Imagine that you are trapped in the darkest dungeon, starved for days, and the only thing that can satiate your craving is the sticky gruesome slime before you, would you have the courage to take the bite? This surreal situation is pretty much what happens to Laios, the protagonist Delicious in Dungeon, and his party members as they venture into the labyrinthine dungeon to rescue his younger sister Falin, who is unfortunately devoured by a dragon after an expedition.
Having lost the entirety of their supplies and belongings, the party decided to reach their hands to the taboo of eating the dungeon monsters to gather supplies. And yes, they eat slime and all kinds of horrifying creatures that you can imagine in a typical dungeon. Fortunately, Laios and his friends find a way to make use of these monster ingredients and cook them into the world’s most sumptuous delicacies.
The unique fantasy settings of Delicious in Dungeon have gained a large following in Japan and internationally with its manga selling more than 8.5 million copies. The 2016 edition of the Kono Manga ga Sugoi! guidebook also ranked the series at number one on its list of top 20 manga for male readers. And if you are interested in their unusual food-filled adventure, Studio Trigger is adapting the Delicious in Dungeon manga into an anime series that is set to release worldwide on Netflix in January 2024.
After enjoying the anime’s first episode premiere screening at Anime Expo 2023, we also have the chance to seat with Laios’ voice cast Kentaro Kumagai and Marcille’s voice cast Sayaka Sembongi, as they share their thoughts towards the series and memorable moments in the recording booth.
“Delicious in Dungeon has a rather subtle and surreal sense of humor compared to other comedy manga that focuses heavily on gags. You can’t help but giggle here and there as you follow the journey of Laios and Marcille to turn the most ridiculous ingredients into the most delicious meal,” Sembongi expressed. “Laios is a rather ‘strange’ protagonist, who always does things that is out of the ordinary. And the response of the party member further makes the situation more hilarious.”
Kumagai agreed by referring to Laios’ queer obsession with monsters. “The fact is that Laios is so serious that he doesn’t intend to make you laugh. He ate monsters simply because he want to and didn’t know how weird it is. It kind of reminds you of the Japanese ‘Konto’ (sketch comedy) as he says something so weird that the others have to play as Tukkomi to point it out.”
In addition to goofing around and monster cooking, the characters in Delicious in Dungeons still have to deal with many of the realities of dungeoneering, like avoiding traps, defeating the monsters, and natural hazards from the environment, meaning that there’re still plenty of fantasy adventure to be had along the way. “The party members are differentiated with distinctive personalities and it shows in their adventure since the very first episode. But through their journey, you’ll gradually realize that It is not all about cooking and eating, some scenes touch upon the softest part of your heart,” Sembongi added.
As we move on to discuss how the recording goes, the pair indicated that the casting process was a bit unusual as the voice cast of Marcille and Chilchuck (voiced by Asuna Tomari) has been decided at the very beginning before they move on to find the right voice for Laios and Senshi (voiced by Hiroaki Nakamura). The role of Kumagai was decided after he made a sample recording with Sembongi as they play Laios and Mercille. “I guess they want to check the chemistry between us,” Sembongi added.
When asked how they prepared for their respective roles, Kumagai looked for ways he could relate to his character. “At first, I thought, ‘How can I relate to this character?’ With Laios, he has a younger sister and for me, I have a younger brother. So I used my perspective as an older brother to prepare for this role. Also, my character is a bit of a unique, strange character at first. From then on, he goes quite flat. So from there, I got into it and just went with the characters,” he said.
As for Senbongi to prepare for the role, she looked towards the manga for insight into her characters. “Though Mercille loathes monster-eating at first, she ends up eating a lot of monsters during their journey. To relate to this, I try to imagine how the monsters would taste like if you have to eat them. For example, what can I find in the Japanese food world that is similar to slime to understand the eating of slime better? So I would eat contents like jelly to get more perspective on my character”.
And to better portray the characters who have eaten all kinds of freaky food that they scavenge from the dungeon, the voice actor and actress made a shocking confession that they tasted bugs in the recording sessions to find inspiration. “The director brought some scorpions and beetles to us, which made it quite an experience,” Senbongi laughed. “I guess it is the influence of Delicious in Dungeons, which encourages you to challenge something that you won’t dare in the past. I also decided to become more open to the things that I eat after this experience.”
Speaking of the delicacies featured in the series, Kumagai also mentioned that he wanted to give everything a try just like his character Laios. “Hotpot is my favorite so I’m really intrigued by the Huge Scorpion and Walking Mushroom Hotpot, the first dish that the party prepared in the series,” he said.
“I also really like to try the hotpot. But actually, there are more things that I don’t want to try than the ones that I actually want to try! As the party gets deeper into the dungeon, there are things that are so terrible that you don’t even want to imagine. And when they start eating parasites, it really gives me the chills!” Senbongi cried.
As you may have noticed, the main reasons why the party has to suffer(?) from tasting these daunting creatures can point to the party’s leader, Laios. The fierce-looking swordsman has a special affinity towards the dungeon monster and secretly holds a cookbook that houses all kinds of recipes for a sumptuous monster meal. Despite his deep knowledge and passion for monsters and proficiency in combat, he often falters outside of these situations due to a lack of social skills. Kumagai too thought that his character are a bit hard to portray as he has a special distance from the other party members.
“His emotions are really hard to comprehend and you have to pay extra effort to understand why he acts as he does. In the first episode, when Laios first tries to cook the Huge Scorpion and Walking Mushroom Hotpot but does it in the wrong way, I had to make the vomit sound ‘oo-er’ in the recording session. I ended up making the sound multiple times as the director asked me to act more refreshingly!”
Sembongi also found it challenging to portray Marcille’s reactions as she had to scream a lot whenever the party meets and eats monsters. “I have to find a way to keep her character while portraying her exaggerated reactions. You can’t go too high as there is always a balance between scenes. I end up delving into different voices to keep up with the balance,” she said.
While the fantasy comedy anime is soon to be released next year, Kumagai would love to shed the spotlight on the character’s growth as the audience follows their unusual journey deep into the dungeon. “There’s a lot of comical part in Delicious in Dungeons, but there’s still an underlying theme that is way more complicated than everything on the surface. I’m looking forward to taking this journey together with the audiences as they watch Laios grow as a human.”
The premise of Delicious in Dungeons is undoubtedly one-of-a-kind as it took your basic fantasy RPG-style manga/light novel and combined it with a cooking series like Food Wars. But under the light-hearted and goofy surface, the series has a bigger theme revealed alongside their adventure as it digs deeper into the party’s past. More than anything else, you will be mesmerized by the creativity of manga author Ryoko Kui, who takes reference from all the monsters from fantasy series, games, and tabletop RPGs, and give them proper biology rundowns based on new and old ideas. The Delicious in Dungeon anime is set to debut on Netflix worldwide in January 2024.
▍Delicious in Dungeon Anime Staff & Production
Original Work: Ryoko Kui (Delicious in Dungeon / KADOKAWA)
Director: Yoshihiro Miyajima
Story Editor: Kimiko Ueno
Character Design: Naoki Takeda
Music Composer: Yasunori Mitsuda
Animation Production: TRIGGER
▍Delicious in Dungeon Anime Cast
■ Laios – CV: Kentaro Kumagai
■ Marcille – CV: Sayaka Sembongi
■ Chilchuck – CV: Asuna Tomari
■ Senshi – CV: Hiroshi Naka