Maybe that’s why it is called “Is It Wrong to TRY to pick up Girls In A Dungeon?”
Three seasons in and so far our protagonist Bell Cranel has managed to assemble himself quite the harem – even if he’s more or less acting oblivious to the attention of the girls around him. With the exception of Welf (his trusty blacksmith) and the occasional attention from male gods, almost every character who really interacts with Bell on any kind of regular basis is female.
Not bad for a character who in early episodes couldn’t even speak around his hero, Ais Wallenstein. However, realistically Bell didn’t actually pick any of these girls up. Almost all (outside of Haruhime who was rescued in season 2) most definitely went out of their way to pick Bell up.
How many characters try to pick up Bell in Is It Wrong To Try to pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?
Starting from his goddess, Bell has been the one getting picked up. In Hestia’s case, it was more like she came across a discarded kitten and took a liking to him. We find out that Hestia set her sights on Bell when she saw him getting rejected from joining other familia’s on arriving in the city. Hestia, being something of an outcast herself, empathised with his plight and reached out to him, making him the starting point of her familia.
Of course she also aggressively pursues a more romantic relationship despite Bell’s frequent protests that she’s his goddess. But Hestia isn’t the only goddess in Is It Wrong to Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon who has her eyes on Bell as Freya has been watching over Bell’s growth since his arrival in the city.
When you throw Apollo’s unwanted attention in season 2 and Hermes ongoing surveillance into the mix, you do have to wonder just what it is about Bell that is getting all these celestial beings so interested and there’s definitely a few points in his favour that Hermes reveals in dribs and drabs as the story progresses.
However Bell’s popularity isn’t limited to the divine.
After saving his life in the dungeon, Ais takes an interest in the white haired adventurer.
Whether it is seeking him out to apologise, teaching him to fight, or helping out when Bell’s goddess is kidnapped, for someone from a familia that isn’t exactly on friendly terms with Bell’s goddess, Ais finds a lot of reasons to stick around. Even in season 3, where certain choices drive a wedge between Ais and Bell, ultimately the power of being the protagonist kicks back in. But again, it is Ais reaching out to Bell.
Despite Bell’s clear infatuation with Ais, he sees himself as too far beneath her to actually make any kind of move. He certainly isn’t trying to pick her up. Just being in the same vicinity as her is kind of enough for him.
Then we have Lili, the tsundere supporter who joins Bell early on his adventures into the dungeon. Again, she approached him. She offered her services as a supporter and to accompany him, and she did so with the absolute desire to rip him off and ultimately leave him for dead in the dungeon. While Bell being a genuinely nice human being, and a little bit of a sucker, ultimately won her over, Lili is again the one making all the approaches.
Syr as well at first approaches Bell with some reasonably underhanded motives. Working at the tavern she approaches Bell to get a promise that he’ll dine there (bringing money to the business). She later uses him to help with chores around the business. While Syr does genuinely seem to like Bell, making him lunch baskets and taking him with her as she visits places that are important to her, Syr is most definitely calling the shots.
Throw in Eina from the guild, Mikoto, Lyon, and an overzealous Amazon and Bell’s got every type of girl hanging around him and perfectly happy to risk their life if he needs it.
Which kind of makes you wonder just what is going on here. I mean, Bell is cute and all but the sheer amount of female attention is a little crazy.
Then again, it is all kind of business as usual for a male power fantasy story. Bell’s on a quest to become stronger and in the process he, in some way or another, saves the characters around him. Some of them he saves from physical harm but a lot of them he is saving simply by being a decent human being. Though, where DanMachi moves away from standard power fantasy is in Bell’s basic appearance and physique, even his mannerisms. This is not Ichigo who will call someone out on their BS (Bleach) but rather a protagonist who seems relatively cute and harmless – just don’t pick a fight with his familia.
Whether they are infatuated with his drive, his growth, his power, his bashfulness, or his genuinely polite demeaner, each of the girls has a reason for hanging around. Individually they are all reasonable enough though it is the excessive number that pushes this into the realm of fantasy and the sense that this is all just escapism. A sense that is only reinforced by numerous sequences of the main female cast bathing, including a hot-springs in the dungeon sequence.
While Bell initially wanted to meet a girl in the dungeon, and did in fact meet Ais in the dungeon, he isn’t really trying to pick them up. He doesn’t need to. Although, he does not have a really big mansion with lots of spare rooms. I wonder how big his harem might get before the story draws to a close.
Images used in article from:
- Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? III. Dir. H. Tachibana. J. C. Staff. 2020.
- DanMachi 2nd Season. Dir. T Hideki. J.C. Staff. 2019.
- DanMachi. Dir. Y Yamakawa. J.C. Staff. 2015.
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11 thoughts on “Contrary To The Title (Is It Wrong to Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon), The Girls Seem To Be Doing the Picking”
You’re basically describing the harem default, and it’s been the default for a long time. I mean that’s why had School Days back in the day, to riff off of that (what if the maincharacter actually got used to this and then acted in accordance?).
As for the title, I always related that back to Bell’s grandfather, who we know little about but who seems to have been some sort of womanizer. From episode one of the first season I felt like there was some Zeus-Hercules thing going on; Bell might be a demigod and not know it, but others might suspect it. (Even the name feels like a disguised version of Hercules/Herakles with B being a variant of H in kana and “l” standing in for the “r”, and then the first letter of the last name being basically a “K” followed by an “r”, which requires an additional vowel inbetween due to the Japanese syllable system… Not that it ultimately matters much, and I’m probably wrong.)
Yes, harems do seem to have a pattern of passive protagonists. As to your other theory, wait and see.
Bell’s appeal to the girls is the biggest mystery about this show (along with its huge popularity) but then again that is true of most harem shows.
I think Bell and Dan Machi will always hold a special place in me even if I objectively know there are much better out there.
As Gene Simmons once said, “There is nothing wrong with liking steak and cheesecake”! 😉