Delicious in Dungeon is a manga by Kui Ryoko. This is a niche series based on a popular set up of dungeon crawling.
Now, dungeon crawling anime has been increasingly popular for some years now, and there are numerous manga and anime based on it. What differentiates this manga from other series of a similar set up is that it focuses on what is generally neglected: food.
Yes, food. Normally we do not think of what characters eat off screens but the reality is that all of us have to eat, and quality of ration matters.
The backdrop of the world in this manga is that, one day, an undead came out of a catabomb that was previously hidden and claimed that anyone that defeats whoever stole his kingdom will make it his.
Since then adventures and the likes began venturing into the catabomb which is surprisingly deep and is basically an underground world of its own.
As a result, an underground society is basically built to support a continuous flow of adventures as well as criminals who would be executed if caught on surface.
That is the backdrop and is explained within first page of the volume 1.
Just like how the backdrop is explained on a single page, the beginning is really fast and furious as well.
Laios Thorden’s party gets wiped out by a dragon during which his sister is allegedly eaten by it. I say “allegedly” because, while it is true that his sister, Falin, was grabbed up by a dragon by its mouth, her death is not confirmed because she teleports the party to surface.
Therefore, Falin is presumably dead, and Laios swears to save her. It becomes soon apparent that not everyone is present when he wakes up. Only Laios himself, Marcille, and Chilchuck are with him. It’s also very important to mention that death isn’t exactly the end in this manga. As long as you have bones, you can still be resurrected.
As time is of essence, Laios rushes to re-etner the catabomb. Marcille and Chilchuck are willing to accompany him. But there is one issue. They do not have any money because their loots were not teleported with them, and since time is of essence, Laios is determined to re-enter the catacomb and forage along the way.
Re-read the last few words of my last sentence: “Forage along the way”. That sets everything up for this manga. What would you find in a catabomb? Well, monsters.
Throughout the series, Laios and Co will consume various types of monsters, golems, and whatever they find. But none of them is a cook, and whatever Laios cooks ends up really bad. No worries though because the party soon meets Senshi, a dwarf cook.
They will consume a lot of fantasy stuff that we can only dream of. Shroom monsters = mushroom. Earth golem = Soil. Cockatrice = Big chicken. Slime = Jelly. You should get the picture by now.
I must point out that rescuing/saving Falin soon becomes an afterthought. It is still their goal, but they certainly do not show enough urgency. Despite that, the story itself is pretty decent. Fights are done realistically, and there is no over-the-top combat moves/powers.
Finally, characters have clear personalities. Laios is a laid back human warrior in heavy armor. Marcille is an elf mage who whines a lot; she is the comic relief of the series. Chilchuck is a half-foot (basically halfling) rouge with an eye for treasures. Senshi is a dwarf warrior/cook who is obsessed with finding monster parts as food.
Just something to note. This manga has absolutely no fanservices. The only female member of the party is Mariclle, and she wears traditional mage attire which is basically a robe and a cloak. There is absolutely no skinship coming from her and it does not suit her character, either.
Additionally, all characters in the manga wear sensible armors. Laios wears a plate armor. Marcille wears a cloth armor. Chilchuck wears leather. Senshi wears a mix of plate and leather.
I know that is only normal, but nowadays it’s easy to see anime characters wearing crazy set of armors and really revealing armors for females. None of that occurs in this manga.
There is also no romance. Again, the only female member is Marcille, and she is not even remotely interested in romance.
Then what makes this series interesting? It is down-to-earth exploration of the catacomb, and interesting/creative ways to forage food, plus Marcille having panic attacks whenever she gets to find out what monster she has to eat. She really complains a lot about what monster she has to eat. She, however, does admit that what Senshi prepares is absolutely delicious.
My verdict on this manga is: Get it. It’s pretty good. I’d classify this as a slice of life manga instead of dungeon crawler as it deals with lives of a dungeon party and their rations.
However, the good vibe from early on fades as the plot advances. I’ve read up to volume 9 and I can tell its conclusion is near. By volume 9, the plot has become blend and typical.
Personally, I like the first part of the story which is from volume 1 to 4. It goes progressively downhill from that point.