Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, Vol. 15

By Fujino Omori and Suzuhito Yasuda. Released in Japan as “Dungeon ni Deai o Motomeru no wa Machigatte Iru Darou ka?” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Paul Starr.

This volume is similar to Volume 8, in that it is essentially a short story collection with wraparounds. The stories are all (almost) on a basic premise, which is “let’s lay out the backstories of how everyone arrived in Orario and how their lives have improved 8000% now that they have family and friends”. As such, there is an air of melancholy to this book, as while we do admire how far everyone has come, we’re seeing a depressed Bell, a rejected Hestia, an abused Lilly, a disillusioned Eina, a frustrated and angry Welf, a bitter Lyu, and… well, we’ve mostly gone into Mikoto and Haruhime’s stories already, so theirs is the exception to the rule. And then there’s Aiz, who doesn’t show up till the end, but who provides the perfect capper to the book, even if it leaves you with an ominous feeling. After several volumes in a row that are just dungeon fights, this one also seems happy to give everyone a chance to rest.

Bell and Hestia are on the cover, and they get the first flashbacks, as they (independently) recall how they arrived in the city. Their stories are downbeat, but end on a high note as they meet each other. There’s a later mirror of them with Lyu’s story, which features similar beats – she really needs to join a Familia, but her preconceptions and prickly nature are driving everyone away. Lilly’s story was a high point – showing off how wretched her life has been from the moment of her birth (sorry, Soma, giving Lilly potato puffs once does not make me forgive you) while contrasting it with the glee and happiness she feels as Hestia tells her that she’s gone up to Level 2. That said, when it comes to her past, she’d still prefer to deal with it indirectly rather than confront it head on. Which is her own choice, of course.

Welf’s story is fairly predictable, and Haruhime and Mikoto’s suffers from being the ‘light’ story in the book (though it is nice to see Haruhime slowly try to get herself out of “clumsy foxgirl” status – the maid stuff really doesn’t help). The epilogue, though, is the true best part of the book. It features the one day a year when the city mourns all its fallen, something that has to be explained to Bell (who, we are reminded, has not even been there a year yet). Seeing the funeral elegy being sung by everyone – even those such as Freya – was hauntingtly beautiful. That said, Bell and Aiz are not headed down the same path, and this epilogue serves to underscore that. Aiz is not here to be anyone’s hero. And, while Sword Oratoria readers already have a good inkling of her past secrets, here Bell finally connects the dots, and is stunned.

Unfortunately, the 16th volume only came out in Japan two months ago, so we may have another long wait. And, given the cover to 16 has Syr and Freya on it, Aiz may not even be the focus. Still, for a collection that was written as “take the short stories from the anime releases bonus DVDs and create wraparound material”, this is surprisingly solid.

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    “And, given the cover to 16 has Syr and Freya on it, Aiz may not even be the focus.”

    Nope, she’s not.

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