4 out of 5
Holy crow to tons of world building, and fantastic character work. Ryoko Kui has been doing a lot of work regarding the former in Delicious in Dungeon, and volume 7 is no slouch in that department, but an equal joy is the slowburn approach to how we’re getting to know all of our leads. While we’ve sort of bumped into the mythology behind the dungeons due to consequence (not that that hasn’t been slickly done), Kui has banked on the overall charm of the story and its quirky characters to keep us invested when they – the characters – might all seem kinda one-attribute-y. This has surely worked, but it’s also been fantastic as we very naturally learn more and more about everyone. Typical manga and comic books will have some event trigger an issue-long / chapter-long break where we do a flashback, but instead, DiD drip-feeds revealing statements here and there, until it makes sense for someone to speak up and reveal more. New party member Izutsumi is a fantastic example of this, still in the “getting to know” phase, and acting out her bristly, fuck-off archetype to a T, but then pausing here and there and she thinks through what’s she’s seeing and hearing, leading to the slightest shifts in her dynamic with the team… But the big joy here is learning more about Senshi, and it’s sincerely a better story than I would’ve figured – again, very naturalistic, and earned, and thus quite effective.
When we flash to Kabru and Shiro, outside of the dungeon, it’s damned fascinating stuff, filling in some more of the external politics and social structure, but it’s also… a lot. Kabru’s scenes tend to be pretty narratively dense, as his motivations seem rather complex, and I felt like the way the information was delivered was a bit too overwhelming to properly fit it in to the overall structure. These scenes will likely be smoother on a reread.
But otherwise: it’s the status quo of fantastic art, pauses for cookery, laugh out loud comedy, and sudden bursts of tense and amazing action. The resource management combined with the impermanence of death in the dungeon makes for a good balancing of stakes, and Kui ante-ups things yet again as we learn more oddities about the lunatic magician.