Delicious in Dungeon Volume 1
Delicious in Dungeon is one of those “only in comics” concepts: it’s a food manga where the dishes all involve fantasy monsters, since our chefs are part of a party on a quest to find and kill a dragon in a dungeon.
Laios’s sister Falin saved the group, on a previous trip in, by sacrificing herself. However, although she was eaten by a dragon, magic is common and workable enough that, if the group finds her body by slaying the monster quickly, they can restore her. However, they’re short on funds, so to save money, instead of buying provisions, they’re going to eat what they kill along the way.
In addition to warrior Laios, the group consists of Marcille, a magic-wielding elf; Chilchuck, who’s good with traps and locks; and new addition Senshi, a dwarf who has been cooking in the dungeon for a decade. He’s their guide to what’s edible and how to make it tasty. (He’s also adorable, with his face mostly consisting of huge curly beard with a couple of eyes and a horned helmet above.)
And boy, the dishes do sound delicious. They’re variants on real food, but with slices of giant walking mushrooms instead of normal fungi, for example. Or making a fruit tart from the output of a giant man-eating plant.
Laios has been dreaming of this culinary adventure for a while, but Marcille has some qualms about eating food where she’s so uncertain of the sources. Survival wins the argument, though. Senshi, meanwhile, lectures on the importance of a balanced diet and the need for proper nutrition to be healthy fighters.
There are also lessons on learning teamwork, valuing everyone’s unique skills, scientific investigation (to figure out the true form of some monsters), and the need for honest communication, as the group ventures further into this magic-laden, multi-level fantasy world. There’s a lot of creative thinking, as the fighters try and repurpose whatever they find for cooking materials. Who would have thought a flaming oil trap could be used to make tempura? The dishes, for all they’re fantastic, sound good enough that they make me hungry.
The monsters are diverse and interesting, ranging from living armor to classics like the basilisk and mandrakes. There are a series of short one-page comics at the end of the book going into more detail about each.
Even though I’ve never played D&D and I don’t care much for fantasy quest books, this food-oriented dungeon crawl by Ryoko Kui was a terrific read. It’s silly but still entertaining, with enough humor to lighten the mood. (The publisher provided a review copy.)