I'll be honest when I say that the series Is It Wrong To Try & Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? had me by name alone. As I was unfamiliar with Fujino Ōmori's original light-novel series, the visions of what this show could entail ranged from the fun & fancy-free to the most deranged kind of things that would make even the biggest of sadists quiver uncomfortably. Sure enough, what I was delivered wasn't anything dark or disturbing. Rather, Is It Wrong To Try & Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? is the kind of fantasy anime series that has so far left me warm and fuzzy inside after every episode is finished. Dare I say, I think I've fallen hard for this show.
Is It Wrong To Try & Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? takes place in the fictional world of Orario, a land where adventurers dive into a towering dungeon in the middle of city. This place is crawling with giant insects, goblins, and the most nastiest of monsters to roam the Earth. The show's main focus is on a young adventurer named Bell Cranel (Yoshitsugu Matsuoka), the lone member of a familia looked over by the deity Hestia (Inori Minase). He is not as well-crafted as other adventurers, but after being rescued by Aiz (Saori Ōnishi) of the Loki Familia he begins to try his hardest to catch up to her, in the hopes that she may notice him.
Very quickly Bell begins to level up, thanks in part to a special skill known as Realis Phrase, which fastens his growth as an adventurer so long as his passion does not waiver. Soon he finds himself taking on the biggest of beasts and coming out on top, much to the surprise of the other local familias. With the help of Hestia -- whose heart yearns for his love -- and various other characters that he may come across the odds of Bell becoming an adventurer of legend may very well be in his favor.
It has been ages since a fantasy anime series quite like this has grabbed my attention. Perhaps it helps that J.C.Staff, the same studio that brought us the legendary Slayers series, is the one responsible for adapting Ōmori's books. The world of Orario is beautiful to behold, from the dark sections of the dungeons and the village's lively marketplace to the local taverns and the hot springs of the goddesses' realm. There's attention to detail in the weaponry and armor shown here that even the best American animators not named Don Bluth seem to forget to pay a mindful eye to. (The overall look of Bell's Hestia Knife will make collectors and blacksmiths yearn to make or own one.) And yes, a fine job to the detail of Hestia's ribbon, which has already started becoming quite the fashion trend in Japan and a few parts of Europe.
With it being a fantasy series, how the show looks when in action is most important, and fortunately Is It Wrong To Try & Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? does not disappoint. A big highlight comes in Episode 3, where Bell protects Hestia from a raging monster that has escaped. This is the first time the Hestia Knife is put into action, and when Bell takes the role of the hero the fight he gives the monster is worthy of many a fist-pump or royal thumb's up.
While the tale of a novice warrior has been told in many different ways in various kinds of mediums, it's how the story is scripted that makes this anime help stand out. Whether it's the banter between Bell and Hestia or the revealing backstories of the characters, the means of its presentation is quite the breath of fresh air the genre has needed. One funny moment comes in the form of a new power-up Bell learns, and as soon as he learns of it he cannot help but run into the dungeon and blast every enemy away a la Skyrim. It's like watching a video game fanatic whose learned a more powerful attack, and then proceeds to use it at every moment possible, much to the dismay of the rest of his guild. (Points also to how adventurers in this anime can see their stats, a fine nod to RPGs both in the physical and digital realm.)
The writing here in Is It Wrong To Try & Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? is flat-out enjoyable. It's easy to feel something for these characters, and when new characters arrive your feelings will be played with when it comes to either welcoming them or pushing them away. One such character, the supporter Lilly (Maya Uchida), will have you going back and forth between wanting to trust her and angrily wishing to cast her aside, until her past reveals some moments that will leave your heart wrenching. It's storytelling like this that makes this a show worthy of any viewer.
A pat on the back must be given to the voice actors, who deliver a real kind of A-game behind the mic that shows how much fun they're having playing their roles. Matsuoka's Bell starts off as your wannabe adventurer, but as the show progresses the bravery and strength the character comes into possession is heard strongly in his voice. As Hestia, Minase balances a solid chemistry of comedic one-sided love sickness and a dramatic tone when her role as the familia's deity needs to be forefront when situations become somewhat dire. Although still relatively new to the cast, Uchida's Lilly has gone from a voice lost in the darkness of the world to one filled with found hope thanks to her new friend.
Keiji Inai (Outbreak Company, the fifth and sixth Gran Turismo games) brings forth a beautiful musical score, worthy of any Irish pub or adventure in the making. His most lively pieces featured here may make any viewer jump off their couch and start to Irish step-dance, whereas his more quieter pieces would serve nicely played on a late-night backdrop to a star-studded sky. Opening theme "Hey World" by Yuka Iguchi, while poppy and not quite fitting for a fantasy title, is still a joy to listen to every week as the sights of Bell and Hestia's daily routines are shown on-screen. The same can be said about Kanon Wakeshima's end theme "RIGHT LIGHT RISE," although the horn section in the song is quite lovely to hear.
Is It Wrong To Try & Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? is on track to being this year's best anime series. With its lovable characters, great action sequences, and one of the finest balances of drama and comedy this show has just about anything and everything that can draw anime and non-anime fans alike to watch with glee. It may never reach the fandoms of the likes of Game of Thrones or The Legend of Zelda, but the entertainment value one will get from viewing Is It Wrong To Try & Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? will be on par with any of these popular series. Trust me: it'll be hard not to fall in love with this show.
Voice actors/actresses: 10/10
Final Grade (not an average): 9.75/10