Dungeon Meshi has a unique charm to it, that’s for certain. “Quirky” is an overused word, but in this instance I think it definitely fits. It’s just a weird world, this, full of strange creatures and stranger people. Having been a fan of Dungeons of Dragons as a kid and Prince of Persia (PC version) later, I grok the important part stuff like that plays in establishing the vibe. But the spin Kui Ryouko puts on the setting is incredibly distinctive. And Trigger’s treatment of it plays into that, even if I haven’t loved every choice they’ve made.
This episode was apparently (thanks, kViN) outsourced to ENISHIYA, a small production house whose work I have very little familiarity with. All I can say is that it’s an impressive piece of work, full of clever little visual details and a cheeky sense of visual humor. Those sorts of episodes suit Chilchuck to a T of course, and he plays a starring role in the B-part. But first there’s the matter of Laios’ appetite, and the ill-advised choices it sometimes (it seems like most of the time, sometimes) drives him to make.
The living painting is another of those clever Dungeon Meshi innovations to the classic dungeon mythological framework. The gang are clearly familiar with this phenomenon, but Laios decides it would be a good idea to go inside a painting (they suck one in) in a disused dining hall and sample some of the food there. We get a rare disagreement between Laios and Senshi, who would just as soon press on to the fourth level where the monster options are more appetizing. But Laios wins the day as he usually does, and the decision is made to tie a rope to him and let him try his hand at artistic foraging.
The first painting features a king (Ohtsuka Houchuu) celebrating the birth of his son and heir. The atmosphere is too formal for Laios to sneak a bite, so he signals the others and they yank him out. Next, it’s a wedding feast for that son, Dalgal – and Laios recognizes an elf (Kobayashi Yuu) who was present in the first painting as well. But things go off the hook (someone has poisoned the king) before he gets a chance to dig in. He tries to smuggle some of the banquet out with him, but the food can’t leave the painting – only he can. Finally, a third work – and inside this one it’s Dalgal’s coronation. And Laios finally gets to pig out, but has to cut it short when the elf recognizes him and sets about burning him to a crisp.
Not only is the feast cut short, but Laios’ appetite is unmoved – the food can’t leave the wall, even if it’s inside his stomach. Senshi is a little salty about the wasted time, and all the party can do is settle in for the night. There’s some very funny banter here about Chilchuck and his age – Senshi insists on calling him a child – and Chilchuck is adamant that he likes to keep his private and professional life separate. He’s in a rather salty state, too, as he’s spotted a mimic – a monster he has an unpleasant personal history with. But he keeps that information to himself, figuring that if he tells the others Laios and Senshi will insist on eating it (and he’ll have to face his demons).
A trip to fetch water leads to an unfortunate encounter with a treasure bug, which leads to an even more unfortunate encounter with a trap. This is Chilchuck at his most irresistibly neurotic. He doesn’t want to call for help – so as not to endanger the others he says, but he’s also embarrassed to have made such a rookie mistake (the added weight from his waterskin triggering the trap). He puts all his training to use in trying to think his way out of the locked room trap, and unfortunately comes to the conclusion that one of the triggers for the door is behind the mimic. Or rather, where he assumes the mimic to be – in fact an incorrect assumption, which soon has him fleeing for his life and having to decode the instructions on the wall in record time.
All’s well that ends well, and mimic tastes and looks a lot like lobster after you cook it (even Chil grudgingly admits it’s delicious). The problem is the only way to get the meat out of the shell is Chilchuck’s precious lockpick tools. And after another round of relentless nagging from Marcille, Chilchuck finally relents and reveals his age. He’s 29 – which to long and longer-lived dwarves and elves, does make him a child. He’s got seniority on Laios at least – but somehow that seems to make things even worse.