Senshi holding the lid on a pot while Laios, Marcille, and Chilchuck look on

Delicious In Dungeon #6: Good Things Come In (Multiples Of) 3



That saying’s been around for quite some time, “good things come in threes”, but I propose a new saying based off of just two episodes of Delicious In Dungeon– “Good things come in multiples of three”. It’s a hard rule to deny as the series is now six episodes deep, and both episodes three and six have been visual treats that speak to the peaks that Trigger is capable of. Time will only tell if it holds when episode nine airs in three weeks time, but for now, it works and it’s a great segue for me to introduce the minds behind the effort.


Storyboard: Nagahara Keita

Relatively new to the “storyboarding game”, Nagahara found their beginnings with Kyoto Animation and has branched out to studios include: Shaft, P.A. Works, and Madhouse. This being their fifth ever storyboard credit is deeply impressive, and their previous experience with Trigger has me hopeful we might see them here again.

Animation Direction: Arai Hiroaki

Arai is a rather active key animator, as evident by their involvement in this episode, but that’s not to doubt their tenure as an Animation Director. Most recently doing work on Frieren and Do It Yourself!! (for AD), Arai certainly has plenty of experience, and a connection with Nagahara going back to Massara in 2021.

Animation Direction: Ooshima Touya

Another interesting credit, as Ooshima only got started with AD in 2019 via Fate/Grand Order. More interesting though is it seems like Nagahara brought Touya along for this episode, as the pair also worked together on Massara. The partnership has certainly done them well though.

Having introduced the three that (largely) influenced the execution of this week’s Delicious In Dungeon episode, I want to move on to explaining just how they influenced it. I think the easiest example is with the pair of animation directors first. Rather simply put, Animation Director(s) control how the animation looks, and to an extent, feels. They correct issues in the key animation, and manage the animation overall to ensure it’s within their expectations. In some cases, like with episode three and Ichigo Kanno, you’ll see a much tighter integration of character models and whatnot. Not to say that doesn’t appear here, but when the storyboarder is able to do Animation Direction as well, you end up with a very cohesive vision. Nagahara’s boards still come through incredibly strong, but it makes me curious to see their boards vs Arai and Ooshima’s corrections.

Regardless of speculation, the point stands that Arai and Ooshima delivered some really great work in this episode, presenting incredibly fluid and flexible character models, alongside some incredible closeups. I really want to find out which one did corrections for the Chilchuck and Elf closeups.

Of course, not all of the credit lies with the Animation Directors. The problem being though, finding credits for every bit of key animation is a real struggle. Regardless, there’s certainly a few scenes that stand out and deserve a bit better an explanation. But that will come after, or rather during, my discussions of Nagahara’s boards- because they really are that great.

When you think of Delicious In Dungeon, you probably think of food and dungeons, obviously. Dungeons are a confined space, clearly, so being playful within that restriction can be challenging. To Nagahara though, it’s second nature as they chase after one key idea with their boards: dimensionality.

Nagahara forces that awareness onto the viewer immediately within the episode. Before we see the party of adventurers, we see the light cast from their lantern as they traverse the dungeon. Not only does this cut display great awareness of the seemingly unending depth and scope of the dungeon, it forces viewers to understand the permanence of the characters when they’re not on screen. Honestly, it’s one of my favorite things to see in boards, and I love how Nagahara is able to make it work despite the confined spaces that Laios and company wander.

As crazy as it is to say though, Nagahara almost immediately pivots to even stronger layouts within the episode. Delicious In Dungeon will, inevitably, feature a lot of repetition. Included in that is Chilchuck unlocking things, but Nagahara refuses to allow it to be a tiresome experience for the viewer. Here, they take their idea of dimensionality to the maximum, using characters as foreground obstructions. It’s a very simple thing, but it’s a massive player in terms of making a scene feel full, and having the characters feel alive. Take the first image as an example. We get a closeup of Marcille, but more important, we actually see part of Senshi’s helmet in the bottom left corner. Similarly, Marcille is also partially cut off, and Chilchuck’s foot is somewhat hidden by Marcille’s bag. All of this provides an incredible layout that expresses depth and character permanence, two ideas that are imperative to an experience that feels alive. The second example continues that trend, and is also just incredibly cool. Really, its sole purpose is to remind viewers of Chilchuck’s existence, and that he is still picking the lock on the door. An incredible layout all to provide just a smidgen of information.

A good work is all about balance, and Nagahara understands that perfectly with Delicious In Dungeon. Sure, these types of layouts that use characters as foreground obstructions are really great for the reasons above, but you can’t subsist off of them exclusively. So, in contrast to character closeups like this, and to provide a sense of space and depth, Nagahara uses the broader areas of the dungeon to condense the party and provide more awareness of the spaces that they exist in. It’s really, really lovely work and despite being used in opposition, wonderfully complements the character closeups.

If I were to summarize what Nagahara is doing with these disparate styles, it’s that they’re aiming to provide viewers with a focus within Delicious In Dungeon. The dungeon is an ineffable, unimaginatively, large entity. In a lot of cases viewers can forget that. So, by using close up layouts against the much wider views, you create a truly impressive awareness of the party’s surroundings without forfeiting any of the more intimate aspects of the work.

Perhaps the greatest example of Nagahara’s ability to deliver that notion, is with Chilchuck isolated in a trap room. An incredible sequence in every regard, it shows off the strongest aspects in Nagahara’s style. Not having a character to obstruct via, Nagahara resorts to using a mix of first-person perspective and using Chilchuck himself to obstruct the viewer, and it works wonderfully. You get to feel Chilchuck’s isolation, and experience him feeling out the trap room, and the wandering is perfectly matched with the closer moments that are meant to draw viewers towards the details of the room.

Of course, the whole trap room sequence isn’t Chilchuck just wandering around. As the situation escalates, we get treated to some incredible Trigger work as well with the studio’s signature stylings. It’s an outstanding one two punch- the more methodic and slow styling that Nagahara displays in the first half is shattered by the energetic and frantic fleeing of Chilchuck from the mimic in the latter half. Also, where Nagahara has really tried to restrain their use of camera movement, the mimic sequence sees them let loose, and it works perfectly. Forget the opposing ideas of proximity and distance, this sequence in its entirety refutes Nagahara’s typical boarding for the episode, and it’s an incredible idea. It brings tension, excitement, pace- everything to flip the slower movement of this episode on its head, and capitalize on that change-up.

Overall, this is a Delicious In Dungeon episode that screams Trigger. Plenty of unique and fun character models, more than your fair share of character animation, heavy and hard-hitting animation- the whole 9 yards, all settled atop Nagahara’s boards. Personally, I never really felt any kind of way about the chapters that this episode adapts. They were just sort of there and had their fun as we move from A to B, but Nagahara and Trigger have made them into something insanely memorable. It’s really, really incredible work that reminds me of how glad I am that Trigger is the studio behind Delicious In Dungeon.

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