Sunday, December 10, 2017

REVIEW: Delicious in Dungeon (manga, vols. 1-2) by Ryoko Kui, translated by Taylor Engel

I added Delicious in Dungeon to my vacation reading list after reading an interesting review of the first volume (sorry, can't recall which review nor who wrote it).

It was...odd. And probably not something I could binge-read too much, although I didn't actually think it was bad. It was basically a foodie manga with fictional food. It probably would have appealed to me a lot more if I were a Dungeons & Dragons person, but as it was it was still a nice read. It bugged me a little that the characters seemed so relaxed about rescuing the main character's sister, but it fit with the way the world was written. Death was pretty common, but also not something to be very concerned about, since it usually wasn't permanent. Very strange.

Somehow the covers had led me to believe this would be a more emotionally intense series, I think because the characters' expressions reminded me a little of the haunted survivors of Attack on Titan. This really is a very laid back series, though.

Again, this is a post-vacation review post, so there are spoilers from here on out. That said, I don't know that spoilers would really ruin this series much. A large part of its appeal is its delicious-looking fantasy food illustrations.

Delicious in Dungeon (manga, vol. 1) by Ryoko Kui, translated by Taylor Engel - Laios and his adventuring party are trying to defeat a dragon when his sister is grabbed and eaten. Before the dragon gets her, she uses magic to teleport the whole party to safety. Laios wants to save her before she's digested and unrevivably dead, but he's all out of money for provisions, and selling his weapons in order to buy food wouldn't put him in any better of a situation. Which is why he decides to try something he's been curious about for ages: cooking and eating the dungeon monsters he kills. His companions are horrified, but they go along with it out of necessity. It helps that they gain a new member, an experienced dungeon monster cook/nutritionist named Senshi.

This series is bizarro. No one seems to be very worried about dying, or even in that much of a rush to save Laios's sister, in large part because resurrection spells are a thing. So a lot of time is devoted to killing and cooking things. This is basically a foodie manga, just with fantasy food. Each meal even includes a list of ingredients.

This particular volume discusses the importance of a balanced diet, the fact that even experienced dungeon cooks can learn new things (for example, Senshi learns that mandrakes taste better if you let them scream first), and the use of dungeon traps as kitchen utensils and appliances (for chopping meat, frying it, etc.). Also, Laios acquires a sword with a living armor creature inside it. Portable food? I worry that this guy's obsession with eating dungeon monsters is going to get him and his party killed. Thank goodness Senshi is there, although that guy has his own issues.

Marcille, the elf character, was borderline annoying. She was the character who seemed to have the most difficulty adjusting to eating dungeon monsters and finding her place in this slightly altered adventuring party - the polar opposite of Laios, who'd have happily eaten anything Senshi gave him (and some things even Senshi never considered cooking).

Delicious in Dungeon (manga, vol. 2) by Ryoko Kui, translated by Taylor Engel - The adventurers continue on their quest to save Falin, Laios's sister, and eat all manner of dungeon monsters. Senshi shows them how he uses golems to grow vegetables, talks about the dungeon ecosystem, and more. He also gets them captured by orcs so that he can bake bread using their stolen starter. Later, the group eats treasure insects and a mimic and learns that the food in living pictures is not a good source of nutrition. The volume ends with Senshi learning that the kelpie he thought was a friend was actually waiting to kill him. He fixes a meal with its meat and lets Marcille wash his beard with kelpie fat soap.

Uhh. This is still bizarre. The dungeon ecosystem stuff was kind of nice, and the mimic looked delicious (like crab, maybe?), but the bit with the kelpie just made me sad. It reminded me of the pig the main character in Silver Spoon was raising - after reading spoilers for later episodes, I quit that series and have never been able to bring myself to continue on. (Yes, I eat meat, and yes, I know this is hypocritical of me.)

The living painting stuff was strange, and I'm still wondering who that crazy elf was. I doubt the series will ever get back to that, though, since that would interfere with cooking and eating things.

I laughed at the revelation that Chilchuck is actually 29, and at the other characters' reactions this.

All in all, this is strangely fascinating, and I'll probably continue on, but I think I'm going to avoid trying to plow through too many volumes at once, since I suspect binge-reading would ruin this series for me. This might be a good series to get via interlibrary loan requests, rather than in big chunks during my vacations.

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