Recently, I’ve been bringing back a lot of the old types of features I used to do. Why I Dropped… and Otaku in Anime are both fine subjects of writing (in my humble opinion), but when it comes right down to it, I do enjoy creating my From Bad Anime… features the most. For those unfamiliar, this kind of post is a creative writing exercise that I developed a little over a year ago, something born from the envy and smugness that I feel inside whenever I watch an anime that I KNOW I could do better than. For everything people often rightfully criticize about Sword Art Online, there was plenty of good things to take away from it as well—good ideas that, in the right hands…in my hands, could prove to be something far better than the actual result. So basically, I like writing fan fiction pitches that play off the original work by either “fixing” parts of it, or just taking what I like in a different direction. And so here we are, with me pitching what I think is a far better version of the story that is Is It Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, or Danmachi for short. Also, I’ll give you an +18 warning on this one.
I don’t want to talk too much shit about Danmachi, honestly. I’ve barely thought about the show at all, even during its original airing, and so it’s somewhat strange to me that such a random idea I had suddenly took me over in a swell of creative passion. You’ll see soon enough, it’s pretty fucking weird how much detail I put into this feature, especially since Danmachi is just a blatantly generic culmination of everything wrong with harems and the “another world” or isekai genre/trend. It stars a young, puritanical virgin boy, completely uninterested in the wet dream scenario he finds himself in, despite showing absolutely no signs of homo- or A-sexuality. Beautiful girls that clearly want to be with him swarm in by the dozens, all for this oblivious, little cock-tease, whose only desirable characteristics are his decent looks and undeserved ability to always save the day.
Even during his brief period of being a zero (before he became a hero), he finds himself in a wonderful, intimate relationship with a goddess who wants nothing more than to please him, both generally speaking but also obviously sexually. Hestia has a literal “god-like” body, and he clearly notices that by the way his skin begins to match the color of his eyes (red) whenever her breasts press up against him—as copy-pasted anxious harem protagonists tend to do. While Bell may be interested in another woman at this point, he undoubtedly cares for Hestia and her wonderful boob ribbon. They live for each other, they only have each other, and there’s absolutely nothing getting in the way of that, so…WHY AREN’T THEY FUCKING?!
And don’t tell me it’s because Bell’s canonically 14 years old. 1) It’s a fictional story in a fantasy world, obviously our views of sexual morality need not apply here. 2) He’s 14. Emphasis on TEEN. As in TEENager. And you know what teenagers do? They experiment! With drugs, booze, and most importantly, SEX! And the ones that don’t? Well, they end up wasting their lives on the internet, being monsters and assholes to people they’ve never met in person, tearing down others because they don’t know how to feel good about themselves. They either want to watch the world burn, or they mindlessly cling to the first ideology that suits them, be it religious or political, walking down eerily similarly paths leading to the same hateful conclusion of bullying and disrespecting each other for no good reason. Teenagers fucking suck! And one of the great things about storytelling is that you can create teenagers that don’t! Youthful characters that can exude traits both cherry-picked from what is ideal and what is realistic. And there’s nothing more ideally realistic than Bell Cranel giving it good to the lusty, busty, boob-ribboned-goddess: (Bestia) Hestia
And so, here’s how I’d change Danmachi.
The story starts with a very young, very impressionable Bell, living in the care of a his affluent, albeit distant, family. Bell suffers from a lot of emotional neglect, especially from his father, and the crushing loneliness he feels is only emphasized by the large, empty, echoing hallways of the mansion he resides in. He forms a small relationship with one of the maids, but nothing significant. After reading his story books about adventurers, he develops the desire to explore the massive estate, a veritable dungeon in the eyes of a small child. Through his expeditions he finds all sorts of interesting things, secret passageways and the like. One day, he hears a scream, and so as his adventure books have taught him, he goes to investigate. The brave adventurer saves the damsel, Bell thought, as he followed the screams to the master bedroom.
Bell witnesses his mother being sexually abused by his father. A horrific scene full of screams, tears, and one word repeatedly squealed by the mother, a word that would echo in Bell’s mind for the rest of his life: No. Bell doesn’t quite know what to even make of this situation. He’s too young to possibly understand it. They don’t notice his presence, and he recedes to his own bedroom and thinks, for a very long time. Bell loves his mother, and comes to the simple conclusion that he does not want to see her like that again. He wants to make her happy, and continues to do so in little innocuous ways, ways befitting the image of the ideal, loving son. Helping serve her breakfast alongside the maid, picking her bouquets from the flower gardens, and other things that would put a smile on any mother’s face—this is where it all starts. This is where Bell develops his psychological complex. And it’s not an Oedipus complex…though I guess it kinda could be if you wanted it to.
Sometime later, Bell hears another scream. He comes rushing, prepared to finally defend his mother and naïvely stand to a full-grown man. His father beats him mercilessly for interrupting and his mother just sits there and watches. After this, the parents have Bell sent away to live with his estranged grandfather out in the woods, away from civilization. The old man is grizzled, but kind, and a veteran adventurer with much to teach Bell. He’s also pervy, sort of a Jiraiya to his Naruto sort of deal. After a few years of secluded training, Bell is finally of age, ready to head out into the world and live on his own as a real adventurer.
Venturing into a city for the first time since he was a mere child, Bell has a hard time meeting welcoming folks that are willing to accept an outsider such as himself. The two main guilds of the town act as two sides of the same coin, one built by the working class and the other full of snobbish upperclassmen. The commoner guild can smell the Bell’s rich heritage from a mile away, whereas the affluent guild sees him as just another peasant. Eventually, some thick-headed jerks at the local tavern tell Bell they’ll let him join their party if he can complete a quest meant for four by himself. Bell accepts, then gets his assed thoroughly kicked by a minotaur. He nearly dies, barely escaping the dungeon before passing out in a pool of his own blood. It’s dark, and he notices something approaching before his world fades to black.
Bell wakes up on the altar of an abandoned cathedral. The morning sun rises and shines light on the run-down features of the building. Moss covers most signs of wood structure, and is still slowly enclosing on the stone masonry. Vines creep through cracks in the wall and around the shattered remains of stain glass church windows. After noticing his surrounding, Bell notices himself—completely healed. Not even the gash he had remembered from catching the blade of the minotaur’s battle axe had left a scar. Perhaps none of it even happened.
“Oh, you’re awake! That minotaur sure did a number on you!”
Hestia walks into the room, first a silhouette approaching through the frame of the church’s front door, her backlight from outside casting a heavenly glow around her. As she steps forward, the silhouette disappears, revealing that she’s carrying a basket full of freshly gathered fruit.
I’m going to go ahead and not write all this dialogue that follows, but the gist of it is that they introduce themselves to each other. Hestia does not mention she is a goddess. The conversation eventually moves as Hestia moves her body closer Bell’s. Bell tells of his reasons for becoming an adventurer, traveling to this land in search of new experiences. Then he turns the discourse over to Hestia, to which she responds, “I’ve been looking for new experiences too”.
This will be revealed later on in the story, but the reason Hestia came down to the mortal realm was to try having sex with a human. This would be considered taboo among the realm of the Gods, and plays into her basis within actual Greek mythology. Hestia is considered the virgin goddess of hearth, home, and domesticity, and so it would be quite the twist for her to lustfully go after Bell. The scene would reflect the opposite nature of her character, in contrast to her true mythological representation. A goddess of warmth and home, bringing Bell to an empty, unheated temple. The supposed embodiment of domesticity, offering fresh fruit rather than a home cooked meal. All while she’s dressed in her tight, ultra-revealing dress—boob ribbon and all.
She starts to lean in as Bell takes another bite of the apple she had offered him. With her lips to his ears, she whispers something like: “I just want a taste”, causing Bell to blush up as Hestia goes down. He promptly drops the half-eaten apple and the camera pans to follow the fruit rolling away. The fruit stops, as does the camera, on a nice composition showing the clear cast of light and shadow through a church window, the apple sitting to the side, upright and angled to display a clean bite mark. Time-lapse. The light through the windows moves accordingly with the position of a rising and setting sun, and we see the bite mark on the apple turn brown as it rots—symbolizing both the passage of time AND the deterioration of purity. Boom! They bang for a whole day.
They fall asleep together, the sunlight shining through broken walls and shattered windows now replaced by pale moonlight, gently seeping in and shimmering off floating dust. We see them lying there in each other’s arms, a striking composition of their post-coital rest atop the altar, the center of the empty religious congregation. Sacrilege has never been sexier. Then we move in for the close-ups. Bell’s eyes are closed. Hestia’s are not. With sweet gentle eyes and a benevolent smile, she removes herself from his arms. Standing up, she puts on her dress, walks down the center aisle and out into the night. Hestia does not return.
Fast-forward from that wonderful encounter, we now see what Bell has become: A hopeless philanderer and borderline sex addict. As a front, he makes others (as well as himself) believe that this is all just a quest to relive the magic he felt that day. Bell uses techniques he learned from his perverted grandfather to hit on women, but after a handful of one-night stands, townsfolk become wise to his act. The thing about Bell is, while he uses plenty of deceptive means to get women to sleep with him, the moment he’s in the bedroom, he’s actually quite a gentle lover. We learn this through the gossip of two of his previous partners. He’s careful and generous, even when they prefer him to be rougher. Bell isn’t the aggressive type, as his desire to have sex with women is more deeply rooted in his desire to please women, rather than please himself.
It all comes back to that childhood trauma. Bell wants to make women happy because of his failure to bring happiness to the woman that matter’s most in his life: His mother. And let me remind you that this is in the general sense. The Oedipus complex could work here, but it’s not really what I’m going for. Maybe I should’ve just made it normal abuse and not sexual abuse. He remembers Hestia, her drooling smile and satisfied moaning, and it becomes his unconscious understanding of how to give a woman the ultimate pleasure. Of course, this is learned later in the story and not just explained all at once. His childhood backstory, too, may not entirely be shown in the prologue. Perhaps it’ll be something to piece together through flashbacks. We’ll see.
Anyway, Bell’s game is thrown off by the spreading town gossip, and so he needs to find a new way to seduce women. This whole time, he’s been doing some light adventuring on the side—easy quests that make him enough coin to just get by. After a few days go by without any action in the bedroom, Bell hears talk of a succubus brothel in town. He’s suffering withdrawal and could really use a fix, but prostitution isn’t cheap, even in the realm of fantasy. This leads Bell to take on higher level quests, which will earn him enough to afford a hooker. To the dungeon!
It’s there in that dungeon that he stumbles upon a female adventurer in distress. She’s bitten off more than she can chew, but Bell is experienced enough to help her out. He swoops in and saves the day, slicing up the gang of lizard beasts giving her trouble. After trembling, she breathes a sigh of relief and walks up to her hero. She first asks his name, then asks if there’s anything she can do to repay him. Bell smirks. Smash cut to them humping in a bedroom.
This encounter brings Bell to his grand revelation: HE CAN HIT ON GIRLS IN A DUNGEON! Why hasn’t he thought of this before?! Girls must certainly be at their most vulnerable when faced with the danger and uncertainty of a dungeon, one floor too deep! Bell formulates this scheme where he saves/preys on damsels he finds adventuring. Young, female adventurers aren’t constantly throwing themselves into harm’s way, however, so to tip the scales in his favor, he hires a thief by the name of Lili to lure girls into areas beyond their level. It’s there that Bell is waiting to jump out and play the hero, tricking them into seeing him as their shining savior and inevitably having sex with him.
In case this hasn’t been made clear, let me just take the time to state that Bell IS NOT a good person. The version of Bell that I’m creating is supposed to act as the antithesis of the pure, perfect harem protagonist that I usually despise. This Bell has real, psychological issues that lead him to do morally reprehensible things. Please do not get the wrong idea when reading this fictional alternative to an already fictional story. Lying to people to get them to have sex with you is not okay. You probably already know this. I only say this to acknowledge that I too understand that.
Back to Bell’s cycle of sex-having, things seem to be going pretty well…you know, until they don’t. One day, Bell slips up. He goes too deep, forgets protection, and fails to pull out before it’s too late…by which I mean he has Lili lure a more experienced adventurer down a floor deeper, forgets to equip his steel armor set, and foolishly chooses to stick to the plan rather than back out when he hears news of a loose Minotaur on their level. The girl he’s after is now put into real danger, danger that Bell cannot control. He valiantly fights to save her and she manages to get away, but not before Bell comes between her and the mighty swing of the Minotaur’s axe.
He’s slammed to the side and into a cavern that takes him a floor deeper. Have I mentioned it’s a cave dungeon? So, deeper floors mean higher difficulty. Bell falls a great height, surely shattering some bones as he bounces off a jagged rock on the way down. Once he hits the ground, Bell slowly, agonizingly picks himself up and stumbles a single step before the Minotaur comes crashing down. The shockwave from its landing blasts Bell to the wall, his blood trails down it as he slides to the ground. The deadly beast stands on its two hooves, stepping forward and enclosing Bell.
“This is it” thinks Bell, as he begins to close his eyes and accept his end. The Minotaur raises its axe one last time and then—SLASH NOICE! The Minotaur is completely still, petrified for a moment until a single, vertical cut can be seen once the entire body starts to separate into two pieces. It bursts into dust, as monsters typically do once you defeat them. Behind the now dissipated beast is a figure stepping forward. We see through Bell’s eyes as it steps forward. It appears to be a woman, with long, blond hair. As she draws closer, Bell’s consciousness rapidly fades. He blinks once, and is brought back to the image of Hestia coming through that church doorway. His eyes close again and do not open.
Ais Wallenstein stands over Bell’s unconscious body. She realizes she must get him to a healer. As she begins to pick him up, however, Ais notices something. Bell’s wounds are healing at a rapid pace. There also appears to be something glowing on his back. She turns him around and lies him on his stomach for a better look. It’s the mark of a goddess: Hestia’s Blessing (+50% health regen).
It’s from here that I have even less of the details worked out. Ais is basically the same character from the series, with the added plot point of her wanting a god’s blessing such as Bell’s—because she’s a person of a single fixation to become stronger, and so earning the power of a god would certainly make her a stronger adventurer. Bell will wake up and have a discussion with Ais. It will be a very succinct one, as we know Ais is no conversationalist, but will give us the information we need to comprehend their motives from here on out. Ais tells Bell about Hestia’s Blessing, this being the first time Bell learns that she was a god. With this revelatory knowledge, Bell’s new objective is to find Hestia once again, in search of answers—and more importantly, to sleep with her one more time. He still believes that recreating that moment with her has been what he’s been after this whole time (though we know, or will come to know that it is not).
Ais informs him of the greatest dungeon in all the land, The Tower of the Gods. A pillar from the ground through to the sky, and the bridge between the realms of mortal and immortal. Over a hundred floors of grueling punishment, no adventurer has ever reached the top. Ais wishes to be the first, and thinks Bell has the potential to accompany her there. She trains him, and as they grind their way to the top, they make more friends and expand their party…but they also make enemies. Somewhere down the line, Bell will even find himself having to answer to all the women he lied to.
Oh, and it’s not like Bell’s suddenly not a sex addict now. No, no, no. He’s getting better, what with his newfound look on life, and also the shining moral compass that is Ais Wallenstein always hanging over his shoulder. He’s making a lot more coin now that he’s going on quests with Ais, but instead of saving it up for high level gear, he often just throws it away at the good ol’ succubus whore house.
Ultimately, I want this to be a story about sexual regression, and eventually, sexual liberation once we begin to learn more about Hestia. Something is sure to happen that causes Bell to meet Hestia again, probably before they even reach the top of the tower, as her story of escaping the rigid cage of virginity, domesticity, and the traditional “family” structure comes to light.
So, what do you think? Does this story sound like a good idea, or just something really fucked up and weird, that I spent WAAAAAY too much time on? I’d love to hear all your thoughts. I’m still kinda shocked that I put in this much effort into a Danmachi pitch…it’s weird…but uh…thanks for reading!