Below the grand Labyrinth City of Orario lies the titular Dungeon, not just a maze, but a living thing that produces monsters from its very walls and actively seeks to kill all that enter. Aided by the Gods that have descended from heaven, mostly out of boredom and curiosity, adventurers of all stripes plumb its depths for riches, fame and glory. What lies in store for the fledgling Hestia Familia and its lone adventurer?
Bell Cranell is still new to the whole adventurer thing, but he is already approaching the ceiling of what he can do solo. On his way to the Dungeon he is approached by a supporter named Lilly who offers Bell her services, something that is a bit unusual as she is a member of another familia. What are Lilly’s true intentions and why is everyone in her Soma Familia so secretive and desperate for money? Has Bell found the solution to his problem or has a whole new set of issues found him?
How Was It?
One of the strongest things that Dungeon has going for it is the world that Fujino Omori has created, at once both appropriately nuanced and sufficiently approachable that anyone can quickly orient themselves within it and enjoying the story set there. The city of Orario is ripe with storytelling opportunities, as there are a number of complex relationships between its residents. Volume two capitalizes specifically on the familia relationship between the gods and the adventurers, something that I thought had great potential while reading the first volume and am happy to see explored so soon in the series.
Unlike what we have so far seen with the Hephaestus and Loki Familias, those presided over by competent gods, much of the focus of this volume is given to exploring what can happen when a familia’s god is preoccupied by his own pursuits and how apathy toward his adventurers can quickly sour them. As a member of the Soma Familia, Lilly is a perfect foil to Bell’s trusting and positive outlook on life. Abused and abandoned, her view of adventurers in general could not be worse and her cynical and spiteful inner self is set in stark contrast to her outward appearance of humility and general cheer. Using her new position as Bell’s supporter to take advantage of him, we are left to wonder just how much Bell suspects her motives and how much faith and trust he is willing to place with her.
This situation could easily make Bell out as idiot and work against what character progression he has already received, but instead we get to see that he may not be as naive as we first assumed nor as blindly trusting as he appears. In reality, Bell is aware and conscience of his choice to trust others, but he would rather put his trust in others and be wrong than have a pessimistic and negative view of others and be right. This helps in establishing yet another thing that makes him special, setting him even further apart from other adventurers, making the whole harem thing seem a bit more reasonable. As the newest addition to said harem, Lilly fills just the right niche and despite what others may say I quite enjoy her presence, but I do have a soft spot for characters that speak about themselves exclusively in the third person, so keep that in mind.
Just as in volume one, much of the best comedy comes from Bell’s inner voice and his reaction to the situations that he finds himself in, whether it is finally learning a spell or going shopping with Eina, his guild mentor, his thoughts carry just the needed level of self-deprecation and boyish inexperience. The action scenes, though often brief, continue to stay at a high level as everything is described in such a way that is easy to visualize while coming across with just the right level of brutality for an action-adventure.
One standout among the supporting cast is Eina, who recieves significantly more attention in this volume and it is definitely for the best. Outside of her interactions with Bell, most of her time is spent in pursuit of the truth behind both Lilly and the strange behavior of the Soma Familia adventurers. It is through her eyes that the greatest portion of new information about the world-at-large is provided, covering everything for what the guild is and is not supposed to become involved with and the political ramifications her actions may cause. We even get to see some of the inner workings of the larger familias, especially Loki’s, and it is also nice to get a perspective on Aiz Wallenstein that isn’t Bell.
A nice touch added to each volume, but something I did not mention in my review of the first, is a character stat sheet included at the end. In the first it was Bell, but in the second it is Lilly, and it is nice to see how she compares, as nowhere else in the volume are we ever told just what her stats are. It may not be much, but the attention to detail is something I will always appreciate.
Overall volume two does everything just a little better than the first, but it still has its issues, most of which revolve around narrative choices that seem a little forced. At times Fujino Omori relies on coincidence and last-minute timing too heavily and it comes across as a bit lazy. This is most noticeable during Eina’s sleuthing into the truth behind the Soma Familia, when on two separate occasions she runs into just the right person she needs to talk to, as they just happen to show up where she is at, but before she makes any effort to find them herself. There are also a few questions left unanswered, particularly how Fraya knew that the Firebolt spell would end up with Bell of all people. Not to say the situation or the outcome are implausible, I can think of a number of ways she could have made sure it happened, it’s just never explained.
Another problem narrative wise occurs during a few of the larger conversations in the volume, particularly those involving the Loki Familia. There was more than one time during my reading where I didn’t know who was speaking which lines and this was due to too many speaker and not enough context. As someone that reads a lot I was surprised that on reading the same passages several times, I still didn’t know who specifically said what.
In regard for the characters themselves, I really only had two gripes, Hestia and Syr. If you read my previous review you will know that I do not think highly of Hestia as a character, I just find her annoying. Luckily in this volume she at least manages to move herself up to being somewhat tolerable. Still bad, but an improvement. As for Syr, she alone remains as the one harem member whose perspective we have never been able to experience, which seems an oversight, as she plays a small but important part in the greater narrative. There may be a good reason for this choice, but it better be revealed soon.
In spite of its rather lengthy and misleading title, Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Vol. 2 is a really fun read, and one that makes me actively look forward to the next volume in the series. With a number of small improvements over the first volume, the series looks to be headed in the right direction. If you like games and you like to read, Dungeon should be right in your wheelhouse, so check it out.
Is it Wrong to Try to Pick up Girls in a Dungeon? Vol. 2 was published by Yen Press on April 21st, 2015. Authored by Fujino Omori and illustrated by Suzuhito Yasuda the series is currently ongoing and published by SB Creative Corp. The book series received a one-cour anime adaptation in Spring 2015; volume two corresponds with episodes four through six. Volume three will be available in English starting August 18th, 2015.
Date of Publication: April 21st, 2015
Translator: Andrew Gaippe
Author: Fujino Omori
Publisher: Yen Pres