「ダンプリング2」 (Danpuringu 2)
“Dumplings -2-“

Happily, we got our S2 announcement for Dungeon Meshi, though not yet a premiere date. I mean, that was always the overwhelmingly likely prospect. The production committee waited until the manga was nearly finished before starting the anime, long after one would have expected one given the manga’s popularity. Trigger didn’t rush through the material in any way – in fact they adapted just over half of it, but the rest of the series is more plot heavy and there are plenty of extras that could be adapted so that should be no problem. This was expected – but until it was confirmed that was a little part of me that was always going to worry.

What it comes down to, really, is that Dungeon Meshi is awesome. There’s an easy charm to it that few series can match, and the same can be said about Kui Ryoko’s attention to detail. Only someone who loves tabletop gaming could write Dungeon Meshi, and only someone who lives it could appreciate all the little details Kui gets just right. But  I’m glad the season ended with the main five just being adorably derpy for 22 minutes because for me, as versatile as it is that’s Dungeon Meshi at its absolute best.

Part of that attention to detail comes in the way the finer points of a situation like these changeling mushrooms plays out. It’s Chilchuck who asks a pointed question – do the characters age at their innate rates, or at the rates of their new bodies? That matters, as half-foots average 50 years (terrifying for Marcille), dwarves “2.5 times a tall man”, et al. Chilchuck also notes that if it were as easy as that, these mushrooms would be more valuable than gold – many wealthy beings would pay massively to change race (and live longer, mainly). Since they’re basically unknown, he reasons, the effect either must be temporary or the side effects very unpleasant.

The answer will come soon enough, but Chil’s logic is a bucket of cold water for Laios. He’s basically the least squeamish person in the world for starters, so he’s cool with all this – and he saw the changelings as a potential solution to the problem of Falin’s dragon body. Theory time is cut short however when two gargoyles attack (and Marcille gets an object lesson on the challenges of being a half-foot in a scrum). By pure chance and keen insight Laios realizes that the group itself can now becomes a fairy circle, which proves to be the difference in the gargoyle fight and serves as proof  that it’s a simple matter of washing the spores off thoroughly (with the help of a Manneken Pis-style transformed gargoyle) to reverse their transformation. Eventually.

Mostly, it’s just enormously endearing what this group fumble about in their new forms. The faces in this series are some of the best you’ll ever see (Izutsumi is a huge addition to that), and stuff like Laois hiding Kensuke’s badass new form from Marcille and Marcille getting pinballed around by the others at every turn is just hilarious. Eventually the gargoyles are defeated and the spores washed off, and after a meal of transformed dumplings (I think Elf Senshi is my absolute favorite of all these transformations) and a night’s sleep everyone is more or less back to normal.

The next day they find some dwarvish tech – what looks like something close to a mine train which Senshi refers to as a “trolley” – and settle down for the ride to wherever it takes them. Senshi asks Laios about his past, and gets an earful. A lot of it concerning how rough Falin’s childhood was, and Senshi scolds Laios for having brought her with him for such a dangerous lifestyle. Senshi is a thoughtful and observant fellow, and he hasn’t forgotten the “souls as eggs” conversation of a few eps ago. If Falin is a sunny side up on top of bacon, perhaps the can be pried free. With Izutsumi it’s more of an omelet, which makes the idea of separating her disparate parts seem a fair bit trickier.

Senshi’s Falin theory is simple. Since being digested fundamentally transforms the formerly living even in this strange dungeon, perhaps if the dragon part of her are eaten, the dragon part of her soul can be excised. Laios, as ever unfazed, is mainly concerned that it would take the five of them a decade to eat something as massive as Falin has become. Senshi points out that Laios does have connections he could call on, and a plan starts to take shape. Free the winged lion, team with it to subdue the Lunatic Magician, and have the biggest sister-eating party ever with all of his friends (and a bunch of people who don’t like him very much).

That’s as good a place as anywhere to leave it, really. The series is about half over, as I said, but the plot is really just getting started. I think finishing by reinforcing the bonds among the Laios party (including with Izutsumi), and them with the audience is a wise move. As big as this series gets it’s still these people and their dynamic that drives everything, including the series’ not inconsiderable charm. Spending time with these moolyaks is always a pleasure, and the very heart of the Dungeon Meshi experience.

That I haven’t been the biggest fan of Trigger is no secret. But my views have softened over time, as Imaishi Hiroyuki’s stylistic dominance in their work has waned and they’ve proved their mettle with SSSS.Gridman and Dynazenon. As a fan of the manga I have absolutely no quibbles with their treatment of Dungeon Meshi. This has been an outstanding adaptation and one that’s allowed the character of the source material to command the stage, always one’s biggest worry with a studio like Trigger. It’s nice to to see a really outstanding manga get an adaptation worthy of it, and a complete one at that. It came a lot later than most expected but it’s been worth the wait.

One Comment

  1. I will consume all things Dungeon Meshi – including reading well written reviews of the show!
    I look forward to reading and sharing your thoughts when Season 2 airs. 😀

    I just wanna know who will be voicing the Winged Lion.

    It’d be great if they adapted the omake parts of the manga into shorts to tide us over. Kind of like Frieren’s shorts on Twitter.

    People warned me that the second half gets Berserk-like and yeah… they weren’t kidding.

    “Ryoko Kui’s attention to detail”
    Yes! This is what made Dungeon Meshi one of my favorite manga of all time. No detail is gone to waste. What you thought would be a throwaway gag actually served a purpose like Laios being able to do a dead-on impression of a dog!

    Or even the way Kui-sensei uses her characters to give insight into what the main cast plans to do after they resurrect Falin while simultaneously giving said character some character development.

    Manga readers, you know that I’m referring to Izutsumi.
    She’s the “outsider” of the party so with nothing left to do, she goes around asking what Marcille, Chilchuck, Laios, and Senshi plan to do (hoping she might tag along with one of them but will never admit it).
    We get to hear about their future goals, and Izutsumi is left to face that question herself.
    “What should I do now?”

    Need more Dungeon Meshi lore!

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