Delicious In Dungeon, Volume 1
Writer/Artist: Ryoko Kui
Publisher: Yen Press
Are you the sort of person whom, when faced with a ferocious dragon, wonders how it would taste char-grilled with a side of fries?
Do you think a minotaur would make a good beef steak? Do you pack a frying pan and a loaded spice rack together with your weapons whenever going on a quest?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, you may enjoy Delicious In Dungeon by Ryoko Kui. It’s a whimsical manga set in a Dungeons and Dragons-style universe that seeks to answer an often overlooked question: how do knights, wizards and rogues find stuff to eat when they are on their grand adventures?
Part Maple Story, part Cooking Master Boy, Kui’s work tells of a dungeon exploration guild, which suffers major tragedy as the story opens. A dragon has eaten one of their number (the spellcaster Falin), a loss which prompts two other guild members to leave.
This leaves the brave human swordsman Laios (Falin’s brother), the emotional elven sorceress Marcille, and the stalwart locksmith Chilchack, who is a halfling. They must rescue Falin before she is digested by the dragon, but how can they do it when their numbers are so few? Recruiting new members takes money, which means less to spend on weapons and food.
Laios, however, hits on a grand idea: to save money, they will eat what they find in the dungeon. Yes, each monster they meet, they make monster meat.
Rather conveniently, they encounter a mysterious dwarf named Sashi, who has spent a decade sustaining himself there.
Cue a rather offbeat adventure which sees huge scorpions, monstrous bats and voracious man-eating plants, among others, all finding themselves at the bottom of the party’s cooking pot.
Most laughs come from poor Marcille’s (rather understandable) unwillingness to eat these delectable dishes: but she has no other choice, it’s a dragon-eat-dragon world here, after all!
Believe it or not, manga devoted to cooking monsters have been done before: perhaps most popularly in Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro’s Toriko. But while that manga focused more on battles and fighting, Delicious In Dungeon takes a lighter approach, going for light-hearted comedy and character banter instead.
Most of the manga’s story and humour come from riffs on fantasy novels and games, with the characters visiting castles, caves, and other stock fantasy locations.
Even the characters start off as genre stereotypes: the swordsman is the brave leader, the elf magician is a bit of a princess … but thankfully, Kui lets their personalities develop as the rather episodic story goes on.
The cooking, however, is the real star of the story. The character Sashi turns out to have some rather creative ideas about cooking monsters, and not just the edible-looking ones: even slime monsters and living suits of armour end up on his menu.
Kui is remarkably inventive when adapting the dangers of a fantasy world to the props of a cooking show: one particularly fun part is Sashi using a boiling oil trap to fry his dishes!
Each chapter of Delicious In Dungeon comes with a very realistic looking recipe page, with detailed instructions on prepare a certain monster, and even its nutritional content! Makes you almost wish you could actually try them (anyone know any pasar malams where they stock basilisk meat?).
All in all, the manga is light and fun. In culinary terms, don’t be expecting a heavy banquet with wine, red meat and foie gras: Delicious In Dungeon feels more like a cheeseburger and fries. But a very satisfying pair of fast food items, mind you.
Perhaps the only issue about this work is the longevity of the concept. The idea of eating monsters is amusing, yes, but how long can Rui keep it from becoming stale?
Quite long, apparently – the manga is still going strong in Japan after five volumes. As of August 2017, the first four volumes of the series had over two million copies in print. In 2016, Japanese guidebook Kono Manga ga Sugoi! ranked the series at number one on its list of top 20 manga for male readers.
So give Delicious In Dungeon a try. We hope, however, that it won’t cause your appetites to develop in monstrous ways. Don’t blame us if the dragons on Game Of Thrones make your stomach rumble!
Delicious In Dungeon is available at Kinokuniya, Suria KLCC. Call 03-2164 8133 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the official website.