If you’re a little tired of Bell being unrelentingly awesome or at least being spoken of that way, parts of this episode are likely to make you happy. We get plenty of reminders that Bell is just a fourteen-year-old kid at the end of the day and that sometimes he will act like one. His squeamishness at stripping the corpses last week was one example of this, and now as Ryu forces him to drink a moldy health potion and gross boiled ooze, we see it again. There’s something delightful about Ryu going all stern big sister on him while he dramatically chokes the liquids down. In fact, it isn’t clear if the moldy potion really does upset his stomach or if he’s just being dramatic about it. Given his surprise when the pain vanishes, I’m inclined to go with dramatic.
The more striking moment of childishness, however, is when he and Ryu reach a clear indicator of where in the level they are. Once Ryu establishes that they’re inside the third of five rings that make up the White Palace, Bell visibly relaxes, and his innocent smile and the spring in his step tell us what Ryu vocalizes: that now he feels safe and like the two of them will be just fine. Given what they’ve already been through, this is a very naïve reaction on his part. They barely survived the skull sheep and the Spartoi, and there’s a good case to be made for them only making it past the peluda because it didn’t notice them. (Ryu’s supposition that it was peluda poison that killed the other adventurers, who, judging by Ryu’s new coat, may have included Kirito, makes sense.) There’s nothing to suggest that just being on the main path means that they’re out of danger or that they’ll run into someone who can help them, and that Bell seems to take both of those things as givens is a solid reminder of his youth and inexperience.
Ryu’s trauma and experience are what they’ve got on their side now, something she’s very aware of. In this week’s flashback, Ryu’s Familia-mate Kaguya dresses her down for her naïve notions of “justice,” telling her that the time will come when she has to make a choice that amounts to the Trolley Problem. In hindsight, Ryu may be coming to the conclusion that Kaguya and the rest of Astraea Familia made that choice when she alone survived, which could be part of what’s motivating her to get Bell out in one piece. Her survivor’s guilt won’t let her look for a future where they both come out alive because a part of her doesn’t believe that she deserves to. Ryu may see herself as having lived to this point so that she could pay back the dungeon and her Familia for letting her escape in the past.
There’s one thing she’s not counting on, which Hestia Familia also seems to have forgotten: the Xenos. Seeing them charge in to the rescue was a major high point this week, as was hearing Marie try to warn Aisha of the danger ahead. Ryu’s coworkers are also nearly to Lily’s group, so help is on the way for at least half of the crew. Maybe Ahnya (I think it was her?) can use her extraordinary powers of loud screaming to take care of some of the problems.
And finally, for those of you participating in our DanMachi Mythology course, we get two more mythologically-based monsters this week: the Spartoi and the peluda. The former comes from Greek mythology, a race of people who grew from sown dragon teeth. They’re a more positive myth than some of the others to the point where it’s surprising to see them used as monsters here; legend has it that they’re the ancestors of the Theban royal family. Conversely, the peluda is also known as La Velue, meaning “the hairy one.” It’s a late Medieval French monster that lived in the Huisne River, and yes, it had poison quills/hairs. DanMachi uses the Spanish translation coined by Jorge Luis Borges in 1957, which is a little weird, but Borges is an author worth letting things slide for. Hopefully, help will make it down to the White Palace before Bell and Ryu get in any deeper over their heads with its monsters.
Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? IV is currently streaming on