By Fujino Omori and Suzuhito Yasuda. Released in Japan as “Dungeon ni Deai o Motomeru no wa Machigatte Iru Darou ka?” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Winifred Bird.
This was long. Hideously long. Even by the standards of DanMachi, which has had some very long books, it’s long. It’s longer than Book 8, the previous record holder. It’s longer than almost all the Tanya the Evil books. Arguably, it uses its length wisely, which may come as a surprise given how much of it is just straight up monster fights. But it doesn’t just have fight after fight with no purpose. Each of the fights is meant to develop the character of one of the regulars, mostly Bell and Lyu, who do the heavy lifting in the book, but also Welf, Cassandra, and the rest of the other party who are desperately trying to find them. It earns its length. That said, I do think it could have bee a BIT shorter. I love the way the author writes fights, but by the end of the book I felt like Bell and Lyu do, i.e. mostly dead.
The book is divided into two halves, or rather one third and two thirds. The first third features the rest of the cast down in the dungeon on the 26th floor trying to survive without Bell, and finding strength beyond simply supporting him in his own dream. Welf in particular comes off well here, making an even more magic sword than his others, but Cassandra has perhaps the best emotional arc of the section, even if I’d have liked a bit more payoff where everyone actually admits she was right. Which, yes, goes against her character name. The second part of the book features Bell and Lyu down on the 37th floor, where Bell has to battle Killer Sheep Skeletons, The Juggernaut that he thought they’d killed off earlier back for revenge, a battle arena filled with infinitely spawning monsters, and perhaps most dangerous of all, Lyu’s suicidal tendencies.
Lyu’s backstory is finally given in full here, and it’s pretty much what I expected. It’s broken her to such an extend that, experiencing almost the same events as well as Bell seemingly trying to throw his own life away to save her (which happens… I lost count, but a LOT in this book) is making her want to give up, and the only reason she keeps trying is she wants to save Bell and see him safely off before she allows herself to be destroyed. It’s heartbreaking, and those who wanted Lyu to be a bit more emotional will be happy but also sad. (That said, I could have done without the comedy epilogue with her losing her top… but I guess after the emotional wringer you needed SOME comedy.) As for Bell, he’s had other books that have helped to show off his development more, and this is more Lyu’s. Here he’s just the almost indestructible rabbit that will save everyone in the world. Of course, this also means that Lyu has fallen in love with him. Honestly, given the sheer amount of focus she’s gotten in this series, she may be second only to Aiz in the “what if it’s not Hestia?” love interest sweepstakes.
Thankfully, the next book in the series looks to be much shorter than this, and also less emotionally devastating. Unfortunately, it’s not scheduled yet for North American release, so it may be a bit. Till then, this is one of the best books in the series, assuming you survive the read.