The deeper you go, the stranger the tastes!
Title: Delicious in Dungeon (Dungeon Meshi)
Genre: Food, Adventure
Publisher: Kadokawa Corporation Enterbrain (JP), Yen Press (US)
Creator: Ryoko Kui
Translator: Taylor Engel
Original Release Date: August 22, 2017
A review copy was provided by Yen Press.
When Delicious in Dungeon was first announced it sounded like a derivative work, one that existed solely because the earlier work Log Horizon had such an important, and on-going, plot point about cooking in a fantasy world. But after two volumes, truthfully after just one, Delicious in Dungeon has showed its chops; this series is its own delightful and unique food-adventure-fantasy-comedy manga.
Delicious in Dungeon truly is almost as much a comedy as it is an adventuring story. Ryoko Kui understands that the fastest way to her reader’s hearts is to acknowledge how silly this whole situation is, roll with it, and then up the silly. The back cover of each volume so far details exactly what creatures the party will be running into, (and more often than not, eating). While a “living picture” sounds like the strangest chapter so far it’s not quite, although not in ways you’d expect! (I think that the “Prayer to Ward Off Evil! Exorcism Sorbet” is the strangest food to date; this is in a series that’s also figured out how to eat moving suits of armor…).
Like in the first volume, most of the comedy in this volume isn’t so much based around the creatures that the party is cooking up but the characters reacting to them. Chilchuck almost refuses to eat a mimic after all of the trouble it put him through, and Marcille seems to be warming up to the idea of eating these strange creatures (or at least resigning herself to the fact that this really is the only way they can keep traveling). The story has even begun to touch on how how this dungeon fits into the larger world; the party meet of now permanently underground-dwelling orcs and Senshi points out that if they were to remove the large predators from one area it could majorly upset the ecosystem and really harm the balance that the explorers are used to.
This is still an oddball story and may be the weirdest fantasy manga published this year (which is a hard boast to achieve). It has so much heart and so much fun to it that it’s impossible to not be at least the slightest bit charmed by its characters and their earnest culinary adventures. At this point the mechanism of using the character’s attitudes towards their food to indicate character growth feels wholly natural. One wonders how many more delicious meals they have left however; after all, they are working on a deadline and if they wait too long then it’ll be Falin who’s for lunch instead!