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Dungeon Meshi – 10

Dungeon Meshi has a quality I sometimes see with good series, where my engagement level builds over the course of any given episode.  They’re adapting pretty much faithfully, in order, so this is rather a neat trick.  Intra-episodic pacing is very much an underrated skill with anime, one that makes a big difference in a show’s overall effectiveness.  I’m still not sure, frankly, why the anime ranks so much lower than the manga on aggregator sites that track both.  There’s not much I’d like to be seeing from it that I’m not.

Things, as usual, get off to a pretty measured start.  The Laios party is advancing towards the fifth level of the dungeon, where the red dragon should theoretically be.  They run across a veritable forest of tentacles, and while pondering how to pass through it are set upon by an army (that’s what it’s called, look it up) of frogs.  Giant frogs, in fact.  And they seem especially intent on stealing the party’s weapons, which they manage to do with Laios’ sword (and living hilt), and Marcille’s staff.  One makes a grab for Senshi’s axe next, though – crucially – not before he takes another out with it.

Chilchuck hates tentacles almost as much as mimics, but it’s his quick thinking that saves the day here.  Noticing that the frogs seem immune to the tentacles’ poison, he makes himself a rather gruesome pair of gloves and uses them to set off one of the traps the tentacles have interwoven with, though he does manage to get himself swallowed first.  The trap is sprung, the swallower is its victim, and Laios and Senshi each show their inclinations where the giant frogs are concerned.  Senshi comes over all French, and Laios realizes that they can make body suits out of the frog carcasses to protect the party as it advances through the tentacular forest.

Meanwhile, we get our first extended look at life on the surface.  The Tansu party makes its way back home (Namari seems rather nauseated by the form of transport and needs a nap).  Mr. Tansu immediately heads for the palace of the Lord of the Island (no less than Tobita Nobuo) to report back on what he’s found in the dungeon.  He’s primarily interested in the spell (immortality?) that binds people’s souls to their bodies – and so apparently are the Western Elves who recently paid the Lord a visit and demanded that he return the dungeon and surrounding lands (originally gifted to the tall men by the elves) to their original owners.

There’s a lot to unpack in this conversation.  Tansu is convinced that the spell is in the hands of one called the Lunatic Magician, and manages to convince the Lord that if he manages to procure the spell the elves will be on their knees begging to negotiate.  The Lord is quite racist against the dwarves, blaming them for the ills of the world, but Tansu (his feelings perhaps softened by Nemari’s bravery and loyalty) resists the idea.  Nevertheless Tansu suggests that the dungeon connects with ancient dwarf mines, which is how orcs (and other creatures, such as wargs) are getting in.

Laios and team – now decked out in the latest frogsuit fashion, which Marcille looks cute in – are now on the fifth level, and have reached the castle town.   It shows the evidence of the orcs’ hasty retreat, and some grisly proof that the red dragon has been in the area quite recently.  Laios is puzzled by the fact that it seems so active – especially in an area like the castle town so ill-suited for its massive frame.  But irrespective of that, there remains the matter of actually defeating it with just the three (Chil insists he’s not to be counted on in combat) of them.  The dragons sheer size makes reaching its one vulnerable area a seeming impossibility, and without Nemari and Shuro in the party there’s no way to recreate past successes against lesser dragons.

Still – as much of a goofball and freak as he is, Laios is clever when it comes to strategy and tactics, and he does come up with a sort of plan – luring the dragon to where they can collapse a building on top of it.  Senshi prepares katsu (the traditional food for before the big game), and Laios makes a speech of appreciation to the others – which Chilchuck points out is a massive death flag.  And with that, the dragon arrives on the scene, and there’s no time to worry over such things.  However indestructible it seems, the dragon has Falin in its belly and this is what the whole damn adventure has been for.

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