Daydream Hour by Ryoko Kui: Peering Into Delicious In Dungeon



Ryoko Kui and Delicious In Dungeon are household names in the world of anime and manga now, as they should be. They’re such big names actually, that Ryoko Kui’s first art book (Daydream Hour) sold out almost instantly upon release earlier this year in January. Because of that, it was a struggle to find a copy, but in the end I lucked out and that’s allowed me to discuss this incredibly full and interesting art book.

One of the most interesting things with Daydream Hour is that it really doesn’t present itself like a traditional art book from a mangaka. Take Candy from Shou Harusono, for example. Inside is a lot more work focused on color pages, promotional material, and even some behind-the-scenes sketches and pre-production imagery. Daydream Hour contains almost impressively little of that. Part of it is owed to the nature of the history of Daydream Hour and Delicious In Dungeon, but a lot of it relates to Ryoko Kui as a mangaka and how they’ve approached their mega-hit manga. So, let’s take a look back at just that.

The History of Daydream Hour and Delicious In Dungeon

I’m sure some might think it funny to mention “history” and an art book in the same breath, as it’s something that we really never get the chance to talk about. For the most part, art books are all about the culmination of work on a series, and that’s about as far as it goes. However, this art book is far more unique. In reality, Daydream Hour found its beginning all the way back in 2016- and had no relation to Delicious In Dungeon. Yes, that’s right, the art that originally started Kui’s Daydream Hour had nothing to do with her hit series. Of course, that didn’t last long, but you might be wondering how an art book that started in 2016 only “released” recently. And that’s a valid question, allow me to explain.

Ryoko Kui’s Daydream Hour actually had a longer title when it first began. Back in 2016 it was titled as “Ryoko Kui’s Doodle Book Daydream Hour“, and was a part of a series of short art collections distributed with various volumes of the Harta Magazine. In total, there was 6 different volumes of this form of Daydream Hour released between 2016 and 2022, and presents very interesting information.

In the earlier volumes, specifically the first and second, the presence of Delicious In Dungeon was very small. It took until the 3rd volume released in 2020 (a staggering 3 years after the second volume which was released in 2017) to see a Daydream Hour dedicated entirely to Delicious In Dungeon. Even more interesting is that this volume of Daydream Hour was so overflowing with Delicious In Dungeon that Harta actually posted a digital exclusive “Extra” of Daydream Hour on their website (for a limited period of time).Continuing to speak about pieces left out, the fifth and final volume of Daydream Hour included illustrations and other information that could not be included in Delicious In Dungeon World Guide: Adventurer’s Bible. What’s meant by that is that this final volume in 2022 was entirely overflow from the Adventurer’s Bible, which I thought was interesting. So all in all, the background of Daydream Hour and Kui’s artistic history is deeply interesting and uniquely captured in both formats of Daydream Hour. Also, I find it very fun and interesting that the first volume is the odd one out in terms of cover styling. Just a fun little quirk you notice.

Delicious In Dungeon’s Daydream Hour

Now that the stage has been set to understand the history of Daydream Hour, let’s take a look at what’s actually in this art book, and how it shows off what an incredible character designer Ryoko Kui is. The art book runs a total of 226 pages, 30 of which are dedicated to Daydream Hours 1 and partially 2. I found it very interesting that the color of the pages changed from the typical white to salmon to highlight the difference in material. Though, that’s not Delicious In Dungeon so I’m not going to talk about it much here (maybe I’ll post some images on Twitter though).

More interesting than that separation is how Kui has reorganized the art in Daydream Hour. Overall, I think it’s a very worthwhile change that’s really improved the reading experience of the art book. Now, for the most part, the “clusters” of images remain in order. So, for stuff like how the various parties interact with one another, they remain all as a single grouping, but their location changes entirely. Similarly, Kui’s depictions of the various races gets condensed into a single section instead of being spread across- and this is where it really gets interesting. In the original Daydream Hour, Ryoko Kui showed off three races, and then a mix of the others in the format below.

So, in the original Daydream Hour, races such as: Elves, Dwarves, Half-foots (Half-feet?), and Ghomes were relegated to a single row of characters that already existed within Delicious In Dungeon.

Though, the keen-eyed might have noticed something else that remains missing- the orcs. Yes, in the full release of Ryoko Kui’s Daydream Hour, the orcs from Delicious In Dungeon appear as well, taking up a full page alongside the other four races shown in this image.

Something that I might complain about however is that (unless I’m blind) there’s art missing in this final version of Daydream Hour. Yeah, I’m equally confused as there’s so much extra art and details that exist in this art book. Even more confusing is that it’s a single image of the golems that has disappeared.

Though there’s no sense crying over spilt milk. We still have access to these cute (not so) little guys, but I just think it’s incredibly weird to not have them anywhere in the art book. Oh well, beggars can’t be choosers I suppose. I’d much rather talk about the wonderful aspects of Ryoko Kui’s character design with Delicious In Dungeon

Delicious In Dungeon Character Design: An Examination

Well, I started this post-turned-essay by talking about how this shows off Ryoko Kui’s incredible character design for Delicious In Dungeon, but I really haven’t talked about it yet, so let’s talk about it. I had posted an example of Kui’s incredible work on Twitter earlier, focusing on Elves, so I’ll be chatting about the Orcs this time!

I absolutely love Ryoko Kui’s character design for Delicious In Dungeon, and this is the perfect example of why. The sheer variation and uniqueness expressed by these orcs is incredible.

Just take a look at the “defining” traits of them. Some can have human-like hair while others are purely covered in fur. The men (typically) have horns or bumps of some sort on their head. They all have very large noses, but some have flatter faces vs more protruding or snout-like ones.

And the beauty of it all is that these traits are not the end all be all. Take for example, our friendly Orc Zon (2nd row, 2nd from the left). Zon has big horns in contrast to the smaller ones shown on most of the other Orcs. Similarly, you realize that the horns are only apparent on the men. Very subtle, but incredibly valuable detail in terms of character design that implies some sort of role apparent to males only within the evolutionary track of Orcs.

Conversely, traits that cross sex are hair! In the images, all of the women have human-like hair. However, a few of the men have hair as well (and even a beard). This seems closer to a personal trait of adults than anything, as when you look the young Orcs in the third row, neither exhibit human-like hair (or horns for that matter).

The most interesting however is Leed (who is to the right of Zon in the table). They’re such a different Orc from the rest that you might think them to be only part Orc, but they’re not (to our knowledge). I think what’s really able to sell this understand that Leed is just an outlier in terms of traditional Orc features is the Orc 2 rows beneath Zon. Similar to Leed, this orc features much rounder eyes as well as a notably different facial structure.

So, that accounts for Leed’s profile, but it doesn’t really match her colors, especially because pure white as well as light blue eyes aren’t a common trait of Orcs. The answer? Albinism. It’s a really cool and unique idea, and I love how well Kui’s able to depict those unique traits of Leed that define her as heterogenous to typical Orcs while she still fits comfortably within the archetypes of the race.

Oh also, only the male Orcs have tusks, but even that isn’t guaranteed as the two male Orcs in the bottom row don’t show them. Just such incredible attention to detail and creativity that culminates in incredible work like this.

There really is just a world to Ryoko Kui’s character design that is simply beyond belief. It’s a level of care and awareness that very few other mangaka exhibit with their series. I mean, how many different mangaka will do studies on the shapes of their character’s eyes and side profiles? Well, at the very least Ryoko Kui did for Delicious In Dungeon– and it’s really good. The work highlights some of what I discussed above with the Orcs, and how smaller details can remain important for defining traits for specific races, but also for allowing characters to be unique.

Take a look at something as simple as the shape of a nose. Immediately, you can pick out the Elves due to their more pointed, curved, and slim size in relation to their heads. Even better is that trait is not exclusive to Elves. I think that line of thinking can really be a massive mistake for artists when working with multiple races. When given humanoid figures, there will be convergent traits between them, it’s just that one group will be more known for it than the other. Nothing stops you from having a bigger nose like the Dwarves do, but it’s just that it’s something they’re known for.

Also, I just find it incredible that you can tell man from woman with the eyes alone here. It’s to be expected for the most part, but it remains really, truly impressive. Especially when you factor Izutsumi into the equation. In both side profile and eyes, they’re by far the most androgynous of the characters.

Sticking to the topic of eyes, I find it really interesting how the smaller and less rugged races (Half-Foot and Gnome) both express more down-turned eyes. Of course, it makes sense, but I still find it very interesting how it changes your perception of the races when compared to the others.

Delicious In Dungeon and Studio Trigger

It’s a bit of an odd heading, I’ll be the first to say it. However, Trigger is known for their freedom of expression with character models in their series, and episode 8 recently put on a clinic (that I talk about here) in regards to that. The question I’m teeing up with this pairing is: how do Kui’s designs fare when simplified?

It’s a valid question, a good character design is versatile and remains both recognizable and definable by key traits. We can tell that at a distance and when obstructed, Kui’s designs for the various characters of Delicious In Dungeon remain impeccable, but what happens when you change the shape or form itself? Well, Kui has the answer to that as well. While it’s not a perfect answer to why Kui’s designs are so malleable and adaptable in the hands of Trigger, I think it offers fans a better understanding all the same. Part of Kui’s approach in designing the characters of Delicious In Dungeon was changing their shapes and form while still attempting to convey the same amount of information and personality within.

And I mean, need I really say more? They nailed it in every aspect. The core personalities of the cast remain intact, despite the heavy interference in terms of art style. It’s really really great work, and just another feather in Kui’s cap as a mangaka.

And really, I think that’s the best reason to end this annoyingly long post. There is a world of reasons as to why Ryoko Kui is such a great artist, and why Delicious In Dungeon is such a good manga- and a great deal of them exist in this art book. Truthfully, I’d argue that this is just as much supplemental reading for fans of Delicious In Dungeon as the Adventurer’s Bible is. In the same breath, I’d also say that this is a must have art book for artists. Ryoko Kui breaks apart a great deal of her visual work in here, and I think the understanding that comes from it could certainly be invaluable to some.

Daydream Hour is an art book that remains a treasure, much like Kui’s Delicious In Dungeon. It’s both an incredibly fun and insightful experience, and absolutely worth the money. There’s a world of content in these pages that I’ve been savoring for the past week or two, and I’m sure I’ll be sharing images from it every so often still. So, while you might have to hunker down and wait for the reprint coming around April, or for Yen Press to license it (I’m certain they will), anybody that likes Delicious In Dungeon should be getting this art book.

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