After getting his sister devoured by a dragon and losing all their supplies in a failed dungeon raid, Ratos and his party are determined to save his sister before she gets digested. Completely broke and having to resort to eating monsters as food, they meet a dwarf who introduces them to the world of dungeon meshi—delicious cuisines made from ingredients such as the flesh of giant bats, walking mushroom, or even screaming mandrakes.
I came into Dungeon Meshi with no expectations and no prior knowledge of what it was about or how good it might be. I was looking for a new manga to read and I tend to like stories involving dungeons in general so I clicked on it and tried it out. Overall, I'm very glad that I did.
Dungeon Meshi is not a groundbreaking, exciting manga full of action and twists. Instead it is an extremely solid story with a simple premise. At first I thought that the focus was too much on food and too little on the great fantasy world imagined by this
author. However after I got through a few chapters I came to truly enjoy both the realistic food preparation aspects of the story and the fantasy aspects as well.
Although Dungeon Meshi's story is very much rooted in the archetypal idea of a medieval fantasy world, many of the plot points are grounded completely in logic and reality. Food preparation works as it does in real life, the monster's strengths and weaknesses are sometimes magic but more often realistic details based on how they might be if monsters lived on earth as we know it.
The art is somewhat simple. I don't know too much about judging manga's art but I will say that it is certainly not bad art. It may lack the detail and flair that some manga readers are used to but the style overall is solid.
The characters pretty much adhere to the normal characters you'd expect in a medieval fantasy RPG style world which didn't bother me but may be too plain for others.
Overall I give Dungeon Meshi a 9/10 because although it is a simple manga, it is also a charming one and sometimes it is nice to read something without so much drama, fan service, and cliffhangers.
Story - 9
Art - 8
Character - 8
Enjoyment - 9
Overall - 9
The life of an adventurer is quite rough, tough mobs, deadly traps and most importantly not starving to death and dealing with the prospect of eating your fellow adventurers. Lauis was forced into the predictament after a raid to the Red Dragon led to his sister being eaten alive and left inside the belly of the beast and they only have an entire month to save her. But since they don't have much in the way of gold, the adventurers are forced to dine on the mobs they have slain. An unappetizing option for his companions, thankfully they stumble across the dwarf Senshi, the reliable
dwarf is an hardly survivalist who wants to kill the Dragon not for the prize but for the taste of dragon and so a journey is made underground to save Lauis' sister and find new ways to kill the mobs and taste their remains.
Dungeon Meshi is a manga that takes cues from Toriko, Dragon Crown and Danmachi and combines it into a tabletop inspired adventure as the cast goes down into breach once more and feast on every mob they fight. The motley crew consists of Lauis, the aloof warrior who wants to keep track of the things they ate in the dungeon for future adventures, Mircelle the elven sorceress who is too used to eating prepackaged meals from the surface, Tirchac, the halfling thief and straight man to Lauis' quirky personality and Senshi's desire to taste a red dragon.
RIght now the manga has reached volume 2 and the I am gonna wait for volume 3's release and their forays into the dungeon culinary world.
It's set in an MMORPG kind of world that incorporates a lot of Tolkein-esque lore but the main attraction is the vast amount of incredibly creative cuisine that the characters manage to cook up. If you've ever read "Toriko" by Shimabukuro Mitsutoshi then this is super classy Toriko.
While the main content of the series revolves around the MC group eating the monsters they defeat, there is no doubt that there is a darker, more serious plot a lurking. However, the story pacing can seem a bit slow and a bit meandering but each chapter serves a purpose--it's a
wonderful balance of light hearted fun and important plot/character development.
What really sold me is the fact that the female characters are not subject to tasteless over sexualization (even though there are plenty of opportunities) because they are interesting characters in their own right.
If you're looking for the cheaply cranked out shounen type of series, then I suggest you not read this series. But if you're looking for a creative, wholesome story with lots of potential, definitely give Dungeon Meshi a try!
As much as it pains me to say so, this work is mediocre – enjoyable while you are reading it, but not gripping enough. The characters are nice, the art is the reason I don’t have the heart to give this manga a 5, I liked the mangaka’s other works, but during all my time with this series I was unsure, whether I want to read on or prefer to drop it for good.
The problem is that the core idea is weak. I don’t see comedic potential in the concept of heroes eating monsters. So what? Most of us have done so in video games,
DnD sessions or in fantasy fiction. And Dungeon Meshi for the most part is just that – a stroll through the dungeon, which is not that big of a problem for the party, and a parody on a cooking show. Or maybe a cooking show, I am not sure how much of this manga can be translated to real-life cooking (personally, I don’t think that it’s worth it anyway, since they cook from what they have and on the move). Reading more of the same mangaka made me understand better the type of crazy-turned-straight punchline she enjoys, but while I see a point in the normalizing subversion, it doesn’t make me excited as a reader. The characters as well initially are too sketchy: each is defined by a quirk, usually an obsession with one topic.
Why have I read the available chapters? Mostly for the art (I’ll come back to it) and because somehow, each time I became critically disheartened, manga offered the bare minimum of material to hold me. The plot has its brighter moments – when it revisits some of the previously established rules, so that you’re as “on”, as the characters, when it allows the characters to lose face, putting them in more surreal situations, or when danger spices things up. Danger tends to be engaging by itself, but what’s more important “cooking in a very dangerous dungeon” or “adventurer party being so strong that it turns things that kill others in a picnic” have that spark.
Currently the story is at its turning point – they’ve reached a conclusion for the first arc. It’s unclear what will happen next, but there’re hints on a broader overarching plot forming. It looks like it involves fantasy politics, namely another iteration of scheming elves, and personally I am not sure I look forward to it.
My opinion on worldbuilding is mixed. The world of Dungeon Meshi is not as MMO as those in many fantasy mangas nowadays – there’re no damage numbers or stats – but there’re regen spells and dungeon levels. Also I don’t think that I can call a fantasy world consistent, when characters sleep in an armor you can hardly sleep in or use modern-term terms and theories, like ecosystem or nutrition. A lot of effort was put into explaining food, monsters and food out of monsters, making it look plausible and similar to our own, though I don’t know why. Sure, there’s educational value, but making their views or their dishes more alien is a good opportunity missed.
The things I can praise are:
The art. It’s stellar. It’s not exactly showy, as in you won’t find two-page panels with a character striking a pose. The art is narrative, and excels in its own way – the panels with characters’ expressions shown in just the right way in just the right moment are what really makes it tick. The monsters are detailed and vivid. The food is drawn amazingly – the author can pull off things like drawing it a bit more like a still-life or like a photo from a lifestyle magazine.
The character designs are lovable. The cast here is in their twenties (or the fantasy analog of them), and they look and behave their age. They are dressed sensibly, they display a big variety of facial expressions. The designs support the backgrounds and personalities with subtlety. I can’t help but swoon over the design of the main character, Laius, he’s a knight drawn right
Maybe the cast itself. On one hand, as I’ve mentioned, they are defined by a few exaggerated features and there’s the immersion-breaking detail that they enjoy their great culinary adventure while on timer to save their friend. On the other, albeit very slow, the barebone concepts grow meat along the way. In any case they end up being much fresher than what you’d see in most fantasy series. The best example would be the female members of the main cast – they’re strikingly different from each other, and it is achieved without making bust size, love interests or hair color a factor. (By the way, this manga zero sexual pandering).
The third, the hardest to define, yet maybe the most important positive point of Dungeon Meshi, is that some rules in their world just work, you can’t change them with wishful thinking. The characters don’t feel like Sues and are not allowed to warp reality. Monsters are monsters, you need to cook meat thoroughly to make it safe to eat and people, even ones you know well, move on. This manga has nor sexy loli dragons, nor nakama power, and it cannot and won’t ever have them.
So who should read this? The thing that makes me pause at the question is that I am not sure, maybe the lukewarm appeal I've experienced is universal, even if weak, that would mean I should recommend it to the majority of readers. But I can't count on things I can't predict with any sense of certainty. Let’s say it this way: I have confidence in recommending the author’s shorter works (do check them out), but as for Dungeon Meshi – I believe that ultimately it’s up to your willful decision or circumstances (topics you look for, how much you can forgive for pretty art at the moment, your backlog) – reading this manga is ok, skipping is also fine.