Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Memoria Freese GN 1 – Review

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Memoria Freese GN 1 - Review

Fans of the anime“>Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? franchise will already have figured out the key difference with this latest manga spinoff – rather than being based directly on Fujino Ōmori‘s light novels, it’s rooted in the mobile game Memoria Freese. Adapting the non-canonical storyline Christmas Eve Träumerei, the story takes place during the Holy Night Festival in Orario, a thinly-veiled Christmas. Bell and Haruhime are out exploring the festival when they bump into a young woman named Tarvi, from the nation of Beltane. Tarvi is attempting to evade pursuit, which Bell and Haruhime eagerly help her with, although as a matter of course, the situation is not what either of them assumes it to be.

Right off the bat, canny readers will notice that Tarvi’s origins are cloaked in Celtic mythology. Beltane is the spring festival, taking place on May first, which marks the transition between winter and spring, which makes Tarvi’s presence at a winter festival worth noting. Even more interesting is the fleeting mention of “Bheara” at the end of the volume; this seems to be a partial version of the name of the Celtic goddess Cailleach Bhéara, a divine crone associated with winter. Beltane as a festival essentially marks the end of her reign, so it’s unlikely that Tarvi’s presence at this particular holiday celebration is merely coincidental. Her double set of head adornments – she has both antlers and horns – may also link her to other Celtic deities, most notably Cernunnos, the horned god.

None of that has much bearing on the actual plot of this volume, however. The story feels more like fanfiction (despite Fujino Ōmori‘s involvement) than anything more solidly in the anime“>DanMachi universe, focusing on hijinks and cramming as many familiar characters in as possible rather than giving the characters much development. Part of this comes from the emphasis on fanservice; while the main story has never shied away from it, it’s really front and center here, as Hestia’s breasts-first introduction amply demonstrates. (She also gets a little more hot-and-bothered with Bell than is typical, although it’s not out of the norm entirely.) The art makes use of the infamous brokeback pose (where a female character is drawn so that you can see her breasts and behind at the same time), and to add insult to injury, it isn’t even drawn particularly well; artist Yū Shiomura seems to have just sort of stuck the boobs on instead of making them look like an organic part of the ladies’ bodies. Fanservice is one thing; poorly drawn fanservice is something else entirely.

Despite these issues, the story isn’t without its moments, and there’s a real sense that volume two will be more about the plot since Hestia appears to be familiar with Beltane and Bheara. (Since hearth fires are part of some Beltane celebrations, this makes a lot of sense and shows Omori’s usual attention to mythological detail.) One of the major strengths here is Tarvi and Haruhime’s relationship. Haruhime’s natural reserve, and the trauma she was subjected to as a member of Ishtar Familia, have made her reticent to fully join in with Hestia Familia; she wants to but is holding herself back. Tarvi, despite her more proactive moments, seems to be in a similar position, and her delight at meeting Haruhime and desire to be her friend helps Renart to break out of her shell a bit. Tarvi claims some Renart heritage, and that’s enough to break the ice with Haruhime. There’s a sense that it helps her to feel instantly comfortable with the other young woman, and even in their brief interactions, we can see Tarvi helping Haruhime to cut a bit loose and enjoy herself. Essentially Tarvi is inviting the shy kid on the playground to join the game, and because Haruhime doesn’t feel indebted to her like she does to a degree with Hestia Familia, it’s easier for her to embrace the opportunity. It’s a nice moment for Renart, and we can see that Bell appreciates it as well.

Unfortunately, this is a little buried in the rest of the volume. It seems to want to be accessible to new readers, which is a great goal but doesn’t work all that well with the nature of the story. This is a post-Ishtar storyline, meaning that Hestia Familia is settled in Hearthstone Manor with Chigusa and Haruhime as part of the group, which immediately creates a barrier to entry for new readers. That, as well as the inclusion of a anime“>Sword Oratoria chapter and cameos by Lyu and Chigusa, makes the explanation of things like “the dungeon” and “the guild” feel redundant, because any reader familiar with Ais is going to already know all of that…and anyone who doesn’t know it is going to be very confused by a lot of the story.

anime“>Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Memoria Freese exists in a sort of uncomfortable no man’s land. It adopts a game storyline, it isn’t sure that its readers will be familiar with the story’s world or source material, and it spends a little too long setting up the actual plot. It isn’t terrible, and it shows Omori’s usual commitment to actual world mythology, but the awkward art and redundant information drag it down. If you have no intention of playing the Memoria Freese game, this is a good way to at least see one of its unique story events, but otherwise, this is pretty easy to pass up.

Disclosure: Kadokawa World Entertainment (KWE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Kadokawa Corporation, is the majority owner of anime News Network, LLC. Yen Press, BookWalker Global, and J-Novel Club are subsidiaries of KWE.

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