Top 5 Girls In DanMachi

Tuesday's Top 5

If you’ve been following my blog for awhile you probably already know that I have a silly fondness for Bell from Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon. Whether it is from the first season of the anime or the light novels, I find his nice guy, hard working, character who knows when to really step things up in a fight quite delightful. That said, no central character can stand alone and the cast of DanMachi is pretty impressively large while still being relatively entertaining. With season two of Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon fast approaching (finally), I felt it was a good time to look back at some of these delightful characters.

It is kind of impossible for me to just pick them from their appearance in the anime so some of these became more fleshed out in the light novels than the series. Still, I will avoid directly mentioning spoilers of any events beyond the first anime series.

Also, special shout-out to Welf. He’s an awesome character and kind of deserves to go on the list but I did decide to look at the girls of DanMachi today. Maybe I’ll do a list of my favourite male characters in the series at some point and I can assure you, Welf will be number one (provided I rule Bell out).

As always, I’d love to know your favourites so please leave me a comment below.

Number 5: Eina

Eina Tulle - DanMachi

I feel a little bad making Eina number 5 on the list. She’s an awesome character that we meet early on. She works for the guild and supports Bell and is largely responsible for him not winding up dead fairly early in his dungeon crawling career. She cautions him, warns him of potential dangers, makes him memorise the layout and types of monsters he’ll be facing and helps him choose the correct equipment for the level he’s heading to. While she clearly does have a crush on the Little Rookie, she remains professional and Bell views her more as a big sister character. Still, she’s essential to the story and her interactions with Bell are always interesting.

Number 4: Freya

She also has an interesting grip on fashion.

Honestly, Freya should be higher on the list but her appearance in the anime so far has been really limited. Still, even before reading on, Freya was a character who intrigued me. Her few appearances were short but they had a big impact and it isn’t completely off-base to say that she’s really helping to shape Bell into the hero that he’s starting to become. While she chooses to mostly manipulate from behind the scenes her actions were getting more bold in the series and she’s certainly continued to have a presence in the books. I would definitely love to see more of Freya.

Number 3: Ryu

Ryu is such a great character. She works with Syr at the bar that Bell regularly goes to and for the most part is just a fairly cold waitress. However her knowledge of the dungeon reveals a far more colourful past as does her level of observation and quick reflexes. By the time we see Ryu enter the dungeon it is a foregone conclusion that she’s going to be strong and she does not disappoint.

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Number 2: Hestia

How could I do a list of awesome female characters from Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon without mentioning Hestia. The bright and exuberant goddess who works incredibly hard to support her small but important familia. Bell and Hestia are a fantastic duo and while they might both be looked down upon in the beginning, they aren’t going to back down as they fight for what they want to achieve.

Number 1: Lily

Lily is just a great character and a much needed one. While Hestia is at times observant, she’s also pretty flighty and being a god doesn’t give things the same weight a human might. Bell himself is pretty naive and overly trusting, so having someone like Lily by his side is essential. That said, Bell met Lily when she was the one trying to take him for a ride and it was only through his stubborn kindness that she ultimately decided to actually team up with him. I loved Lily’s character arc and her role within the familia is absolutely imperative to their ongoing survival and financial security. She’s a lot of fun and exactly the kind of character Bell needed to have his back when entering the dungeon.

Well, that’s my list today but I’d love to know your favourite female characters in DanMachi. I know I didn’t include Ais. As much as she is vital to Bell’s growth and as a goal for him to achieve, I really find her a fairly dull character, but feel free to tell me why she’s amazing if you like her.

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Up Close with Hestia

She’s the feisty goddess who looked long and hard before choosing Bell to become a part of her familia. Fiercely loyal but also not really one to plan ahead, Hestia has a lot more going for her as a character than you might think from her generic loli appearance. Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon would definitely not be the same without Hestia.

When we first meet Hestia she seems as generic as they come. She’s the loli/little sister type character who is way too fixated on the boy she lives with and very hands on. She crawls into his blanket and sulks when she doesn’t get her way. With her bouncing breasts taking centre stage in a lot of her screen time, and even other gods mocking her for being so small accept in her boobs, it would be very easy to dismiss Hestia as a one note character that we’ve all seen before.

That however overlooks a lot of Hestia’s most wonderful character traits. Her genuine affection for Bell, whether that of a goddess or something more not withstanding, she’s fiercely protective of her familia (which in the anime initially consists of only Bell). Hestia may be largely powerless in the mortal world but she still isn’t going to let those she deems a danger near him. And yet, her jealousy and protectiveness doesn’t make her stupid. When Lily comes along, despite Hestia not trusting her initially and those misgivings turn out to be true, once Lily commits to following Bell, Hestia accepts the logic in Bell having assistance in the dungeon. She may not like it but she does what is right for Bell’s protection.

This willingness to compromise her own position in order to protect Bell is a reoccurring theme and something that sets Hestia apart from other possessive characters who put their own needs first at almost all times. Hestia incurs a massive debt to another goddess early on in order to buy Bell a knife that will guard him in the dungeon. However, rather than using the money earned by Bell in the dungeon to pay for it, Hestia takes on a range of part-time jobs and continues to work to pay the debt herself.

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However, the surest sign of Hestia’s feelings and her strength as a character, as well as her impulsive nature, is her decision to enter the dungeon after Bell and his party don’t return. Despite being a goddess she is completely helpless in the dungeon and she knows it. She knows she can’t do any good, she knows that her presence won’t change anything, and yet she cannot simply sit and wait for Bell to return. Then, when push comes to shove and Hestia sees Bell in real danger she breaks a significant taboo and unleashes her power within the dungeon.

While Hestia definitely falls in with a lot of generic tropes she is very much her own character and she is fun and delightful. Her love for her familia is admirable and the effort she goes to in order to protect them is extraordinary. I can’t wait to see more of Hestia in the upcoming second season as I love her in the books.

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Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in A Dungeon Review Light Novel Volume 11

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The higher the rise, the harder the fall.

Bell’s reputation took a serious hit at the end of volume 10. The people of Orario saw him stand between adventurers and monsters and in the end they now see him as someone who puts his own needs above protecting them from monsters. However it isn’t just Bell who has been affected as his whole familia is now on the back-foot with everyone wanting to take their shot at the family that rose to fame so quickly.

It is a really interesting turning point in the series as prior to this Bell was looked down on for being small or inexperienced. Then he began his rise to fame and gained respect from so many people and other adventurers that while there was jealousy and some hostility, for the most part Bell has had a steady climb in status over the previous 10 books.

Volume 11 turns the tone of the series on its head. Seeing Bell despised is actually kind of hard, particularly when as the reader you know what bell was actually trying to do and you also know that even if he explained it very few would listen to him or take his side. And that’s the strength of this volume. Bell is in a position where he has to gain back some of the trust that has been lost or it is more or less the end for his familia, but at the same time he can’t turn his back on the xenos. This conundrum nearly paralyses him and makes any action seem more or less impossible. Harder still when even those in his familia are starting to wonder if the cost of helping the xenos was too high.

That said, Bell has drawn the attention of quite a number of gods through his meteoric rise and they aren’t happy to leave things as they stand either. The question is, will their meddling make things better or worse and will Bell be happy with the outcome?

While earlier books in this series were fun and exuberant as Bell launched into new adventures and took on new foes, volume 11 brings a much more serious tone to the entire story. It is no longer a simple matter of monsters bad, kill the monsters, and Bell as a character is forced to grow beyond the naive youth he’s represented previously.

The situation also strains a lot of the pre-existing relationships and forces characters to question the basis of those relationships and whether or not they can continue. Particularly strained is the relationship between Ais and Bell as Bell put himself directly in Loki familia’s way during the previous volume and the conflict between them isn’t over as Loki familia works to restore the status quo.

On the one hand, I kind of preferred the light and energetic tone in earlier volumes but on the other, I really enjoy watching Bell grow up. This volume gives him a lot of time to really question his goals and what he wants and I feel in terms of the greater narrative it does an excellent job even if it wasn’t quite as fun individually to read.

Despite the more contemplative tone, volume 11 does deliver a thrilling climatic battle on par with any that we’ve seen so far. Bell is going to get pushed to the limit physically and emotionally before this book is done and while this volume does bring a nice conclusion to the current arc, it also leaves you wanting the next book.

Clearly I enjoyed reading volume 11 of Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon and I’m looking forward to seeing Bell after this book to see what lasting impact these events have had.

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February OWLS Blog Tour – Bell Adores His Goddess

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Welcome to my OWLS post for February (full schedule of OWLS posts here). In February, we will be exploring love and romance. The word selected is “adore” because it has two main connotations: to be loved and respected or to feel worshipped. We will analyse characters that give us a feeling of admiration and explain why we love those characters. We will also be exploring different forms of love (familial, friendship, and even self-love) and how those types of love influence our lives.

Bell Adores His Goddess

Bell and Hestia - Is It Wrong to Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon (DanMachi)

It won’t be much of a surprise to regular readers to know that I adore DanMachi. I avoided watching the anime for so long because the full name, Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon, seemed too stupid for words and like it would be either an idiotic comedic harem anime or something really sleazy. I’m really glad I finally watched it and I’m really glad that while waiting for the often promised but yet to be delivered season two that I got into reading the light novels, because the characters here are very worth it.

While there are definitely harem elements at play and we could throw the words love and adore around between a lot of the characters there are two specific relationships I want to look at in this post. The first is Bell and Aiz, which is kind of a catalyst for growth and one where the word admiration is probably far more fitting than adore. The second is Bell and Hestia, where the word adore is the absolute perfect fit.

Is it wrong to try to pick up girls in a dungeon Volume 6
Why haven’t we gotten to this in the anime?

Starting with Bell and Aiz, we kind of have to go right back to the very beginning of both the anime and the books. Bell is a rookie adventurer who enters the dungeon alone only this day he gets chased by a Minotaur that is on a floor far higher than it should be because it managed to get away from Aiz and her party on a lower floor. There is no way for Bell at his level to even try to fight it and ultimately he gets cornered and believes he is going to die. That’s where Aiz turns up, slays the beast, and in the process covers Bell in blood.

For Aiz, this is a moment of regret because she feels responsible for letting the Minotaur go in the first place, but also because she doesn’t get a chance to apologise to Bell before he scampers off (something that becomes something of a pattern). Bell on the other hand feels intensely embarrassed that he needed to be saved given he wants to be a hero, but more than that, he is inspired. He has found his goal. Someone so much stronger than him. The person he wants to catch up to no matter what.

Bell and Aiz - DanMachi

While he declares that it is love, nothing in the story after this point really suggests romance between the pair. At times they have a mentor/student relationship, at others they have distance because they are in different familia and serve different gods, Bell continues to admire Aiz and aims to get stronger… okay, he also continues to be intensely embarrassed around her which might suggest he continues to hold a crush. Aiz also continues to be fairly observant of Bell and when he takes actions she doesn’t approve of she feels disappointed, so maybe there will be love between them.

However, as the title of the anime initially suggested, Bell sees Aiz as a goal rather than a person. Not so much that he wants to own her (which would be the sleazy version of the story that we fortunately didn’t get), but more as someone he wants to stand equal to. Their relationship remains defined by Bell’s admiration and almost hero worship of Aiz. It is hard then to see how they will move beyond this point to a romantic relationship, assuming of course that either one actually wants that development in the future.

DanMachi OVA
Cheating a little as this image is from the OVA.

But, Hestia, the goddess in Bell’s life very clearly wants a more romantic relationship with Bell. She flaunts herself in their home, she clings to him, she is openly jealous when other girls get near, and she drags him out on a date around the town. In the light novels, she continues to have him go with her at various times on ‘dates’ and she continues to be very protective of him and who gets near him (even more so than in the anime). However, she also trusts Bell to make the right decision and supports him even when some of his decisions will have consequences for the family (big consequences at times). Hestia very much loves Bell and wants him to see her the same way.

And there is the problem. Because Bell genuinely adores his goddess, but he can only see her as a goddess, not a woman and certainly not a romantic interest. More than anyone else, Bell would lay down his life to protect Hestia, would fight for her, would do anything to make her happy, but to him she is the goddess. She’s the centre of his family, the one who took him in when he was rejected elsewhere, and the one who gave him the blessing that allowed him to pursue his dream of becoming a hero.

DanMachi Bell and Hestia (Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon)

Where Aiz and Bell would have a lot to overcome before they could become a genuinely romantic possibility, with Bell and Hestia it seems nearly impossible given the way Bell views Hestia. I genuinely love the two characters and their interactions, but I have to admit I feel a little sorry for Hestia as she tries to have Bell see her as a woman and not just a goddess (that seems a little like a downgrade but it would be an important step if anything were to develop between them).

It is the complexity of these relationships, and the relationships Bell forms with the rest of the members of his familia, that keep Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon a remarkably interesting story despite following more or less the usual tropes. I really hope that second anime season does eventuate because reading the books there is so much great stuff still coming and I’d love to watch it someday.

DanMachi - characters

If you missed it, check out YumDeku’s OWLS post from yesterday and be sure to check out Dale’s post tomorrow. The full schedule for the month is here.

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Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in A Dungeon? Volumes 9 and 10 Light Novel Review

Volumes 9 and 10 are more or less one story so I’m reviewing them together. That means there will be spoilers for the end of volume 9 in this review.

Previous reviews for Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in A Dungeon can be found here.

Review:

Volumes 9 and 10 plunge us back into the dungeon at first but with a slight difference on what we have seen before. These volumes are actually looking at explaining a bit more about the odd nature of the dungeon and we meet some new and interesting inhabitants as well as coming across another slightly undesirable familiar.

Yes, Bell is back in the thick of things, rescuing a monster who kind of looks like a girl and can speak. Initially taking her from the dungeon to protect her from those hunting her, trouble brews on the surface and soon, with new allies, Bell is forced to return her below and with that they are plunged into yet more trouble. I’m not going to talk to much about what happens in specifics because I really feel any real details that I give you are just going to take away from the experience of reading this story.

DanMachiVol10b

For someone who has always wanted to be a hero, Bell is faced with some really tough decisions in these volumes and while you might feel his rescue the damsel in distress thing is well established, the difficulty in choosing to extend a helping hand to an inhabitant of the dungeon isn’t overlooked here. It is made the centre-piece of a fairly tragic series of events that forces Bell to turn his back on even Aiz, his ideal, in order to protect who he believes he needs to be (and it will be very interesting to see the ramifications of that in future volumes).

As such, the journey these two volumes take us on are a little more emotionally wrought than previous ones. The light hearted banter, the oddly placed fan-service, and even the over-the-top heroics of the previous volumes have kind of taken a back seat as we see the truly dirty reality where doing what is right is not an easy choice and what is right is something that is difficult to ascertain.

While Bell’s familia stand by him through the mess, much is lost and those that were becoming his friends now see him in a different light. Despite everything Bell accomplishes in these volumes, and he does accomplish a lot and overcomes some really huge challenges, the cost is almost heart-breaking.

That said, it isn’t as though these volumes just plunge us into a downer for the sake of it, and as we learn more about their gods and their plans we can already see that there is a light awaiting us in future stories. The question is, will things get worse before they get better?

DanMachiVol9a

I really do recommend these two volumes (though read them together because volume 9 will just kind of leave you wondering what all that set-up was for that didn’t quite deliver anything). There’s some great characters introduced, a large showing of the support cast, some truly amazing battles, and a villain that seems really worth taking down. Bell is at his absolute best here as he really is forced to step up and not go with the flow.

I really had fun with these and I’d love to know your thoughts on them if you’ve read them.

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Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in A Dungeon? Volume 8 Light Novel Review

DanMachi Volume 8 Light Novel

This volume felt like a breath of fresh air after volume 7 and there was plenty to enjoy about it. There’s an army marching on the city of Orario but let the bigger familias deal with that crisis. Inside Orario there are better stories to be told.

Review:

I mentioned that this volume felt like a breath of fresh air and I mean that in the most literal sense. Volume 7 felt like the fight dragged on far too long and the single minded focus on characters trying to catch Bell made the volume start to drag. Volume 8 couldn’t be more different essentially presenting a series of vignettes focusing on the support cast as they go about their lives in the city of Orario. Sure, Bell is ever present in each of the stories and at times plays pivotal roles, but this volume really works on fleshing out that support cast that kind of got sidelined over the last few books and also fleshing out the city just that little bit more.

The back drop for all of these stories that holds them together is the invasion of Rakia driven by the god Ares. This means that Freya and Loki’s familia are spending a lot of time out of the city and fighting off the invaders and we’re reminded of this throughout but it isn’t really the main point.

Instead, we break from the war to see what Hestia familia is up with an initial focus on Mikoto who is trying to buy a gift for her previous god (and the one she will return to after a year). It’s a cute and funny story that has very little weight and yet really helps consolidate Mikoto’s character and role in the family. And any story that involves a deity having a cake thrown at them is going to be kind of amusing.

Is It Wrong to Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon Volume 8

Not outstaying its welcome, we transition to a story that looks at Lily (from Hestia familia) and Finn (leader of Loki familia). I will admit, this story kind of comes out of nowhere given we haven’t really got a sense of who Finn is previously and his sudden decision to propose marriage to Lily seems a little bit random, but at the same time this story does help to do some world building about the nature of the Prum’s which is an area that had previously more or less been ignored. It is also another chance to get Lily and Bell together and away from the rest of the familia which is something we haven’t seen really since Welf entered the picture so I really enjoyed this story.

Speaking of Welf, his story comes next and it is probably the most directly tied to the war going on outside the city (see the book didn’t forget its own set up). Turns out Welf left the Rakia kingdom and they kind of want him back given he can actual forge magical swords. There’s quite a story here and we learn more about Welf’s family and Rakia but all of that is overshadowed as we see more of Welf and his love for his former goddess, Hephaistos. It also comes with a what must be one of the most straight forward and probably embarrassing confession scenes ever and it is just delightful to read.

I’m not going to give any details about the next couple of stories because they certainly up the danger a bit more and end up being a bit more focused on the external threat but Eina, Syr, Hestia and Aiz all get a moment to shine as the story continues.

If I’m honest, I actually prefer this format of short stories told within the greater narrative over the drawn out confrontation offered in volume 7. Each story is fresh and energetic and none of them over stay their welcome. It is exactly what this series needed to re-energise things and I really had a lot of fun reading it.

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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?

DanMachi7b

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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