Delicious in Dungeon vol. 9 – Ryoko Kui

5 out of 5

More of the same… greatness.

Delicious in Dungeon is easy to explain, and then hard to define. It’s a cooking manga mashed up with a D&D manga; that’s exactly what it is: fantasy character types and raiding parties and monsters and then we pause for recipes. And yet, as any reader who’s been wrapped up in its ever-complexifying cast and mythology can attest, it’s so much more than that. While this is, in part, a matter of something getting deeper as we go along – as our main characters travel lower into the dungeon – creator Ryoko Kui has also accomplished that master class of world-building, in which all of the details are seething from between the panels since chapter 1, but unobtrusively; they come to light as needed, and we gain knowledge both explicitky – when things are newly learned by Laios or others – and through context, learning to appreciate the tweaks on tropes and Kui’s own, unique lore.

We might be nearing the end, as the nature of the master of the dungeon seems to be revealed, and that’s surely sad, given how enjoyable this series is, but these reveals are also immensely satisfying: they work because of the time taken to add nuance to all the bits and pieces along the way; the jovial tone is part of that effect, and becomes something of an integral part of the narrative, as well.

Anyhow: volume 9 tracks the after-actions of Kabru’s and the Elf captain’s fall into the lower levels, leading to a humorous nannying session (the former caring for the latter!) while Kabru comes to understand more about the inherent curse of dungeons. This has a direct impact on his feelings toward Laios, and lends this (likely) climactic set of chapters some great urgency. Laios, meanwhile, has somewhat paralleling thoughts and dreams concerning his future in the dungeon, putting the character very much at the crux of things, and crafting a fantastic conflict in which we’re not sure whether to cheer or jeer.

This series has evolved so far past my expectations.