The Role of Memoria Freese in DanMachi World-Buildingby Theron Martin,
In June 2017, Wright Flyer Studios debuted DanMachi ~Memoria Freese~ (hereafter DanMemo), a mobile app game based on the Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? franchise. The franchise proved popular enough overseas that Crunchyroll cut a deal to localize the game in English, leading to a North American release in March 2018. Earlier this summer, the game celebrated its third anniversary in Japan, which in the fleeting world of action-adventure mobage makes it a certifiable success.
Rather than feature characters original to the game, players of DanMemo can shift between three established protagonists: Bell Cranell, Ais Wallenstein, and Lefiya Veridas. (The latter two only become available after a player reaches a certain point in the story progression with Bell.) The game's core storyline takes players through the events of both the main DanMachi anime series and the complementary series Sword Oratoria, as well as providing a short fourth storyline which follows the yet-to-be-animated novel Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Familia Chronicle from the point of view of Ryu Lion. (The movie, Arrow of the Orion, also got used as a special event.) This storytelling is thorough enough that a player need not be at all familiar with the anime or novels to fully follow the story. Players make teams of four front-liners and four supporters (with two pairs of back-ups) from various versions of established franchise characters and fight assorted foes or teams from other players in regular PvP events. The game also had neat side features like an alarm clock voiced (in Japanese) by the character of your choice.
Everything about the mechanics of DanMemo is routine for the game's type, including the regular presence of themed events and time-specific side missions and challenges. Brief interactions also take place between the featured protagonist and other characters, which generate Character Points (CPs) which can buff up the character, unlock character-specific vignettes, and earn resource bonuses. DanMemo has a more extensive set of the character-specific stories than most, including Quest, Story, and Outfit mini-stories. (The latter become available whenever the player obtains a new version of the character.) These tend to be on the silly side, as are many of the absolutely-not-canon special events which have come up over the past couple of years, including numerous holiday-themed events, a zombie apocalypse event, one where numerous characters are recast as students in a Harry Potter-style magic school, April Fool's Day fun (including a bonus side-scrolling space shooter game), and so forth. Crossovers with other franchises, including Kino's Journey, Date A Live, Attack on Titan, and Goblin Slayer, have also happened and contributed characters to the mix of those available for use.
However, not all special events and character interactions are silly. Some are quite serious, dramatic, and occasionally even emotional, and some have expanded the canon content of the setting in significant ways. The latter is what distinguishes this game the most. Scattered throughout the game are assorted little tidbits never revealed in the novels or anime which flesh out characters a bit more, and certain major events even fill in gaps in the DanMachi backstory and mythology by adding stories which have been referred to but never previously detailed in any form.
The most extensive collection of reveals the game provides is the official ages, heights, gods-given aliases, and (in many cases) signature weapon names of numerous characters, including many of the less prominent named adventurers from both the main series and Sword Oratoria. The list below provides aliases and signature weapon names that, to my knowledge, have not previously come up in content available in English. (Note that the spellings below are what are used in the game and may vary slightly from the anime or novels.)
|Character Name||Alias||Signature Weapon|
|Shakti Varma||Ankusha||Anksha (spear)|
|Daphne||Laurus Fuga||Fencer Laureate|
|Ouka Kashima||Masuratakeo||Demon Chopper (axe)|
|Mia Grand||Demi Ymir||unknown|
|Line Arshe||Lokorite||Faithful Rod|
|Anakitty Autumn||Alxa||Regal Force|
|Naza Ersuisu||Miyai Hound||Clairvoyance (bow)|
|Cassandra||Mirabilis||Holy Crystal Rod|
|Mord Latro||Ruffian Dog||Under Fang|
|Lena Tully||Purus||Golden Gauntlet|
|Elfy Colette||Romoire||Forest Murmur|
An assortment of other random details pop up in various places:
- Mord (the thug who has run-ins with Bell throughout the first anime series but later bets heavily on him during the War Game with Apollo Familia) is a member of Ogma Familia.
- Misha, the Guild employee who often works alongside Eina, has been friends with Eina ever since both attended the Education District (where Lefiya also went to school).
- Riveria is a close friend of Eina's mother Aina, who came from the same forest. (This is apparently not commonly-known even among Loki Familia members.)
- Mia Grand, the proprietress of the Hostess of Fertility, is both a Level 6 and a retired former captain of Freya Familia.
- Mia, Ottarl, Riveria, Gareth, and Finn all participated in the Great Quest against Behemoth in their younger days (15 years prior to current time), the latter four explicitly in support roles.
- Behemoth came from an area called Black Desert and was the result of the actions of an unknown god. Aside from its massive size, its most formidable weapon was poison winds strong enough to fell even high-level adventurers.
- Ryu's wooden sword, Alvs Lumina, is made from a branch of the elves' Sacred Tree.
The story of Argonaut clearly provides inspiration for generations of heroes to come, not the least of which is Bell himself. How this all happened, and how the story was deliberately recorded in such a way that it would serve as an inspirational narrative, are all details well beyond anything in the novels or anime.
For those interested in the story who do not play the game (or missed this event), I recommend the YouTube videos linked below, which gather all of the event's scenes.
As part of its 3rd Anniversary celebration, DanMemo presented its longest story to date: a three-parter penned by franchise writer/creator Fujino Ōmori, which was released over the course of the summer of 2020. It details one of the most pivotal events in the setting's recent backstory: the Seven Deadly Days, an event seven years in the past where the major familias of Orario combined their efforts against the forces of Evilus. The event is so named because it focuses most heavily on Ryu Lion's Astrea Familia, back when they were still intact and considered Orario's shining light because of their emphasis on justice and relative power. (Most the eleven all-female members were level 3 or 4 by the end, which put them among the most powerful familias of the time.) The event marks the formal introduction of the goddess Astrea and Alise, the familia's captain (both of whom have been mentioned before by Ryu in novels). It also introduces other key members, like the prum Lyra and the human Kaguya, and features a younger and much more hot-headed version of Ryu. A few villains who have appeared in Sword Oratoria, including Olivas Act (also in the anime) and Valetta Grede (novels only), also make appearances, as do young versions of Ais, Syr, and Amid.
This was the Dark Era, the period where Zeus and Hera Familias being essentially destroyed in the fight against the Black Dragon left a power vacuum in Orario, which the allied forces of Evilus rose to fill. References to this being the darkest period in Orario's history have appeared a few times in various novels and anime adaptations, but this arc shows exactly how near-apocalyptically bad it got and the great stand required by Orario's collected adventurers to thwart it. For as dramatic as the story can get, however, it may be even more significant in the long run for the metric ton of big reveals and enticing hints that it offers. Among them:
- The god Erebus, who fashioned himself as the “absolute malevolence” but had even deeper motives, was one of the major players behind Evilus.
- The Evilus trick of its members becoming suicide bombers (as seen in Sword Oratoria) debuts here.
- Shakti, the captain of Ganesha Familia, had a younger sister, Ardee, who was a close friend of Ryu but died early on in these events.
- The former senior members of Loki Familia, the ones who trained Finn, Gareth, and Riveria, are introduced: the human Noir, the dwarf Dine, and the Amazon Batra.
- Asfi becomes the captain of Hermes Familia after the death of former leader Lidith (who had not ever been mentioned before).
- Two former executives of Zeus and Hera Familias, respectively, debut: the warrior Zard (aka Predator) and the mage Alfia (aka Silence). Both are Level 7s.
- Both were key players in the Three Great Quests: Zard landed the final blow against Behemoth, while Alfia cast the spell which ultimately defeated Leviathan, but both were believed to have fallen in battle against the Black Dragon.
- Upon meeting young Ais, Alfia cryptically refers to her as “the girl of the Dungeon” and congratulates Loki Familia on securing her. She also makes the equally cryptic (and at this point wholly unexplained) comment “no wonder Ouranos wouldn't give up on Maquia.”
- After fighting against Alfia, Ais refers to Alfia as being “as strong as my father,” which is the first real gauge of how strong her father might have been.
- Active older adventurers (including the senior members of Loki Familia) are virtually nonexistent in the current time because they all died in battle in one major sacrificial action during the final stages of this conflict.
- Numerous current Level 6 adventurers achieved that level at the end of this conflict, including Finn, Gareth, Riveria, Allen Fromel, and Freya's Bringar. Ottarl also achieved Level 7 as a result of this event.
But maybe the biggest revelation comes in a flashback scene at the end, where Zard, Alfia, and Erebus discuss their real motives. In that conversation, Alfia talks about a boy being raised in the mountains by Zeus at the time, a boy who is obviously a young Bell. She and Zard reveal his parentage: his mother was Alfia's sickly younger twin sister, and his father was one of Zeus Familia's supporters. Hence Bell is a child of both Zeus Familia (which has been implied before) and Hera Familia (which hasn't), the two most powerful familias which have ever existed, and the nephew of a Level 7 acknowledged to have even greater potential. None of this is surprising, but it is something that Omori has been coy about up to this point.
The arc does not, unfortunately, connect the climactic battles with major established follow-up events, such as the Nightmare on the 27th Floor or the slaughter of Astrea Familia which sent Ryu on a revenge streak against the surviving members of Evilus; those may well be stories for another day.
For those interested in the story but who do not play the game, I recommend the YouTube videos linked below, which gather all of the event's scenes.
Right after this the game returns to lighter-hearted fare as it engages in yet another swimsuit-themed tale. (Although its conclusion does involve some reminiscing about characters who were lost in the conflict described in Astrea Record.) However, when DanMemo takes itself seriously, it can make significant contribution to the overall DanMachi franchise.
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