Fighting Dragons With You
Delicious in Dungeon, volume 11
By Ryōko Kui
2021’s Delicious in Dungeon, Volume 11 is the eleventh 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 11 was translated into English in 2022.
Laios and his dungeon delving companions (half-elf mage Marcille, halfling security expert Chilchuck, dwarf fighter Senshi, and cat-beastkin ninja Izutsumi) appear to have the edge over the Lunatic Magician. True, the magician is very powerful, but he is one person while the party is many.
If only the Lunatic Magician were not accompanied by an army of ferocious dragons.
The party performs magnificently under the circumstances, delaying their inevitable deaths far longer than any reasonable person (or the Lunatic Magician) would expect. Nevertheless, they fall one by one, leaving only Laios to overcome the Lunatic Magician single-handedly. The grand quest appears fated to end in a total party kill from which there will be no convenient resurrection.
Laios has a little magic of his own: enough healing magic to keep himself mobile. What he has that the Lunatic Magician lacks is detailed knowledge about monsters. The magician may be able to command the creatures of the dungeon. Laios understands them. This proves key.
Having overwhelmed an astonished Lunatic Magician through the power of knowing what he is doing, Laios takes the bold step of engaging his prisoner in heartfelt conversation about which of the two of them is best suited to run the dungeon. Surely, the utterly deranged sorcerer will see Laios’ logic and hand control of the dungeon over to Laois.
It is possible that there is a small flaw in Laois’ plan to sway a madman with reason. Even if there were not, the Canaries, elves charged to contain threats like the dungeon, are on their way. They will have little interest in any arguments a short-lived tallman like Laois might make.
There’s probably a moral here about how knowledge trumps raw power, although since the Lunatic Magician manages to kill almost all the party, knowledge only trumps raw power by a small margin. That said, it’s … impressive may be the wrong word … that the Lunatic Magician has commanded the creatures of the Dungeon for a thousand years without ever bothering to notice their behavior. This is typical for the sorcerer.
This is a recurring pattern in the manga: characters have core competencies matched by crippling blind spots1. Such phenomena are why it makes sense to work in groups, in the hope that one person’s core competency will compensate for someone else’s blind spot. It is not a perfect system but it works better than assuming that fields of which one is ignorant cannot possibly matter. This is not a fantasy-specific principle.
The elves are not at all interested in the views of the ephemeral races, none of whom last long enough to truly understand the world. What is worse, Laois and company make bold life choices that the Canaries are likely to see as endangering innocent bystanders. Sure, Laios plans to take over the dungeon for the general good … but lots of people have had similar plans and those plans did not work out.
This volume provides all the adventure, zany comedy, and sudden death and resurrection that one could possibly want. Volume 11 also amps up the stakes considerably, as events unfold that may not favor any being not a demon. The Lunatic Magician isn’t the only entity Laois makes the mistake of trusting. While I don’t prefer cliff-hanger endings, this one ensures I will be tracking down Volume 12.
Delicious in Dungeon, Vol. 11 is available here (Amazon US), here (Amazon Canada), here (Amazon UK), here (Apple Books), here (Barnes & Noble), and here (Chapters-Indigo).
1: Laois’ blind spot is people skills, which is why he thought he could just talk things through with the Lunatic Magician and why he is so awful at lying to the Canaries.