No context needed.
DanMachi, why couldn’t you have been like this every week? I know why; you just want to torture me. But I get it, I really do. You just don’t want me to be happy. But it’s alright. You know why? Because Bell’s scream made everything right in the world.
No it didn’t. Seriously though, is it wrong to try to judge an entire series off a few seconds of aural bliss? Maybe, but that’s not important. What’s important is that, Matsuoka Yoshitsugu, you’ve done it again. I’ve found my new ringtone. Someone call me, quick. No, don’t. That’d be kind of creepy.
Maybe I just like seeing Bell in distress. I will not confirm or deny any of the rumors going around. I will admit I really like Training Time™ though. Why do I like Training Time™ so much? Because it reinforces the idea that a character isn’t entirely entitled to be the best just because they have been singled out in a work of art. Put it this way: if you take a soldier from an army (I’m thinking Dog Days, Baka to Test, etc.), is that soldier anything special? Probably not. Take another soldier; how about that one? Now how about one of the named characters? There’s a fairly strong chance. Are the characters defined by what’s been given to them or what they will have to work with? Soma, for instance, has been defined by the skills he’s had since that series started. In the scope of the whole show he isn’t the greatest, but only recently has he started to have any kind of a struggle against a challenge. He’s confident and can backup his talk with his abilities. Bell, on the other hand, has lacked basic skills from the beginning. He’s taking what little amount of improvement he can get, just having enough to barely get by as is, because for a grand majority of the time, he isn’t anything special. Soma had an almost perfect environment; Bell (minus his skills that are likely affiliated with Zeus in some way) has had less than ideal conditions. Training Time™ gives those last type of characters the development they need to shine. And the scars to prove it.
This doesn’t need context either.
While some events, like the conclusion to Lili’s arc, seem more often than not to fall victim to a heavy hand, Welf’s inclusion was just odd. It was odd in a few ways, but mainly because it felt like his arc was squeezed in with his introduction and huge chunks of it were missing in-between. It went from him meeting Bell, to “treat me more like companion like Lili” after they’ve squabbled together once, and then being gung-ho about going on an adventure together. It felt off. There’s understandably time constraints with introducing a new character so late when you have an endpoint to reach, but it could also be from coming down off of the despair strewn throughout Lili’s tale. There was a whole lot of indifference being felt towards Welf’s predicament. I didn’t have much of a reason to care about him until he was already injured. Wait a second…
Nobody seems too concerned when hands randomly start to sparkle.
Did I say something about liking when Bell was in distress? Forget that, I like it when everyone is in trouble! Yes, maybe I am raft with the effects of a severe schadenfreude. No, you can not introduce me to this “doctor friend” of yours. One of the simplest ways to get an audience to care and empathize with characters is to chew them up and spit them out. Make us pity them; make us triumph with them. I didn’t feel anything towards Welf at first. Then, he gets hit by a boulder. Things change. Next you’ll be cheering at how he makes an explosion so big it takes himself out. Then you feel bad for him again. It’s a vicious cycle. Bell is a great character because he’s weak. He knows he’s weak and struggles to overcome that one step at a time. We know he’s weak and hang in the balance of never quite knowing whether he’ll be able to save himself or have to be rescued again. We watch how hard Bell tries to succeed, and it isn’t always sufficient, but we’ll be rooting for the little guy and celebrating when he does. The lesson to be learned here though is that if you don’t like someone, try throwing a boulder at them.
I AM EVIL INCARNATE. FEAR ME!
However, a scenario that consistently manages to bug me whenever it shows up is when the “bad guys” try to pick a lone fight with a character that they know has powerful allies. The only situation I can think of at the moment that managed to subvert this trap involved the hilarious Evil Orchestra of Fourteen in D-Frag! (Full disclosure: I just want to talk about D-Frag!) The Evil Orchestra didn’t know Kazama’s ties to the Game Dev Club, and they actually did manage to beat him and his gang senseless beforehand. In DanMachi, Moldo gets thrown down by Ryu, sees Bell with Aiz of all people, and still wants to tangle with him? You should know what they say about having friends in high places. It doesn’t matter if you can get Bell alone if you end up paying for it later when everyone else finds out, which they will. Instead of using your jealousy to fuel assault you could always use it to better yourself. Attacking someone isn’t going to change their position or yours. Aspire to be more than a second-rate villain! Like a carpenter.
I think I’ve seen this in a certain Titan series.
The revelation that Bell is the grandson of Zeus in the show’s final moments felt rather abrupt, but in retrospect, it explains much of what was left without for so long. Why does Bell get random skills no one’s heard about? Why does Freya find Bell so…”interesting?” Why was Bell’s grandfather so into picking up women? Well…now
we I know. Since Bell’s grandfather is apparently dead I can deduce that Zeus adopted Bell, and/or he’s not really dead. Everything’s fair game until you see the body. Having a god as a relation grants plausibility to what I call the “shounen hero syndrome” (I have never described anything with that before). If you’re going to give a character power-ups, alright. Let them struggle a bit to create suspense (as much suspense as plot armor allows), then give them a freakish power surge so they can conquer the foe, and save the day. But try to give some kind of explanation for it. The more powerful a person becomes, the better that reason should be for it. Bell growing up with a god for a grandfather is essentially as good as it gets for justification in this story, since there’s been no confirmation demigods exist yet. It’ll all depend on how far the series ends up diving into the mythos. With Ganesha and Takemikazuchi, I really don’t know what to expect.
I like how they included the guy who tried to kill Bell one episode ago.
DanMachi is rather unfortunate. Unfortunate that it doesn’t have a decent English title. I bet I could come up with something better in three…I’ll get back with you later. The premiere was strong enough to draw me into its world, and while I still hold some lesser grievances (grumble grumble status system), the series managed to improve to such a state over time that it stands firmly as more than your typical romcom. There was even a distinct lack of harem high jinks for the most part, as the story continuously pushed forward to unveil its true identity as a coming of age tale for the hero Bell. This is a story for the ages, a legend, and it’s just getting started. Wow, that sounded really cheesy.