2022’s Delicious in Dungeon, Volume 12 is the twelfth tankōbon in Ryoko Kui’s secondary-world comedy fantasy manga series. Originally published as Danjon Meshi, Delicious in Dungeon appears in Enterbrain’s Harta. Volume 12 was translated into English in 2023, by Sarah Neufeld and Taylor Engel.
Laios and his dungeon delving companions (half-elf mage Marcille, halfling security expert Chilchuck, dwarf fighter Senshi, and cat-beastkin ninja Izutsumi) triumphed over the Lunatic Magician. They survived a hostile interaction with the Canaries, elves charged with containing the menage of the dungeon. Mistakes were made and now the world faces a threat far greater than the Lunatic Magician: Marcille.
In a moment of desperation, Marcille agreed to the Winged Lion’s offer to make her the new master of the dungeon. Bad decision. The Winged Lion is an extradimensional entity that feeds off human desire, leaving its victims emotionless husks. It is adept at manipulating mortals like Marcille.
Marcille is obsessed with the differences between the lifespans of the various races in this setting. Halflings can live a mere half a century, while half-elves like Marcille can live for a thousand years. She was traumatized by the death of her father. Now she clings to her friends, but cannot bear the thought that she will lose them too, perhaps in a few decades.
The Winged Lion assures her that it can give everyone in the world vast lifespans. After all, everyone in the Lunatic Magician’s dungeon has lived a thousand years. The Winged Lion proposes expanding the dungeon to encompass the entire planet. It assures Marcille it can do this.
Should the Winged Lion succeed, the consequences for the world would be apocalyptic. Marcille needs to be stopped. The Canaries assert that the most efficient approach would be to kill Marcille as quickly as possible. Marcille’s friends disagree. Do they have any better solutions?
Laios has heretofore prevailed by understanding the monsters his group has faced. But Laios has no idea what makes something like the Winged Lion tick.
Japanese science fiction and fantasy appears to be extremely ambivalent about extended lifespans. Loss and alienation are presented as serious issues for Methuselahs in works like Delicious in Dungeon, Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End, and The Mermaid Saga. The obvious solution, eschewing connection to ephemerals beyond that which one might feel for a pet, is unacceptable for reasons that escape me.
Marcille is particularly affected by lifespan disparities, because half-elves are rare and live much longer than other races. They live twice as long as elves. She has been out of step with anyone she could consider a friend for her whole life. She’s lonely; she’s open to manipulation by the Winged Lion1.
In the Winged Lion’s defense, it’s just trying to get a square meal. Pity that it has no concept of sustainable farming practices and will happily turn every thinking entity into a passive shell if unchecked.
The author having been quite successful at ensuring that readers would care about the fate of the characters, this volume ratchets up the stakes nicely. Adorable Marcille has fallen into shadow! The world itself is at stake! Laios’ vast body of knowledge may be of no help! But as so often seems to be true of translated series I follow avidly, Volume 12 is not the latest volume, just the latest to be translated into English. Finding out what happens next may have to wait until next year. Unless I learn Japanese.
Delicious in Dungeon, Volume 12 is available here (Amazon US), here (Amazon Canada), here (Amazon UK), here (Barnes & Noble), and here (Chapters-Indigo). I did not manage to find it in English at Apple Books in the limited amount of time I am willing to invest trying to circumvent their lack of a functional search engine.
1: The Winged Lion has eaten any emotions that might lead Marcille to stop and consider if her choices are wise.