Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? II
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? (TV 2) ?
Well this show just shot up from a PG to a PG13, at least in terms of sexual content. That's mostly because this episode introduces Ishtar Familia, and the goddess Ishtar (originally the Sumerian Inanna) is not just a goddess of love and beauty, but of sex as well. In DanMachi's version of the goddess, this means that her followers are primarily Amazons, an in-world race who capture men for, shall we say, procreation purposes, and a city having a red-light district is basically giving them a playground. Not that they limit themselves to consensual encounters – Bell is bodily carried off by Aisha, Lena, and other members of Ishtar Familia while he objects vociferously, and Ishtar herself takes advantage of Hermes when he comes to deliver a package to her Home. (Let's just say that it doesn't look like he's crying from joy at the end there.) Even without this, Haruhime tells Bell that she was sold to the Ishtar Familia when her family rejected her, which to our modern sensibilities reads as her being sold into sexual slavery (note the metal collar she's wearing), which doesn't do much to deter anyone from inferring that we've just met the next big threat now that Apollo Familia is no more.
That may make this episode one of the more uncomfortable for some people as well. Bell running to escape unwanted sexual advances is framed to be at least a little funny, but just because the genders are flipped, that doesn't mean that it's not just as bad as if he were Belle fleeing a group of men. The Amazons don't even pretend to care that he's frightened and not interested and in fact tell him that they're used to capturing men to propagate their people, which is how they plan to use Bell. It's not a bad thing to show women in charge of their own sex lives, but a lot of what's going on here is far from good. Phryne is another facet of that, with her design feeling like an unpleasant stereotype of a larger woman, although no one really treats her as unattractive, so I may be reading too much into that. Since the name “Phryne” does in fact mean “toad,” the other Amazons' use of it doesn't seem as troubling, especially since the historical Phryne was, in fact, a courtesan for whom “Phryne” was a nickname; her real name seems to have been Mnesarete.
All of this attention to detail with names does make two things stand out in a not-so-good light that's not at all plot-related. One of those is the fact that scholars have largely rejected ideas that the cult of Ishtar practiced what's called “sacred prostitution,” so while having Ishtar's Home be within the pleasure district makes sense, having them take money for sex does not. The other is the use of the name Aisha for one of Ishtar's children in this sense. While I've noticed that the name tends to just be used in anime as “generic Middle Eastern-sounding name for dark-skinned character,” it feels like the original author did too much research not to realize that Aisha is the name of Mohammad's third wife, making its use here unfortunate given all of the other mythologically significant names.
More importantly for the story, this week introduces Haruhime, a Renard (French for fox and here used to denote a beastperson with fox attributes) from the Far East. Although we don't know what upset Mikoto and Chigusa, the fact that they're from the same place and were followed into the red-light district certainly implies a relationship between the three, making Bell's encounter with her far more significant than it might otherwise seem. Because Haruhime is not an Amazon, she sees herself as ruined and somehow dirty because of her work in the sex industry, something that immediately speaks to Bell's tender heart in the same way Lili's predicament did. He may make the connection between how differently the Amazons and Haruhime view themselves, but he's also just a sweet person, and he knows that Haruhime is hurting from something not her fault. (Although the fact that she faints upon seeing his collarbone seems to contradict her statement about being with many men…) If there is a link between his fellow familia member and the girl who saved him from the other members of her own familia, it's certain that Bell will get his chance to prove to Haruhime that she's worth saving, no matter what she thinks.
What Lili and Hestia will think of the girl is a whole different story...
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