On the spur of a moment and urging from a friend, I decided to start reading a
(what I thought is a) chill, laid-back, comedic series that’s been on my ever-growing-to-read-list for awhile now. I first saw it at Kinokuniya and the cover looked cute the image just stuck in my mind… And then later it found out it was nominated for the 9th Manga Taisho award in 2016. WELL… yeah, of course I was gonna try it out!
Manga: Dungeon Meshi「ダンジョン飯」Delicious in Dungeon
A brief introduction of Dungeon Meshi by Kui Ryoko:
The series is set in a fantasy world of dungeon exploration, where guilds and parties go on expeditions to raid dungeons. After getting his sister eaten by a dragon, Laios and his party (of now 5) are down on luck, losing 2 more members to other parties and completely broke. For Laios (human swordsman), Chilchack (halfling locksmith) and Marcille (elven spellcaster) to continue their dungeon exploration and save Farin (Laios’s sister) from digestion, they resort to eating monsters as food, meeting Senshi, a dwarf who introduces them to the world of dungeon meshi: Delicious cuisines made from ingredients like screaming mandrakes, giant bats and walking mushrooms.
Warning: Dungeon Meshi is categorised as a Seinen and after reading much further ahead, I definitely understand why. Violence, blood and some gore (What do you expect from killing and cooking monsters?!), thievery and lots of other questionable themes, situations and revelations.
To be honest, when I first started reading it, I didn’t know or realise it was a Seinen series. It didn’t even cross my mind to think about it until I reached a specific point in the story when it suddenly hit me that Dungeon Meshi really isn’t… ‘innocent’—I guess that might be one way to put it?— at all.
But that’s much more for another time. This First Impressions post is just my thoughts up to about… the end of volume 1, chapter 7 and extra 7.5.
Dungeon Meshi first reminded me of Toriko — Both the kind of manga where you drool over delicious-looking imaginary food that one can never hope to try in this universe. (Damn fantasy ingredients -_-) Unlike Toriko though, Dungeon Meshi does incorporate a few recipes that you might be able to throw together with the ingredients we have in this world. It’s also much cuter and less hot-blooded compared to its Shounen latter.
I personally feel that the motivation to start Dungeon Meshi’s story journey felt a little weak, in terms of portraying the gravity of the situation, even it the result was understandable: Someone’s sister got eaten by a dragon and they lost money+supplies so resort to surviving off cooking dungeon monsters as food. In spite of that, I’m definitely enjoying the series so far. I mean, I did start reading because I was more interested in the dungeon monsters and food in the first place. I really appreciate how light-hearted and casual a manga it is!
I especially like how each chapter is dedicated to a specific dish and that some dishes use leftovers from monsters that were caught previously. They make full use of what they have, to corroborate their ‘survival in the dungeon’ I guess? Ahahahaha. Some of the theories that come up from the study and explanation of these dungeon monsters + revelations are also damn fun and totally add to its depth of the story world.
Dungeon Meshi’s art is very clean and precise, with minimal changes in toning and atmosphere, at least from what I’ve read thus far. Its art style adds to the series’s
current lightheartedness and comedic effect, not taking things too seriously. What really shines (besides the beautifully depicted monsters and food, obviously) are the humorous characters and their dynamics! Their expressions (or lack thereof) are the best and accurately portray the kind of thoughts you would expect to show on different people! XD
I can totally see myself and a few friends reacting exactly as some of the characters do, saying similar things in situations like, “You wanted to try it, you eat it!” or ” Did you die?” etc. I mean, if I was dungeon crawling, besides trying to survive, I’d probably feel the same as Laius with his enthusiasm over dungeon monsters (and probably eating them), haha!
At the time I’m writing this, I’ve actually caught up to the latest available scanlated chapter and my thoughts of this manga have changed drastically from these first impressions. This is one of those times I’m glad I noted down my original thoughts on a manga. It’s just so much fun comparing them to what I think about Dungeon Meshi now!
Dungeon Meshi might not be the kind of series that everyone can enjoy and be keen on continuing, but if you’re even just a tad interested in it, I’d advise you to try and stick with it for as long as you can. You might end up pleasantly surprised on its development and escalation pace just like I was! I would go as far as to say that it’s gone past its ‘casual read’ status now XD
The more I read, the more it’s plain to see exactly why it was nominated for the 9th Manga Taisho Award last year!!
More thoughts on this brilliant series at a later date 🙂