THEM Anime Reviews
Home Reviews Extras Forums
[Delicious in Dungeon (Season 1)]
AKA: ダンジョン飯 ; Danjon Meshi
Genre: Fantasy Adventure/Comedy
Length: Television series, 24 episodes, 25 minutes each
Distributor: Currently available streaming on Netflix.
Content Rating: TV-MA (Violence, strong language.)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: Record of Lodoss War; Ranking of Kings
Notes: Based on manga by Ryoko Kui, published by Enterbrain in Harta magazine (and in English by Yen Press)

Delicious in Dungeon (Season 1)


A dungeon encounter with a dragon ends up with Laios Touden's party broken and fleeing, and with one member of the party left behind. Laios resolves to go rescue them with whoever is willing to follow him back in, but food is an issue, since they're broke. Fortunately, they find a Dwarf named Senshi, who's an excellent cook AND an expert at "living off the land" (or living off the monsters, anyway.)


In an internal conversation, I expressed some reservations about this show. So I'll start with those here- and note how the show mitigated some of them:

(1) Back in the Drifting Dragons review, I said that "How to Cook Your Dragon" might not be a hit. Imaginary Creature Cuisine, to me, seemed to illuminate neither practical cooking nor the Human Condition, though I concede that this concern seems to have some history, for example Lewis Carroll's description of snark meat. ("Meager and hollow, but crisp".) The show really never gives this up as its core theme (its trademark, really), but on the one hand Senshi's meal preparations tend to get a little more perfunctory, while on the other hand the show finds ways to (sometimes hilariously) weave food into everything, ESPECIALLY Laios' strategies for dealing with the dungeon's dilemmas. I particularly enjoyed one episode that demonstrated that you should never become too emotionally invested in your leftovers- even when they go into battle for you- as things veer from wild, absurd slapstick to black comedy, and who knew Marcille Donato (the Elf girl in the party) could be that funny?

(2) Speaking of Marcille, she's constantly complaining about having to dine on monster, despite always finding Senshi's dishes delicious. It's as if Green Eggs and Ham's Narrator had a learning disability. Later on she acknowledges this is a psychological habit, and since I grew fonder toward Marcille as time passed, I forgave THIS, too.

(3) And now, the thing I NEVER really forgave: when the group originally broke up and fled, they left their teammate in not only a precarious situation, but a time-sensitive one as well. I've forgotten where I read, "If the thing is to be done, it should be done swiftly", but that definitely applies here; and if the result of the team taking their rest, and enjoying Senshi's home-cooked monster, was less than satisfactory, they can only blame their own lack of urgency.

Now, the cast:

Laios is the leader. He's extremely laid back, and sometimes takes notions to do random things ("Let me get this straight- your plan was to eat food in a PAINTING?"), so he often does come across as an idiot. But we get some inkling of his thought process- an interesting mixture of logic and intuition- in another of the show's more outrageously humorous episodes, when a horde of Shapeshifters take the forms of our cast, and the real ones must identify the impostors. Fortunately, some of the imitations are not EXACT replicas of the originals, which makes the initial weeding-out a "Spot the Differences" exercise that all can participate in; Laios just must make the call when we're down to some more difficult cases. His phlegmatic nature also means he doesn't panic in crises, so he and Senshi tend to be the anchors when things go south. (Dwarves, by nature, are usually not inclined to panic, but Senshi DID have that one traumatic experience...)

(The Mimics in Frieren got nothing on the ones in DiD. Not only do we get convincing (to various degrees) imitations of our heroes, but, while in Frieren treasure chests can be Mimics, HERE both treasure chests and their contents can be Mimics- in fact, the Chests, and the Contents, are two different organisms. One thing I very much liked here is that, unlike classic D&D- type fantasies, the monster occupants of THIS dungeon are not just plot devices that ONLY exist to menace our heroes; they are, instead, part of little self-contained ecosystems. Giving the "monsters" purposes of their own I find entirely admirable.)

Almost all modern fantasy of this type of course owes a debt to Tolkien, and this one in particular name-checks mithril (the Dwarves' "miracle metal".) We even have another dragon with a one-point vulnerability. We also see Tolkien's influence in Senshi's personality- nearly imperturbable (except, as noted, in one case), and occasionally stubborn. Our primary quartet is joined by a cat-girl (she's under an enchantment, you see) named Izutsumi, but she's got a serious case of "attitude", and Senshi ends up going Stern Father on her.

Next is Chilchuck Tims, a "half-foot" (I guess "halfling" is meant, though since he wears boots he's not Hobbit- Hobbits eschew shoes.) He's supposed to be excellent at opening doors. He's a cynic and contributes a LOT of snark to the dialogue, but not that much else. (Though he DOES have an excellent scene with, of all things, an empathetic Orc princess. Another plus for the show is that, while it does homage to Tolkien, it nevertheless can get a little playful with his archetypes. Still, if I HAD to choose someone to leave behind in the dungeon, I might have noted that Chilchuck seems the least necessary character...)

And we come to the last member of our Fantasy Four, Marcille. In time, we come to realize that she's very uncertain about her magic. (Laios' party originally had TWO mages, but, well...) She certainly seems competent at generating explosions, and while she thinks herself less skilled with healing magic, she does display some surprising talent at doing things from scratch...uh, better stop there. I have to admit I was "shipping" her with Laios, but the only evidence of any special regard she had for HIM was something that HE was inclined to take negatively: at one point, they create an impromptu sauna, and she only makes LAIOS cover his eyes, despite the presence of two other males. (Laios, of course, is oblivious to the significance here.)

Since I'm on the subject of Elves, while in Frieren (as in Tolkien) they're essentially immortal, here Marcille says they usually don't make it past 500 years. In Tolkien's Silmarillion, we're told that mortality is the gods' "gift" to humans. Personally, at MY age, I'd like to exchange that gift for immortality (or at least the 500 years); but in DiD we will meet some people who demonstrate that there might, indeed, be downsides to humans being given immortality. I really did appreciate the thought the show gives to side issues (and side characters.)

The other thing I've wondered about is, given the current convention of drawing Elves' ears as sticking straight out from their heads, I would think they'd be constrained to sleeping on their backs (or stomachs.)

Our heroes do encounter a couple of other parties of adventurers while on their quest, and we do get a tiny amount of info about some of their members. (I would have liked to have seen a bit more of Tade, a rather sweet Oni girl.) We get a very dark encounter between a deserter from Laios' original party name Shuro, and Laios himself; Shuro is contemptuous toward Laios' party because of tactics they used to try to rescue their "lost" companion. I thought it was a BIT hypocritical for Shuro to attack Laios for his rescue attempt (even granting the measures got kind of extreme), especially since Shuro, despite his own alleged dedication to that companion, fled in their moment of need. But I can see how the criticism would nevertheless sting. So much of the show being farcical, this maybe injects a little balance of gravitas into the story.

I did also note the peculiarity of the "dungeon" in the first place. Dungeons are usually the lower works of a castle, but this one is on an island, and its upper levels at least are strangely light and airy (there are TREES growing there!), while even the lower levels have actual weather (though some of that might be the workings of the chief villain inhabiting the place, a Dark Elf usually known as The Mad Mage.) There are also jurisdictional disputes going on "upstairs" between humans and Elves over management of the place, and with all the balls the show has up in the air toward the end, I guess I should have realized this was going for a Second Season, and so it proved.

Character artwork and design here are very good. The first half of this season featured a Bump of Chicken opener, and those of course are always great (though I thought this one a bit less catchy than some others.) The opener for the second half was not as good, but we're given a lovely little gentle rock song as a closer, that maybe compensates for that. (It's a much more appealing song than its translated title, "Glittering Ashes", would suggest.)

This is one of those shows that is at its best when it's at its most insane. The show's creator, to their credit, reaches deep into the bag of D&D conventions and archetypes, and comes up with the most ingenious ways to re-imagine them- and tie them to FOOD, of course. An army may travel on its stomach, but few warriors have been as obsessed with their stomachs as THESE guys. If it hadn't been for the stupidity of their initial tarrying, I think I could have gone five stars here.Allen Moody

Recommended Audience: My Anime List holds out for R-17+ (for violence and profanity); Netflix just says TV-MA. Things DO get pretty gross at times, I admit.

Version(s) Viewed: Netflix video stream
Review Status: Full (24/24)
Delicious in Dungeon (Season 1) © 2024 Ryoko Kui/Kadokawa/Delicious in Dungeon Production Committee/Netflix
© 1996-2015 THEM Anime Reviews. All rights reserved.