Laios (Kentarô Kumagai, Cells at Work), Marcille (Sayaka Senbongi, Heavenly Delusion), and Chilchuck (Asuna Tomari) barely escaped from a Red Dragon they encountered in their last expedition into a local dungeon. But while they get away thanks to the magic of their companion Falin (Saori Hayami, Spy x Family), she falls victim to the dragon. Determined to save their friend, the trio launch a rescue mission back into the dungeon. But with no money, they have to turn to eat the monstrous denizens of the dungeon itself. If they hope to return to Falin, they have to eat, in Delicious in Dungeon (Dungeon Meshi) Episode 1, “Hot Pot/Tart.”
The hardest parts of a good story are the beginning and the end. While a great ending is always a supreme challenge, a strong opening becomes increasingly difficult. This depends on how far afield a series’ concept is from what viewers are used to. The newer the premise, the more must be explained. If this exposition is handled poorly, a series-opening will lag under its narrative weight. Unfortunately, that is the fate of Delicious in Dungeon Episode 1.
The hurdle the exposition about eating dungeon monsters presents to the viewer is twofold. First, it can be rather dull at times. Listening to a dwarf go step-by-step through the proper methods of preparing a fictional creature to make the perfect hot pot is of little interest. Along with these deep dives into the specifics of cooking, the show also takes a significant amount of time on party debates. We watch them talk about whether or not they should eat monsters at all. These debates are a bit more lively, but they can run a bit too long. The combination of the two talking points within the episode makes it feel like it doesn’t get much done with its time.
The second reason all the discussion in Delicious in Dungeon Episode 1 is detrimental to the story is how much it undercuts the sense of urgency the series initially presents under the auspices of a rescue mission. How the party goes from being in an urgent rush to save their friend to chilling by a fire as they cook monster tarts is contradictory in every way. If the series wants the group to be able to relax as they explore the hidden delicacies of dungeon cooking, it shouldn’t have sent them on a rescue mission.
While the narrative side of this premiere is a bit rough, the characters are solid. Laios, Marcille, and Chilchuck form a core dynamic that promises enjoyable personality clashes. These clashes are the main fuel for the series’ comedic elements. While their verbal clashes are frequent, they’re superficial — similar to little disagreements between friends. Their innate trust in each other always comes through. This allows the viewer to understand why they can have these frequent spats while remaining close.
The animation in Delicious in Dungeon Episode 1 skillfully reinforces the comedy of the series. From Marcille’s frequent temper tantrums to physical comedy, the series presents the classic style of sight gag that anime is known for. The minimal action the episode’s opening brings also promises good things for this side of the presentation. The time spent fighting the Re Dragon depicts the foe’s menace and power. While it looks like action will be rare, there is reasonable cause to hope that it will land when it does appear.
The series continues its strong visual presentation through its food. Anime always delivers gorgeous, mouth-watering food, and this episode stands up with the best. Every dish looks as delicious as the series name would imply, leaving viewers wanting a bite. No matter what bizarre ingredients they know it possesses.
Delicious in Dungeon Episode 1 struggles under the weight of its exposition while still delivering hope for the series. With a fun core cast that works well together, there is potential for this series. If it can manage its food-related dialogue and world-building exposition better in future episodes, it can succeed.
Delicious in Dungeon Episode 1 is streaming now on Netflix, with new episodes airing every Thursday.
Delicious in Dungeon Episode 1
Delicious in Dungeon Episode 1 struggles under the weight of its exposition while still delivering hope for the series. With a fun core cast that works well together, there is potential for this series if it can manage its food-related dialogue and world-building exposition better in future episodes.