Posted by amun on 19 August 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, DanMachi

DanMachi, as an anime, grew up this week. From the show that brought you the cosplaying mechanic of the “Hestia ribbon” comes an episode dealing with largest taboo in hero anime, and in some ways, Japanese conservative culture as a whole. Watching DanMachi this week is like this: you have a friend who you hang out with for laughs, but one day they come up with something profound and life-changing out of nowhere. You remember it, just because of the juxtaposition with their normal personality; it’s jarring.

This was not a fun episode, to be honest. Despite the “gags” of running from senior toad Amazon, everything about it was thinly masked sadness. From learning about the Amazons’ necessity of kidnapping due to internal political problems (and some major psychological issues on their commander’s part) to the candlelight discussion of childhood hero stories, I did not have fun watching this.  Haruhime comes out and just says a major problem underlying modern implementations of all hero stories, anime and otherwise: a man’s job is to be chivalrous and a woman’s is to be chaste. Those who sacrifice either one are not capable of participating in the hero story.

Now, everyone knows this. That’s why the topic of virginity is so prevalent in many anime, across genres. Little tidbits here and there are thrown in to put the viewer at ease. Recently, some shows such as Scum’s Wish have started addressing this, but by and large, any discussion about this is taboo. To just come out and say, hey, I’m not capable of being the princess (although, I’m sure she actually is) from a show that is HISTORICALLY AND  FOUNDATIONALLY shallow…is not what I was looking for here.

I wouldn’t say the tone is dark or depressing. But I didn’t feel happy watching this. Bell doesn’t have a single line in the episode after hearing that declaration. That’s not exaggerating – the VA does not say a single word. And I think that really sums this up for me – Bell has gone through this show (and his life) being able to literally plot armor (or “Firebolt!”) his way out of any problem. He is simply not mentally setup to deal with such a stark truth. It brings us back to when he saved Lili – Bell had a wildly flimsy reason. Remember? “Because you’re a girl.” He wasn’t even able to say that this time to Haruhime – he just runs away from someone in trouble, which I believe is the first time he’s ever done that. Bell’s earlier fear of losing who he was came true in an unexpected way: he’s certainly not the same naive white haired boy anymore. I guess it’s the perfect transition to be done in the Pleasure Quarter, but…this isn’t what I wanted to see happen to our “Little Rookie.” This isn’t where I want this show to go, even if I have to admit it’s very well done.

So I was hoping to get back to Dungeon fun again, but seeing Hermes give up the goods, I think there’s little chance of that now. Also, it’s amazing that in the span of 2 episode, Apollo feels so small – Bell is now in the big leagues with Freya and Ishtar. Apollo never felt like a real threat since his end goal was Bell; now Bell is viewed as an essential piece in a much larger game of chess – way more frightening.

All to say, this was probably one of the better done episodes of DanMachi, but also probably one of my least favorites. It wasn’t fun, the gags were honestly sad if you thought about them, and I see a major storm on the horizon. I think we’re heading more towards Re:Zero territory and further from KonaSuba; both excellent shows in their own rights, but just filling a different niche.

Although, while I thought seeing Apollo’s defeat was cathartic – seeing Hermes getting what he deserved and curled up crying was everything I didn’t know I wanted out of this show.

One Response

  1. Avatar Andmeuths says:

    Do consider that Danmachi S1 adapted 6 volumes in Season 1. While the plot of Danmachi does come off as a cheery Japanese-LN Fantasy dungeon-adventuring type of story, especially in the anime, even there, there were always small hints that the Danmachi world isn’t as cheery as it seems from the perspective of Bell (Ryuu Leon being the sole survivor of her Familia, Liliruca Arde’s initial arc, Hermes trying to “teach” Bell about the darkness of mortals on the 18th Floor, etc…).

    Remember, Bell is a naive 14-year old cinnamon roll from the depths of the countryside raised on idealized accounts of legendary Heroes. Haruhime in many ways is a rude awakening for Bell, that things like human trafficking and sex slavery exist.

    It’s a bit of a shame that Bell’s thoughts upon hearing about Haruhime’s backstory weren’t adapted as a monologue, because we get to hear Bell realizing in horror about his naivety. But Bell being struck speechless at one aspect of the underbelly of Orario probably works just as well.

    Also, the issue with Amazons kidnapping men are biological, not political – there are no male Amazons – a child born to an Amazon will be a female Amazon. In other words, they need men to reproduce, because they are a near-human race made exclusively out of females.

    On the other hand, Ishtar’s hatred and intention to cast Freya down? In Orario, the line between personal and political where the gods are involved is very blurred indeed.

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