DANMACHI SEASON 4 EPISODE 17 REVIEW – The Search Continues
Much like the previous episode, episode 17 didn’t feature a substantial fight scene. Rather, it focused on character interactions and a bit of backstory. And that in itself isn’t bad. After all, it gave more insight on Ryu’s character, her past, and her relationship with Bell.
A Clash of Perspectives
Unlike most anime series which would show past events in one episode, or even less, Danmachi took its time sprinkling Ryu’s backstory at the start of each episode. It is a slow process, but it allows the anime to cover multiple scenes without dragging the pacing.
In episode 17’s case, it was a brief scene that highlighted Ryu’s sense of justice, clashing with the pragmatic Kaguya. But despite how short it was, it provided us with insight on how Ryu interacted with her Familia.
Their different morality was interesting. Despite the Astraea Familia abhorring evil, they don’t really see the world in black and white. And it was refreshing to see a morally ambiguous Familia, especially if we consider the tragic end that eventually befell them.
Of course, while Ryu was overzealous at this point in her life, the death of her entire Familia set her on a path of vengeance, which was an ironic twist of fate.
Mentor… or Lover?
Ryu’s standing in Bell’s growing potential love interests had never been clear until this point. For the past three seasons, and even for most of season 4 as well, she was portrayed as a very close friend and also a wingman for Bell and Syr.
And that almost stayed the same in this episode. Ryu acted as a mentor for the Rabbit Foot, giving Bell vital information and teaching him how to survive the Deep Floors. As an experienced Adventurer, Ryu’s wealth of knowledge was vast, perhaps even rivaling that of Ais.
The difference was that Ryu treated Bell as a friend as well, while Ais treated him with some aloofness and distance. And frankly, the progression with Ais was stilted due to the Xenos Incident, giving Ryu an advantage.
Does Ryu see Bell in a romantic way? We’re not really sure yet, even though there was a brief scene implying that. If anything, Ryu currently saw Bell as a little brother that she had to protect, perhaps an atonement for what happened to her Familia.
The worrying part about this segment was the fact that Ryu was ready to sacrifice herself should the need arose, and that was subtly hinted in her lessons and conversations with Bell. She wasn’t just imparting knowledge to him; she was teaching him all she knew in the event that she didn’t survive.
And that’s really something, isn’t it? Regardless of whether she had romantic feelings for Bell, even though we knew it would lead to that eventually, she deeply cared for him to contemplate giving away her life just so he could live.
Out of every love interests, I think we can all agree that Ryu is the best candidate so far, and the one with the most chance of winning.
Contrary to previous episodes, the expeditionary team’s segment was quite short this time. And frankly, that’s expected since Welf already got the development he needed, while Bell and Ryu needed that screen time.
Nevertheless, it was still an engaging part of episode 17. Despite the power of Kazuki, the party couldn’t just bludgeon their way into the Dungeon. The newly-forged unbreakable magic sword was almost overpowered, yes, but it still had flaws in the way it needed the user’s magic to fully function.
The result? An exhausted Welf who was nearly killed, and the party returned to their previous situation where monsters kept coming at them. Still, the sword did get them far enough that Tsubaki’s party was almost catching up with them. However, the real highlight of this part was when unexpected reinforcements arrived.
Last seen in season 3, seeing the intelligent monsters was both a surprise and a relief, feeling similar to the Avengers Assemble moment. They were returning the help that Bell gave them, and there was no better allies than the very monsters of the Dungeon. Unfortunately, Weine has yet to appear. But the fact that everyone is starting to gather meant that a big showdown is about to come.
Episode 17 marked the start of the second half of the fourth season, and while it didn’t really feature an epic scene, the character interactions and buildup more than makes up for that. Ryu’s relationship with Bell continues to grow, and seeing her backstory slowly revealing itself is engaging on its own.
With only six episodes left, however, we should expect for things to ramp up again, which would surely lead to another explosive fight.
Episode score: 8.5/10