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Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? (2015)

Anime sure does go in for some interesting titles. Even by that standard though Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? is something of a doozy. Like many of the series with particularly long-winded titles, this started off life a light novel series. And also like many of these series, that title is at least a little misleading.

The anime adaptation began airing in spring 2015. It was produced by JC Staff, and the first season ran for a total of 13 episodes.

The fantasy world of Orario is inspired by the kind of setting you would see in Dungeons and Dragons or a typical RPG. Humans live alongside elves, cat-people gnomes and all other sorts of fantasy creatures.  One day in this world gods and goddesses came down from the heavens and also live among the common folk. These divine beings attract followers, who become 'Familias' associated with each particular god or goddess.

Our hero is Bell Cranell, a young adventurer, who happens to be the only member of the Familia of a goddess named Hestia. He dreams of becoming a famous adventurer and conquering the Dungeon. One of his quests very nearly ends in disaster- until a beautiful swordswoman named Aiz steps in and saves him. He's quickly smitten- much to the displeasure of Hestia, who has her eyes on Bell for herself.

The series has fun with RPG conventions, even building them into the lore of the world. This means that concepts such as experience points (or XP) and levelling up actually exist for the characters too. So Bell is always trying to compete with adventurers who are higher up the chain than himself. Of course, it quickly turns out that he has untapped potential that is waiting to be discovered. Any viewer who has spent time with such games, either with videogames or the classic tabletop route, will get a kick out of this idea.

If the title gives you cause for concern, then you should be reassured that this is actually a pretty straight-forward fantasy series, albeit with a few twists to the formula. There are elements mixed in from anime rom-coms, which mainly revolve around Bell having a veritable army of admirers (to which he is entirely oblivious). There's also some interesting wardrobe choices- Hestia's infamous so-called "boob-string" outfit, and some highly impractical armour for the Aiz- and a healthy amount of fan-service. However, none of this threatens to derail the plot and it's much less prominent than in some other contemporary anime.

There's a hint to "slice of life" to the proceedings, too with some parts of the show shining the light on everyday life in Orario.

The presence of the gods is another interesting twist, but in the end it doesn't add much to the story. Although there are some colourful characters among them (drawn from various mythology) their divinity doesn't really make much difference. They could just as easily been nobles or aristocrats in another series.

Taken purely as a fantasy romp, this is a highly entertaining one. It's an enjoyable show that offers plenty of action, likeable characters and doesn't take itself too seriously.  And how many shows feature killer rabbits? Not enough if you ask us!

Animation-wise, the series is extremely easy on the eye. The character designs are cute and fairly varied,-although as often the case clearly more thought has been put into designing the female characters than the males (or the monsters).

On the plus side, the series does have a lot of strong female characters who are more than capable of looking after themselves. In fact, Bell has to be rescued by women on several occasions throughout the series. Unfortunately, while Hestia is the breakout star of the series she's not the best-developed personality. Aside from her love for Bell, and her now iconic outfit they, unfortunately, neglected to give her much in the way of a personality. And as for Bell himself, while he's perfectly likeable, it's not entirely clear why so many beauties seem to take a shine to him. But then these are some pretty standard complaints for anime rom-coms.

Minor gripes aside,  this is a fun and frothy fantasy frolic, that will leave you thoroughly entertained. In a lot of ways, this is the show Sword Art Online should have been.


13 Episodes