At this point in time, Studio Trigger has become something of a household name for anime fans – it kicked things off with the incredibly energetic Kill la Kill, and has produced the excellent series for Netflix like Little Witch Academia and Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, and now most recently, Delicious in Dungeon.
You can pretty quickly recognise a Trigger series, as the studio brings a unique flair to its characters, who often have big, bold, exaggerated expressions, complemented by animation that I think can only be described as wacky. All of this made the prospect of it handling the currently airing Delicious in Dungeon incredibly exciting, but while I love the first couple of episodes, they felt like they were missing something; but thankfully, Delicious in Dungeon episode 3 has managed to get a hold of that classic Studio Trigger magic.
I don’t at all blame Trigger for keeping the first couple episodes a bit lowkey, not a huge amount happens in them after all, it’s mostly setting up the world and introducing all of the characters. Action is minimal too, so why spend all your budget on places that just don’t need it? And there’s even some good cooking lessons to be found too. It did leave me wondering if we’d see some animation that would truly cement it as a “Studio Trigger” show that so many people have come to love it for, and the show’s third episode really delivered.
The premise is a pretty classic fantasy one: our group of adventurers need to get somewhere, but unfortunately there’s a hallway filled with living armour that can’t be killed, preventing access to their next location. What does help is that the warrior of the crew, Laois, was once killed by a set of living armour (don’t worry, it’s a fantasy world, resurrection is no problem), and it was his first death too, so it was a traumatic one.
Of course, this leads to a confrontation with the various sets of living armour, marking the first real action the show has seen. The bulk of the episode sees Laois taking on a unique set of living armour in particular, and it’s honestly some of the best animation I’ve seen of two armour-wearing knights facing off against each other. One of the best ways to describe Trigger at its best is fluid, where everything moves like there’s no set shape to the form that’s moving. The animation makes the pieces of metal seem almost elastic, lending itself well to Delicious in Dungeon’s cartoonish world.
The bits of animation of the rest of the crew fending off the grunts is great too – Marcille, the group’s elven mage, has some incredible faces throughout the manga, and episode director Ichigo Kanno really helped bring these to life excellently. Those of you familiar with Shin Chan, a classic comedy manga more popular in Japan than it is in the west, might also feel some of that same kind of looseness. You can take just one look at the clip from the most recent episode below to get an idea of what I mean. The fact that Kanno has worked on Shin Chan previously won’t come as much of a surprise.
This particular clip is easily my favourite of the episode, it’s a sequence that really highlights what animation can do, as it takes a simple scene of Laois running with his little sister and creates a moment of pure, unfiltered, childhood joy, all through its impossible movement. It might only be January, but there’s a strong chance that those 10 seconds of animation will be my favourite of the year.
I’ve loved Trigger’s work for so long because it’s just not afraid to get weird with it, whether it be angles that position bodies into dominating shapes filling the screen, faces that convey more emotion in a single still frame than minutes of live action acting, or concepts that no one else would ever come up with, there just isn’t a studio quite like Trigger. I doubt every episode going forward will be like this one, but it has made me feel confident that a series as special as Delicious in Dungeon is in the hands of a team like Studio Trigger.