Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? III
Episodes 1-3

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 1 of
Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? III ?

How would you rate episode 2 of
Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? III ?

How would you rate episode 3 of
Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? III ?

Welcome to the story arc that at long last answers the question posed by the title. That's kind of nice, considering that the disconnect between title and story content has been stark from the start of season one – Bell Cranel's adventures in the Dungeon below Orario have been about many things, but romance really hasn't been one of them; if anything, he's been the picked up party more often than not. Of course, when he actually does get around to picking up a girl in a dungeon, it's in a much more literal sense than the title implies – Bell rescues a girl and the familia brings her home because they're nice people who don't (and who haven't ever) put much stock into what “everyone” knows about someone. And that's important in this case, because the girl Bell picked up isn't just anyone.

This girl is a monster.

I mean that in the literal sense that she's a dungeon-dwelling being who, under normal circumstances, would be an enemy to adventurers like Hestia Familia. However, while Wiene, as she comes to be known, may be a monster in terms of species and place of origin, she's exactly like a human in all other ways: she's smart, she can talk, and she's got clear emotional range. In other words, Wiene is a direct contradiction to what everyone knows about the denizens of the dungeon, and rather than be freaked out or off-put by this, Hestia Familia is fascinated and willing to give her a chance, even the reluctant Lili.

To say that Wiene's existence constitutes a complete upheaval of the truths of the world isn't much of an exaggeration. For decades adventurers have been killing monsters and treating them like beasts, so any other familia who comes across Wiene might have been more likely to stab first and ask questions later. In fact, in episode two when Wiene saves a child from being hurt while out in town, the townsfolk are so blinded by what she is that they immediately rewrite what's in front of their eyes and begin screaming that a monster is attacking a child. They're completely unable to accept that the world might not be as black-and-white as they've always believed, and that means that no matter how much Bell and Haruhime love the dragon girl, there's no way to keep her safe above ground. After all, if people who watched Wiene save a child can't believe the truth of their own eyes, how likely is it that others will accept a “monster” who isn't monstrous?

That's the subtext behind these first three episodes – that change, real change, isn't something that can just happen overnight for a majority of people. Bell and Hestia have always been particularly good at looking past the surface and not making judgements about people based on appearance and hearsay alone; it's how they came together as two unknowns, and it's how they've continued to grow their familia, taking in Lili and fighting a war over Haruhime's well-being. Even prickly Lili comes to accept Wiene, although being Lili she's not going to be gracious about it. Her reaction is meant to be the hope that if she can come to see Wiene for herself, maybe other people can, too.

Or at least that's what Ouranos, the god in charge of the Dungeon, is hoping. In episode three he reveals to Hestia that he's known about the existence of intelligent, human-like monsters for some time, and in fact, with the aid of his right hand skeleton Fels, he has been helping the creatures known as Xenos to build and maintain a refuge on the 20th floor. When Bell and Welf picked Wiene up and brought her home, Ouranos hoped that this would be the start of a new existence for the Xenos, although that gets crushed fairly quickly.

The framework that these three episodes establish is that of a world on the cusp of change, teetering on the edge between moving forward or falling back. All three show us that change wouldn't be easy – in episode one, playing with Wiene gets Bell a vicious (and unintentional) gouge from her claws, and when he meets other Xenos in episode three, he's terrified to shake their hands because to him they still look like monsters, even though he's been living with Wiene. But he does shake the lizardman's hand, and Wiene lets her claws be trimmed to human-like fingernails, showing that concessions can be made and relationships forged.

But in Greek the word “xeno” means “alien” or “stranger,” and it's the root of the term “xenophobia,” or fear/dislike of foreigners. Original series author Fujino Ōmori is too good at research for that not to be deliberate, and Hestia Familia's discovery that Wiene is not the only one isn't something that people who twisted the sight of a child being saved by an Other into an attack are going to be able to hear. And now that that's established, will Bell and the other members of his familia stand up for the “monsters?” Even if it means being branded monsters themselves? And what does the god of nightmares, Ikelos, have to do with any of this?

What happens after you pick up the girl in the dungeon?

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Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? III is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and HIDIVE.


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