If you’ve enjoyed the anime of Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? then is it worth reading the original light novel series by Fujino Omori on which the popular TV series is based? I’ve decided to take a look at the first three volumes to get you up to speed.
Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? follows the story of Bell Cranel, a country boy who has set his sights on becoming an adventurer. He dreams of riding to the rescue of a damsel in distress and being surrounded by girls and riches. Is this a completely misguided reason to become an adventurer and explore the dungeon below Orario? Definitely, but after a near-fatal experience, Bell realises this for himself which leads to a more fulfilling and interesting story.
First of all, let’s straighten a few things out about the plot. Many years ago many gods and goddesses came down to earth to interact with humans and form Familia. Each Familia is led by one god or goddess and has a range of different adventurers in their group. Familia bestow a blessing of power onto their members which allows them to adventure and grow stronger. Bell belongs to a Familia led by the goddess Hestia, who currently only has Bell in her Familia which means the two must work hard together to make enough money to keep themselves fed. Things will look up eventually though, right?
Each adventurer can level up from level 1 to 5. Each of their stats, Strength, Defense, Utility, Agility and Magic has ten different level ranks that change as the stat strengthens. An adventurer can only level up and benefit from the stat changes once their god or goddess has worked it out for them. Adventurers can also have a number of different abilities.
The town of Orario, where Bell lives, sits atop a massive dungeon that descends below the town. This dungeon is where most of the story takes place as it’s where adventurers go to increase their strength and defeat monsters for Magic Stones and for drop items which can then be traded for money. This is also where we’re first introduced to Bell as he’s being chased by a high level monster and moments away from death. He’s suddenly saved by a legendary adventurer and this encounter will change his life forever.
The adventurer in question is Aiz Wallenstein, a famous adventurer said to have killed over 1000 monsters. After overhearing the Familia Aiz belongs to making fun of him for being so weak. Bell vows to get stronger and reach her level. The truth is this series has a lot of heart and what starts off as Bell being a bit of an idiot 14-year-old quickly advances into a deeper and more meaningful story of him wanting to become stronger, not just for himself but for Hestia too.
The second volume of Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? once again focuses on Bell as he explores the dungeon under Orario and hopes to catch up in power to Aiz Wallenstein. This volume of the story also introduces a new concept to the world known as Supporters. The role of Supporters is to explore the dungeon with adventurers and to shoulder all the potions and items that adventurers collect during their time in the dungeon. Our hero Bell encounters one such supporter, known as Lilly, but not everything is quite as it seems with his new friend.
As we dive deeper into the concept and idea of Supporters we quickly learn that the role is looked down upon. Adventurers feel they’re much higher in rank than Supporters and thus they often cheat them out of their share of a day’s money, among other things. Lilly is an example of a more poorly treated Supporter than others and upon meeting Bell, doesn’t quite know what to make of this cheery adventurer who wouldn’t dream of cheating his new friend out of her earnings. Bell is dense and an idiot who wouldn’t dream of the possibility that Lilly has only joined his party to steal the rare and valuable knife he welds. Perhaps this is for the best, though, as the time spent with Bell leaves Lilly feeling guilty about her crimes and rethinking her plans to steal from our hero. Maybe she could live a happy life by his side, instead?
The first half of the third volume is spent with Bell being trained by his hero, Aiz Wallenstein, to strengthen his abilities as a fighter. While not a great deal happens during the course of his training, it’s still an important time for Bell. It allows him to see the difference between himself and Aiz and drives his spirit further to close the level gap between them.
The second half of this volume is focused on what is perhaps one of the biggest battles Bell has had so far. He faces off against a Minotaur, one of the creature that almost killed him at the beginning of the first volume. This is our hero’s first real challenge in the dungeon, a true adventure that he must overcome if he wants to become stronger, and it’s a joy to read.
Overall, author Fujino Omori writes the series well. In the first volume he spends a bit too much time explaining the smaller details of a scene (which aren’t always relevant), but this improves a lot in the second and third volumes. Omori has a good grasp of how to write his action scenes and I always found myself completely engrossed when Bell was in battle, which is perhaps one of the most important aspects for a series like this. All of the characters introduced throughout the books so far are also well written and while Bell certainly has the potential to be overpowered, I think Omori knows how to keep him grounded. The series is being translated into English for Yen Press by Andrew Gaippe and there really aren’t any issues with it that I can see. Like the DanMachi series itself, it’s very well done.
Illustrations for the series have been handled by Suzuhito Yasuda, who is perhaps best known for his work on Durarara!!. Yasuda is a talented illustrator and his work here is befitting of a fantasy series. Throughout the three volumes there are a number of fan service shots, but Yasuda has also penned a number of the action scenes and these all look delightful. The artwork on display really brings the whole series to life in a way that I’m not sure anyone else could have managed.
The first three volumes of Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? prove themselves a fun read and also that you shouldn’t judge a series by its title. This series has nothing to do with actually picking up girls in a dungeon and instead offers a fantasy story that I highly recommend.