“Prelude (Night Before Departure)”
Danmachi is finally back. Unlike Hataraku Maou-Sama, which left a sequel hanging for way too long, and the Raildex franchise who also dropped the ball losing out on the franchise momentum while it was still a premiere cultural icon, Danmachi has arguably been able to sustain its hype and momentum, going from strength to strength through the years if we all agree to overlook Season 2. Despite losing to Asterius, the Xenos Minotaur who some believe to be the reincarnation of the Minotaur from Season 1, Bell finally ranks up to attain Level 4 subsequent to their fateful encounter. What next for our protagonist and Hestia’s humble Familia?
They should have killed off Fels the Lich at the end of Season 3, when he successfully cast Dia Orpheus to resurrect Wiene. While it remains the most amazing episode of Danmachi to date, that doesn’t change the fact it was fundamentally an asspull. Sure, there was justification provided, that this was powerful magic that let down Fels because it failed at his hour of greatest need, resulting in the death of his beloved party members 7 to 8 centuries prior, and took up a permanent spell slot he could never change out due to the fact he became undead. Sure, Fels had tried to hone this magic for centuries to no avail. But I still believe an equivalent exchange would have made the ending more impactful with actual equivalent exchange. Instead, the Lich felt like a deus ex machina device.
But complaints aside Fels is a well-constructed character in a figurative and literal sense (haha geddit, he’s well-written and he’s a construct of bones), so I’m not unhappy to see him back. There was also poetic meaning to the moment since Dia Orpheus requires a sincere payment, true regret and a tragic loss deemed so unfair by even the unseen cosmic forces that oversee the Danmachi universe.
Context of the Exploration Directives
The Hestia Familia are issued with a directive by the Town’s Guild – a compulsory order that cannot be refused. So why are they asking everybody for help, even if it may incur future semantic debts to be repaid? Let’s help refresh people’s memories.
First off, even with their considerable talent and firepower, exploring deeper levels of the dungeon is no joke. In Danmachi canon, this is how the Zeus and Hera Familias met their fatal ends – they ventured too deep and were slaughtered en-masse despite being the most powerful Familias to exist in Danmachi’s entire history. Despite the light-hearted tone the show can take at times, dungeon exploration is absolutely no joke.
Secondly, the Hestia Familia have just finished one hell of a gruelling quest to save the Xenos from being subject to a Holocaust by Orario’s human and mythical races. However, that mission was completely under the table and not issued by the guild, being an ethical dilemma the Hestia Familia chose to confront of their own volition. With this undertaking not being on their tab, the guild see it fit to immediately thrust them into their next mission. This means they’ve barely had any rest going into this potentially fatal exploration quest.
For those reasons, the Hestia Familia enlist the aid of people from other Familias for this expedition. The belief is that with two Level 4 adventurers in Bell and Aisha, they can venture to deeper levels with greater security. However, many of the people enlisted onto the expedition feel extremely uneasy about their chances of survival, or knowing they lack the powers to protect those they care about when push comes to shove. Especially on the deeper levels of the dungeon. We see all the side characters we’ve all come to know and love further their resolve, in seeking to become the best versions of themselves so they can strive to be strong enough to protect their precious adventuring companions.
Gods and Goddesses are People Too
Pubs are one of the cornerstones of British society, and puts our deities into a humanising context as they have fun and share their sorrows in equal measure, just like any regular folks. All allay their concerns, knowing the risks this expedition will entail towards their Familia members. Particularly Hestia. Because every one of her Familia members is special, and how she has nothing to offer as their matron since she lacks the combat skills to enter a dungeon with them or the smarts to organise logistics, Hestia is left feeling woefully inadequate and lacking in agency to assist her beloved children as she laments her uselessness while drunk to the other gods and goddesses.
What Hestia hasn’t realised is that she is the Guardian of the Hearth. Venta. What she offers to her Familia members is a warm home for them to stay, and a place where they can feel like they belong, and that’s even more meaningful when you realise despite their talents and specialties that the Hestia Familia is a congregation for strays and outcasts from other Familias. There are some things that only she can do, and only she can offer as a goddess, which is the reason why her Familia can be the way it is today. Hopefully she will be able to realise and acknowledge her own merits someday.
Must say I felt Lili on a spiritual level when she pouted as Welf gave Bell the special dagger – Hakugen. I know exactly what it feels like when the Dungeon Master demonstrates blatant favouritism to another player by giving them all the new and cool weapons. She really could use a new dagger, and it sucks how she’s completely overlooked by her fellow familia member in spite of his smithing talents. However the decision is justified in relation to optimising damage. Bell has the dexterity to lay on the most damage with Hakugen – and he immediately proves this point when he pretty much singlehandedly obliterates the Monster Hive towards the end of the episode.
Many people familiar with Ancient Greek mythology will know Cassandra was a a talented seer who was cursed to never be taken seriously, despite the uncanny accuracy of her prophecies. So when Cassandra tries to cancel the expedition, explaining in a panic that she dreamed of a green moss gobbling up people while being lightly laughed off and dismissed by everybody, we can be assured that trouble is just around the corner.
Egg Firm, a production company heavily invested in Mushoku Tensei, has been heavily involved with Danmachi since its conception. This season it has felt like the quality of production and storyboarding has jumped a notch, and it may be a tenuous connection, but I feel it is definitely related to Egg Firm’s newly acquired experience in relation to Mushoku Tensei. The collaboration makes complete sense, because Mushoku Tensei is a world building focused, fantasy premised show. This experience will allow Egg Firm’s staff to bring additional quality and talents to Danmachi’s production, while allowing them to further hone their craft for the future season of Mushoku Tensei. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a win win win all around!
Anyway, that’s everything I wanted to discuss. Let me know your thoughts on the episode in the comments section down below!