Shelf Life
Is It Wrong To Expect A Hot Spring In A Dungeon?

by Paul Jensen,

Shirobako is getting a new movie project, and I'm seriously pumped for it even though we don't even have a release date yet. I want more fictional anime production drama, and I want it as soon as humanly possible. Welcome to Shelf Life.

Jump to this week's review:
Is it Wrong to Expect a Hot Spring in a Dungeon?

On Shelves This Week

Atom The Beginning - Complete Collection BD
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Extra: We have episode reviews for this series, which is technically a prequel to the classic Astro Boy. It's available streaming on Amazon

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Extra: We don't have any formal reviews for this supernatural action series, but our user ratings place it at an average of 6.1 out of 10.

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Extra: We don't have much in the way of formal coverage for this 1988 film, which adapts a series of children's books. A 1997 TV series based on the same books apparently ran on US television in the early 2000s.

Mary and the Witch's Flower BD+DVD, DVD
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Extra: Our user ratings for this Gundam series place it at a 6.0 out of 10. It was apparently available in streaming form at some point, but I'll be darned if I can find it now.

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Extra: This 1981 movie is a compilation of the similarly-titled TV series, which was apparently canceled before it could finish its planned run of episodes. Our user ratings place it at around 6.7 out of 10.

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Zatch Bell: 101st Devil DVD
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Extra: Our user ratings for this first of the two Zatch Bell movies are fairly positive, with an average of 7.2 out of 10. The related TV series can be found streaming on Crunchyroll and Hulu.

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Extra: Our user ratings for this one are a little lower than the first, averaging around 6.5 out of 10. Since I already posted the streaming links above, here's an old review of the TV series.

Shelf Life Reviews

James Beckett had a lot of praise for Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? when he reviewed it for this column last year. Now the series is back with a hot spring OVA special, and a new question: Is it Wrong To Expect a Hot Spring in a Dungeon? I'm in the review seat for this one, and here's my take on this little side story.

We don't always see them stateside in an official capacity, but one-off OVA episodes like Is it Wrong to Expect a Hot Spring in a Dungeon? are a fairly common thing, usually as standalone side stories bundled with a boxset release or the latest manga or light novel volume. In that context, this episode is relatively solid entertainment. It's an amusing addition to the larger story, focusing mainly on the comedic and fanservice elements of the TV series with a little bit of action for good measure. It's far from required viewing for fans, but it should provide a decent half-hour of fun.

In the overall context of the franchise, this episode takes place directly after the final battle of the first TV season. As Bell and company head back up to the surface from the dungeon's eighteenth floor, they stumble across an undiscovered hot spring. On top of that, it just so happens that Hermes has brought along enough swimsuits for the entire party. Hijinks ensue as everyone jumps at the chance to take a break from their recent battles, but there's more to this hidden oasis than meets the eye. The hot spring turns out to be a trap laid by a group of monsters, and Bell will have to overcome ambushes and wardrobe malfunctions in order to protect his friends.

As you might expect, this OVA leans heavily toward the more lighthearted side of DanMachi. There are some amusing interactions between the characters, as Mikoto takes on something of a leading role to be the group's overzealous hot spring “expert.” Some of the guys also shine in their limited comedic roles, especially Welf and Ouka; their respective attempts at resisting temptation and avoiding embarrassing situations are pretty darn funny. On the whole, this OVA has a pretty good idea of what it's supposed to be, and the writing and direction present the material with an appropriate amount of winks and nudges.

As you also might expect, there is an abundance of fanservice crammed into this half-hour of animation. The majority of the focus is on the female cast, although the handful of guys in the group also don swimsuits of their own. Even characters who aren't physically present at the hot spring, like Aiz, appear in a handful of cutaway scenes, so the odds are pretty high that you'll see your favorite character wearing little or no clothing at some point. That said, this OVA isn't much more prurient or explicit than the fanservice scenes in the TV series. Hermes is as much of a sleazeball as ever, but other than that this episode is relatively tame by “fanservice special” standards.

Of course, all of the cleavage and comedy means that there's little in the way of plot or character development. The events of this episode have no real bearing on the outcome of the TV series, as this ultimately amounts to a brief detour that the characters take on their way back to the surface. While the characters do spend plenty of time hanging out and talking in the hot spring, the writing tends to lean on established chemistry rather than developing their relationships further. It's an understandable decision, as it allows the OVA to be light and goofy without having any adverse effects on the larger narrative, but it does highlight this episode's status as a skippable piece of bonus content.

In terms of production values, this episode is generally up to the same standards as the TV series, so it's pretty good-looking. The hot spring environment features some neat design choices, the new monsters have a suitably creepy deep-sea-fish aesthetic, and the costume design features some creative choices in swimwear. The animation quality is solid, and the music does a fine job of setting the mood. (The opening theme from the TV series is retained, but the ending theme is new.) Speaking of music, this release from Sentai Filmworks includes a two-disc CD soundtrack for the series alongside the Blu-Ray disc for the OVA itself. I listened to the first disc while putting this week's new release list together, and it's quite nice. There's also a (very) short booklet with some art from the OVA, along with printed track listings for the soundtrack. These physical extras are a nice touch, although whether or not they're enough to justify buying a single episode on Blu-ray will depend on how much of a completionist you are. The English dub cast carries over from the series, so your mileage with the casting choices will depend on how well you liked them in the original thirteen episodes.

At the end of the day, I'm torn when it comes to recommending Is it Wrong to Expect A Hot Spring in a Dungeon?. I enjoyed the TV series enough that I appreciated the chance to spend another half-hour with the cast, and this OVA does a respectable job of carrying out its frivolous ambitions. On the other hand, it's by no means required viewing, and even with the inclusion of the soundtrack, I'm not sure I could justify buying it solely for my own entertainment. If you love this franchise and can't wait for a proper sequel to come out, then it's potentially worth the price of entry, but for the more casual fan, this episode's limited relevance to the story means that you can safely skip it without missing anything important. Just trust your wallet's instincts on this one.

That wraps things up for this week. Thanks for reading, and remember to send your Shelf Obsessed entries to [email protected]!

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