Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? II
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? (TV 2) ?
Bell certainly has been the hot commodity in Orario this season. Freya's had her eye on him since season one, but now he can add Apollo and Ishtar to the lists of gods who want him. Ishtar's reason seems to almost entirely due to her desire to start a war with Freya, but that doesn't diminish the threat she and her familia pose to Bell. In part this is because she's uniquely ruthless, even beyond what we saw from Apollo. In fact, Hestia may be something of a rarity among the gods in that she's pretty faithful to the rules and doesn't engage in any truly shady behaviors, her debt to Hephaistos notwithstanding. But Ishtar actively breaks rules and then lies about it, and that makes her a very frightening foe.
Not that we really know this for certain yet, but the implication is strong. When Bell goes to Eina for information about Ishtar Familia, hoping to learn more about Haruhime, he discovers that a few years ago the group was accused of deliberately downplaying their members' strengths, something that ultimately could not be proved. In retaliation, Ishtar went after the familias who reported her along with the Guild itself, with the result that several of the familias were disbanded and the Guild was more or less forced to stop policing activities in the Pleasure Quarter. That's all just a little too convenient for Ishtar Familia to sit well; her enemies removed from the city and the powers that be taken out of her playground? Do things ever really work out that neatly?
The answer is assuredly not. To say that Ishtar is unscrupulous might be understating things a bit, which the revelation of her ownership of Haruhime was initially hinting towards. Mikoto's story about Haruhime's childhood also makes the whole “thrown out of her family” tale she told Bell ring false, although Haruhime herself might not know that – Mikoto says that she'd heard that the Renard was tricked by a “bad man” and sold into slavery, so she very well may have simply fallen into a trap. Given Ishtar's decree that she wants Bell (to defile him and piss off Freya) followed by Aisha's attempt to kidnap him in the Dungeon, it feels entirely possible that Haruhime was specifically sought out by the goddess and sold not so much into generalized slavery, but rather to Ishtar directly.
Why would Ishtar do that? We don't know yet, but we've gotten a couple of decent clues. Hermes absolutely knows a lot more than he's letting on (which seems to make him uncomfortable; he's a very human god), but more significant is the fact that Haruhime is in the dungeon with the rest of the strike team when there's no record of her as a Dungeon-going combatant with the Guild. The spell she activates looks like it does more than make her glow with phosphorescence. Bell says that she's Level 3, just like he is, but she certainly doesn't fight like it – Bell can barely hold his own against her. Whether that means that Haruhime can enhance the target's level or hide it with her power isn't yet known (in the anime; remember we're not talking with book knowledge here), but it feels very likely that this is why Ishtar would have sought the Renard girl out and what caused the rumors that gave her free run of the Pleasure Quarter in the first place.
Returning to some of the themes of the previous episode, Bell does find the specific story that gave Haruhime the idea that an impure (sexually active) woman isn't worth saving: the Whore of Babylon from the New Testament. Apart from the fact that this is interesting in a mythological sense because it's one of the first deliberate references to a monotheistic religion in the show, it's also part of the demonizing of female sexuality that we've seen here to a degree. Haruhime is poisoned with ideas of worth tied to purity, but she's also presented as unequivocally good – the maiden in the tower awaiting rescue. (And before we quibble over the word “maiden,” Rapunzel, the quintessential tower-kept maiden, was pregnant when she left the tower.) Ishtar's Amazons, on the other hand, are sexually active, clearly enjoy that sexual activity, and also at this point very much painted as not good – they engage in the slave trade, they kidnap people, and they rape men. This is in direct contrast to Bell as well, who is sexually innocent and appears pretty uninterested in sex but whom everyone assumes must have gone to the Pleasure Quarter in pursuit of it. Eina says to him that it's normal “because he is a guy;” Bell does not appear to agree with her statement – or with Haruhime's. It's interesting that for Bell sex is just a thing, not a marker of good, evil, maturity, or anything. It will be interesting to see if more people can come to the median view as the story goes on.
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