Reviewby Theron Martin,
Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?
Bell's defining defeat of the Minotaur has qualified him for Level 2 as an adventurer, a feat which shocks Eina and others who find out about it since he has only been active as an adventurer for a month and a half. That makes him by far the fastest to ever accomplish the feat; even the Sword Princess Aiz, the previous record-holder, needed a full year to do it. That earns him both an unprecedented Advanced Ability option and peculiar new Skill, as well as the opportunity to get a title – and it will be a sensible one if Hestia has anything to say about it, though she must face an intimidating council of fellow gods and goddesses in order to get it. On Eina's advice Bell decides to seek out a third party member so he and Lilly can more safely traverse double-digit floor numbers, and a candidate practically falls into his lap when he's out searching for replacement armor: Welf Crozzo, the young blacksmith who had made his previous armor and offers to become Bell's contracted armor and weapons maker in exchange for taking him on as a party member. But how good a fit will he prove to be in the thick of action?
In the first of two side stories, Lilly guides Bell through his first Quests, matters which involve the Miach Familia and its deepest problems. The second is a flashback to the earliest days of Hestia Familia, at a time when Bell was first beginning his career as an adventurer.
The main story in the fourth DanMachi novel was directly adapted into episode 9 of the anime. The episode did feel like it had rushed things a bit, but not until I read the novel version did I appreciate how much. However, the source material only supplied 161 pages of actual main story and Fujino Ōmori's writing style still flows along pretty swiftly, so even a full adaptation of the main story's content would not have amounted to more than another half-episode at most. Frankly, taking that half-episode to cover some skipped-over points is not worth the disruption that would have caused to the anime's pacing, especially since the remaining four episodes of the anime had very little frivolous content.
If you have seen the anime version then you already know most of what transpires. The only real changes that the anime version made were that the novel has no mention of someone of Welf's description being in the Guild Hall when Bell told Eina about being Level 2 and that the anime makes the meeting of the gods look like it is happening at some luxurious mansion, whereas the novel describes it as happening in one of the mid-level floors of Babel Tower.
The novel does have a few scenes and numerous details entirely omitted from the anime, however. The most prominent one is a description of the Denatus Naming Ceremony that Hestia attends, which shows the procedure behind how adventurers end up with their pretentious-sounding nicknames. This insightful scene show how they entertain themselves by assigning whatever bizarre titles strike their fancy, much to the dismay of the gods whose children are being assigned titles. In an amusing irony, the names the gods choose may be hideous to their peers (Burning Fighting Fighter, for instance), but are often adored by the adventurers who get them. The meeting also brings up some details that the anime never did, such as what Ares is up to (which will apparently figure prominently into a later novel which goes beyond the scope of the anime) and that Loki is now aware that it is Bell specifically that Freya is interested in. Also present are a couple of additional minor scenes involving Eina and substantial additional information about Welf's personal background and his family heritage, including exactly why he wants to join Bell's party, why he has had trouble joining parties of his own Guild, and what it means to be a contracted blacksmith. This detail makes where he stands so much clearer that the anime does feel shorted by comparison. The novel also brings out additional details on the mechanics of Advanced Abilities, which to my recollection is not mentioned in the anime at all.
The two additional side stories were both originally published in GA Bunko Magazine, a digital light novel-oriented magazine. The first, “Quest x Quest,” covers 40 pages and is set in the midst of the third novel, during the time when Bell was training with Aiz early every morning. It details Bell learning about how quests work in his world and how he gets involved with the affairs of Miach Familia, including why his now-sole child Nahza is working at their shop instead of out adventuring. It is noteworthy for a number of reasons, including being the first part of the franchise to delve into the ecology of the Dungeon, venture outside of Orario for some of its action, and consider how monsters who had escaped from the Dungeon in the Old Age fared in the outside world. The second, “A Campanella to the Goddess,” covers 24 pages and is essentially a description of how Hestia came to have the elaborate hair ties that she is normally depicted with. (The anime does show that Hestia has different, simpler hair ties when she first meets Bell, but it is a detail unlikely to be picked up on if you're not specifically looking for it.) I would not be surprised if one or both of these stories were animated as an OVA at some point.
Omori's writing style remains mostly consistent with previous novels, including the propensity to shift back and forth between first and third person when focusing on Bell or not; the exception is “Campanella,” which is exclusively told in third person from Hestia's point of view. Omori's writing does show an increasingly annoying tendency to describe what is about to happen and then demonstrate it happening, but he excels at handling the flow of group conversations and does a good job of differentiating characters enough by vocal style that readers have no trouble telling who's speaking when the speaker's identity matters, even if that person has not been listed by the dialog.
The Yen Press release of the volume includes another trifold glossy at the beginning, this time featuring a racy rendition of Hephaistos on one side and a tamer rendition of Hestia without the hair ties on the other side. Two pages of profile on Welf and his equipment round out the main story, and the two page Afterword talks about Omori's fascination with blacksmiths and who all he feel he needs to thank. Black-and-white artwork throughout is par for the course both for the franchise and for light novels in general.
In short, this volume feels more like connective tissue than real meat-and-bones storytelling. It is not the series at its strongest but has enough extra story and detail to be well worth a look by franchise fans.
Overall : B-
Story : B-
Art : C+
+ Side stories, additional detail not seen in the anime version.
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