Currently it seems that every manga and anime story-line is focused on this fantasy rpg style setting that was popularized by sword art online. It’s almost like they think about what they want to cover, like this one being based on food and cooking, and then a wise guy in a meeting pops up saying, “add some fantasy rpg aspects to it”, everyone else, “ yes, yes that sounds spectacular”… In a way Delicious in Dungeon seems like a manga written by a focus group. Food manga such as Shokugeki no Soma is popular, so add that. Fantasy rpg manga are also popular thanks to SAO & Accel World, so why not add that too. Mix it together and you get Delicious in Dungeon. It’s a fantasy rpg manga focused on cooking.
And I know I just repeated myself a couple times in that opening paragraph, but there is a reason for that, emphasis. I wanted to emphasize just how easy it was to make Delicious in Dungeon a cut and dry cut and paste story. It was possible, but it’s not. I apologize if that all seems misleading, that was not the intention. As mentioned before it’s all for emphasis. This manga had all it needed to be a lame by the books forgettable bullocks story, but it’s not, it’s enthralling. The setup sees a group of dungeon explorers meet a terrible fate at the claws of a dragon. To save the group from total annihilation one member sacrifices herself to teleport the other members to safety. She being the younger sister of the driving force of the plot, Laios, is eaten by the dragon. Now in the world it is possible to resurrect someone who has passed away if you can find their body, so Laios and a few members of his band who decide to remain with him despite their recent failures set out on a new adventure to slay the dragon, eat it and save his sister.
Oh wait did I not mention that they want to eat the dragon too? Well not really all of them, but Laios is a weird monster obsessed bastard who definitely wants to eat it and every other monster they come across. He proclaims that he wants to taste all monsters, even shoes. The bloke loves food, the weirder the better for him. On this quest they encounter my favorite character, Senshi, a dwarf who like Laios is fixated on cooking and eating monsters. Unlike Laios, however, Senshi actually has experience preparing monsters, and so he joins them on their quest. During their adventure they meet multiple monster types who they must defeat, then figure out the best way to prepare them for consumption. It’s a comical tale with lots of witty banter and clever moments. All the characters are well developed in the first volume, and the setting is crafted in such an impeccable way that it’s almost believable that such place could exist. This is especially apparent when you reach the sections with the detailed recipes for preparing the delicious looking monster meals. And I won’t lie some of em got me pondering how tasty they would taste. Bloody hell am I’m turning into Laios… ?
The art in Delicious in Dungeon is another aspect about it that could have been a failure for me, nonetheless it impressed, and that’s all that matters. Similar to JoJo’s Adventure I found it very detailed with dark lines and complex cells. This is usually not a style I like, but in a way this manga rides a fine line of having details where needed and clean less detailed cells elsewhere. In this way it manages not to be too cumbersome for readers that prefer a more light-hearted casual reading experience. When I read manga I’m usually not looking for any hidden exposition in the backgrounds, I much prefer for the writing do that. When it’s too detailed I find myself lost in that detail, pondering everything to the point that I don’t appreciate the plot quite as much. Each of the 4 main characters are well detailed, and so are the monsters, and backgrounds. In sections where the emotional moments are more important than what’s happen around the characters, they have mostly clean cells with the characters illustrated in very expressive ways, sometimes even chibi… ahhhh chibi. Boy do I love chibi when done right.
Little random side note. If you’ve never seen the anime GetBackers. Go watch it. It’s hilarious, and arguably has the best use of chibi ever.
Back on topic, Delicious in Dungeon is a physical release, and as such I’ll be mentioning the book itself. It’s a bit larger than the regular manga size that I’m used to, similar to Remember Your Nature. Now this isn’t a big problem, however I do prefer the smaller sized books as they’re much more manageable and dare I say cuter, and I like cute things. The covers are not glossy so they’re good for reading for extended periods of time, although they may start deteriorating easier than a gloss cover due to extended use. The pages are of a good quality, and I found the volume consisted of the right amount of chapters. There’s even a couple extra pages at the back of the book that go into more details about the different monsters covered in the volume.
The saying, don’t judge a book by its cover can be used with regards to this particular manga in some ways. It’s a story that I assumed wouldn’t turn out to be much more than a waste of my time. A cliche copy and paste book that any random mangaka without any imagination could come up with. Thankfully I was wrong, and the manga is a pleasurable read filled with mystery, humor and likable characters. The first volume introduces us to all the characters in a nice way while constructing the building blocks for an epic tale that should span multiple exhilarating volumes.
The copy of Delicious In Dungeon used for this review was provided to us by Yen Press.