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.

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

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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Karandi James

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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?

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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.

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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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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.


Thanks for reading.

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.

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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.

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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.


Thanks for reading.

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.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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