Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? II
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? (TV 2) ?
It's always nice when a series ends (or in the case of DanMachi, takes a pause between seasons) on a high note. Whatever other faults there are in the adaptation of this season's source materials, the final episode does get it right – it hits all the emotional high (and low) points necessary, it explores the idea of a romantic love between goddess and child, and it nicely sets up for a third season. (Had that last not already been announced, of course, I'd be disparaging the choice to foreshadow Wiene as a blatant book advertisement.) All in all, this is well done and largely satisfying, which is really what we want in a finale.
The entire story takes place outside the confines of Orario and the Dungeon, which is good for reminding us that the world is much broader than we typically see. Hestia, Bell, and Ais have successfully shaken off Ares and his soldiers, unfortunately also losing track of Asfi, and have taken up refuge in a small forest village. The “mayor” of the town (a word choice that doesn't quite feel appropriate given the time period and setting) and his daughter have taken the travelers in, which at first seems just like basic hospitality, but in truth has a more plot-related motive: the mayor, Karm, is the former child (and lover) of Brigid Familia, which was disbanded when Brigid gave up her earthly form saving his life. Karm has mourned Brigid's loss ever since, and he sees something of his goddess in Hestia and of his relationship with the Irish goddess in Bell's with Hestia.
Mythologically, that's definitely interesting, assuming you can ignore that Brigid is married with a child in most surviving records. Like Hestia/Vesta, Brigid is symbolized by the image of a flame, although she's (obviously) not a virgin goddess, or even a particularly domestic one; Brigid is more typically associated today as a patron goddess of poetry, although she's also represented smithing, the harvest, and the dawn, among other things. Apart from the fact that it makes me wonder why Fujino Omori gender-swapped Hephaistos when he could have just used an actual female god of smithing, the episode tells us that Hestia and Brigid were best friends up in Heaven, where Brigid was the prankster to Hestia's straight man. Since Hestia represents a cult of virginity while Brigid has charge of the harvest (fertility), this makes them essentially opposite goddesses, although it also highlights their similarities, such as association with the flame and the fact that, in the show, they both fall in love with a mortal man. In this sense, Karm represents the fulfilment of Bell's fears: he's been mourning the loss of his goddess for most of his life, and even death isn't a sure way to reunite them – Hestia tells Bell that human souls are purified when they return to Heaven, losing all of their memories before reincarnating back in the lower realm again. Since Brigid must stay in Heaven now, that means that she and Karm have virtually no chance of being together, and while he won't remember her, she very well may still mourn the loss of him for the rest of her much, much longer life.
That's the ultimate problem with a romance between Bell and Hestia – however many years they have, it's never going to be forever. Even if she manages to remain in Orario and does as she says, finding Bell's reincarnation over and over again, will it really be the same? Personally, I've always felt that was an authorial cop-out; I want the two people to be together as they have been in most of the story, because a reincarnation isn't really the same person as the original. That's something Bell is eventually going to have to decide for himself, and right now I mostly see him as loving Hestia without necessarily being in love with her. He's still hurting from his grandfather's death, which has defined him as a person just as much as Hestia taking him in has, and both of those driving forces are going to be important in season three as Wiene's storyline unfolds.
It isn't easy to make an episode simultaneously bittersweet and hopeful, but Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon II has pulled it off with this one. Along with dropping hints about things to come – Ais' reaction to the villagers' worship of the black dragon is certainly worth noting – it solidifies Bell's and Hestia's commitment to each other, even though that may well mean different things to each of them. Right now that doesn't matter, though, because the episode also assures us that life will go on in Orario even if we're not there to see it – and fortunately it looks like we will be.
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