「冒険者(ベル・クラネル)」 (Bouken-sha (Beru Kuraneru))
“Bell Cranel Adventurer”
Good animation, pacing, and likable characters are juxtaposed by a plot that’s uninspired and, frankly, a little chauvinistic. I’m not sure how I feel about this one on the whole, though I don’t hate it so far … with some caveats.
The Good – Animation, Pacing, Characters, World
This is a J.C.Staff romcom, and not only do I have tremendous positive memories of them, they look damn fine. There’s nothing to complain about in either the animation or the character designs, though as this is the first episode, I’d expect them to be at their best. Likewise, the main and secondary characters so far introduced are almost universally likeable. Bell Cranel (Matsuoka Yoshitsugu) has a great youthful enthusiasm (backed up by a Matsuoka Yoshitsugu performance that evokes exactly that), and his determination at the end reflects on him well. His goddess Hestia (Minase Inori) is silly in the most endearing of ways; how could I not like her? Even ace adventurer Ais Wallenstein (Oonishi Saori), guild receptionist Eina Tulle (Tomatsu Haruka), and waitress Syr Flover (Ishigami Shizuka) are all likable to varying degrees, though Syr’s sudden interest in Bell was more than a little convenient.
I also like one of the central facets of the world, in that gods like Hestia have decided to come down to the lower world and live among mortals, and they power up adventurers in their familia to hunt monsters. It’s not explained why they do this, and that’s a pretty huge detail, since it likely touches on why adventurers are fighting these endlessly respawning monsters, something I’ll talk about soon. Nevertheless, I have a fondness for unique takes on magic and gods—that’s one of the central conceits of my own magick system and world. DanMachi is doing some difficult things well.
The Not So Good – Premise, World
Yes, I put “world” in both the good and the not so. Why? Because while I thought the god(dess) schtick was interesting, the way monsters cleanly disappeared on death and how Bell got item drops and payment out of them felt way too fake and gamey. (The stat thing didn’t bother me as much, though it has the same potential.) Log Horizon dodged this problem ingeniously, but DanMachi used the central tenets of a fantasy RPG without justifying them. I preferred how Tower of Druaga went about it, which felt like both an RPG and its own reality, instead of this, which feels cheap. Maybe when they explain it all it’ll work better, but for now, I’m unenthused.
The premise is another sticking point. It’s honestly a little chauvinistic. Bell’s grandfather advises him to meet a weak female adventurer in a dungeon and fall in love with her, but that’s exploitative and dismissive of the skill and prowess of half the human race. It’s to Bell’s credit that he doesn’t seem to mind being saved instead of doing the saving. Then there’s the whole harem romcom element, which is reliably chauvinistic, but that’s something anyone who watches these kinds of shows has to come to terms with, like buying an iPhone knowing they’re built by Chinese workers in horrible conditions who get paid next to nothing. Oh, and the female adventurers wear skimpy clothing, which belongs in the realm of satire at this point, but that’s another thing fans of the form have gotten used to, and which Tower of Druaga did better.
Looking Ahead – Early Verdict
My opinion remains essentially unchanged from the preview, in that this feels like it could be a decent-to-good example of the magical-fantasy-action-harem genre, though I don’t feel like it will transcend the form, and will likely remain hampered by the uninspired plotting so common among light novels. I’ll stick with it, though I don’t currently have any plans to cover it full-time. Hopefully it’ll keep playing to its strengths rather than the deficiencies of the genre, and give us a good time.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Good animation, pacing, & characters, but the uninspired light novel plot & some setting quirks leave my impressions unchanged #danmachi 01
- Props to Minase Iori. I wouldn’t have realized she was the one voicing Hestia if I hadn’t looked it up, and I’ve got a pretty good ear for seiyuu. She has more range that I realized.
- Another gripe: the whole scene where Bete Loga (Okamoto Nobuhiko) was ragging on Bell out of nowhere, and even brought up the possibility of dating Bell to Ains. Convenient, lazy writing. That’s the kind of writing that has me saying unkind things about light novels in general, even though there’s no reason they should be of lower quality.
- Lady Loki? Dafuq?
- I also like all the glimpses of the ruined city that Bell and Hestia live in. That’s a good example of showing instead of telling. I want to know how it got like that.
My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info—now available in paperback!) Sign up for my email list for a FREE sequel short story. Over at stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: Cut away the boring bits, Sheet music, Wage Slave Rebellion is officially in print, and From LEGO to author.
OP: 「Hey World」 by Iguchi Yuka