Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon?, Vol. 9

By Fujino Omori and Suzuhito Yasuda. Released in Japan as “Dungeon ni Deai o Motomeru no wa Machigatte Iru Darou ka?” by Softbank Creative. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Andrew Gaippe.

DanMachi is not a game world per se, but it runs on game mechanics. Adventurer’s levels are literally written on them, and most of the plot involves killing monsters, drinking healing potions, etc. And this means that the villains tend to be mindless, unthinking monsters. Which makes for good fight scenes – in fact, it has to. If you hesitate or lose it for a moment, you’re dead. We’ve seen Bell Cranel and his group come perilously close to this several times. Be swift, be strong, and kill the monsters. That’s how you survive. So when Bell comes across a newborn monster that not only is not trying to kill him, but is crying – and can talk! – his world is upended a bit. And so is the reader’s, as it’s made clear that this is a game-changer.

The girl on the cover is the monster in question, a vouivre, which may require a little googling – it seems to be related to wyverns. In any case, she shows consciousness, awareness, and intelligence, something previously unknown in the dungeons. Bell being Bell, he decides to take her back to the mansion with him, much to the chagrin of everyone else, who would probably protest more if it weren’t for the fact that they’ve all been rescued from bad situations by him in the exact same manner. Naming her Wiene (not sure how this is pronounced – I went with “vine-uh” while reading), she learns incredibly rapidly, and also bonds with most of the family (sorry, Lilly, you’re destined forever to be the grumpy suspicious one) very quickly. The difficulty is with what she is. If monsters have intelligence now and can be nice, will that make adventurers think twice before killing them? That will lead to a lot of dead adventurers. How do you tell a populace born and raised on ‘monsters are evil’ that some aren’t? And if you spend your life devoted to killing monsters, and now some are folks like Wiene, are you a murderer?

DanMachi 9 doesn’t focus on these questions quite as much as I’d like, but it’s also not finished – the author apologizes for this being a two-parter, and says that the next volume will resolve the subplot. It becomes clear that this is an ongoing thing, and that some of the gods are trying to advance it – using Bell’s ever-loving kindness as a catalyst – so that monsters and humans can live together. Easier said than done, though. Speaking of catalysts, Hestia serves once more as an exposition catalyst, though honestly that’s preferable to some of her former jealous antics. She learns what’s going on, and what price her family could now pay… a price that I think the next volume may deal with.

As always, DanMachi is well-written, with excellent fights, nice characterization (less fanservice than usual this time), and smooth prose, so that you don’t tend to notice how much larger these books are compared to some other light novels. Is this new development going to change the course of the series? Or will everything turn tragic in Book 10? Luckily, as Vol. 9 was pushed back a month, we only have a 3-month wait to find out. Ignore the gimmickey title – this is one of Yen On’s best series.

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