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Delicious in Dungeon is the best unintentional Dungeons & Dragons anime we've ever had

A collection of weirdos getting side-tracked at every turn? Sounds like D&D to us.

Delicious in Dungeon party resting
Image credit: Trigger

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If you’re an anime fan who loves Dungeons & Dragons, then you owe it to yourself to watch Delicious in Dungeon on Netflix. Without ever invoking a whiff of rulebooks or game mechanics in the way that Rise of the Shield Hero or Konosuba rely on, Delicious in Dungeon manages to feel exactly like an adventuring party in a tabletop campaign, complete with all the silly tropes that come with it.

You’ve got Senshi, the dwarven fighter who, for reasons that will baffle every Dungeon Master out there, put all of his skill ranks into cooking. Laios is the character that the DM built the whole campaign’s plot around but still gets distracted at every possible turn. Marcille desperately wants to keep the party focused on the story but gives up when it becomes clear they’re more interested in being weird. Chilchuck is clearly played by the person who knows the rules inside and out and is just there for the loot. Everyone feels like exactly the kind of character you'd roll up ahead of a fresh campaign.

The dungeon itself feels like something every player has run through at least once. There are monsters around every turn, traps that the party has to be creative to overcome, and a steady stream of lore about the origins of the dungeon that the Dungeon Master is probably making up as they go. All par for the course on any tabletop adventure.

Really, though, it is the character interactions that drive Delicious in Dungeon and make it one of the stand-out shows of the Winter 2024 anime season. There is a wholesomeness to them, a predictability that never feels forced or cliché. Each day, they fight monsters, cook them up, and settle down around the campfire to have a weird but heartwarming discussion about food. The story beats feel familiar to anyone who has played D&D long enough – there is a rhythm to the adventuring day that Delicious in Dungeon captures perfectly.

We can’t be sure if Ryōko Kui, the artist and writer of the manga, has ever played tabletop games before, but we kind of like the idea that they haven’t and that they accidentally stumbled upon this formula because it feels more natural than if they were trying to pay homage to tabletop gaming. Delicious in Dungeon is the closest you’ll ever get to playing Dungeons & Dragons without being betrayed by your dice at the worst possible moment and we love it for that.

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