Delicious in Dungeon season one review - an entrée so good, I can't wait for dessert

3 weeks ago 42

Bring on the next course!

Key art from the Delicious in Dungeon anime showing from left to right, Marcille, Laios, Chilchuck, Senshi, and Izutsumi, all looking cautious about something, various other characters behind them. Image credit: Netflix/ Studio Trigger/ Ryoko Kui

When a Delicious in Dungeon anime was announced way back in 2022, I immediately felt excited. I was a big fan of what I'd read of the manga at the time, and hearing the news that it was being handled by none other than Studio Trigger - the same animation team that's overseen projects like Kill la Kill, Little Witch Academia, and Promare, all of which have an incredible energy to them - did nothing to put me off. Of course, that meant that there were some big expectations for Trigger's adaptation of Delicious in Dungeon to match - those who loved the manga really loved it, so Trigger really couldn't afford to mess it up.

Luckily, I don't think it did! When it started airing way back in January, I will admit that I felt a little nervous about how the series was going to play out. The first couple of episodes were good, but animated conservatively for the most part, which felt strange given Trigger's history of really going out there when it came to sillier stories. It didn't take long for those nerves to be put to bed, thankfully, as along came the third episode, which is probably one of my favourite episodes of the season. It was thanks to this episode, which offered a unique take on a classic fantasy RPG enemy - living armour - that I knew Delicious in Dungeon was in good hands.

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The whole episode had such a specific look to it, distinct from the previous two episodes, and one that didn't crop up again throughout the rest of the season, which is partially why it still stands out so much. This isn't to say the rest of the show felt disappointing, far from it. Numerous other episodes had pockets of animation used at exactly the right time to accentuate the 'what the hell is going on' feeling of it all. That's the most surprising thing about Delicious in Dungeon - the places it goes.

You'd think a show about dungeon crawling and eating the monsters you beat along the way would just be a silly, good, fun time, which it still is of course, but without veering too heavily into spoiler territory, it's kind of… f**ked up. The entire quest the protagonists embark on is to save best-boy Laois' sister after she's been eaten by a dragon, and the results of said escapade have unforeseen consequences. Manga author Ryoko Kui deals excellently with the balance of body horror and comedy, but that can easily get lost in an animated translation. I think outside of the animation, what really sells it all are the vocal performances.

I watched the Japanese dub (please don't argue about this anywhere, both sub and dub are good) and pretty much every character was cast perfectly. Sayaka Senbongi (Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind) captured Marcille's moments of fear over having to eat monsters perfectly, Asuna Tomari (Armored Core 6) made Chilchuck feel like the grown adult he actually is, and Hiroshi Naka (The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild) gave Senshi the range of emotions he deserved. But, I have to admit the star of the show is easily Kentaro Kumagai as Laois.

Kumagai hasn't really done all that much voice acting, Laios being his first lead role. And yet, he feels perfect for it - every facet of Laios' awkwardness, loveableness, even hateability (he's kind of oblivious to, well, all aspects of socialising) are all displayed so brilliantly, I don't think I've seen an animated character brought to life so well before just via a person's voice. It's a performance that will stick with me for a long time, and I'm particularly excited to see what Kumagai will do in season two (which has been confirmed, if you didn't know).

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the score at least a little bit, particularly because it was composed by none other than Yasunori Mitsuda. Yes, the same Yasunori Mitsuda behind the soundtracks for games like Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, and much more. You could easily plop Mitsuda's Delicious in Dungeon tracks into an actual RPG, with themes that you can imagine playing as you explore different towns, or perhaps even cook up a few meals. The horns that play whenever Senshi finishes up a meal in particular are as triumphant as they are funny.

In my experience, it's quite rare for an adaptation to come together like this, where the sum of its parts add up to a very special whole. Something is bound to fall apart somewhere; maybe there's a voice actor who just isn't giving it their all, the animation feels stilted, it just cuts parts out or adjusts things in ways that feel so radically different that it's barely an adaptation at all. But Trigger has managed to pull it off with Delicious in Dungeon, its first manga adaptation, allowing it to plant its feet firmly in the ground and say 'yeah, we've still got it'.

More than anything, at this point I'm just excited for the second season. I've read the manga, so I know what we're in for, and as good as the first part of Delicious in Dungeon is, it's really in the back half when the series shines. Animation takes a while, I wouldn't be surprised if season two didn't arrive until 2026 if we're unlucky, but that's ok - it just means I've got time to digest the main course.

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