Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, Vol. 18

By Fujino Omori and Suzuhito Yasuda. Released in Japan as “Dungeon ni Deai o Motomeru no wa Machigatte Iru Darou ka?” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Dale DeLucia.

There’s no getting around it, this book is punishingly long. Not just because it’s 500 pages, though that is absolutely the case. It’s because it operates on the usual way that Omori writes giant action set pieces, which is to say “always darkest just before the dawn”, where the first part is the darkness, and the second part is the dawn. And because this is about 500 pages, it means we get about 175 pages of “darkest” in this book, which is a whole lot of time spent watching every likable character in the entire series getting the shit beaten out of them by Freya Familia. After a while I was tempted to do a search of the digital text I was reading for “Lyu”, because, not to spoil too much, but she is noticeably absent from the first half of this book. Which… is for the best, as apparently there was a whole Lyu side-story in this book originally, but it would have made it 650 pages, so the publisher said no.

It’s a battle royale between Freya Familiar and Hestia Familia. Unfortunately, Loki’s team has been forbidden from participating, and Ais has been forbidden from even SEEING Bell till this is over. As a result, once again, no one wants to team up with Hestia except her immediate friends and allies, even though the entire city is furious at Freya Familia for the events of the previous book but none of them are furious enough to be part of what is obviously a losing battle. The guild has basically said “this will end with Freya taking Bell, deal with it”. The battle itself is “hide and seek”, where all the involved Gods are wearing flowers and hiding, and the opposing team has to find them and remove the flowers. Of course, Freya Familia being who they are, they figure out a way to turn it into “beat the shit out of everyone” anyway.

Of course, the payoff is worth it. There are so many “punch the air triumphantly” moments in the back half of the book it’s impossible to list them all, with my favorite probably being the complete participation of the waitress staff at Fertility. We’ve been slowly getting everyone’s backstory over the last few books, so it’s wonderful to see it pay off, but the main reason that it works is because of Freya. Or rather, Syr. The issue here is not so much dissociative identity disorder but rather a milder version of what Sayo did in Umineko, and the resolution is that Freya has to accept that she and Syr are in fact both part of the same individual. No one wants to save Freya, frankly, except the misguided ones in her family. But there’s a TON of people who want to save Syr. The best moment in the book is the last scene, featuring a callback I had honestly forgotten about (I mean, it’s been 17 months since the last book) and a giant ball of heartwarming.

The idea that this is going to have a school arc fills me with dread, but at least it should be shorter. Till then, we’re done with this epic arc, and Freya is gone. Sort of. In a good way.

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