Review: DanMachi


Dan Machi or Is it wrong to try to pick up girls in a dungeon was billed as one of the biggest show of this spring’s anime line up. Based on the light novel series by Fujino Ōmori, it is a show portraying a teenage boy’s dream: the underdog hero who exceeds all expectations in a dungeon full of monsters and beautiful girls – who incidentally, all happen to love him.

Bell's pretty enthusiastic, you've got to give him that.
Bell’s pretty enthusiastic, you’ve got to give him that.

Background and plot

In the city of Orario there is a giant dungeon that is the domain of monsters and glory seeking adventurers. It also happens that the God’s have decided to transcend to this city, giving up their heavenly power (for the most part), creating familia of adventurers to advance far into the dungeon. The main character is Bell Cranel, a young boy with no family who seeks out a familia to join and begin adventuring. He ends up with Hestia, in a familia that comes as close to a group of hobos as is possible when you’re led by a God.

Bell, like most young men his age, is interested in girls. Throughout the story, Bell goes adventuring, motivated by the idea that he might be able to impress the girl of his dreams, Aiz Wallenstein – though for most of the show she spends a lot of time saving him!

Aiz Wallenstein: sword princess of the dungeon and Bell's saviour.
Aiz Wallenstein: sword princess of the dungeon and Bell’s saviour.

The show also contains a degree of rpg gaming mechanics, with adventurers gaining abilities, levelling up and learning magic spells. It adds another level of depth to the all powerful gods on earth thing and gives more backing to what I said earlier – this really is a teenage boy’s dream.

Characters

DanMachi doesn’t spend time developing lots of characters. A good majority of screen time is spent developing Bell as the main character which I think works really well. The whole point of the show is his journey, so he should be the one that gets the most development. That said given the importance that is suggested on Hestia, I feel like I don’t know all that much about her. The bad guy (if you want to call her that), who is watching Bell from a distance throughout remains nameless to me – maybe I just wasn’t paying attention but I don’t know her name.

Bell is the only member of Hestia's familia hence the special treatment.
Bell is the only member of Hestia’s familia hence the special treatment.

Welf and Lilli have an episode each plus extra references spread throughout but nothing that really says “we’re important characters in this story so learn lots about us!”. There are numerous other secondary characters that are alluded to but really there’s no point pretending that we know anything about anyone other than Bell.

Sound, artwork and animation

No doubt about it, DanMachi is a good looking anime. It’s bright (without being No Game No Life) and well refined. The character designs are unique and interesting (can’t say I’m sure on Hestia though). The soundtrack is equally as good, with epic tracks for the fight scenes ranging through to something as cute as the ending song.

Hestia and Bell live an abandoned church, no wonder Hestia can't afford real clothes.
Hestia and Bell live an abandoned church, no wonder Hestia can’t afford real clothes.

Favourite Episode

Episode 8: Argonaut

This was one of the most enjoyable episodes of anime I can remember watching. The episode starts out slowly with Bell getting some advice from Ryuu on how to level up and getting a bit closer in strenght to Aiz. The episode gets to it’s real crux later on though when a minotaur appears on the 9th level – with no one else to help Bell and Lili, Bell is forced to fight it off by himself. When Aiz’s party arrives, Bell tells them to stay back as he fights and eventually kills the minotaur allowing him to level up.

Bell shouldn't be able to kill a minotaur, but he does.
Bell shouldn’t be able to kill a minotaur, but he does.

Best piece of music

There are lots of nice pieces of music on the DanMachi soundtrack, but I’m going to put the ending track here. It’s cheerful, lively and just plain happy.

Overall

DanMachi is a show that just bleeds fun. It is unashamedly ecchi, full of action and comedy and even has a hint of romance to boot. The artwork and soundtrack are both very good. As a main character, Bell is fleshed out in great depth, but the lack of development for the rest of the ‘main’ characters does at times leave something to be desired. That said, you shouldn’t be put off from watching DanMachi as it really is a feel good show that will leave you wanting more. Regardless of your taste, I’d recommend this one to you without thinking.

Dan Machi

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