Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? II
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 4 of
Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? (TV 2) ?
Welcome to another edition of “Is it a 3.5? Or is it a 4?”! This is what happens when an episode is very good and seems to fly right by, but when you stop to think about it, it honestly could have been handled better. In the case of this episode in particular, the issues largely arise from the fact that the entire war game is stuffed into a single episode, and while that does alleviate some of the issues of the game from the source material (the light novel author has a distinct tendency to overwrite his battle scenes) and brings us closer to the Haruhime storyline, it also makes the whole thing feel really rushed.
Largely this issue is with the battle's climax. Hyakinthos (whom you might also know as Hyacinth, a Spartan prince who was Apollo's lover in mythology) is supposed to be the greatest, or at least one of the greatest, warriors in Apollo Familia. While this does mean that he's vulnerable to Ais' lesson on final attacks being where men are most vulnerable, it also doesn't do him any favors as a worthy opponent for Bell – or an impressive one to overcome – to just sort of gloss over the fight. It also belittles Bell's accomplishment in beating him to win the war game, because rather than make him look like the underdog who wins despite the odds, it makes it look like someone confused Hyacinth with Narcissus and Hyakinthos' ego simply got the best of him and led him to make a foolish move. On the other hand, mythological Hyakinthos was killed by a discus and some versions have that be a deliberate act on the part of Zephyrus, so throwing both of those elements into his defeat was a very nice touch.
This whole arc has been impressively faithful to its source mythology, which I at least have enjoyed. There's a wonderful irony in the way Cassandra in particular is used in this episode, with her continually telling people that the Trojan Horse has been brought into the fortress (nice misdirect there, with the visual leading us to assume it's what Luan is carrying rather than Luan being Lili that's the Horse) and that they're going to lose the game. Since it was, in the myths, Apollo who cursed her that her prophecies would always be true and never be believed, this feels like a very good way to bite him in the ass.
“Ass” does remain a pretty good descriptor for Apollo, who is not a graceful loser. Not that Hestia's a graceful winner, but you can't say she doesn't deserve to lord it over one of the least likable incarnations of the sun god, given what he's tried to pull. In any event, we can see the way his behavior has influenced the members of his familia, with prum Luan's treatment standing out. We've known that prums haven't always had the best treatment compared to some of the other races in Orario, but seeing the way that Luan (well, Lili disguised as Luan) is consistently given short shrift in terms of chores and general treatment says a lot about the differences between Apollo Familia, Hestia Familia, and Loki Familia. (Soma Familia, which also counts prums among its members, is probably not a good example of anything.) In any event, the whole thing reiterates that in the end, stronger familias are ones where there are true bonds, not just a united sense of superiority.
All of that aside, this was a good week for a few of the characters we don't necessarily focus on in this series. Probably my favorite scene this week was when Loki Familia is watching the action and Bete makes a comment that Bell has to do something because “he's a man.” There's a brief shot of the Amazon twins Tiona and Tione exchanging a baffled look that makes it clear that they don't think that's a valid reason, and it's not only funny, but it also nicely sums up the Amazons' attitudes towards gendered ideas like that, which will be important during the Haruhime storyline. Ryu, meanwhile, is basically the unsung heroine of the whole war game – everyone's impressive and Hestia Familia works together very well to bring the game over to their favor, but Ryu is truly awesome in both meanings of the word: the slang one and the original meaning “awe-inspiring.” Just further proof that girls in maid/waitress outfits in anime should never be underestimated.
With the conclusion of the war game, rushed though it may have been, it looks like we'll get to take a breather next week as Hestia Familia gets settled in their new home. That'll be nice, given that we hit the ground running, but don't worry – there's another Familia waiting in the wings to stir up some trouble for Hestia's favorite child.
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