Episode 3 – Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? IV

At what point do you realize that you’ve bitten off more than you can chew? Hopefully before you start to choke on it, and we’ve yet to see whether or not that’s the case for Luvis’ and Dormul’s parties…or Bell’s, for that matter. The Moss Huge they’re struggling against isn’t a run-of-the-mill monster, or even a basic enhanced one – it’s a cross between a Xeno and an enhanced monster, with a clearly high level of intelligence that pairs with its enhanced skills in a very deadly way. Any enhanced monster could use its parasitic vines to infect adventurers, but it tells real brains to also set a trap, including a decoy version of itself, and to plot how to get rid of the tenacious adventurer who could very well kill it.

We see the mutant Moss Huge doing all of those things in this episode, and that’s almost more frightening than Bell going over the falls, something only Aisha seems able to recognize in the moment. That makes sense – Aisha’s life in Ishtar Familia meant that she had to become inured to plenty of terrible sights, and along with her cultural heritage as an Amazon, she’s got a very thick set of emotional calluses. That doesn’t mean that she doesn’t care as much as the rest of the party (her treatment of Haruhime has always shown that), but it does put her in the unenviable position of having to talk the rest of them either down or into action after Bell vanishes under the water. Since that’s exactly what Lilly needs, it’s another reason to be glad Aisha invited herself on the mission. It’s also another good example of Lilly learning from others to build up her own knowledge base and critical thinking skills – Bell’s not the only character who is developing in this series, and between Aisha, Daphne, and Finn, Lilly’s really learning to come into her own as a strategist and a leader in her own right. It would have been so easy to just write her as another member of Bell’s would-be harem, but that she’s instead steadily growing into a full-fledged adventurer is a testament to how good this franchise is.

She’s really going to need all of those critical reasoning skills on this mission, too. With Bell’s loss, she’s in charge, and once Aisha snaps her back into that role, she demonstrates that she’s up to the task. Her initial idea – to go back to the surface with Luvis and Chigusa – made sense in a short-sighted way, but once Luvis reveals that his party and Dormul’s are still out there somewhere, Lilly doesn’t argue. Her decision to then send Aisha to Rivira to get help while the rest of the party creates a makeshift camp to protect the infected and hopefully head off the monster is risky, but it’s also the best of what’s available. Aisha has the best chance of making it to the underground settlement and an attempt for all of them to reach it could result in the infected slowing them down too much. There’s also the fact that they don’t know what a long-term parasitic vine infection could do to the adventurers. I’ve seen parasitic bittersweet vines strangle a tree like a boa constrictor. Could the mutant Moss Huge’s vines do the same to a human/elf/dwarf body? Could they control the host body, like the evil parasitic plants in Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s science fiction series The Aurora Cycle? That’s not something you want to find out in a populous area. Whether Lilly’s consciously thinking about that or not doesn’t detract from the overall wisdom of her decision.

We’re in a slightly better position than Lilly at the end of this episode in that we know that Bell’s not only alive, he’s also still kicking monster butt. While his fight against the ludicrously fast and sharp bird monsters isn’t as visually spectacular as the battle against the Moss Huge, it’s still an excellent demonstration of his prowess, and that final moment when he slices the bird is one of exquisite triumph. The mermaid seems to think so, too. With any luck he’s sufficiently impressed her for her to help him out of the mess he’s in and back into the mess his party’s in – mythology’s divided on whether that’s more or less likely to happen.

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