Winter 2021 has to be one of the most stacked seasons in recent memory. Quintuplets season 2 solidifying itself as a powerhouse harem. The Grandfather of the modern Isekai showing using why indeed, Jobless Reincarnation, has that title. Beautifully disturbing Wonder Egg Priority, or the second season of soon-to-be-modern masterpiece Beastars. In short, any anime fan had a series this season, and as we looked onto the Spring I can’t help but think the Winter is something that won’t be topped for a while. But within this masterful season, there was a series I decided to watch. Something that is a bit out of my norm, a fantasy that follows a boy stricken with poverty and the bad luck of being born in lower nobility. Gifted with the ability to answer any question but at the price of crippling migraines. I am of course talking about the utter disaster that is, The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter.
I’ve seen a lot of anime in my time, and with that, I’ve seen a lot of bad anime. An example would be Shaft’s Dance In Vampire Bun, that show was like pulling teeth. But it’s rather rare for me to stumble onto a show I feel is lower than a 4. Typically shows like that take all the worse gimmicks the medium have to offer, chalked up with a half-ass story and plotline that on its face, makes little to no sense. Series that really makes you take a step back and just ask ‘why? Why is any of this relevant or even needed to drive this narrative?’ So when I went into The Hidden Dungeon I wasn’t expecting anything good, but boy you crazy son of a bitch, you really set that bar low.
The Hidden Dungeon follows Starga, Noir. Though technically a noble, his linage puts him right at the bottom of the social hierarchy. So when his job as a librarian gets nabbed from him in a political power play, he decides he is going to be an adventurer instead. Yeah, not sure how one goes from wanting to sit around books all day to killing dragons but that is how his brain works. This isn’t a total wash, however, because Nori has an ace, he can communicate with the all-knowing sage. Though a rare and useful ability, it comes with high drawbacks. Crippling headaches that make Noir almost useless, putting him in such bad pain, he would rather just not talk to the sage at all.
Though, I guess being unemployed forces one to sometimes do things they don’t enjoy.
Jobless and knowing adventuring is difficult, Noir calls upon the sage asking him the simple question, how do I get stronger? The answer turns out was within a nearby dungeon. Noir then collapses due to the massive amount of pain only to later find out the cure to all of his headaches is just making out with his childhood friend, cause why not? Heading to the dungeon a female voice calls to him, directed him towards her. Opening a door he sees a woman, chained up in the middle of the room, the voice in his head telling him to place his forehead to hers. Enter plot armor, Olivia Servant (I have no idea why her last name is Servant)
Turns out Olivia is a super-strong adventure that found herself in a bit of a bind. The chains that hold her are “death chains” and if they are broken it will end her life, meaning she has been frozen in stasis in the said dungeon for about 200 years. So with all this power and no way to use it, she decides to give Noir one of her abilities, Get Creative. Now Get Creative is one of the most broken concepts In storytelling, since it can literally be anything you want it to be. So paired with two other abilities, Bestow and Editor. Get Creative is a unique ability, it works in the way of the user thinking something up, Bestowing it or actually using it, or/and also Editing it. An example would be a rock bullet, Get Creative to make the bullet, Bestow the fire the bullet, use Editor to change the size and velocity of the bullet.
Want to grow wings? Go ahead, what about curing someone’s illness by editing it away? Sure you can do that too. There is one setback to this ability though, it uses mana like system known as LP, and even more of a kicker, if the LP of the user hits 0, they die. The amount of LP a user has is based on strength and can be raised/ restored by any number of deeds. Material wealth, glutton, or naturally, giving into lust. Did I mention he makes out with his childhood friend to get rid of headaches?
Before I tear into this series I want to say that Get Creative is as broken as it sounds and the LP system is nowhere near a setback enough to matter. It never becomes a big enough problem where Noir is in a dire situation where he has to risk hitting zero and serves more as a balance for the Editing ability. IE He can’t cure a very deadly illness because it cost 10 thousand LP where he only has 2 thousand. Granted this does set up an interesting narrative as he tries to tackle situations as using Editing bluntly usually costs too much LP, making him toy around with it.
So what is The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter exactly? It is a standard, run-of-the-mill ecchi harem fantasy bit. Noir finds himself time and time again in parlous situations and is in the middle of the three-way war for his love (if you exclude his sister) at the same time jacking up his LP since you know the whole lust thing and becoming stronger. Though you never really see that, generally speaking, Noir doesn’t really get that much stronger but it’s more of a will your way to victory type of show. In every episode, there is some girl in trouble, and who is the only one that can save them? Your God Damn Right, Noir.
But what about events that are truly impossible and make no sense to the flow of the story? FOOLISH!
Yeah, so an oversimplifies of this series goes like that. Standard stand in Main that has no real interesting quirks or personality. Gets a broken ability from a hot lass in a dungeon only to find himself in more situations and facing more dangerous foes but THIS time it’s for a cute tree loli so it’s fine he will figure it out. Heck, she might even awkwardly lick his face for a solid 5 minutes, not foreshadowing or anything. Oh and I better mention the Boing noise, ya know the one that occurs when a certain body part moves after let’s say a jump. Early on in this series it honestly didn’t bother me but as the series goes on and Emma Brightness (childhood make-out buddy) gets more and more screen time I swear that noise is played at a louder decimal than the actual voice acting.
Hidden Dungeon is the prime example of a mid-show in the 2000s, but unfortunately for it, it decided to air in Winter of 2021, alongside Redo Of Healer, so it doesn’t even win in the ecchi category. The story is stupid, the characters are annoying the boing is loud the situations are moronic and even the world that was built like a game would flop harder than Anthem. The climax was fairly interesting (even comical) but it kicked itself in the nads rather quickly after that, with somehow everyone getting defeated even Noir but the WILL TO FREE MASTER OLIVIA prevail last second cause why the fuck would it not. It’s predictable, typical, and makes it painfully aware it doesn’t care.
All and all I’d give this series a rare, 3/10. I have no idea how the source material reads, so this could just be another case of bad adaption but from my point of view as both a critic and a fan. This show is simply not a good one.
As always thanks for the read!