Netflix releases an anime set in a generic fantasy world.
A while ago, the gods descended from the heavens in order to have a fun time. They limited their powers so that they could experience the world more like mortals, but choose mortals to empower who join their groups, called “familias.” A number of them set up in the town of Oraria, located next to the entrance to an underground labyrinth creatively called the Dungeon. The goddess Hestia (Inori Minase/Luci Christian), unfortunately, only has one member of her familia, a young man named Bell Cranel (Yoshitsugu Matsuoka/Bryson Baugus). Despite being a level 1 adventurer (yes, they have levels), Bell falls in love with the powerful swordswoman Ais Wallenstein (Saori Onishi/Shelley Calene-Black). Unbeknownst to Bell, his crush actually causes him to develop the rare skill Learis Freese, which makes his strength grow rapidly. Bell soon tries to win Ais’s attention while making the Hestia Familia the best. He’s later joined by helper Lilliluka Arde (Maaya Uchida/Hilary Haag) and armor smith Welf Crezzo (Yoshimaasa Hosoya/David Wald).
Someone advised me to check this anime out and, as I’m a nerd, I get why. This show pretty much follows the classic RPG rules, including the characters actually having stat blocks involving their strength, dexterity, etc. You get experience from slaying monsters, which allows you to raise your stats, which allows you to slay bigger monsters, rinse and repeat. When you kill monsters, they release magical crystal shards (because why not?), which can be sold or used to craft magical items. Monsters get stronger the deeper you go in the dungeon with “bosses” every few floors. However, sometimes monsters can make their way closer to the surface, which means that it’s important to keep a supply of strong adventurers going deeper and deeper in order to keep the population of strong monsters lower. There are also “free levels” where there are no monsters, just to keep it fair. Like I said, it’s basically just a traditional JRPG.
The thing that’s supposed to make it interesting is that it is more of a character-driven comedy than an adventure series. Bell is extremely awkward when around Ais, which is sometimes amusing, but completely oblivious to the fact that a number of other women around the town are attracted to him. It’s a fairly typical harem structure that Anime has adopted since Ranma ½ and Tenchi Muyo helped popularize it. The problem is that most of the characters here are just way too generic to make it work. There’s nothing about their personalities or characters that really feel unique to this show. In Ranma ½, characters would have descriptions like “Martial Arts cross-dressing chef who fights with a giant spatula.” Here, the description is “protagonist with a crush and tragic backstory.” Yes, the idea of literal gods and goddesses roaming the Earth and having competing teams is fun, but there aren’t really any stakes to anything involving it, so it doesn’t help much.
Overall, the monster and world designs were fun, and the elements that involved actual dungeon-crawling were entertaining, but I just couldn’t get into it. If you are a big anime person, you might like this, but I just didn’t care about any of the people. The series is apparently based on a bunch of light novels, so maybe those are better.
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