The Fall 2020 Preview Guide
Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? III
How would you rate episode 1 of
Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? III ?
What is this?
The Hestia Familia faces an unparalleled crisis when Bell encounters an injured vouivre (dragon-type monster girl) in the Dungeon...one who can talk. His decision to protect the girl, who will come to be called Wiene, upends everything he and his Familia thought they understood about monsters and threatens to put them at odds with Orario as a whole. But Wiene is just part of greater schemes concerning talking monsters, schemes which Hestia Familia will soon find themselves at the heart of.
Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? III is based on a light novel series and streams on HIDIVE and Crunchyroll at 12:30 PM ET on Fridays.
How was the first episode?
The most fundamental, intractable truth of the DanMachi setting is that monster races and human/demi-human races are mortal enemies. They cannot coexist, and it has been that way since Ancient Times; saying that both the city of Orario and the Guild exist because of that truth would not be the slightest hyperbole. Prior to this point in the franchise, that truth has just been accepted as fact by everyone. The very first scene of season 3 of the main series sees the first challenge to that truth, and that will rock this setting to its core.
The first episode mostly does a great job of setting that up. Readers of the source novels (this is the first part of novel 9) will notice that the adaptation is moving things along at a speedy clip; a few minor scenes are trimmed here and there, conversations shown in brief here are more detailed in the novel, and the almost oppressive emphasis on how unimaginable the idea of being friendly with a monster is has lightened. That's to say nothing about having a conversation with one, as monsters don't talk – or at least they are not supposed to, anyway.
However, I don't think these adjustments hurt the storytelling here, with maybe one exception: the scene at the end with Hermes Familia is trimmed too much. Besides, the episode does get one absolutely critical point right, and does it better than the novel did: it makes Wiene, the vouivre (dragon-type monster girl), convincingly adorable. Honestly, this is done better than I could have hoped for, as the visuals convey her childlike nature much more clearly and why both Bell in particular and Hestia Familia in general are mostly disarmed by her. Sure, some have their reservations – it would be unnatural if they were all quickly accepting of her, after all – but even with those teeth and nails she's so gosh-darn cute and vulnerable.
I am glad that they did not cut out the scene where she accidentally injures Bell with her nails, however, as it stands as a good reminder that Wiene, for all her vulnerability, is still a monster. The scene at the end, with her talking to Bell in bed while Hestia eavesdrops, suggests a bigger mystery, like how she is apparently a reincarnation of a regular monster. That Hermes Familia seems to be investigating a possibly-related matter raises other questions, but it is nice to see Sword Oratoria's Lulune back in action again. Ouranos and his shadowy servant who popped up a couple of times in Sword Oratoria's also makes his debut in the main series here.
Technical merits seem solid so far, and of course there are some fanservice moments as well; it wouldn't be DanMachi without at least a bit of that. So even without knowing what's coming, there's a lot to look forward to here, including how Ais – who made it clear in the last episode of last season that she's not going to regard the monster girl favorably – will eventually react.
And so we finally come to a season of Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? that makes the title make sense. Yes, at long last, Bell actually picks up a girl in the dungeon, and boy are people ever unsure as to whether or not he was wrong to do so. That's because the girl in question is actually a monster – Wiene is a vouivre, and Bell saves her when she's being pursued by both Adventurers and a bird monster, because he notices that unlike other dungeon creatures, Wiene is actively scared and crying: in other words, acting awfully like a human. And that in itself is more than enough to make Bell and his marginally-unwilling familia siblings to wonder what's going on.
Other plot concerns aside, the entire Wiene issue allows us to see each character for who they are. Bell has always had a heart of gold, so there's no surprise there, but watching Haruhime interact with Wiene gives us a better understanding of the renart who joined Hestia Familia last season; in her gentle care for the vouivre girl is the evidence that she sees her previous sad, frightening life with Ishtar Familia in the way that Wiene has been hurt and scared. Her main goal seems to be to make Wiene feel safe and loved, which differs from Bell's reaction in that he simply wants her to be safe – he's a brother to Wiene, but Haruhime takes on a distinctly parental role. Meanwhile Welf is willing to play along while keeping his reservations to himself; he's not really a mover and shaker in the familia, but rather someone who waits to see how things will pan out while going along with the group for the time being. It's Lili who's the most concerned; as the resident worrier of the gang, she's wary not necessarily of Wiene herself but of what bringing Wiene to the surface will mean for the familia as a whole. She's not willing to just accept anything until she's looked at all of the angles, and this episode sees her holding herself aloof from the vouivre even as the other women dote on her.
One of Lili's suspicions is absolutely right, though – it definitely seems that the gods know more about this whole talking monsters thing than any of them are willing to admit. While that's par for the course with Hermes and Ouranos (the two who seem to know the most), their reticence stands to harm Hestia Familia who, Ouranos' right-hand creepy man Fels notes, is gaining just a little too much notoriety…and Bell is definitely beloved of a few too many gods. That makes this feel like the calm before the storm; starting the season off on a light (but mysterious) note before everything goes to hell.
This arc of the original novels, the Xenos arc, is one of the most interesting and important in the series, so I'm definitely a little concerned that this episode just flies through the source material. Even if you haven't read the books, this feels very fast, settling Wiene in with rapidity without going through how they got her out of the dungeon in the first place and with minimal Hestia to boot. If the pacing is just for the set up, we'll be fine, but this is something worth keeping an eye on as the series goes forward – because I don't know about you, but I'm definitely looking forward to watching this arc play out.
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