Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? Vol. 1 (Yen Press)

Dungeon

CREDIT: Yen Press

Rating: 4.5/5 – Love and Loki Come Together in a Charming Tale
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Al Sparrow.

I came across this one kind of by accident. It seems flavor-of-the-month these days to have a manga title with a run-on sentence, and since I was already reading one of those, I figured I’d skip this one. Dumb, right? Hey, I’ll be the first to admit it. Over time, though, I began to see more and more images of Hestia, one of the main characters in this story, pop up in my Facebook feed. Statues, fanart, even cosplay of the pigtailed goddess (we’ll get to her in a minute) kept showing up in my browser, and I began to think maybe this was something the rest of the world knew about that I’d better read for myself. Fortunately my bookshelf is big enough for more than one manga with a ridiculously long title, because Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? is most likely going to find a home there.

In a world where the gods – of all religions – get bored with their heavenly realms and decide to come live on earth and take a more active role in the lives of humans, it’s important for a person to align themselves with the right pantheon. The more adventuresome might flock to Loki – yes, that Loki (the Norse God, not Tom Hiddleston) – while others might seek out Ganesh, or Hephaistos, or insert-your-favorite-God here (although Yahweh seems conspicuously absent). Novice fighter Bell Cranel is pledged to Hestia, the goddess of the hearth and home in Greek mythology, portrayed here as a young woman with pigtails, blue eyes, and a skirt short enough to defy logic. Bell is her only charge, so the two of them have forged a partnership to improve his fighting prowess and ability. Hestia hints – subtly and not-so-subtly – that she would like their relationship to be more, but as with most male protagonists in a story of this nature, the hints go unnoticed.

Part of that is due to Bell’s infatuation with Aiz Wallenstein, a beautiful warrior woman with amazing ability, a strength that dwarfs his own, and who, at least at this point in the series, barely knows he exists. Determined to become the warrior she deserves to have at her side, Bell struggles to become better at what he does, ignoring Hestia (and two other women’s) obvious passes at him in the process. Yet another harem manga? Perhaps, but this one seems to be tackling it a bit less directly than most, and that’s a point in its favor. None of these women (aside from Hestia who may have her own agenda) are outright throwing themselves at Bell’s feet, which gives the book a refreshing tone.

IIWTTAPUGIAD’s real strength is in its attention to world-building. Not necessarily in terms of geography, as Bell’s world is actually fairly simple (town + dungeon), but in the people and hierarchies that populate it. The gods all have their unique personalities, as do the humans they sponsor (endow with gifts to go adventuring) and the society that comes from this union is extremely well-thought out, giving it a realness despite the story’s obvious fantasy theme. It’s no surprise that the book is popular with artists and cosplayers. Enough so that Suzuhito Yasuda, the character designer, is given a credit on the book cover. That’s not necessarily uncommon to see in manga, but as I flipped through the book it was easily apparent to me why, in this case, the credit really needed to be there.

Reviewed by: Al Sparrow
(al@comicspectrum.com
)
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