A Season of Set Up
I’ve made no disguise of my love for this franchise. Beginning with the original season of the anime after a long delay I ended up reading the light novels and falling in love with the world and characters all over again. However the spin-off series, Sword Oratoria kind of bored me to the point where I dropped the anime and then finally a second anime season of DanMachi was announced. After a four year gap there was always the question of whether season 2 could match the excitement of season 1 and I faced the added issue of knowing where the story went because I’d read ahead in the novels. I’m usually not looking at an anime based on already knowing the story so it changes my views a little bit.
Fortunately Irina was also up for some more Dungeon fun and so the two of reviewed this series weekly. Probably a good thing because a lot of what I saw and felt was because I’d experienced the books and knew where things were going or bits about characters that just isn’t in the anime. It made me look at the anime and what the anime was doing rather than what I already expected it to do. However, none of that changes the main problem with this second season. The main problem is that a lot of what happens is about the characters facing more or less throw-away characters while background information is set up for future story arcs. The same thing happened in the books only when reading at least I can read it quick and move on to the next book. Here we’ve gotten to the end of season 2 and it still feels like we’re waiting for it to get started.
But, a lot of the charm of the original series came from the characters themselves and in that respect Bell is still a charming and optimistic protagonist surrounded by some great support characters who bounce well off of one another. While season 2 has little actual dungeon based adventure it makes up for it by having Bell expand his knowledge of the other familias, the gods, and the city itself. This world building is crucial for future developments and more importantly something that helps expand the world of DanMachi to more than just brown dungeon walls.
The first arc of season 2 has the Hestia familia getting challenged to a war game for contrived reasons by the god Apollo. This actually was a really cool opening arc though would have been more impressive if Apollo had been given any characterisation outside of ‘be mean to the protagonists’. Still, watching Bell’s friends rally to his side and seeing his familia growing before the small group of them take on the much larger family was pretty thrilling. Unfortunately this arc was also the highlight of season 2 and it was more or less all over by episode 4.
The story then transitions to a focus on Mikoto entering the red light district in search of a friend. Naturally Bell gets involved and they find the friend but she’s part of the Ishtar familia. Then of course Ishtar decides she wants Bell (what is it with Bell and goddesses). Following on from this we get various chase sequences, learn of a nasty ritual and then have a confrontation between multiple familias. It was one of my least favourite arcs in the books and seeing it brought to anime didn’t really make it much better. The new characters aren’t overly interesting and Ishtar is also a pretty one-note antagonist.
There’s some final moments in the season with an army attacking the city and again there’s some good world building going on which will lay a solid foundation for future stories but to be honest this really did feel like that slower middle episode of a trilogy. Which is weird given it is just another set of stories in the same world as season one and yet here for whatever reason the threats never quite click and we don’t get anything anywhere near as impressive as the fight with the Minotaur from season 1.
What remains solid are the supporting characters. Hestia, Welf and Lily, now joined by Mikoto make for an excellent back-up team for Bell. Hermes gets far more screen time in season 2 and his presence permeates all three arcs and it is often fun trying to guess what he is up to and what he is plotting. He’s one of those fun, ambiguous characters and I kind of hope he never changes.
Overall, season two of DanMachi is watchable enough and continues the story of Bell and his familia. However, by and large all it really made me want is the next season where all the little bits of information we’ve been learning start coming into play. That and I really just want to see Bell back in the dungeon again as it feels like despite the dungeon being part of the title season 2 spent far too long outside of it. Splitting these arcs up might have helped interspersing more dungeon antics in between and it could have been quite fun to watch, however it is what it is.
I still think those who enjoyed the first season will enjoy being reunited with this story. It could have been better but it also could have been a lot worse.
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Images from: DanMachi 2nd Season. Dir. T Hideki. J.C. Staff. 2019.