In Orario, fearless adventurers band together in search of fame and fortune within the monstrous underground labyrinth known as Dungeon. But while riches and renown are incentive enough for most, Bell Cranel, would-be hero extraordinaire, has bigger plans. He wants to pick up girls. Is it wrong to face the perils of Dungeon alone, in a single-member guild blessed by a failed goddess? Maybe. Is it wrong to dream of playing hero to hapless maidens in Dungeon? Maybe not. After one misguided adventure, Bell quickly discovers that anything can happen in the labyrinth - even chance encounters with beautiful women. The only problem? He’s the one who winds up the damsel in distress!!
Source: Yen Press
After finally getting to the point of reading the first volume, which I brought back from my first trip to Japan many years ago, this series is quickly becoming valuable addition to my book collection. My first impression of the series was based on anime adaptation, which wasn’t that great in the beginning. After reading few pages I find myself drawn in and really enjoying the writing style. Even if I’ve read only few LN series so far, I think I’m starting to understand what is good and what feels as somewhat slopy. In this case the writing is very good. The series isn’t the easiest to read in Japanese, but isn’t as punishing as some other series for example Overlord. The story has typical RPG inspired tropes, but with bit unique integration into non-game fantasy settings. Unlike many popular series this is not an isekai story. It’s fantasy, adventure about young teenager Bell Cranel starting his heroic journey to become famous adventurer … and to meet girls, which is in the title. It’s specified using softer expression of “deai”, which means to meet someone by a chance. In this case having romantic connotation. It’s a small gripe of mine with the English title, which sacrifices this meaning for sake of simplicity, but I digress. It has harem tag for reason, but it isn’t as simple as bunch of girls living with MC from the outset. It’s in the way various female characters are interested in the MC. What surprised me is Bell in the novel is explicitly more interested in the girls and romance than in the anime, which does make him look more like typical harem protagonist of sort. You know the kind indiscriminately trying to avoid any closer relationship with women. That is not the case in the novel. He seems also to be more aware of those interactions, albeit his low self-esteem holds him back. One of the interesting concepts is the RPG status is bound to contract with gods, which have been living amongst humans for considerable time. It doesn’t follow just rise of the MC, but his “familia”, which is term used for sort of guild under patronage of god. In the first volume the MC is the first and sole member of Hestia’s familia. Additional members join in following volumes. He gains sort of cheat ability for faster levelling, but his progress still feels earned. Think of DBZ’s growing stronger as the character is fighting. It comes without saying the series has lot of fights for MC to gain EXP, which is turned into status points by his goddess. Strange as it may seem the explanation works for the series. If you have watched the anime, then the first volume is adapted into first three episodes . The source novel has some additional details omitted in the anime, but that is pretty much it. While the first LN volume has bit above 300 pages later volumes are visibly thicker. I’m talking about printed bunko edition. I like the illustrations, which are in moderate amount spread throughout the book. Those are colourless. There is big folded double-sided mini poster illustration in colour at the beginning of each volume as well. Very useful for those who didn’t watch the anime or read the manga. I have to say I enjoy the LN version way more than the first season of anime. It has unique blend of RPG and fantasy. Character interactions are fun and the story starts simple, but gets progressively better as even later seasons of anime do show. Japanese difficulty 8/10 (see my profile for details about various difficulty scores) The book throws in furigana for unusual readings and to introduce more difficult words. I wouldn’t recommend this as the first LN to read in Japanese, but it isn’t top tier difficulty either imho. As usual more kanji and words you know the better. Minimum JLPT N2 recommended though. This review is written after reading one volume. Spoilers  The final battle of the first volume is white monkey monster from Ganesha’s festival released by Freya against Hestia.
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