Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? II
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 11 of
Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? (TV 2) ?
As a staunch adherent of “the book is better than the movie”, I rarely expect an adaptation to fully encompass what I like about a title, and while not every case is as egregious as Amazon's version of Agatha Christie's Ordeal by Innocence (you can't just change who the murderer is), I'm always pleasantly surprised when a show changes something from its source material for the better. That's how I feel about the controversial reveal about Haruhime's time in the sex trade, which we get this week as part of the epilogue to her storyline. In the book, she and Bell learn that Haruhime's still a virgin because she kept passing out before ever sleeping with a customer, something we could reasonably have figured out from the context clues (and knowledge of the otaku cult of purity) within the show. But in the anime, Aisha never actually tells either of them, being cut off by other former members of Ishtar Familia before she gets the words out. This means that, unlike in the original novels, Haruhime has to move forward from here assuming that she was, in fact, sexually active, and she must learn to accept and hopefully love herself despite the fact that by her standards she is no longer “pure.” It's kind of like the good fairy in most iterations of the Sleeping Beauty tale type (an appropriate reference, given that story's use in reinforcing a western ideal of purity) – the curse isn't totally lifted, but it is made less harmful. I think that's a better message for the characters and potentially the viewers, because despite how it at times seemed, it wasn't the work Ishtar Familia engaged in that made them “bad,” it was the way they went about it.
We might be able to say the same about Ares Familia, who shows up this week, if Ares wasn't such a moron. He is, after all, the Greek god of war, so waging battles is kind of what he does. This being DanMachi, he's doing it on behalf of the kingdom (city state?) where his familia is based, Rakia, which may not be the first time we've really taken the story outside Orario and its environs, but it is certainly the most significant. That's because Ares' brilliant plan is to sneak into Orario and kidnap, er, godnap a deity to use as currency in his battle…and let's just say that “brilliant” might be the overstatement of the century. Hestia may make her familia a little crazy and Asfi may look like she'd like to shove Hermes off a bridge at low tide, but none of that really compares to how put-upon Ares' child Marius is trying to deal with his familia's head. That Marius is apparently the prince of Rakia may make his annoyance even greater, but really he looks like nothing so much as a babysitter stranded with a pack of feral toddlers.
All of this contributes to a sort of “gods are human too” feel to the episode, with Hestia and Ares representing the more childish or impulsive side of human nature and Hephaistos and Miach taking Bell under their collective wing to explain to him that gods' feelings are just like human ones and simply ought to be treated with respect. (Hephaistos, apparently, knows what she's talking about, as Welf seems to imply that the two have a close relationship.) The gods also share humanity's overweening ambition, as Hermes relates to Bell when he tells him about the Three Great Quests, only one of which remains, the fight against a one-eyed black dragon – because Zeus and Hera familias were destroyed completing the other two quests. (Or because they were working together and Zeus and Hera are a notoriously dysfunctional couple in Greek myths.)
It also builds on the increasingly obvious themes of war that we've been seeing this season. We began with the War Game against Apollo Familia, moved on to the unofficial war with Ishtar Familia, and now an actual god of war, Ares, has appeared. Things are definitely heating up in the story's world, and Bell, Hestia, and Ais being washed downstream to an unknown location adds to the foreshadowing that novel readers may recognize at this point. Everything is building to bring us to later events, and right now it just feels too bad that the season is almost over.
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