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Shelf Life
Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon?

by Paul Jensen, James Beckett,

As you may have noticed while reading my initial episode review, I'm having a lot of fun watching KADO - The Right Answer this season. It's kind of a slow series and my brain hurts from keeping track of all the characters, but it's also the kind of deep sci-fi that we don't see very often these days. I can't guarantee it'll remain smart and well-written all season long, but it makes a for a great change of pace in between this season's big-name titles. Welcome to Shelf Life.

Jump to this week's review:
Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon?

On Shelves This Week

Asterisk War - Volume 4 BD, Limited Edition
Aniplex - 150 min - Hyb - MSRP $74.98|$114.98
Currently cheapest at: $54.99 Right Stuf|$89.98 Right Stuf

Synopsis: The student council president of Queenvail Girs' Academy helps Ayato and Julis face their opponents at full strength in the final round of the Phoenix Festa.

Extra: You'll find a review of volume 3 here, and we also have episode reviews for the full series. You can stream it on Crunchyroll, Funimation, Hulu, and the Aniplex Channel.

Crusher Joe: The Movie DVD
Discotek - 132 min - Hyb - MSRP $24.95
Currently cheapest at: $16.22 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Joe and his team are hired to rescue a cryogenically frozen woman, but their mission turns out to be a setup.

Extra: We have a review of an older release of this movie, and it's also featured in a Buried Treasure article.

Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters - Part 1 BD, DVD
Funimation - 575 min - Hyb - MSRP $54.98|$49.98
Currently cheapest at: $34.99 Amazon|$36.30 Barnes and Noble

Synopsis: As Goku and the other Z Fighters prepare for the World Martial Arts Tournament, the wizard Babidi plots to awaken Majin Buu.

Extra: We have several reviews from earlier in this series, and you'll find the most recent one here. There are some clips and extras on the Funimation site, but I wasn't able to find any full streaming episodes.

Fighting Foodons - Complete Collection DVD
Discotek - 600 min - Dub - MSRP $39.95
Currently cheapest at: $25.97 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Apprentice chef Chase and his fellow culinary rebels battle the evil Gluttons by creating battle-ready creatures out of food.

Extra: We don't have much coverage of this English-dubbed version of Bistro Recipe, but our user ratings average out at around 4.5 out of 10.

Freedom - Complete Collection BD+DVD
Discotek - 210 min - Hyb - MSRP $29.95
Currently cheapest at: $19.20 Barnes and Noble

Synopsis: In the domed moon colony of Eden, a rebellious teenager named Takeru discovers a picture that suggests that Earth may not be as uninhabitable as the citizens of Eden think it is.

Extra: We have a review of an older release of this series, and it was also covered in an installment of The Mike Toole Show.

My Love Story!! - Premium Edition BD+DVD
Sentai - 600 min - Hyb - MSRP $199.98
Currently cheapest at: $114.99 Amazon

Synopsis: High school student Takeo Goda falls in love with a beautiful girl at first sight, but he fears she has feelings for his handsome and popular best friend.

Extra: You'll find episode reviews of this romantic comedy here, and we also covered the standard edition for Shelf Life. You can stream it on Crunchyroll, Hulu, and The Anime Network.

One-Punch Man - Season 1 BD, DVD, Limited Edition
Viz - 288 min - Hyb - MSRP $49.99|$39.99|$59.99
Currently cheapest at: $37.52 Barnes and Noble|$28.44 Barnes and Noble|$46.58 Barnes and Noble

Synopsis: Saitama became a hero for fun, but he's gotten strong enough that he can defeat any opponent with a single punch. Will he lose his motivation now that there are no opponents worth fighting?

Extra: We have episode reviews and a full season review for this show. It's available streaming on Hulu, Daisuki, and Viz.com.

Prince of Stride: Alternative - Complete Collection BD+DVD
Funimation - 300 min - Hyb - MSRP $64.98
Currently cheapest at: $43.79 Amazon

Synopsis: Nana Sakurai and Takeru Fujiwara must rebuild their school's disbanded Stride team in order to win a major tournament.

Extra: We have episode reviews for this sports series, and it's available streaming on Funimation, Hulu, and Daisuki.

Snow White with the Red Hair - Season 2 BD+DVD
Funimation - 300 min - Hyb - MSRP $64.98
Currently cheapest at: $43.79 Amazon

Synopsis: Shirayuki and Zen continue their lives at the palace, but their relationship is put to the test by both new and old threats.

Extra: You'll find episode reviews of both seasons here, and you can stream the series on Funimation and Hulu.

Ultra Maniac - Complete Collection DVD
Discotek - 600 min - Hyb - MSRP $49.95
Currently cheapest at: $32.47 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Stylish tennis club ace Ayu Tateishi meets Nina Sakura, a transfer student who turns out to be a witch from a magical kingdom.

Extra: We have a review of an older DVD release, along with one of the original manga.

Utawarerumono: The False Faces BD, DVD
Sentai - 600 min - Hyb - MSRP $99.98|$79.98
Currently cheapest at: $57.49 Amazon|$49.99 Amazon

Synopsis: A nameless man wakes up in an open field with no memories of who he is. A beautiful girl saves him from a giant monster and gives him the name Haku.

Extra: You can read episode reviews for this show here, and it's available streaming on Crunchyroll, Hulu, and The Anime Network.

Shelf Life Reviews

With a spinoff airing this season, it seems like a good time to take a look at Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?. Here's James' take on the fantasy action series.

Back in 2015, Fujino Ōmori's popular light novel and manga series, Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, was adapted into anime that somehow had an even longer title: “Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Familia Myth”. The series focuses on a fantasy world known as Ororia, where adventurers join up with the clans of a number of famous mythological figures, known as Familias, and take to the Dungeon to fight monsters and win loot. Our hero, Bell Cranel, is the sole member of the Familia of Goddess Hestia. Despite being something of a runt, Bell has a lot of heart, plus the undying affections of his Goddess. He's determined to prove his worth, especially when he ends up being rescued by a mysterious woman of incredible strength. His infatuation with this mystery hero leads Bell to meet plenty of cute girls who help him along his journey, which in turn leads to plenty of adventure (and romcom shenanigans).

IIWtTtPUGiaD? ended up being quite successful that season, but I wasn't able to catch it when it was streaming, so beyond the incredibly unwieldy title, the one thing that always managed to pop up in my sphere of social media was Hestia's infamous Boob String. This innocuous little fashion accessory took the internet by storm, or at least it seemed so to me, sparking everything from immaculately recreated cosplay outfits to articles breaking down the science of the Boob String, and whether or not it was possible. If I'm being honest, the fervor over Hestia's fashion accessories, combined with the odd title, led me to dismiss the series as just another fanservice laden harem anime.

When the Sentai Filmworks new Blu-Ray release of the series landed on my desk, though, I was given the opportunity to confront those assumptions head on and see for myself what all of the hubbub was about. In watching IIWtTtPUGiaD?, I discovered two things, the first being that the serious has mercifully shortened name used by the fandom, “DanMachi”. I also learned that DanMachi is pretty damned good.

As anyone that reads my work for ANN has learned by now, I'm a sucker for romance, and the key element to my enjoying DanMachi as much as I did was in large part due to the chemistry and likeability of its leading characters. Bell and Hestia really do feel like peas-in-a-pod, perennial losers just waiting for their time to shine, and their rapport feels genuine and earnest in all of the right ways. Bell himself is an affable goof, and while I still struggle with the trope of almost every girl he meets becoming fixated on him, his dorky pluck and moxie at least made his role as the nexus for all these women's affections more believable. Hestia herself is absolutely adorable, and I can finally see why she became such a popular character, Boob String aside – she's a loyal and loving friend who has enough agency and drive to get things done in her own way, on her own time.

Really, all of the characters end up pulling their own weight, managing to rise above their plot-mandated love of Bell and serve as interesting figure in their own right. Ais Wallenstein, the focus of Bell's initial crush, starts off as aloof and more of a plot device than anything else, but she eventually gets time to become her own character (She's also the main character of DanMachi's currently airing spinoff series, Sword Oratoria). Eina Tulle serves as a straight-woman to all of Bell and Hestia's antics, and I was glad to see her affection for him be more of a “big sister” type of relationship. My favorite supporting character, though, would have to be Lilly Erde, a mischievous little trickster whose relationship with Bell and the Hestia Familia starts off a little rough, but ends up being one of the most heartwarming plots of the series. Pretty much all of the side characters have compelling backstories and personalities in their own right, and while romance definitely blooms in varying degrees between some of the other girls the show presents and Bell, the focus is always squarely on him and Hestia, and the journey these two characters took together was what kept me coming back for more.

It also helps that the battles and plot twists are also very enjoyable. DanMachi is definitely more of an episodic series, eschewing a grand “Save the World” plot to focus more on the growth of the Hestia Familia. Since this show is first and foremost about its characters, this setup worked just fine for me. Plus, what the show lacks in a core driving narrative, it makes up for with interesting worldbuilding and fun, frantic action set-pieces. DanMachi takes the concept of “A fantasy world that works conspicuously like a JRPG” and actually runs with it in a way that I thought was smart and fun, without getting too bogged down in the how and why of it all. The inclusion of gods from various mythologies isn't anything new in the world of anime, but DanMachi manages to mesh everything together cohesively, which makes its fantasy world feel unique despite essentially being a hodgepodge of the many stories, myths, and even videogames that have come before it. Clichés are fine by me, and DanMachi executes its clichés very well. The animation is always slick and clean, and the direction of the fight scenes is always clear and kinetic. Even if some were to find the characters and storylines to not be the most compelling, they could at least get a kick out of the fight scenes.

Sentai Filmworks has assembled the usual package for this Blu Ray, giving us a crisp transfer of all 13 episodes with some trailers, clean openings/endings, a dub, and not much else. The picture looks great and the audio for both dubs is solid, so anyone worried about the technical specs need not be concerned. The dub itself is also pretty good, with Bryson Baugus turning in an affably dorky performance for Bell, and Luci Christian nails Hestia's feisty charm. The biggest problem the dub presents are some wonky translation issues, especially in the final episode. While these are for the most part harmless, some beats in the last episode don't land with the pathos and/or humor intended. None of these flubs are deal breakers, but if you're a stickler for accuracy, then the Japanese track would be the way to go. The set is also lacking the series OVA episode, which is definitely a disappointment, especially since there doesn't seem to be a legal way to stream it in English.

At the end of the day, though, I'm really glad I was able to cover DanMachi, because I might not have ended up watching the series otherwise. It would have been a real shame too, since this is one fantasy light novel adventure worth experiencing, especially if you're a fan of the genre. The English dub isn't perfect, but the performances in either language reveal a cast of likable characters that have genuine chemistry with one another, which is all but essential in a series like this, and the appealing animation and exciting action sequences only bolster the series' strengths further. If you've got about $50 to spare, I'd definitely recommend adding Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? to your collection.

That wraps up the review section for this week. Thanks for reading!

This week's shelves are from Nick:

"Hi, my name is Nick and I wanted to share my shelf. These are my 2 main Anime shelves.  the glass doored shelf is for my most prized box sets. I like a mix of genre, mainly magical girl, slice of life, harem and mecha."

Gotta love glass doors: all of the visibility, none of the dusting. Thanks for sharing!

If you'd like to show off your own anime/manga collection, send me your photos at [email protected]!

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