Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in A Dungeon? Volume 7 Light Novel Review

After the fantastic conflict in volume 6 I had to wonder what they would do next. I’m not entirely sure I’m sold on this particular volume of Is it Wrong to Try to Pick UP Girls in a Dungeon, though I still had a lot of fun reading it.

Review:

If I’m totally honest I’m going to admit that Volume 7 is perhaps my least favourite of this series so far (admittedly when I’m writing this I’ve already read the next couple of volumes so I know the story picks up again). There are a couple of reasons why this particular volume didn’t really work for me but let’s start with what it is about.

Essentially we aren’t going dungeon crawling this time around, at least not much. Mostly this story is about Mikoto (now a member of Hestia familia) going into the pleasure quarter looking for someone she used to know and Bell and the others getting caught up in it because the pleasure quarter is run by the Ishtar Familia and apparently Ishtar is every bit as crazy for Bell (or at least crazy for getting into Freya’s business and messing with Bell seems like a good play at the time).

The end result is we spend a good chunk of the book with Bell being pursued through the Pleasure Quarter by a rampaging group of Amazons who want to violently have sex with him (he may or may not survive the process) and once he escapes he turns around and goes right back in because he wants to rescue the friend Mikoto was looking for in the first place.

Now we’ve watched Bell evading capture before. First when he was trying to keep Hestia safe when the monsters escaped Monsterphilia and he spent a great deal of time running and trying to hide. Then we saw a more complex chase with other adventurers from Apollo Familia in book 6. That chase sequence was great to read and felt really intense. This time it all just seems kind of lame. Sure the Amazons are incredibly high levelled adventurers and they are tough and determined to catch their prey, but I just couldn’t really bring myself to care mostly because it seemed unlikely that after six books Bell was actually going to be ravaged by an Amazon. I’d sooner believe a monster killing him off then him actually getting it on with a girl at this point.

Then there is the sheer length of this volume. Now, I have no issue with reading longer stories, however this one didn’t feel like it needed all those extra pages. What it felt like was bloat. As though instead of editing out all those moments that maybe sounded cool individually but added little, they all just got left in. To be honest, if this story had been told in perhaps half the length it probably would have been a much tighter and more enjoyable read.

So is there anything good about this volume?

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Of course there is. We’re still getting to spend time with Bell and Hestia and the slowly growing Hestia Familia. These characters are awesome and while the focus was more on Bell and Mikoto than the other familia members, they were doing a fairly solid job.

I also like that Freya, Hermes and the other gods all seem that little bit more aggressive in their interference with Bell in this volume. There’s been a lot of string pulling from the shadows in prior volumes but this one brings Freya Familia out into the streets and on a rampage to wipe out the Ishtar Familia. It starts to lend weight to all those warnings about feuds between families that have been given throughout the previous books but with the exception of Hestia’s fight with Apollo we hadn’t really seen a lot of this.

While this isn’t the best book in the series by a long shot, it does do some essential world building, there’s some important character moments including the introduction of a new character who is going to stick around, and there’s a fairly decent climax. Despite its length, the writing style remains fairly familiar and this is an easy read that just kind of pushes you forward from page to page. Overall, it is fun to read so while there are plenty of minor issues I might take with the story I didn’t dislike it.


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Karandi James

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Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in A Dungeon? Light Novel Volume 6 Review

Is it wrong to try to pick up girls in a dungeon Volume 6

If I thought volume 5 was fun as it fleshed out characters and gave us a wonderful fight in the dungeon for Bell and his novice party, Volume 6 seems determined to really show us something special with a lot of plot points coming to a head.

Review:

It turns out that Bell isn’t just popular with the girls around him as this volume sees our young adventurer grab the unwanted attention of Apollo. However, unlike so many other characters, Apollo doesn’t seem happy just to look on and wait and he plays dirty to get what he wants. After a series of fairly interesting events a war game is declared between Hestia and Apollo and their families, only Hestia’s family still only consists of Bell so they are going to need to call in a lot of favours.

I really loved this book. Partly that was because this is the first book in the series where I hadn’t watched an anime adaptation of the events already so it was all pretty novel and interesting. But the other part of it is that this book just consolidates so much about the world. We don’t go dungeon crawling so much in this one as the focus is entirely on the politics of Orario and the way familias and gods interact.

It’s a fairly explosive confrontation with open battle in the streets at one point and various families moving together and gods and humans scheming for their own advantage. In the midst of this chaos we finally get a conclusion to Lilly’s time in the Soma family and we see very much how strongly Hestia feels about keeping her familia, such as it is, together.

Is it wrong to try to pick up girls in a dungeon volume 6 chapter 5

There were some very nice touches along the way including the fact that Hestia and Loki do not get along. While your first thought when Bell was in trouble might have been that Aiz would come to his rescue, that is complete impossible given the situation. So while she gives him a fair spartan training session leading into the war game, Aiz is limited to spectator once the fight begins.

Instead Bell ends up with aid from a number of characters we’ve met along the way but in this they are really stepping up because the only way to help is to leave their own families and join with Hestia familia. It’s a big ask but we can see how much of an impact the Little Rookie has had on others as they come together.

By the time the war game rolls around you kind of suspect the outcome though there’s still a lot of wondering how Bell is going to pull it off. The results are fantastic to read to say the least.

Volume 6 was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed spending some time with Bell outside of the dungeon. Looking forward to the next stage of the journey for Hestia and her suddenly larger familia.


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Karandi James

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Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest Light Novel Review – I Dare You To Call the Protagonist Overpowered

Arifureta Volume 1 Cover

This one a novel I picked up off a recommendation from the Book Depository when there happened to be a sale and I had 10% off. I hadn’t heard of the title or read anything about it. As a result, it ended up fairly low in my read pile and I passed over it a number of times before I finally decided one day to start it over a long weekend. Well, a day and some eye strain later I’d devoured it, but was it actually any good?

Review:

Look, if you have an issue with isekai stories, stories where the weak guy suddenly becomes an unstoppable killing machine, or stories that insist on making the vampire girl look like a pre-teen and finding any excuse for her not to be wearing clothes, right now you already know that this book isn’t going to work for you. This book definitely ticks off pretty much any trope you want to throw at the isekai genre and it does it with a smug sense of ‘look what I did’. Yet that is what probably works in the book’s best interest. It doesn’t try to hide its genre or shy away from it. It isn’t ashamed to be exactly what it was trying to be and as a result this is a story full of excitement, danger, slightly uncomfortable moments when turning a page and finding a fairly unclothed vampire girl staring at me, and generally a lot of fun.

So what is Arifureta about?

Essentially Hajime is your standard protagonist for these kinds of stories. He’s an otaku who likes to sleep during class and doesn’t have many friends. Then his entire class get summoned into a fantasy world where they are tasked with saving it. And they all have powers, only Hajime’s is considered pretty lame and useless and he ends up being beaten up by some of his own classmates.

So far, so standard, and only some fairly decent writing managed to get me into this story. It isn’t exceptional, but considering some of quality of writing in some of the light novels I’ve read in the last year, it is perfectly readable and occasionally there’s some very nice description thrown in amongst what seems to be a fairly hefty exposition dump setting up the scenario.

Despite that, the story manages to draw you in as the students deal with some fairly real challenges with suddenly gaining power but having no training or actual skills and dealing with a world most of them thought only existed in stories or games. There’s a lot going on with the political situation of the world and plenty of what is happening in these pages is set up that could potentially be very interesting further down the line though remains fairly underused in this volume.

Page 106 is where it all just decides its had enough of the play nice with the class where the biggest issues involve avoiding being bullied. Hajime is literally tossed under a bus by one of his own classmates in a misguided fit of jealousy while the teens are training in a dungeon and the next thing he knows he’s sent plummeting to the very bottom level far below where anyone even realised the dungeon reached. It’s a pretty tragic event and one that isn’t over.

See the next 250 or so pages deal very much with Hajime climbing his way back out of the dungeon. There are impossibly tough monsters around every corner and our protagonist is not getting off unscathed. I may have warned you earlier about the nudity, but here’s a warning about the violence. In a very early monster encounter Hajime has his arm torn off and eaten. No joke and no get out of jail free card for the kiddo. He’s just traumatised and it takes him a fair while to do anything after that event. However, it is a magic based world so at least he doesn’t die and he does find the mean to begin rebuilding himself into the nastiest thing to ever crawl out of a dungeon.

Arifureta Volume 1b

And that’s where this book does distinguish itself quite well. Other than the occasional flashes to what the rest of the class are up to, we spend the rest of this adventure watching Hajime fight for his life and develop the tools he’s going to need to become a seriously overpowered hero. In the process he’s going to lose most of what made him human. Some things are ripped from him (like his arm) but others are things he willingly discards in a quest to become something that can survive in this world.

In that, his meeting with Yue becomes pivotal because it was possible Hajime would become something totally unrecognisable and relatable but the vampire girl manages to reawaken some of the humanity inside of him. The dynamic between the pair might be awkward at times but it was most definitely an essential development in this journey.

Overall, there’s a lot of fun to be had in this adventure and it clearly isn’t done with volume 1. There’s ridiculous amounts of world and lore still to explore and the characters have clear goals to continue to work towards. While this is hardly the best thing ever written it was incredibly bingeable and I most definitely added the next book to my wish list as soon as I finished this one.


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Karandi James

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Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in A Dungeon Light Novel Volume 5 Review

At long last I have reached the end of the first season of the anime. This was kind of exciting as it meant the next volume would be new material. But first I have to answer the question of whether the danger and excitement of Bell and his party getting trapped in the dungeon before the over-sized boss fight was actually as interesting as it was in the anime. Clearly spoilers for both the novel and the anime below.

  • Volume 1 thoughts here.
  • Volume 2 thoughts here.
  • Volume 3 thoughts here.
  • Volume 4 thoughts here.

Review:

Firstly, this sequence of events, Bell, Welf and Lily getting caught in the middle levels of the dungeon after a ‘pass parade’ was pretty tense in the anime but never quite reached the exciting heights of Bell facing off against a Minotaur by himself. It was a case where bigger wasn’t better and while watching a lone adventurer face off against a monster that had previously nearly killed him was a truly thrilling battle, seeing the ongoing wearing down of the party before the lull of the ‘safe’ level before finally getting another sensational boss fight that just seemed to drag on too long just never quite captured the same spirit. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the ending to the anime and the anime in general, but I was curious to see how this book would read because it wasn’t something I was overly interested in revisiting.

But I’ll take that back now that I’ve read it.

Right from the start of this book, the writing works hard to make us view Bell’s party as still being young, inexperienced and in over their heads. There might be three of them and they might have had some successes, but they are very much sinking before the first chapter is even done. The sense of claustrophobia and desperation comes through loud and clearly and the reader is genuinely carried along with this tone for a fair while despite the book jumping perspectives to fill us in on the events going on outside of the dungeon. Despite knowing the fate of these characters, at least from this adventure, I was still genuinely concerned for their well-being at times and that made me really happy as I was drawn into this book.

The other thing I really liked is that Hestia and Hermes both get a lot more time here than the anime gave them. While Hermes character is still a bit of an enigma (as he is supposed to be), there’s a bit more insight into his character and purpose that is clearly setting up future events. Hestia as well is given a bit more to do than simply be the hysterical goddess and her decision to go into the dungeon feels a bit more genuine here than in the anime where it just seemed like a whim. Likewise, Lyu is given a lot more depth and time and while in the anime she was a character I was aware of and she played a pivotal role in this sequence of events, I never really thought much about her. After reading this book, I actually see her in a far more positive light and I’m a lot more interested in her.

Is it wrong to pick up girls in a dungeon volume 5

I actually went back and watched the final two episodes of the anime again after reading this and I realise just how important Lyu is and yet it was something that prior to reading the source I just never really paid attention to. Yet she’s quite a wonderful character and one that I hope gets further development in this series.

However, and there had to be a however coming, the final fight itself drags. It dragged in the anime as well because just making a boss big doesn’t make it particularly scary or interesting. It barely moved in the anime and while attacks inflicted massive damage, it was hardly a dynamic or interesting battle. Tragically reading it doesn’t make it all that much better. While the characters come out a bit better and there is more attention paid to the contributions of Lyu, Asfi, and Mikoto, nothing changes the fact that ultimately this fight takes too long to wrap up and while it is a great moment for Bell as an adventurer, it can’t rival the Minotaur fight that we’ve already read.

But I do recommend reading the source for this one. If you at all enjoyed the anime, reading these five volumes has just added so many small details to the rich world that already existed. Plus, reliving some of those great moments in the anime from a slightly different perspective has been quite fun. Now however I am eager to read material that I haven’t seen the anime for and I’m looking forward to what comes next. Never fear, the last sale I went on a bit of a blitz with this series and I have quite a few volumes ready to read and go.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this book or the anime. Please leave me a comment below but try not to spoil the light novels for me because I’m definitely reading on.


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Karandi James

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Is It Wrong To Expect a Hot Spring in a Dungeon – DanMachi OVA Review

DanMachi OVA

This one barely needs reviewing really because to be perfectly honest between what people already know of the DanMachi (Is it Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon) series and the title, it kind of tells you everything you need to know. This OVA was released on HiDive and I was happy enough to return to watching Bell and his friends given I’ve been reading the light novels and feel like I’ve been waiting forever for a second season of the anime, but even I didn’t have high expectations going in. Simply put, it was obvious from the beginning that this is strictly filler and won’t be advancing the plot in any meaningful way. I did have some minor expectations that it might fill in some of the character development I’ve come across in the light novels that wasn’t present in the original series, but sadly that is lacking as well. Still, if you are a fan of DanMachi then you’ll probably know more or less what to expect here; just keep in mind the title is not lying.

DanMachi OVA

We catch up with the characters directly after the events in the series where Bell has just slain Goliath and they are making their way out of the dungeon. After the usual Lily and Hestia antics fighting over Bell (wait, you guys know you are still in the Dungeon right and should be paying attention) they are attacked and in the process Hestia ends up finding a new tunnel which leads to a hot spring (because anime).

Now we all know DanMachi has never been afraid of fan service and so behold Hermes preparation of swimsuits for the girls to change into, including one too small for Hestia that eventually snaps while trying to dress and an ‘improvised’ version is constructed. I will point out that while lingering shots of the girls (and guys at times) and various camera angles are simply blatant pandering to fans, but the banter going on between the characters as they relax and unwind from their adventure is genuinely enjoyable. The chemistry between the group is pretty solid and if you like the show then you already like these characters and so listening to them here will be a genuinely good time.

DanMachi OVA

Of course though, they are in the dungeon and DanMachi is aware that fan service is not its only selling point. Introducing monster fish that use the hot spring to pray on adventurers for a few minutes of exciting action toward the end works well enough to let Bell do the hero thing, and I’m only going to vaguely mention the whole water suddenly melting their swimsuits off but somehow not dissolving Lily’s back pack when she drops it in the water at the end. Basically, whether you are into this show for the girls, the action, or the character interactions, this OVA actually delivers on all 3 and about the only thing it doesn’t do is deal with the overall plot (and no one ever really expects and OVA to do that).

DanMachi OVA

This is not your introduction to the series though and will make little to no sense if you aren’t familiar with the world and the characters. Even for fans of the series, this is decidedly something that can be ignored. But, if you are in the mood for twenty minutes more of Bell and Hestia, then its worth a shot.


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Karandi James

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Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in A Dungeon Light Novel Volume 4 Review

I was really excited to pick up this volume because I knew it was going to introduce Welf Crozzo and he was a character I really wanted to know more about that the anime barely touched on. So, did it meet my expectations?

  • Volume 1 thoughts here.
  • Volume 2 thoughts here.
  • Volume 3 thoughts here.

Review:

This was one of those really fun reads where I anticipated something, didn’t quite get what I expected, but was still pretty thrilled nonetheless. Certainly, this is the novel where Bell finally meets Welf and they make a contract as adventurer and smith, but this book has so much more going on than just that.

Bell’s ascension to level two is big news. Now the anime did touch on this, but the reactions of other characters was not as pronounced and the whole levelling up thing didn’t seem quite the big deal other than just another step on the road. The book spends a lot of time on Bell meeting with people who are reacting to the news and you really see the impact the news has on the town of Orario. This helps really flesh out the world this character is in and makes things seem just a little bit more authentic.

We also see a bit more of Bell and Hestia’s relationship, both with Bell receiving a new skill and with Hestia having to go to a meeting of the Gods to get his title sorted out. There’s also a short story at the end that retells some of the events from early in volume 1 but from Hestia’s point of view. All of this continues to help build the relationship between these two characters and expand on the reader’s understanding of who they are as people.

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We also have Welf’s introduction and slowly get pieces of his story both from him and from other characters that Bell talks to about him. This is definitely satisfying as it takes the character who was kind of fun in the anime and really shapes him. His motivations seems a lot clearer as does his growing friendship with Bell. Now, if I’m honest, this is probably a slow part of the story for people who aren’t fans of Welf, but for me I was really happy to read this and learn more about him so even though it feels like the Dungeon action has kind of crawled to a halt at times in this volume, I was very happy with what I was getting instead.

The final part of the book is focused on a familia that really didn’t show up much at all in anime but here are fairly important. Bell ends up going on a quest outside of the city (not into the dungeon) to help them out. Again, it isn’t the most exciting of moments this series has offered, but it does help grow an understanding of the world, how the familia’s and gods interact, and the complex web of interconnections within Orario.

Volume 4 very much helps build a clearer image of the world outside of the dungeon and as a result provides a foundation for so many more adventures rather than just going into the dungeon time and again (not that the dungeon is boring, but eventually Bell gets into trouble in a dungeon would wear thing in terms of plot). With some great character moments, some excellent world building, and by moving along through a few different sections, volume 4 has managed to be a fairly compelling read even while it might be the most forgettable of the series so far.

Still, definitely some promise of some excellent stories to come from this point and I look forward to reading them.


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Karandi James

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Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in A Dungeon Light Novel Volume 3 Review

As my collection of light novels grows, so does my appreciation for them. For the most part these are quick and bite sized reads that pack a reasonable punch and DanMachi is a series that is definitely sitting well for me.

Review (some spoilers):

  • Volume 1 thoughts here.
  • Volume 2 thoughts here.

Wow. Just wow.

One of my favourite fights in anime history in novel form and it was amazing. I worried as I realised we were approaching the minotaur fight that reading the sequence couldn’t possibly be as interesting as watching it. Generally speaking, reading battle sequences doesn’t interest me all that much. And yet, I was so wrong. This third volume delivers in a way that made me wonder why the anime fight sequence wasn’t even better.

However, I’m kind of skipping ahead in this so let’s take this a bit more logically.

Fight-DanMachi3

This third volume begins with Bell looking out for Lilly as the fallout of volume 2 is kind of dealt with. Lilly isn’t leaving the Soma family but she can’t really go back there either and Hestia isn’t really thrilled with having Lilly around but grudgingly understands her necessity to Bell. This is more or less just closing volume 2 properly and the story doesn’t really get going (unless you really like the usual trope of two girls fighting over the oblivious hero) until Aiz offers to train Bell to fight.

This sequence plays out much the same way as the anime with a few key differences. The physical toll these training sessions take on Bell are far more pronounced in the light novel and we see far more of his internal conflict, both with training, fighting, and dealing with being that close to Aiz than we ever did in the anime. This is really great as it makes the lessons he learns during these brief sessions far more real. Aiz also kind of comes off as an actual character during some of these sessions though she still remains the least interesting cast member here.

During all of this though, we get cuts to Freya and her familia as they set the wheels in motion for a fairly nasty surprise for Bell. As antagonists go, Freya’s kind of run of the mill. She clearly has designs on Bell but she hasn’t actually directly approached him. Not even once. Instead she’s doing that really silly thing that villains do when they sit back and look haughtily down on the scene and play games with their prey. This can kind of be excused by giving her the bored goddess label, but it still doesn’t make for an overly compelling antagonist. That said, as a plot device to kick things in Bell’s life into gear and make things interesting, it works very well. So while I sometimes forget who the responsible party is, I really enjoy the results of some of these set ups.

And the minotaur battle is everything you could ask for.

Fight-DanMachi2

I’m not going to lie. This fight takes up nearly a quarter of the book (50+ pages of a 200 page novel). And it is worth every page. At no point does the conflict get dull or repetitive. I was reading this in bed and that was a terrible idea because I wasn’t putting this book down until the fight was over. And then the next morning I read it again.

There’s a real sense of movement, of panic, of tension, and of a success that is awaiting its chance. The whole sequence is a redemption for Bell, a chance for him to recover finally from his trauma back in book 1 where he could only wait helplessly for death when facing a minotaur.

I love that he isn’t an overpowered juggernaut just cutting through his enemy. Here he’s still outclassed and he’s having to use every ounce of skill he’s learned and ever weapon and trick he’s acquired just to stay alive. Yet he knows he must somehow break through and actually win and he continues to look for his chance and his moment. It is a brutal fight and absolutely thrilling.

So, yeah, I really loved this book and I can’t wait for the next one.

If you’ve read it, let me know what you thought of this.


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Karandi James

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Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in A Dungeon Light Novel Volume 2 Review

Review:

That title is really way too long no matter how you look at it.

Anyway, onto book 2 (book 1 thoughts here) and we continue to follow Bell’s adventures. Hestia’s role in this book is much smaller and the focus is more on Bell developing as an adventurer and the introduction of Lilly, a supporter for Bell’s dungeon exploits. There is a small introduction of the idea of having a personal smith and people who have watched the anime will know where that is going, but it isn’t really dealt with in this book. As I said, this is definitely more about Bell and Lilly, with a little bit more about Eina from the Guild.

What made this book so fun to read is that you just kind of roll along from one event to the next. There’s ideas that we know will get developed later and reminders of things that have already happened, but there’s always this sense of pushing forward and growing. And that is driven largely by Bell and Bell’s character but it also comes through in the writing itself which keeps exchanges short and description sparse. There’s certainly enough description, but there aren’t large sections where you feel like things have been over-described and you are waiting for something to actually happen.

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Lilly was a great addition to the cast in this book. Hestia and Bell are both too sweet for words in most scenes and the majority of other characters that were focused on in book 1 were also relatively nice characters. Lilly, with her more complex story and motives and her definite bitter streak really injects some much needed flavour into what might otherwise become a fairly bland fantasy romp. Despite their being a goddess targeting Bell, this is still a very peripheral story line and so without Lilly there really wouldn’t have been much tension in this tale at all.

Ais also fares well in this second volume. Though her presence is minimal, her few encounters with Bell, as well as Eina’s observations of her, help to start painting a picture of her character. For Bell, Ais remains something of an ideal or a target, but the audience are starting to see Ais more as a person and hopefully this continues into the next book.


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However, this is a book set in a city where the focus is entering a dungeon and hunting monsters, and I must say that these parts of the story held up very well. We get taken deeper into the dungeon than we had been in the previous book and we learn more about the creatures living there (as well as learning more about the tower above the dungeon). We also see that Bell’s experiences in the dungeon aren’t forgotten as he has some moments where he plays it cautious remembering that Minotaur that nearly killed him when he first met Ais. The dungeon is also a good way of keeping track of Bell’s progress as an adventurer given otherwise it is just numbers and letters on a stat sheet. Seeing Bell’s encounters with the monsters helps give us a real image of how strong he has become.

This book also introduces magic to Bell. While that part of the story may have been underutilized, it certainly opens many future possibilities, and like Bell I have to admit shooting a firebolt is pretty cool.

All and all, this is a great follow up to the first book and I like that it seemed to have a focus for this book even while progressing other stories for later use. I’m looking forward to the third volume of this series.


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Karandi James

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Kino’s Journey (2017) Series Review: Aimless Wanderer’s Journey Fails To Connect

Overview:

Kino travels from country to country with her talking motorrad Hermes. She stays in each country for three days and then moves on.

Review:

I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for episodic stories (even highly formulaic ones) so Kino’s Journey was something I thought I could get in to. I’d never seen the original (hadn’t heard of it until this new series came out) so I didn’t go in with expectations or comparisons like some viewers, and yet after my initial fairly positive impressions during the first 2 – 3 episodes, the show essentially bombed. So what went wrong?

Kino10b

A lot of the blame needs to be placed on the lack of cohesion in this story, which is a weird criticism to give something that is episodic and yet makes sense. When I think about something like Natsume Yuujinchou that used a fairly episodic approach through most of its seasons, each season still has an over-arching theme that is developed and most stories somehow connect us to that theme. Even something like Ghost Hunt has characters who develop over the course of their encounters and relationships that change so even though the individual stories can be viewed in isolation, watching in order adds something to the experience as there are solid narrative connections.

Kino6a

Kino’s Journey lacks this. Kino is not an interesting enough (or explored enough) character to make their development (not that there is any) the linking thread (plus Kino is missing from a number of episodes of Kino’s Journey). And there seems to be no central idea other than one of selfish desire and even that isn’t really explored it just kind of is.

Kino1b

As a result, individual episodes have to be judged on their own merit as stand-alone stories and not one of these episodes has sufficient depth or strength to really hold up. Some of them are outright badly written and completely pointless.

Kino1a

That isn’t to say there are no good ideas or interesting moments in Kino’s Journey. There are plenty. However, the story isn’t interesting in delving into any of these or giving them the exploration they need to be something more than a throw away line or idea. You will swiftly be moved on to more mediocre moments and wondering just why you bothered to watch the next story at all.

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Overall, this one just wasn’t worth the time. It looks good enough but isn’t dazzling. The basic premise is solid but nothing is every really done with it. Some of the support characters we meet along the way are interesting enough but as this is an ongoing journey, none of them hang around long enough to save the show. And episode 12 is a joke gone wrong so just spare yourself. Definitely not one I can recommend.

Episode Reviews:


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Tale of the Waning Moon Volume 4 Manga Review

Just a warning to start that the contents of this manga are not suited to everyone containing explicit (and sometimes graphic) sexual non-consensual relationships between male characters. While I have included no images below, the story content will be discussed.

Overview:

The final volume of this series and one that concludes Ryuka’s journey to the moon to find Ixto. Also where we will find out whether it is love or really just a spell. My reviews of the previous 3 volumes can be found here.

Review:

I’m going to get my one and only real criticism out of the way so that I can then focus on what a great conclusion to the adventure this volume was. What is that criticism? The prologue to this volume which sees Widow helping Ryuka and Coon collect the last items needed to open the door to the moon. No real problem with them wrapping up the fetch quest, however they felt the need to include one of those random trees that appear in these sorts of stories that for some reason have vines that wrap themselves around the hero and well, they didn’t get a lot further here but they certainly suggested the possibility.

Given the rest of the volume pretty much dealt with the characters’ actual emotions and feelings and their relationship that had been built up over three volumes and this adventure across the desert and back again and again collecting what was needed before travelling to the moon, it just felt so out of place and such a throw back to the first sequence where the main character was raped. Maybe they are worried they’ll lose readers if they actually just let the story be sweet because it seemed like one of these types of scenes cropped up any time things actually looked like they might settle into mature and sensible romance.

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However, that is literally my only complaint of substance about this. Volume three wrapped by Aldin and Ral’s story though Ryuka does make good on his promise to fill Aldin in when he returned the dragon’s breath, so they get a brief cameo toward the end of this volume. Without their distraction, we turn our attention fully to the moon spirits and Ryuka.

All the way through this story Ixto has been a bit of an enigma. You kind of want to hate him at first because of how Ryuka meets him but time and again he’s helped Ryuka out (though I guess you could point out Ryuka wouldn’t have needed to be rescued so often if it wasn’t for Ixto’s spell in the first place). This volume fleshes him out as we learn about his family and his history. We also get to find out whether Ixto’s spell really did cause all of this or whether Ryuka genuinely has fallen in love at this stage.

Widow, who also started off as a character that we probably could have done without, becomes someone of genuine interest here and while he does add in an unneeded complication, for the most part his contributions to the story this volume are quite welcome.

On that note, Coon also finally gets a cool moment for about two seconds before turning back into the whiny little moon-cat that he is. But still, at least he got his moment.

I’m not going into spoiler territory so I’m not going to say anything more about what actually happens. What I am happy about is that the story does resolve itself nicely and everything feels complete. Despite a few scenes that I’d rather have not walked into unprepared (and I was unprepared back in volume 1) I ended up really enjoying Ryuka’s story. I’d definitely recommend reading it provided you won’t be put off by male on male sexual relationships. sometimes quite explicit (though there’s definitely worse out there) and the ongoing issue of non-consensual sex which comes up in most of the books a couple of times at least. Ultimately I’d say it was a sweet romance except that I just can’t use that as a final conclusion to any romance that starts with a rape.

If you’ve read this series, I’d love to know your thoughts on it.


Thanks for reading.

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Thanks,

Karandi James.

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