I guess for those who have followed my blog awhile it has become pretty clear that I have a few pet-favourite anime that I bring up fairly regularly. Natsume Yuujinchou, March Comes in Like a Lion, Darker Than Black, Soul Eater, and then there’s DanMachi. I’m not sure I’m going to really convey what I want to say in this post but I’m really going to try to answer this question.
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Why do you like DanMachi so much?Anon
This one is really hard to put into words. It is like trying to explain why you love chocolate ice-cream and inevitably you end up falling back on adjectives like sweet and creamy and melt-in-your-mouth; all of which could be equally attributed to vanilla ice-cream instead. Yet it really must be chocolate ice-cream. Preferably chocolate ice-cream with brownie pieces mixed in and chocolate fudge on top. Maybe topped with milo.
When it comes to DanMachi there’s no single reason why I enjoy it as much as I do. Certainly there are some great individual moments and scenes within the first season that really captured me in the moment but individually they aren’t enough to really make it an anime that I talk about as often as I do. Visually it looks fine but it isn’t out of this world. The characters are fun but again, there’s better. The mix of action and comedy and the general fantasy setting isn’t exactly novel either. So why is it that I like DanMachi to the point where I binge watch it with regularity, have thoroughly enjoyed reading the light novels, and am super excited to be watching season 2?
There’s a few things I think that have always made DanMachi stand out to me and while I’ll accept there’s other anime that do similar or possibly even better, it is probably the combination of these elements that really sell the show to me.
Firstly, the comedy aspects are not the tongue in cheek, self-aware and smug kind of comedy elements. Sure there’s fan-service a plenty in season one, and the obvious moments of ‘humour’ as Hestia and Bell run away from the other goddesses, but there’s some genuinely amusing moments that are played straight and lighten the atmosphere as intended without feeling like you are getting a direct nudge and wink from the writer who wants you to applaud him for being really clever.
I particularly enjoy the opening after Bell is rescued by Ais and he runs through the town covered in blood without a single concern for nearly dying because he wants his adviser to tell him about the girl who rescued him. Likewise Bell’s timing when asking for armour made by Welf Crozzo just as Welf was arguing with the shop keeper about hiding his work was a pleasantly delivered scene that made me smile. The exaggerated reactions of Bell to Hestia’s overtures also tend to fall on the wryly amusing side rather than the obnoxious (most of the time). Even Ais’ training session, where she tries to figure out how to explain things to Bell has a few moments that bring genuine smiles.
And this kind of ties in with the second reason I really love DanMachi. The cast of characters work together in a way that makes them better than they are individually. Bell by himself is probably a pretty dull protagonist. He fits the nice guy trope so well and the shounen ‘I want to be the strongest’ simultaneously. Throw in the harem leads general obliviousness and lack of romantic experience and you have a character who by any definition should be at best forgettable. Yet Bell proves himself reasonably interesting by himself and when paired with Hestia or Lily or Ais or Welf or any of the other cast members the scenes manage to come to life.
This cast has a real chemistry and while most characters end up defined by their relationship to Bell, that actually works in the show’s favour as we have a large cast but it never feels overly cluttered or difficult to follow who is who or what is going on.
That the human characters are all pretty ordinary and yet fun enough also works in DanMachi’s favour as this anime brings us a whole plethora of divine characters who seem to excel in being ridiculously eccentric. This nice contrast between mortal and immortal characters actually helps make the whole world building feel a little more real.
The final reason that I think DanMachi really captured me is that when we get to the life-threatening action, the action is very good. If we were to compare this to some of the more generic isekai battle sequences, they just cannot stand up. And I know DanMachi isn’t actually isekai, however all of its trappings kind of make it feel like it should be. Whether it is watching Bell discover his firebolt magic and going on a rampage in the dungeon, seeing Lily betray him and leave him behind only for Bell to track her down and dramatically rescue her, Bell facing off with the Minotaur or the final battle against the floor boss, DanMachi knows how to bring its top form to scenes where it really matters.
Again, it isn’t as though other anime don’t have similar characteristics, but somehow the combination of elements in season one DanMachi just really worked for me and I’m very glad I watched it. The title initially put me off as I thought ‘Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in A Dungeon’ was the stupidest title I’d ever heard (though these days I’ve heard plenty worse) but I’m so very glad I got over that and gave it a try.
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