Movie Reviews

Netflix's Best Fantasy Anime Introduces a Genius Twist on the Cat Girl Trope

delicious in dungeon trailer izutsumi

The fantasy anime Delicious in Dungeon, which is currently streaming on Netflix, recently added the chimeric Izutsumi to the main cast, and is quickly becoming a welcome addition. Manga readers who had been waiting for her arrival are likely vindicated as she is a shot in the arm for the Touden party. Not only does she add a new dynamic to the group, she also stands out as a near-parody of the “fantasy cat girl” role she’s fulfilling.

Izutsumi’s combination of irascible aloofness and immaturity makes the party more lively, with the latest episode providing more opportunities to interact with Laios’ group as an equal. While she has her charm, her difficult personality is a far cry from the common anime depictions of her character type, which often pushes for a more fanservic-centric approach, or at least a cuddly, pet-like cuteness.

With the party continuing to dive even deeper into the dungeon, the need for new faces was vital, and Izutsumi’s wild personality revitalizes the otherwise familiar team.

Though it can be argued that Izutsumi joined the team as early as episode #19, it is the episode afterward that shows off the dynamic the beast-person will bring to the party. Right now, she’s still unused to the other members’ quirks, and responds to them in ways that frustrate the group, be it annoyance at Senshi’s cooking or violence when prodded at. It’s well-timed: by now the original team has gotten used to each other, and their responses to any antics have also become predictable. Even Marcille, once the most hostile to eating monsters, is quietly resigned to it.

Izutsumi is also unique in how abrasive she is, especially given she fills in the “animal girl” character that’s especially omnipresent in fantasy shows, as she accompanies Holo from Spice and Wolf and Fenrys from Chillin’ in Another World with Level 2 Super Cheat Powers. These characters are usually characterized by a playful cuteness, or clueless innocence, something Izutsumi avoids with a surly personality that’s much more like an adopted stray. Like how the anime focuses on the realism of monsters, it likewise recognizes that cats can be frustratingly guarded, though Izutsumi still shows her unguarded moments.

Overall, Izutsumi adds a light element of interpersonal conflict that keeps the dungeon dive interesting now that the formula’s become familiar – even if Laios’ party confronts odd monsters, cooking them up is an inevitability. While the plot wisely chooses to continue diving deeper into the dungeon rather than lose its narrative momentum with any break on the surface, this also means there is a danger of boring audiences with “more of the same”. That only shows how vital Delicious in Dungeon‘s resident cat chimera is in adding something new after 20 episodes with a group audiences have become well-accustomed to.