What They Say:
Based off of a light novel of the same name written by Fujino Omori and illustrated by Suzuhito Yasuda, Is It Wrong to Try and Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? is set in the world of Orario, where adventurers band together and look for treasures in an underground labyrinth known as Dungeon. However, for Bell Cranel, fame and riches are secondary to what he wants to find the most: girls. He soon finds out though, that anything can happen in Dungeon, and winds up being the damsel in distress instead!
This is a dual release so for this review as a change of pace will be reviewing the DVD variation. The sound quality has options of 5.1 English Dolby Surround and the Japanese a 2.0 Stereo option. There were no complications of the audio throughout the release and the 5.1 option definitely comes through well with no need to adjust default settings on the audio system I was using. There were no problems with the video synching in with subtitles so definitely acceptable as a DVD release.
Similar with the audio, the video is set in 16:9 – 1.78:1 aspect ratio via NTSC transfer to PAL format – with DVD releases nowadays the effect definitely seems more grainier compared to HD and with me doing a ton of Blu-Ray reviews recently this is a good way to remind you how the times have changed. That said, the animation was great and with a lot of bright colours and outfits, it still transfers well onto the screen, (especially with the fight sequences because of the combination of animation and CGI) just little things here and there.
There was no packaging for this test release.
The menu is pretty standard, we have on all three discs some of the main characters on a white background with RPG sketch drawing – disc 1 for example has Hestia on the left in dramatic pose with Bell hidden behind her whilst disc 2 has Aiz in battle pose – below them are the choices of Play All, Episodes, Set Up and on disc 1, Extras. Very basic and standard for a DVD release – no freeze on selection and can revert to main menu from both sub-screens and main show easily with a slight delay.
The only extras are the clean opening/ending and trailers from other Sentai Filmwork shows (showcasing this is a direct transfer from the US release as Sentai doesn’t operate from the UK and is simply an acquirement from Manga Entertainment) – the trailers are for the soon to be reviewed Amagi Brilliant Park, then also Chiaka The Coffin Princess – Avenging Battle, Cross Ange: Rondo of Angel and Dragon and Trinity Seven.
Is It Wrong etc blah blah is a show that got a lot of hoopla when first announced and later released in 2015. In fact it was the first show that actually got an English light novel release BEFORE the anime was able to be viewed, suggesting that the company (Yen Press for the record) had a feeling this franchise was going to be a big deal. Been an ongoing Light Novel since 2013, it is a series that had the RPG element of a show like Sword Art Online, Log Horizon or Re:Zero, yet with a few twists and a few things that made the show iconic. However, the strange title does make you wonder what route is going to take, and when you watch it, you may be surprised…
In the world of Orario, we are introduced quite early to our main character Bell. He seems to be a good scamp, albeit one with what appears to be a weird moral compass – his reason to go into the dungeon areas? Fame? Money? Glory? Nope. To pick up girls. His grandfather had a bit of a perverse involvement…
The strange this is after that one bit – which side of Bell’s character almost disappears. Indeed, the first girl he meets in the dungeon actually saves his butt and he does fall in love with her legit – her name is Aiz, also known as the Sword Princess, and a bit of a legend to say the least, and it is her strength that inspires Bell to be the man he sets out to be – which is hilarious because at home, he is the sole member of the Hestia Familia…and has a gorgeous ‘loli-boobed’ (Quoted by some of the cast and the fans ^^) goddess who clearly has the hots for him named Hestia…which he clearly is either embarrassed by her advances or doesn’t really notice it, quickly changing his initial supposed girl chaser stereotype. Indeed, he fits more into a harem lead because there are quite a few females who take an interest in Bell but we’ll get to that in a bit…
What makes Bell interesting is that whilst he seems weak, he is also uncovering powers and skills that are unknown to him, as Hestia is keeping him in the dark with some skills, whether if they are negative or he is growing too fast and doesn’t want him rushing to his death, it is slowly explained later in the series but in the meantime he acquires the attention of the local bar girl Syr who is an aid when it comes to his food (Hestia, despite being a goddess is local ranking, and so has to work odd jobs for food – it is a good source of comedy ^^) and overhears the Loki Familia which includes Aiz having a good time, before one of them talks about the ‘tomato boy’ that Aiz saved basically making fun of poor Bell. He runs off in tears, but it also spurs him on for the rest of the series to never get in that situation again and become stronger. Hestia also sees the fire in his eyes so it is time to call in some favours with other goddesses…
Hestia goes to meet fellow goddesses, gets into a bitchy fight with Loki (Loki calling her pathetic with her one member familia, Hestia making fun of her flat chest), whilst the high goddess Freya seems unusually interested in Bell and decides to almost play the role of a Loki as a trickster mentor from afar – meanwhile, Hestia begs one of the weapons goddesses Hephaistos to make Bell a weapon. Despite her prices way too much for her, the two clearly have a good friendship and after promising Hestia to do some favours (including a second job – poor Hestia ^^) she crafts a magical knife for Bell…which after some delay in the third episode, he gets to use it against a monster (which may have had Freya’s fingerprints on) which begins to catch the eye of a few people…
One of those is a member of the Soma familia named Liliruca, shortened to Lili. She acts like a supporter for her familia with her stealth and surprising strength, but in reality she is pretty much a dogsbody and only used to steal from other adventurers, because the Soma’s aren’t exactly a high class Familia (they are addicted to Soma’s wine) – she targets Bell, but because the knife is only worth anything when Bell wields it, she feigns ignorance (despite the bar girls Syr and especially Lyu noticing the knife, Lyu in particular actually gains more development later when you wouldn’t have expected it) and Bell is none the wiser. Here, you can argue that Bells’ greatest weakness is his naivety which is definitely shown, but fortunately characters like Hestia and Lyu manage to balance it off and keep an eye when he can (though Hestia it’s more due to jealousy of other girls taking an interest in Bell ^^) – he manages to discover a magic book in the pub which allows him to cast magic properly – which like a hyper kid tests it out but also manages to avoid any trouble…which Lili casts him into to steal his treasure. However, you see her back-story and just how much the world has dumped on her, and you do feel a tad sorry for her when she is betrayed and left for dead in the dungeon, so you are happy that despite the circumstances Bell is able to save her, and she then legit becomes his partner. Bell always been kind to her did break her mentality a bit and now she is a full on good gal (though she is another member of Bell’s unintentional harem now much to Hestia’s nerves…)
This leads to the fact he is now being noticed and improving, and Aiz herself takes an interest in him and asks to train him in sword skills. She is far skilled compared to Bell but she isn’t arrogant, tough, or violent – she’s actually quite shy and reserved and embarrassed about her skills, and in a kindred soul like Bell, the two do begin to bond as Bell admits that he wants to get to a level that she doesn’t need to rescue him. This comes sooner than expected in a higher level dungeon and faces off against a Minotaur, the same beat that nearly killed him that Aiz saved him from. Lili finds the familia to save him but Bell refuses their help and manages to combine both his weapon, his magic and his armour (which leads to the next episode as a plot point earlier as he gets some cheaper but surprisingly good armour from a specific blacksmith under Hephaistos’ familia…) to beat it.
He then makes another friend who semi-joins him, the above mentioned creator of his armour, Welf Crozzo, as Bell is improving at a rate even higher than when Aiz first started. He also has some history with a rare ability to make magic weapons (like his goddess) but sadly because of the length of the series this isn’t explored much and we never get to see him do too much stuff. In fact, it rushes to a few things when Bell goes missing in the dungeon and Hestia begs all the adventurers to go find him, then she gets kidnapped by some jealous rogues only for Bell to come back and save her (and for the only time in the series we see Hestia actually remind viewers that she is in fact a goddess and does have powers) with the final episode a free-for-all when a powerful monster emerges that they all gang up on…
And to be honest, that is actually the most disappointing thing about the series. I am aware there is a spin-off/sequel from Aiz’s point of view, and the light novels are far more expansive with the characters and relationships, but it really does feel way too short and I wanted more. It isn’t a typical harem series because the lead male whilst initially seeking one, actually is much more shy and noble, and he is a rare male protagonist where he doesn’t really get into any misunderstandings (just the occasionally bout of jealousy from Hestia) – a number of the characters do get some good moments (was really surprised about the bar girl Lyu and rewatching it you do get the hints about her skills and history) but others sadly don’t get enough time to make an impact (Welf is the biggest example as his skill is alluded to due to the armour Bell buys, but when we see him he isn’t on long enough to know much about bar the fact he doesn’t want to make magic weapons anymore – again, this is where the light novels most likely expand upon) – Bell himself gets plenty of development in terms of skill, his admiration of Aiz and his relationship with his friends and with Hestia, which leads to problem 2.
Hestia is pretty much one of the most well known characters in recent years and after watching it…it is pretty much because of her looks (especially her ribbon which holds her chest area) because as a character she’s…pretty familiar. Not saying she is bad, in fact she is quite comical but the fact you only see her use her powers once, her damsel in distress moments feel like she didn’t need, and her tsundere nature plus jealousy over other girls (granted, Bell is a bit dense when it comes to that) means that you will have seen this type of character in many anime – harem, schoolgirl, romance, etc – the main noticeable thing is her looks – combining with an iconic ribbon makes her memorable in that way, but as a character, she is not even the 3rdd most interesting female in my opinion (Aiz, Lili and Lyu all go ahead in that in terms of background) so yeah, she is quite funny especially considering how poor she is and what she has to do to make ends meet DESPITE BEING A GODDESS but otherwise only noticeable due to her style.
Which is strange because the show has a lot of Familia and background cast, but very few really break out – Lyu as I said is discovering to be an experienced adventurer who gives Bell good advice and she doesn’t get out of touch during the finale, Lili whilst a bit of a brat at first does develop well and you learn her back-story which gives her bonus points, and Aiz is a rare badass that whilst shy, isn’t a blushing bride and remains her stoic yet kind nature during her interactions with Bell.
The show is great to look at and Bell himself is a very likeable lead – his naivety may make you grown but he is a good kid, skilled, strong but also humble (a fun scene early on is when after he is made fun of, he runs away accidentally skipping on the bill…he then returns the next day to pay – which is good as the inn’s chief Mia is quite the badass herself…), and even though he is in love with Aiz, he wants to make good with her his way and knows she is way too strong and he feels unworthy, yet Aiz and him have a very sweet mentor/student relationship – whether it goes further is unsure which again, I bemoan the shortness of the series…
…because I definitely wanted more. If this had been two cour, I think this would have been far better because the development is needed but the fun was there. Hestia is iconic but perhaps a tad overrated yet certainly not worthless, the rest of the cast meld in just about to create a fun and inventive series.
IIWTPUGIAD is a weird title, yet the series is a tried and tested formula done in an RPG style world. Whilst the mechanics of the world are explained, the shortness of the series makes it feel rushed to the point that you wish for more. The characters that stand out all have their quirks and whilst Hestia is showcased to be the star, she is a fun but familiar character, whilst characters like Aiz, Bell, Lyu and Lili do make you care and wonder about their past, and later future. The fun is there, the action is great, it is just a shame it is a rushed project because it could and should be so much more.
Clean opening, clean ending, trailers.
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: C-
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: June 12th, 2017
MSRP: £39.99 (DVD/Blu-Ray hybrid)
Running Time: 325 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.