Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? On The Side: Sword Oratoria, Vol. 12

By Fujino Omori and Kiyotaka Haimura. Released in Japan as “Dungeon ni Deai o Motomeru no wa Machigatte Iru Darou ka? Gaiden – Sword Oratoria” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Dale DeLucia.

This is not the final volume of this side series, the author hastens to reassure us in the afterword. There are more stories they want to tell. Which is fine, but it certainly FEELS like the final volume, and there’s no Vol. 13 on the horizon in Japan. It’s the longest volume in the entire series, and manages to once again pull off the specialty of this particular author in that it has a fight take up about 350 pages and still remain interesting. I have some grumps, many of which may be familiar to those who read my previous review – see below – but for the most part this hit the right buttons, has a few fakeouts and a few fake fakeouts, and shows us the good side of some antagonists gods and the bad side of some other gods. And the protagonists, Aiz and Lefiya, both grow stronger emotionally and physically, though Lefiya’s actual recovery may have to wait till future books.

The biggest fakeout impressed but also annoyed me. Last time I talked about media’s habit of the ‘dead lesbian/evil lesbian’ trope, and I wondered if Lefiya might turn a bit dark, but I must admit I was not prepared for Filvis being both the dead AND the evil lesbian. (Yes, yes, they’re not explicitly said to be gay, but come on.) It’s somewhat well prepared, pointing out the many times recently where Lefiya, accompanied by Filvis, has been noticeably in less danger than everyone else. That said, Filvis’ ability, which allows her to essentially clone herself an evil twin, feels a bit too on the nose, the sort of ability that was set up just for the climax of this volume, where Filvis can argue with herself about whether Lefiya has to die or not. Better done was Filvis’ relationship with the main God villain, who is a truly nasty piece of work (I guessed their identity, despite an attempt to distract, but I don’t think the mystery was the point), and the abusive and toxic nature of a “father” figure and his daughter.

The cast of the main series feature more prominently in this one, with Bell getting the big final critical hit in just like he does in the main series (Hestia only has a few scenes, but let’s face it, she’s the Index of DanMachi). As with prior volumes of both series, I remain fascinated by the interplay between Finn and Lilly, who is tacitly forgiven for her deception a while back by being allowed to disguise herself as Finn and take over the logistics of one or two of the battle points. It shows off Lilly’s growth as a tactician, but also really demonstrated Finn’s trust in her – again, if it weren’t for her love for Bell, these two would be an amazing power couple. Most of the rest of the extended cast also gets an attempt to show off, and we get introduced to a few more of Freya’s family, which is good timing as her spinoff is out in a couple of months. And of course there is Aiz, who is able to reconcile her feelings towards monsters, humans, and when it’s right to kill.

This started as an Aiz spinoff but rapidly changed into one about the Loki Family as a whole, and it’s for the better. That said, I don’t mind taking a break here. It’s been a bit exhausting lately, and these volumes got a lot more tragic than the main series. Still, fans of Sword Oratoria should find this a satisfying payoff.

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