers. Being hunted by Apollo’s private army isn’t the arena she can shine in.

    Which ties back to why Hestia accepts the War Game – it gives her the breathing space, the Prep-time if you would for her to employ her talents.

    As for forcing Bell to a confession in an inappropriate time? This is tied up to Hestia proposing the Flee Orario option: tied up to saying yes to Hestia’s love was the idea of fleeing Orario, and leaving a life of lovers in exile. Bell saying no is the reason why Hestia goes for the War Game Option, because to Hestia, this forcloses the Exile Option. That the scriptwriters of this adaptation failed to set this confession in the proper context of being attacked by the Apollo Familia, is down to the decision to omit just abit too much from the conversation – it’s an adaptation induced plothole in other words.

    This is, after all, JCStaff we are dealing with, and that studio has racked up a rather notorious reputation for adaptation decay in the past few years.

    1. It might be a plothole created because of the adaptation, and it is, however, for those unfamiliar with the source it does seem like a weird decision. I knew the background for this moment and why Hestia made the decision she did, which was why it didn’t bother me. However, Irina hasn’t read the source so as an anime only viewer to her the scenes played weirdly and that makes sense when you watch the scene. It is missing a lot of the information that would make it clear right now what is going on. I’m just hoping that it does all become clear in the following episode as they build on this decision so that it isn’t left a weird decision in the eyes of those who only watch the anime.

        1. Definitely and some things just don’t translate very well or aren’t needed in something for it to work in a different medium. I didn’t have an issue with the scene until you pointed it out in your thoughts on the episode and then I realised how much I’d just filled in for myself knowing what happened in the book that just wasn’t in the episode.

          1. There is no question that adaptations always diverge from the source material, as information, context background and even the benefits of employing a point-of-view within the text do not translate easily into an anime adaptation. I think how well the story stays together, despite the ommissions inevitable in the translation from text to adaptation is a mark of the quality of the adaptation, in terms of scriptwriting.

            And by this score, I do think that as an adaption, Danmachi S2 is rather mediocre so far. A good adaptation should not be compressing things so far that questions are left in the minds of their viewers – yet I suspect, it’s easy to fall into missing out these plotholes because they aren’t necessarily obvious to someone who read the original material beforehand. Adaptation is an art, and some studios are better and others are worse at this art.

            Personally, I am not very optimistic about how Danmachi S2 would turn out – it won’t surprise me that the plot holes would keep coming up in subsequent episodes. In reality, the process began as early as S1, when the scene introducing Naaza was adapted out – the consequence of which can be felt in the first two episodes as anime-onlys wonder who the girl who accompanies Micah in episode 1 and sniped Hykanthios in episode 2 is.

            It’s concerning that plot-holes are emerging even at this point, where Danmachi story-arcs are relatively short and still straightforward – from here on out, most arcs just become longer. I have a sinking suspicion that if the same quality of adaptation scriptwriting in Danmachi is applied to later, longer arcs; that these arcs may lack coherence because too much important set-up was omitted in the adaptation of the earlier parts of the arc.

            Of course, I might simply be too pessimistic here – subsequent episodes might fill in gaps or redress critiques made within the context of this episode. After all, we aren’t dealing with self-contained episodes here, but rather an entire arc – and holes within one episode may not apply in retrospective to the entire arc.

          2. I am hopeful that most of the necessary information will come as we go and I’m really enjoying it either way. Hopefully though they can make it entertaining in its own right for people who never read the source.

  4. I agree that Apollo (so far) just isn’t an interesting villain. His overt evil nature and obvious endgame make him seem less like a threat and more like a nuisance. Maybe it’s all a ruse meant to trick the viewers about his true nature and motive, but that feels unlikely given the rest of the show.

    Given the involvement of the Soma Familia, it will be interesting to see if others are willing to get involved if/when that comes to light. My guess is that Apollo or someone in his Familia tipped off the Somas about Lily in order to strip Bell of his support. The Somas can then use that as an excuse for temporary (even opportune) involvement and avoid the appearance of choosing sides.

    This was a much more exciting episode for me than the premiere, even if most of it ended up being for nothing and they had to accept the challenge anyway. It was a nice callback to season 1 and one of it’s most frustrating sequences (just GIVE him the KNIFE ALREADY).

    1. Yes, Hestia really should have handed that knife over faster. I still enjoyed watching that chase sequence play out and this one was equally fun.

  5. I’m pretty sure the gods aren’t to use their powers on Earth, hence why Hestia has two or three jobs when she could just use her powers to do whatever she wants. I’m sure if she’d used her powers then Apollo would have found a way to twist it all in his favour.

    And the moment under the bridge was Hestia working out whether they run or fight. She needed to see if Bell would be happy on the run with her, and his response told her that while he loves his goddess, he doesn’t “love” her.

    In that moment, she knew that her only chance to keep Bell in her life was to accept the war and help him prepare.

    I liked that Hestia said no initially because we got to see what Apollo is willing to do and the resources he has and just what Bell is up against.

    1. I’m with you, but I also see Irina’s point. If Hestia had just said yes we could have got to the war game and so essentially this whole thing just kind of feels like filler. For me, I liked it because as you said it gave us a sense of Apollo and his familia and what Bell was up against, whereas before we really didn’t know.

      1. I think Hestia is capable of more without the use of her godly powers. No one else there was a god. She’s been around for a long time, I’m sure she could have suggested a strategy, tried to trip a bad guy, called for help, probably tons of stuff I haven’t even thought of. It felt a bit like the authors just didn’t quite know what to do with her character in that sequence

I'd love to know what you think.

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