Watch or Drop? The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter

The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter Episode 2 - Two episodes in and sparks are flying between the would-be love interests.
Childhood friend vs random guild advisor who has known guy for 5 minutes. Yep, this is a harem anime.

Watch or Drop? Rules

  1. The anime must be new (not a sequel or spin-off).
  2. At least 3 episodes have already aired.
  3. Episodes 1- 3 to be watched in a single sitting and a decision reached as to whether the anime will be added to the watch/review list or dropped and forgotten. For good.

In fairness I made it two episodes into this one so it has already done better than Hortensia Saga.

The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter - Noir
Here is Noir, our earnest and fairly unremarkable protagonist for the series.

First Impressions:

If you’ve followed my blog any length of time you know that I am not a huge fan of ecchi anime or harems in general. That said, I still usually give them a shot because there have been a few over the years that have really grabbed my interest. How Not To Summon a Demonlord really surprised me with how enjoyable it ended up being and while there were a few ecchi moments I probably could have lived without in the series, those elements didn’t intrude on my overall enjoyment of the show. Basically, ecchi is neither a lure for me nor an actual concern provided I’m interested in the rest of the story.

That said, Hidden Dungeon only has a score of 6.37 on MAL and looked like a fairly forgettable fantasy story filled with an excessive number of female types so I wasn’t expecting all that much going into this anime. After finding out that Noir can use his Great Sage ability realistically only when getting kisses to off-set his headaches I kind of suspected what this anime’s focus was going to be and the double whammy of his need to restore life points through enjoying worldly pleasures in order to use the raft of other skills he acquires in the dungeon really lowered my expectations for any compelling narrative given it seemed like the plot existed just to contrive reasons to have Noir interact with the various girls around him.

Series Positives:

Despite being the generic, brown-haired, mostly quiet and unassuming protagonist one expects from this type of series, Noir actually gets a little bit of personality early on. He’s actually almost cruel to his father in the way he verbally cuts him down after his father’s low position costs him his own opportunity to pursue work in the library. Maybe more of this comes into play later in the series though I will admit that largely Noir defaults back to nice-guy protagonist mode and is really just going through the motions of walking through a fantasy story.

The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter - Olivia
Olivia also manages to be quite sassy for a character literally chained in a dungeon.

Outside of that, there’s a not a lot else that stood out in the two episodes I watched. Some of the skills have potential to be interesting but they all seem to exist just to keep the harem aspect rolling along. The moments in the dungeon could be potentially thrilling, but again they seem to only exist to push the other parts of the story along. Largely it is hard to identify any clear positives when everything here is just so incredibly average.

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Series Negatives:

I really find if grating when an entire plot point seems to exist because somewhere a writer was trying to justify reasons to have a nice-guy protagonist suddenly getting more physical with the girls around him. Noir wouldn’t normally take advantage of his child-hood friend but when she earnestly makes an offer to kiss him to help him endure his headaches he naturally accepts. That she’s crushing hard on him doesn’t make this sit much better. In fact, episode two, my tipping point was when Noir needed LP (life points) to use some of his new skills and so, apparently reluctantly, asked if he could nibble her ear and all blushingly she accepted. Are we supposed to not find this a little creepy just because Noir needs to do it? If he likes the girl just have them date and then there’s no particular concern with whether he wants to nibble her ear or not, but then that would upset the harem they are trying to establish so no dating for Noir.

The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter - Noir kisses Emma
I’d wish these two happiness except that they are only kissing to solve a problem and he’s a harem lead so no chance of a happily ever after with one girl.

The other real negative is the writing for every other character in the story. It is so blatant and unnatural. Noir comes from a lower rank of nobility and literally every person he meets raises this point in the most blunt way possible. It is almost farcical how much effort and malice these characters put into their comments toward someone who is still higher ranked than a commoner and yet I’m feeling not even the commoners get this kind of ridicule in the story (or at least not from what the audience has seen). At first I thought there had to be more to the reason for the Starga family being looked down upon other than their rank but not one character ever mentions anything else. It is again a plot point for the sake of making the story happen but feels really contrived.

Verdict?

Karandi Bored Transparent
Drop

While I wasn’t expecting much from this, I kind of hoped it would at least be watchable and maybe a bit of silly fun. And I guess for those who don’t find the writing so unnatural and don’t question the fundamental premise of the story maybe this would be a bit of light entertainment. For me though, I’m out.

Other Impressions:

Images from: The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter. Dir. K Oonishi. Okuruto Noburo. 2021.


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