By Fujino Omori and Suzuhito Yasuda. Released in Japan as “Dungeon ni Deai o Motomeru no wa Machigatte Iru Darou ka?” by Softbank Creative. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Andrew Gaippe.
Last time we asked what would change about monster hunting if we knew that not all monsters are evil and mindless. But if there are good and bad monsters, then there are also good and bad people. And the bad people who make up the Ikelos Familia are very bad indeed, so a good deal of this book is reversing any gains made by the last book. In fact, reversing may be a bit of an understatement – by the end of this book, Bell’s reputation is in shreds and everyone is furious with him. (Well, not his own Familia, thank God.) And while Ouranos’ experiment is still living on, it’s hanging by a thread. It’s hard not to sum up this volume of Danmachi as “Everything is terrible. The end.” That said, how we get there is important, and there are some excellent fights, good character moments, and… OK, yeah, no humor this time around. Not even any harem antics.
Much of this book continues to revolve around Wiene’s story, and unfortunately that’s a weak point in the novel, as she is absolutely a damsel in distress throughout it, whether it’s getting captured and sobbing in captivity, or being forced to mindlessly rampage aboveground. The trouble, of course, is that her plight is needed to advance Bell’s character, so she has to suffer as a result. The moral battle between Bell (pure, good, a bit headstrong) and Dix (twisted, evil, scheming) is a highlight, though I’m not sure Dix’s description of Bell as a hypocrite quite fits. Dix’s anger stems from a classic dilemma in stories like this – who do you choose to save if multiple sides are in peril? Do you save humans or monsters? Bell saves both, of course, and that’s why Dix rails on him for such impossible optimism. Dix himself is a thoroughly loathsome villain, though I wasn’t all that fond of the whole “descendants must carry on the insane plan” thing.
Aboveground, the rest of the cast gets relatively little to do – Lili and Hestia investigate a bit to try to find out where the middleman is in this conspiracy, but for the most part they’re sidelined. As for Team Loki, they get the bulk of the climax, trying to stop the rampaging monsters in the city and wondering why in God’s name Bell is chasing after one of them. (It is fairly notable that Bell’s “this is my kill!” excuse is rather lame, and while it is what kills his reputation I don’t think anyone who really knows him buys it for a minute – Eina certainly doesn’t.) I was wondering if Bell would have to fight anyone from Loki Familia, but we avoid that, mostly as he’d get the crap kicked out of him, I expect.
And so now we wonder where to go from here. Bell’s reputation is bad, but he’s not thrown out of the city or anything. And Hermes is already trying to find ways to fix things. I have a feeling that the next book will involve a lot of dungeon crawling. and I hope that it’s a bit more lighthearted. Still, if you’re looking for a dose of Danmachi at its most serious and grim, this is the volume for you.