A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

Delicious in Dungeon is a fantastic fantasy food tour

The+Netflix+anime+by+studio+Trigger+is+a+gourmet+take+on+fantasy+with+new+episodes+at+5%3A30+p.m.+every+Thursday.+
Courtesy Netflix
The Netflix anime by studio Trigger is a gourmet take on fantasy with new episodes at 5:30 p.m. every Thursday.

Light fantasy has been making a recent comeback in our pop culture. Dungeons & Dragons is the most popular it’s ever been, getting referenced in massive TV shows like “Stranger Things” and creating entire phenomenons around shows like “Critical Role” using fantasy role playing to tell a sweeping audio epic. This sort of excitement can even be seen bleeding into anime, with recent shows creating a more intimate focus on creating their own unique fantasy worlds, rather than stories about boys being sent to another world that has practically held a monopoly on fantasy anime in the last decade. One of the most exciting is the Netflix anime “Delicious in Dungeon” which takes the classic Dungeons & Dragons dungeon crawl with a delightful gourmet twist.  

The Studio Trigger anime, based on the manga by Ryoko Koi, has an extremely simple hook: Laois, the human knight, must venture into a massive dungeon and try to slay the dragon that ate his sister Falin, hoping to use a resurrection spell to bring her back to life before she gets completely digested. Accompanying him is the Elf mage Marcille and the Half-foot rogue Chilchuck, together forming a classic dungeon crawling party. Though with one major problem, none of them have any money for food. To combat this, Laois proposes that they eat every monster they encounter in the dungeon, which spurs the interest of a dwarf living within the dungeon named Senshi, who has spent years perfecting the art of cooking with monsters. Together this party ventures deep into the sprawling labyrinth of traps and danger with a simple philosophy: if it breathes, they can eat it.

This twist may seem to be a basic novelty, and on the surface there’s nothing special happening with the world in “Delicious in Dungeon.” While anyone who’s played Dungeons & Dragons or any fantasy RPG in the last few decades will feel right at home, the premise raises far more questions than someone would think in relation to classic fantasy tropes. Monsters are no longer just archetypes or numbers to spice up a setting, they’re living, breathing animals with detailed biology and ecological patterns, calling upon the real world inspiration found within many of the creatures you can find in a Dungeons & Dragons monster manual. This is applied to the entire world of “Delicious in Dungeon,” which is filled to the brim with brilliant examinations of fantasy races, the architectural design of dungeons, or even the logistics of resurrecting the dead. For those who may think of fantasy shower thoughts like “what type of food do adventurers bring into dungeons?” or “what is the economy around dungeon crawls, how does a village form around one?” or even simply “Could you eat living armor?” “Delicious in Dungeon” is the perfect fantasy world, taking well established grounds and examining these tropes so passionately that it feels truly unique for the genre.  

The show’s passion goes into the dungeon party as well. Laois may seem to be the standard fantasy hero who wears big shining armor and wields a sword as the party leader. However, the series reveals quickly that he has been wanting to eat monsters for his entire life and has an intense fixation towards monsters that borders on a fetish. Chilchuck’s size and voice could lead you to believe he’s a child or at least the same age as the other members, but he is far older than what his appearance indicates and he becomes the parental figure to the group. Finally, Marcille’s more elegant mage demeanor is shattered the instant she encounters something at least slightly dangerous or strange, shifting between a neurotic mess or an overconfident spellcaster at the drop of a hat. While Laios is the most openly strange member of the party, all of them have their own little quirks that bring so much life to the characters.

The show expects you to revel in this world and its monsters as much as the main character does, letting the pace relax into a fantasy slice of life by showing the audience detailed explanations of monster biology, descriptions of the dungeon’s internal mechanics and even just cute doodles to represent a character’s thoughts. It’s reminiscent of the sort of on-and-off banter you could find within a tabletop RPG game played with good friends. Filled with exchanges that are as funny as they are brilliant characterization. 

That’s not to say “Delicious in Dungeon” is exclusively a comedy. The show’s cooking premise comes with all the dangers that come from getting ingredients in the first place. The party could possibly be revived by someone in the future, but that’s never certain and only gets less likely the deeper they go into the increasingly harrowing dungeon. Falin’s potential permanent death is a looming threat that haunts the main cast, like a clock constantly ticking down the deeper they go. Other adventurers are even seen succumbing to the dangers of the dungeon, showing the immediate danger the group could be facing at any given moment. Every step of the journey makes it clear that this will not be a walk in the park, even for the more seasoned adventurers. 

“Delicious in Dungeon” could easily shape up to be a modern anime classic, as well as a perfect starter anime for anyone interested in the medium. It asks audiences to join the party for a multi-course meal, filled with all the flavor you would want to find in a classical fantasy adventure, with deliciously fleshed out characters, fun animation and detailed world building that is going to make you want to sink your teeth in even more.