Delicious In Dungeon Volume 13: Lion Named Desire



Let’s be real, it’s taken nearly a year for Delicious In Dungeon volume 13 to arrive- a bit of a recap is in order to help contextualize the events going on in this volume. I promise it’ll be quick though. So, Marcille took over as the Dungeon Lord, messed up a tiny bit and is sending the world towards destruction thanks to the winged lion. Of course, she was separated from her party thanks to the Canaries and volume 13 picks up right after Laios and co talk Marcille down so that they can begin to try and fix things.

And so, here we are, at the impending end of the world with a half-elf that can’t bear those close to her getting old, a catgirl that doesn’t much care about anything, a shrewd half-foot that has a money-grabbing streak, a dwarf that lives for cooking, and a tall-man that’s obsessed with monsters. And I really wouldn’t have it any other way. You might think it weird to reiterate those aspects of such a well-defined dynamic, but that’s really what this volume is about. Forget the end of the world for a moment, forget the issues and challenges that have led the characters here. This volume is about digging to the core of these adventurers, to finding where it is that they reside within their own hearts and what sort of walls they’ve put up to protect themselves.

Well, I say that but this is Laio’s volume. The trio has always been Marcille, Falin, and Laios, and that’s how we’re ending things. Last volume was Marcille’s trip down memory lane, this volume’s is Laios (and 14 will inevitably be Falin’s). Now that doesn’t mean that Chilchuck and Senshi can’t have their moments. In fact, they already did in earlier volumes, solidifying their roles as secondary-slash-supporting characters. But that’s neither here nor there, let’s talk about Laios.

It’s just a question of where to begin, really. There’s a lot of Laios in this volume, and a lot of different versions of him- literally. I feel like Kui was very intentional in that sort of symbolism in Delicious In Dungeon volume 13. The canaries only see Laios as a threat, Kabru sees him as a grotesque and dangerous man, Shuro and Namari see him as an incredibly weird yet lovable goofball, his party sees him as an irreplaceable piece that has held them together, and Laios himself? Well, I’m not usually one to ascribe conditions to a character without them being clearly defined within the work, but his perception of himself ultimately seals the deal on Laios being autistic.

Before getting to that point however, just appreciate Kui’s use of the Lion here. As a thematic element it represents the most insecure aspects of a character. Rather than “desire” in the way that humans view it, the Lion is the necessity for existence. It is the repression and emotional fear that constitutes life in the era of this adventure.

It does not possess a will of its own, and Kui illustrates that wonderfully by not ascribing the dialogue to a character in specific here. The Lion and Laios are one in the same in this sequence. It is Laios the tall-man fighting against the trauma and challenges of his past. It’s Laios fighting against the isolation and struggle and sorrow that creates the mosaic of his life.

It is Laios fighting against the sword that he held in his hand for so long to protect himself. It’s an incredibly powerful and poetic moment that contextualizes Laios’ obsession with monsters like Marcille’s time as the Dungeon Lord did for her obsession with magic.

And truthfully, I think that’s the simplest proof for the statement above (as well as in relation to Marcille). Personal trauma colors the early days of the characters, leaving with them a dark streak in the past. They’ve been told off, ignored, ridiculed, isolated. They’ve struggled to find their place in the world, to stand as the people they are. They’ve been turned inward on themselves and forced to reconcile with a world that doesn’t accept them. And in that inwards isolation, they’ve found things that bring them brightness, happiness even. Thinking monsters are cool because they’ll hurt the people who hurt you, or obsessing over magic because your father passed away when you were a little girl (and because the girl you love also really likes magic). Forget even calling it a condition, it’s essentially a natural way to approach their lives. It’s why I really struggle to use the term aside from the relatability of the characters. But none of that really matters, because what Kui’s done with Marcille and Laio’s character arcs has been amazing.

I’ve loved every minute of it, and I could go on for hours, but I’ll leave it at an abridged version. Having something you really care about is scary, so incredibly scary. What happens when someone hates what you love? What happens when people think it’s wrong to like or be interested in that thing? Marcille and Laios are both examples of that fear, and through the gradual acceptance and understanding of those around them, they’re able to open up and share their lives with another. It’s an incredibly stupid thing to say, but those silly little Twitter memes that lack understanding stumbled across a genuine reading of Delicious In Dungeon– sometimes it’s just really nice to share a life with someone.

Anyways, back to the volume at hand. I think it does a great job of conveying to readers just what makes Laios such a force within the dungeon, and why the Lion was always after (though also always underestimated) him. His knowledge and awareness of monsters is bar-none, and that leads him to flat out outsmarting the Lion. Though, of course, that plan doesn’t go off perfectly, but the point remains that the Lion entirely misread Laios for the deeper-seated trauma and entirely missed the surface level. It’s like jumping at juicy steak with stakes (pun intended) surrounding it versus grabbing the harmless carrot. The Lion saw the far more succulent “desires” in Laios and took advantage of those, entirely missing the shallower desires that Laios himself held.

At the end of the day, or in this case volume, there’s a lot to take away from such a small time frame. Ultimately though, it comes down to one thing- Laios facing himself. He’s always used monsters as a way to hide away from the darker parts of his past and his self. No more, though, says Laios. No more will he outwardly push monsters to protect the weaker parts of himself, no more will he remain isolated or alone. Where Marcille leaned on the support of others to come to this conclusion, Laios has had to approach in the opposite direction due to his nature. He leaned on those around him to support himself already, that’s what so much of this story has shown with his character. Here though, in Delicious In Dungeon volume 13, Laios faces himself in that fuzzy mirror and realizes he has to move on. And so he does, saving the world.

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