Reviewby Theron Martin,
Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?
In the wake of the mess with Soma Familia, Bell agrees once again to take on the heavily repentant Liliruca as a supporter. Hestia has a few choices words for her, too, but ultimately agrees to accept her on the condition that she helps keep Bell from letting his naiveté lead him into something foolish – and, of course, with the understanding that Bell is hers romantically. Bell later bumps into Aiz Wallenstein, who had been seeking him out to apologize over the Minotaur incident, at the Guild. Since she has a few days off before Loki Familia's next expedition, she offers to train Bell in fighting, though she really doesn't know the best way to go about it herself. While she puts Bell through rough paces, though, Freya has Bell squarely in mind for her newest schemes, which involve using her top “child” to set up a potentially deadly challenge, one which she intends to use to force Bell to shine even brighter for her. Given his recent past, that challenge naturally involves a Minotaur.
Whereas the anime version of DanMachi spent three episodes each adapting the first two of the original novels, it only devotes two episodes (7 and 8) to the third novel. Given the story and character development territory that this novel covers, though, that feels about right. Even adapting every single thing in the novel would not have totaled more than 2½ episodes without some serious stretching. Having its climax come in the middle of an episode would hardly have been fitting, either, since in a very real sense it is the climax of the franchise's story to date. (Indeed, writer Fujino Omori implies in the Afterword that the completion of this story marks the point where the franchise stops being insular.) Hence cutting out a few scenes to fit the content into only two episodes was the right decision.
What was cut out has the feel of the kind of deleted scenes one would expect to find in the DVD/Blu-Ray release of a major Hollywood movie: while there may have been reason to consider them in the story, they just don't fit the flow of the final production as well as the scenes kept in. That being said, though, those “deleted scenes” do provide some additional explanation and context, enough so that reading the novel as a companion piece to the anime version (which at this point is still the better version) will color in the overall picture a bit more. Amongst the cut scenes are the following:
• Liliruca providing a more detailed explanation of what she is doing to “lay low” from her Familia (and the effect that has on her);
The last two are easily the most significant of these unadapted scenes. The former may have been skipped because animating its impact convincingly would have been far more difficult than just describing its effect, while the latter is a little more puzzling. Its intended purpose seems to have been to make Bell more completely aware of the power class difference between low-level and high-level adventurers and also to make him aware that disdain between Familias leading to open conflict is a “thing” amongst adventurers. The latter point is covered later in the anime in scenes with Ryu (Lyu in the novel), though, so bringing that up now may have been deemed unnecessary. And the anime staff may have judged that Bell was already keenly aware enough of the power difference between him and higher-level adventurers that a scene focused on that was not needed.
Evaluated independently from the anime, this novel transitions the story from focusing on Bell establishing himself as an adventurer worthy of interest to him learning about and facing the hurdles he must overcome to be the kind of storybook hero that he idolized as a child. Aiz effectively replaces Hestia and Liliruca as the primary female character for this arc, and indeed, we do get a little more insight into her character – but only a little. In fact, all we really learn that's new is that her interest in Bell is more as a curiosity than because of anything romantic. The writing further implies that she is simple-minded and single-minded enough that she probably would not understand romance even if it hit her in the face – and that is only assuming it could get by her prodigious Defense. While this aspect is a little underwritten, Bell's fretting about being outclassed is overwritten, almost to the point of obnoxiousness at times.
Mechanically speaking, this novel also continues to transition between third and first person depending on whether the viewpoint is Bell or someone else. And yes, this is still every bit as awkward as it was in previous volumes. The writing quality is a little improved, but still not a strength, and it still has a bad habit of making the speakers difficult to differentiate in a group conversation. (This seems to be a common problem with light novel translations, though.) Illustration quality varies but is generally on the average side.
Unlike with many of its other light novel series, Yen Press once again uses a single regular glossy page and a trifold glossy instead of multiple glossy color pages. This time, though, they go together to form one big illustration of Bell sleeping in Hestia's lap and a smaller one featuring Ottar standing behind a minimally-covered Freya. (The same image is used in the anime version's opener.) It ends with an updated profile of Bell and the author's Afterword and clocks in at 201 pages including that Afterword. That makes it the shortest of the novels to date by a dozen pages, but even at that length it feels a little padded.
All-in-all, the third volume is a recommended read both for established fans of the anime and for those only following the story via the novels. However, it is really more of a stretched-out novella than a full novel.
Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B-
+ Fills in some missing details from the anime, Bell's climactic fight vs. the Minotaur
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