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Dungeon Meshi – 07

I wish I’d kept my Monster Manual.

The phenomenon of manga adaptations is endlessly fascinating.  Looking at Dungeon Meshi, a very recent commercial powerhouse, it’s interesting to speculate why the anime receives much lower aggregator scores than the manga.  Frankly, as a reader I find it hard to imagine what fans of the manga might want that they’re not getting (though manga readers can obviously be tremendously picayune).  It seems more likely that it’s a result of a different audience reacting differently – anime fans not responding to the material as positively as manga fans did.

I get that.  This is a very quirky piece of work, as I said last week, and – I suspect because with manga it typically requires one seeking out a series more than it does with anime – that audience is more receptive to quirkiness.  The sort of quirkiness like a whole chapter more or less dedicated to Marcille trying to get Senshi’s permission to wash his beard.  On the fourth level one must cross an underground lake, and Senshi’s beard is so imbued with the residual oils of countless monsters and campfire smoke that it insulates him from her walking on water magic.  One need only look at Senshi to imagine he might be a rather pungent fellow, though you’d think that would eventually impact his palate in a negative way (since most of what we taste actually comes from aroma).

Senshi has his own plan for crossing – a kelpie he’s named Anne, which he lures to the surface with a leftover mimic claw.  Senshi feels he’s formed a bond with the kelpie, but Laios is a skeptic.  One might reflexively take Senshi’s side in a matter such as this, but in fact Laios is absolutely right – you can never tell what a monster is thinking.  And Anne is thinking about dragging Senshi to the bottom of the lake and feasting on him.  Laios dives in after him and between  the pair of them, they kill the kelpie.  Marcille even asks for some of its fat so she can make soap out of it.

Senshi and Marcille get into it again on the subject of the dungeon ecosystem, which he adjudged her explosive method of  harvesting blade fish to threaten.  While they’re butting heads Laios drags a reluctant Chilchuck out to investigate something floating on the water, which turns out to be several bags of grain and the hapless Kabru party, once again turning up (seemingly) dead in the path of the Laios party.  They’ve already mistakenly concluded that it was Laios’ group that robbed them after their last “death”, so they surely aren’t going to be too pleased when they come around this time.

There are plenty of players in this ecosystem, including mermaids (whose siren song Laios has a rather direct means of neutralizing), various fish-men, and – seemingly at the top of the food chain – the kraken.  That one is a real problem, but Senshi is full of encyclopedic knowledge and out of the box thinking.  His plan requires Marcille’s magic in order to put his knowledge of cephalopod anatomy to good use, and he gains a new appreciation for her skills in the aftermath.  The kraken contains a huge parasitic worm, which Senshi decides to tackle, leaving the kraken to replenish the ecosystem.

This clash between Chilchuck and Laios is pretty fundamental to Dungeon Meshi.  Chil is insistent that Laios keep his promise to avoid consuming demi-human creatures.  Mermaids and fish-men would seem to qualify, but he’s keen to loosen the definition.  Chilchuck ominously senses that his compromise may be a classic case of “give him an inch and he’ll take a mile”, and indeed, fish eggs are part of the lunch Laios throws together.  Eventually Senshi prepares the parasitic worm in unagi style, but Laios can’t resist the urge to try it raw – which is exactly as bad an idea as you’d imagine it would be.  It’s hard to feel too bad for him on this one – he kind of had it coming,

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