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There are many different genres of anime that have grown in popularity, but isekai series where characters are whisked away to fantasy worlds have become increasingly prevalent. It’s also become a growing trend to pair up the isekai genre with video game tropes to produce unusual hybrids. Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, otherwise known as DanMachi, is one such blend of genres.
DanMachi is set in a world where powerful Gods have descended upon Earth to experience the same tribulations that humans do. These humans join various Familia that these Gods represent, many of whom then quest into sprawling dungeons to fight monsters and level up in strength as a tribute to these deities.
The series protagonist, Bell Cranel, finds himself united with the Goddess Hestia as the sole member of her Familia, but over time the two slowly build a powerful team and it’s revealed that Bell may be a prophetic figure who fulfills the role of “the last hero.”
The success of Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? has led to a spin-off series, Sword Oratoria, as well as a feature film, video games, and other supplemental materials. The first two seasons detail Bell’s growth as an adventurer and how the Hestia Familia becomes a major player in this larger war.
There’s never been a better time to revisit some of the anime’s very best and most essential moments now that Is it Wrong to Try and Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? season 3 is on HiDive!
Bell Defeats The Minotaur (Sword Oratoria, Episode 10)
Sword Oratoria is a spin-off of Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? which takes place concurrently with the latter show’s first season. But Sword Oratoria looks at events from the perspective of Ais Wallenstein of the Loki Familia.
Sword Oratoria works best during the moments when Ais and Bell’s stories overlap with each other and the most exciting example of this is in the episode “The Boy and the Hero.” The episode is the Loki Familia’s version of what’s arguably the original series’ best episode. It depicts Ais’ continued efforts to reach Bell on the 9th floor as he faces off against a minotaur. When Ais finally does reach him, Bell denies Ais’ help and handles the minotaur on his own. It’s a powerful reversal of Bell’s previous encounter with a minotaur and Sword Oratoria really works well when it gets to depict these pivotal moments from a fresh perspective.
War Is Declared Between The Freya And Ishtar Familia (DanMachi, Season 2, Episode 10)
“Longing to Be a Hero (Argonaut)” isn’t the final episode of Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? season two, but it contains a tremendous amount of fallout and is one of the most destructive entries in the entire series.
The Ishtar and Freya Familia are locked in all-out warfare at this point and their battle plays out in a crumbling castle that provides the perfect ambiance for how much their plan falls apart. There are some fantastic fights here against Phryne and Aisha, and Bell gets to use Argonaut again.
Most importantly, the status quo seriously changes by the end of the episode after Freya kills Ishtar and comes out the winner.
Bell Destroys The Killing Stone (DanMachi, Season 2, Episode 9)
Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? has a lot of fun with the concept of leveling up and how characters can gain access to greater power within the series.
Season two reveals that Ishtar possesses a “Killing Stone” that she plans to use to seal away Haruhime’s soul and use it to artificially boost her own level so that she can defeat Freya. It sets a dangerous precedent for what can be done to gain power in the series.
Thankfully, Bell and company are able to successfully rescue Haruhime, but Bell also destroys Ishtar’s Killing Stone and the looming dangers that it poses.
Lili Joins The Party (DanMachi, Season 1, Episode 4)
Bell and Hestia are a strong team, but throughout the course of Bell’s journey he picks up a number of allies who become integral to his success later on, even if they may initially enter the picture under more unscrupulous circumstances.
“The Weak (Supporter)” properly introduces Liliruca Arde, a shapeshifter who takes advantage of Bell’s naivete with the aim of stealing his prized weapon. Of course, the Hestia Knife is useless to Lili, but it marks the start of the complex relationship between Lili and Bell.
Bell also acquires some strong new armor, which is one of the first instances of the anime leaning into the concept of Bell and company needing to update their equipment every so often, just like in a video game.
Lili Proves Herself (DanMachi, Season 1, Episode 6)
Lili teams up with Bell a few episodes before “Reason (Liliruca Arde),” but it’s not until this point that she’s able to truly open up to him and they can find understanding in each other.
Lili is still up to her previously scandalous ways and she continues to try to steal Bell’s Hestia Knife. The act causes Lili to break down and come clean to her new ally, but Bell shows compassion instead of abandoning her. It’s the catalyst necessary for Bell and Lili to move forward and it helps her finally value an adventurer after she’s built up a lifetime of resentment towards them.
Hestia Is Reunited With Bell (DanMachi, Season 1, Episode 11)
“Labyrinth Utopia (Under Resort)” is the calm before the storm in many ways for the first season. The episode brilliantly recreates the feeling of a “safe zone” from a video game as it provides the same kind of relief for Bell, Lili, and Welf. The team are near exhaustion by the time they reach the 18th Floor, which is exactly where Ais and her Familia are able to heal them up and allow them a chance to rest. While everyone regroups, Hestia and her party are able to catch up with Bell and finally reunite.
It’s a cathartic moment and many characters get the opportunity to bury hatchets and move on as they prepare for a new danger that’s bigger than all of them.
Bell And Ais Finally Get To Talk And Train (DanMachi, Season 1, Episode 7)
Part of what makes the structure and character breakdowns of Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? so successful is the way it keeps Bell and Ais separated for most of the first season. Bell’s relationship with Hestia is fundamental, but every brief moment that Bell and Ais share together is electric.
This tension comes to a head in a big way in “Sword Princess (Ais Wallenstein)” when Bell and Ais finally get an opportunity to connect and train together. The exercise certainly enrages Hestia, but it’s crucial for how Bell is often at his best whenever he’s around Ais. It’s largely what helps fuel him to beat the minotaur in the following episode.
The War Game Begins Between The Hestia and Apollo Familia (DanMachi, Season 2, Episode 4)
The second season of Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? doesn’t reach the same heights as its first, but “War Game (War Game)” becomes the benchmark for these new episodes. While this anime caters to many different sensibilities, this is one of the most purely satisfying episodes from an action standpoint.
The War Game between the Hestia and the Apollo Familia is ignited and it throws Bell and company into what should be an impossible situation. The Hestia Familia’s team of five has to fight against an army of 100, yet Bell and company are successful and win the war. This may come across as a turning point for the anime, but it speaks further to the legend that the series wants to create around Bell. This victory raises his Familia to new levels and Apollo is forced to leave Orario as a consequence.
Mikoto Joins The Party (DanMachi, Season 1, Episode 10)
The majority of “Procession of Monsters (Pass Parade)” revolves around Bell and his party getting trapped in the dungeon by earthquakes and forced to move deeper into the intermediate levels, whether they’re ready for the challenge or not. There’s great action here, some bizarre bunny monsters, and it continues to chronicle Bell’s growth as an adventurer.
Bell’s progress is important to this episode as are the intense lengths that Hestia will take to make sure that he remains safe. In this case Hestia’s efforts lead her to Mikoto and the Takemikazuchi Familia, who become very important, especially during season two’s War Game.
Bell Learns The Skill, “Argonaut,” And Reaches Level 2 (DanMachi, Season 1, Episode 9)
Episode eight of Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?‘s first season is its big climax, but episode nine, “Blacksmith (Welf Crozzo),” is the first episode that really gets to revel in Bell’s success and how he handles his reputation as an infamous adventurer.
The biggest change that Bell experiences is that he actually advances to Level 2 and learns a new skill. This video game-esque sensibility has been present since the start of the series, but this episode is where a lot of the ideas that have been teased get to be executed.
In addition to the progress that Bell experiences, the episode also brings Welf Crozzo into the party. Welf is a fantastic addition right from the start and this episode already manages to make him feel layered, with character beats like his moral stand on not crafting magical weapons.
Hestia’s Love For Bell Grows (DanMachi, Season 1, Episode 2)
The core love triangle of the series lies between Bell, Hestia, and Ais. Most of the work done in “Monster Festival (Monsterphilia)” gets paid off in the following episode, but it shows that Hestia’s interest in Bell is genuine and identifies it as one of the series’ tenets. This emotional core to the episode is satisfying, but Monsterphilia itself is also a great excuse to have tons of monsters on display and showcase a lot of action and unique designs.
Bell Obtains The Hestia Knife (DanMachi, Season 1, Episode 3)
“The Blade of a God (Hestia Knife)” is a busy episode that does some effective work towards fleshing out Bell’s past and the history of his original family and how he became to be with the Hestia Familia. It also gives us the first tease of Lili and the tragic lot that she’s forced to deal with in life.
However, the biggest element of “The Blade of God” involves Bell receiving his signature weapon, the Hestia Knife. This weapon expands the lore in fun ways and it’s explained that this blade is actually a living weapon that becomes stronger the higher that Bell’s level grows, provided that he’s still a member of the Hestia Familia. He also immediately gets to slice and dice a giant gorilla.
Bell’s Powers Awaken (DanMachi, Season 1, Episode 1)
“Adventurer (Bell Cranel)” is the very first episode of the series and while it throws a lot at the audience as it introduces this universe and the premise of gods who walk among humans on Earth, it never feels overwhelming.
Bell’s debut is a fun start for the protagonist and while he’s very much a hapless hero who’s out of his league, he’s awakened in an exciting way when he first meets Ais Wallenstein. Bell’s magical skill, Realis Phrase, becomes activated in tandem with his heavy infatuation with Ais after she saves him. The immediate chemistry between these two characters is palpable, but it’s also genuinely exciting to see Bell’s skills develop and how he begins to increase his level and strength for the first time.
The Goliath Is Defeated And Bell Learns He’s Part Of Zeus’ Familia (DanMachi, Season 1, Episode 13)
The final episode of the first season is the perfect celebration and culmination that one hopes for from an anime series of this nature. An overpowered Goliath monster wreaks havoc on the 18th Floor and it easily becomes the biggest threat that’s been encountered all season. It’s extremely gratifying to watch Bell fire off his Argonaut skill against the beast, but the best part about this fight is that all of the Familia work together. Asfi, Ryuu, Mikoto, Ouka, and more all play crucial roles here and even though Bell delivers the finishing blow, it’s a true team effort that demonstrates how strong everyone’s become.
Then, to end the season on an even more suspenseful note, it’s revealed that Bell is in fact Zeus’ “grandson” and a part of his Familia. He’s firmly viewed as this generation’s hero and hope for change, which becomes a major turning point for the character.
The Legend Of Bell Begins (DanMachi, Season 1, Episode 8)
The first season takes its time with Bell’s story and it allows the character and this world to properly grow. “Wanting To Be A Hero (Argonaut)” allows Bell and the Loki Familia to finally go on their dungeon expedition.
This episode is the satisfying payoff of everything that’s come before it and even though the series has still has plenty of great moments after this point, Bell’s defeat of the minotaur stands as both the show and the hero’s finest moment. It’s when the character truly comes into his own and he begins to properly fall into the role of a legendary hero.
Up until this point it could be argued that Bell is going through the motions, but this is proof that he’s serious and ready to tackle even greater challenges.