Junpei Takeda, a high school student, is childhood friends with Noriko Tatsumiya and the bully Kido Shouta. One day, during the usual course of bullying Junpei, they were suddenly summoned to a different world by the whim of "God." Summoned Heroes with cheats, or so he thought. But it turns out Junpei's stats were even worse than an average farmer. Tricked into a deathly labyrinth by the only one he trust, he walks the journey for revenge.
Volumes read: 4
Dungeon Seeker, a novel I struggled to not give a full 10. A book full of shock, horror, and an unpleasantly daunting veil of mystery. With no reviews, I’m honestly surprised such an adult addition to the masses of mediocre isekai tales isn’t more of a hit with veteran readers. Let me explain, ‘aye.
Dungeon Seeker is about our young teenage boy, Junpei Takeda, who along with some fellow notorious classmates and a childhood friend, get sent off to a ‘tranquil fantasy world full of wonder and inexplicable conveniences of livelihood’—not. Dungeon Seeker can be seen as a gentle deconstruction to the isekai
(“carted to another world”) genre. In most stories with a similar setting and introduction, you can expect your main character to set off as an underdog only to ‘shock the world’ with his “latent talents”; In the case of Dungeon Seeker, whilst there are many instances where the protagonist appears to be godly, this disposition of the reader is expertly exploited by the author wherein we come to grips with the psychological repercussions of ‘arrogance’.
Too many times through this novel did I find myself wallowing in despair at how violent a medieval world can be - not to mention the dungeon part. You see, the story of Dungeon Seeker really sets off after our protagonist is exiled into the most brutal dungeon I’ve ever read about. Mythological creatures beyond reason and strength, villages on the brink of collapse desperately vying for any salvation to their fate, and lone adventurers that have long surpassed the definition of inhumane in order to survive. This dungeon is like no other - defined at some point as what you’d normally call the “extra extra ++ stage” in a game. A survival rate of less than 1%, our protagonist is exiled as a sacrifice by his own peers, wherein begins his psychological reconditioning to a world of endless torment, regret, and the budding of his malevolent desire for retribution unto those he holds responsible for betraying and sealing him in this world.
The characters that crop up are full of personality and unique traits. Most are crestfallen representations of broken human beings, lost in a prison with no salvation. Whilst there are examples of normal people twisted by a medieval world of violence, the majority of characters sow a mosaic of hysteria. It’s quite thrilling - in a morbid way!
If there’s one thing I should warn you about, it’s the intensity of the obligatory immersion of insanity and gratuitous violence in this novel. If you’re looking for a light read, CERTAINLY look elsewhere!... My body and soul felt nothing but an unliftable weight of varying degrees throughout this otherwise thrilling experience - shifting me between slight nauseous anticipation of foreshadowed horrors, to complete immersion in empathy for the insanest of cruelties and suffering, pushing my imagination for pain to its brink - and the book did an amazing job of keeping that tempo up with only brief respites.
If you can’t tell, I enjoyed this series thoroughly. It’s been a while since I last experienced a fantasy world of which I’d never wish to visit, no matter what the price. It honestly made me feel grateful for what I have, because even if the novel is mostly about this mysterious dungeon, it proficiently manages to detail a realistic hell of a world stuck in an age of violence, all in between but a few lines here and there. A medieval world that manages to reason all the common demihumans (mostly through cultures of “harvesting” them for their unique traits due to logical fallacies often left unexplored in most other titles) - like elves with their long lifespans becoming a gourmet health supplement served unapologetically - into a world that shows no signs of technological advancement due to rigid dictator-like monarchies and overwhelming religious institutions driven by conditioning peasants to always remain peasants, and demihumans to always remain slaves; it’s a truely terrifying world you’d never want to venture to, yet given human history, it isn’t much of a stretch from genuine representations of the human race in passed times. With an accurate reproduction of how huge class gaps and the desensitisation of extreme violence towards minorities can lead to a cycle of oppression, wherein the upper classes remain vigilant of there power with excessive amounts of force, it’s likely you’ll come to terms with the severity of how hopeless a true “Dark Age” can be - and how we’ve lingered on that line many times throughout history.
Sounds terrifying, right? As I said, an inescapable prison where even the bad guys are victims of this world. Not to mention the decent human beings who, unsurprisingly, are the first to be baptised by the lunacy.
9/10, only because the art could have painted the picture of the world we’re straining to imagine better. Besides that, be captivated by this gruelling terror of a novel/series that’ll make your heart ache in anguish—you won’t regret it!
Dungeon Seeker starts off as a darker version of the isekai trope centered on vengeance and hatred but quickly lets go of this premise in favor of a harem genre where the MC changes from a revenge driven skeptic to a happy go lucky cliche. Although the initial set up and exposition had my hopes up, the author never delivered on the build up and hype he structured in the first volume and instead tried incorporating generic shounen aspects that stripped Dungeon Seeker of its unique allure.
The plot was set up with the potential to become an exceptional revenge story, but somewhere along the
line the author swapped the vengeance theme for a “how many girls can the MC seduce while exploring a dungeon for lulz” storyline. This was a shame as it didn't capitalize on its appeal to readers who enjoy darker isekai themes and characters.
The cover art for the first volume was exceptional and was the reason for me starting this light novel. However, the change in art style past the first volume didn't fit the dark, gloomy atmosphere of Dungeon Seeker and took away part of its dread in my opinion.
Now this is where the story really went downhill. The author’s portrayal of the antagonists and villains get more and more exaggerated as the series progresses to the point where their only exposition is that they rape women and kill innocents. Although I found this polarization disappointing, the MCs spontaneous shift in philosophy was the most frustrating to read. His philosophy of vengeance caused him to adopt a “trust no one” attitude near the start of the series but this attitude is dropped by the author whenever the plot calls for it.
To illustrate, the MC goes from “I’ll kill everyone in my way because all human are scum” to “Hey man, I just met you but you seem swell. Let’s work together." and then back to "I can't trust her even though she's been genuinely helping me" all in one volume. This fluctuation in the MC’s actions boggles down the purpose of the entire story, which is to portray the MC's road to revenge while adapting a new ruthless philosophy to prevent being betrayed again. However, this premise does not receive the proper attention and is instead disregarded frequently as the MC is shown to perform trusting actions time and time again despite the various backstabbing and betrayals that befall him immediately after. Frankly, I found Madhouse's production quality to be more consistent, and Madhouse butchered the living hell out of Overlord III, but I digress.
Honestly, I had high hopes going in but none of those expectations were realized. The first volume was interesting but the series plunged in quality with each subsequent volume. At one point, I found myself muscling through portions of the book and realized that it wasn't worth my time anymore. It’s as if the author just didn't give a fuck anymore and decided to dump every generic trope he could find to dilute the original selling point of the series.
TLDR: The first volume will hook you in with the promise of a dark revenge isekai coupled with a set of more thought provoking and mature themes. However, the first volume also sets you up for a huge amount of disappointment as everything that the exposition promises is slowly replaced by cliche tropes embodied by every other isekai in the market. Dungeon Seeker attempts to balance edgy gore with cliche awkwardness and fails spectacularly, making it barely coherent as a series.