Last time on Infinite Dendrogram, Ray fought a lot of people (like he always does). This time, he uses the pent-up powers of his Miasmaflame Bracers to summon the true form of Gardranda, the first boss he ever defeated (which is a cute girl, of course), and she helps him defeat Hell General Logan Goddhart (who lost because he’s a whiny brat who doesn’t actually know how to play the game). But it’s not over yet, for the ancient weapon Arca-Vesta has rebooted itself and is about to destroy Quartierlatin! The strange Tom Cat guy he met before heads down into the ruins to fight it. Turns out, he’s actually Chesire, the A.I., and the Incarnations that the ancient weapons were created to destroy are actually the A.I.’s of Dendro itself. Cheshire uses his power to make infinite clones of itself to fight, but it doesn’t do crap because Arca-Vesta is comprised of two machines: A ground-based one which constantly gets healed by the other, flying machine. Arca-Vesta sets out to destroy the town, but Ray and Azurite try to fight it. The obvious solution is to destroy both parts at once, but how? It doesn’t help that the flying one has an ability to distort space and expand the distance between itself and the ground so it’s much further than it appears. But fortunately, Ray has the Shining Despair he got from Monochrome, which travels at the speed of light. So, with the help of Azurite (and his horse, Silver, using one of its hidden skills for the first time), they’re able to defeat Arca-Vesta. Oh, and fun fact: Azurite is actually the Princess of Altair. OH MY GOD I DIDN’T SEE IT COMING (sarcasm).
So, this volume… I knew that this was inevitable, but here it is: the first volume to contain nothing but side stories. Normally, in something like SAO or Overlord, this feels like the author saying, “Hi, I don’t actually know what the plot moving forward is going to be, so here’s some crap to tide you over,” and it ends up being equatable to the filler arcs of anime of old. But Dendro has proven its side stories to be not just wholly entertaining, but also essential for the overarching plot.
This volume has two types of chapters, episodes and side stories, and both are important. Ray begins his juggling performance, with college and Dendro as the balls. We also get to see Gerbera’s character arc progress down in the gaol with Sechs Wurfel, the King of Crime. Plus, this volume introduces two new and incredibly rare types of Embryos.
There are several chapters, but I need to focus on the one that isn’t like the others: Pallid Pages Part One. In it, we get some Hugo action for the first time since Franklin’s Game IIRC. He ends up getting caught up in a MacGuffin fetch quest, with a strange lady named AR-I-CA, that appears to be a setup for possibly the next big arc. AR-I-CA is some wild bi lady who has what is perhaps the most broken Embryo thus far, and she’s a real hoot.
The one issue with this volume is that we get to see at least a taste of every region in Dendro, except for the one that they’ve been teasing since volume 1: Legendaria. To add salt to the wound, we still don’t get to meet Ray and Shu’s superhuman sister.
Like DanMachi, Dendro knows how to make really enjoyable side stories that are actually plot relevant. While I’m so ready for what happens next, the author stated in the afterword that volume 11 is just gonna be Shu’s fight with Gloria. Sure, it’ll be really cool to see the battle that everyone keeps talking about ad nauseam since volume 1, but man… I rrrrrreally wanna know what happens next!
Anime Reaction Prediction: Heavily Criticized, but Popular
You know that the SAO critics are gonna hit the Dendro anime like trucks, and there’s no stopping them, especially if it airs on Crunchyroll, where the shows that cause the major hubbub normally end up. Also, LN fans, like myself, will notice everything wrong with it (which looks to be a lot), and characters like Gouz-Maise will likely be marred by bad CG. However, since Dendro is one of the better of its ilk out there, SAO fans will probably eat it like Nemesis eats, period, regardless of the production issues it inevitably will have and the criticism it will inevitably receive. Of course, since there will be stuff like the new season of Haikyuu!! and Quintuplets airing during the same season, it might not get that much recognition (which, to preserve the sanctity of the source material, would be good).