Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? On The Side: Sword Oratoria, Vol. 10

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 Softbank Creative. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Dale DeLucia.

The long delay in the 14th book in the main series reaching North America has meant that the side series has been able to catch up quite a bit, and this book benefits from covering two books in the main series, the 10th and 11th, from the perspective of Loki Familia. Last time was very Aiz-heavy, and so she ends up not quite as featured in this book, though that does not mean that she’s not completely devastated by the end of it. And no, that doesn’t mean it’s Lefiya-heavy either, though she does get to barrel through the entire book fueled on pure rage at Bell, and also gets some of the more badass fight scenes. No, it’s Finn who’s the biggest protagonist in this book, as you might guess from the cover, which shows him, Aiz and Bell in a three-way standoff sort of situation. Bell inspires Aiz, much as he is unaware of this… and also, by the end of this book, Finn.

The majority of this book revolves around the Xenos getting out of Daedalus Street and back to the dungeon, only from the perspective of Loki Familia, who are here to kill them… well, that’s a secondary goal, but the primary goal is to use them to draw out the Evils and get another key (or two… or three…) to Knossos. Things are not helped by Hestia Familia, who are driving Finn and company to distraction (we see Lilly’s deception in this book from the Loki Familia side, where it just looks like picking on Raul, and it’s a lot less triumphant). Oh yes, and Hermes family is in there as well. And then there are the random adventurers who are simply really pissed at Bell, and the poor and orphaned who live here, who are also a little pissed at Bell, though they’re less certain about that.

Finn has no doubt that Bell is NOT being a selfish adventurer, but when he figures out his actual motive it’s tremendously difficult to accept. The story of Loki Familia has featured, time and again, folks who lost their families and loved ones to monsters. Aiz, Finn, Bete…it’s no wonder that Finn’s response, on hearing that these are intelligent monsters with emotions and morals of their own, is “I don’t care”. But seeing him gradually piece together what’s been happening, and fighting against his own instincts (which tell him not to kill these particular monsters), along with one of Riveria’s elves being saved by a Xenos taking the bullet, essentially, shows that he can’t simply stick by his rock-solid principles. He has to move forward just as fast, if not faster than Bell Cranel, and if that means changing how he thinks about monsters, then he will.

Of course, that doesn’t mean he’s not above using them, and he now has another group that can help them take on Knossos. The next two books seem to be tied together, and may be more Lefiya-centric. Which, given that Aiz ends this volume somewhat shattered, is probably a good thing. If you haven’t been reading this as it’s a spinoff, or because you hated the anime, please change your mind and get it immediately.

Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? On The Side: Sword Oratoria, Vol. 9

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 Softbank Creative. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Dale DeLucia.

I’ve talked before about how I regret that the publisher talked the author into using the title this series has, as opposed to the original title Familia Myth. Granted, I see the publisher’s point, Familia Myth is not the most eye-catching title in the world. But DanMachi’s title puts the emphasis on Bell and his harem, even in these side stories dedicated to Loki’s crew. Whereas Familia Myth emphasizes the family aspect of the series, and I honestly think that that’s handled better than the harem. This 9th volume of Sword Oratoria interlaces with the 8th volume of the main series, showing us some scenes we’d seen from Bell’s POV in a new light when we get Aiz’s inner monologue. Interspersed with this are flashbacks to the time when Aiz first joined Loki Familia, and… let’s just say that “she was a little terror” doesn’t even begin to describe little Aiz and her desire for strength above all else, including her own safety.

Given that the cover art heavily implied it, I was expecting this volume to be heavy on Aiz’s backstory and emotional journey, and I wasn’t wrong. We’re still not quite sure what happened to her parents or precisely who they were, but we definitely get her first year with Loki’s familia sketched in here. Aiz is driven by a desire to kill monsters and get stronger, and does not care about anything else. She’s a bratty kid, and a lot more emotional than you’d expect from the stoic Aiz we know and love. In fact, this also applies to the current Aiz, who is in the dragon-scale worshiping village that she, Bell and Hestia ended up in the 8th DanMachi. In my review of that book I said I wanted to find out someday why Aiz was so FURIOUS at this village worshiping the scale, and here we find out exactly why… and maybe also why she has such trouble with Bell’s “not all monsters are evil” fight, which I’m fairly certain will be the subject of the next Sword Oratoria book.

I was expecting Aiz to get development, but I was also delighted with what this book did for Riveria. The “team mom” of the Familia, she’s been that way for so long that it’s easy to forget she wasn’t always that way, and nothing brings out her more emotional and angry sides quite like a 7-year-old with a death wish who won’t listen to a word she says. Little Aiz does not understand what everyone else does, which is that the look in her eyes is not only worrying but terrifying, and Riveria does not want her to go into the dungeon and get massacred by a really strong monster (which almost happens right at the end). As we’ve cone to expect with DanMachi in general, the plot beats are very cliched – we literally get a “you’re not my mom!” scene here – but that doewsn’t make it less heartwarming.

Also this plus one or two hilarious scenes of “why we never give Aiz alcohol” make this one of the strongest books in the entire series. Highly recommended.

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, Vol. 13

By Fujino Omori and Suzuhito Yasuda. Released in Japan as “Dungeon ni Deai o Motomeru no wa Machigatte Iru Darou ka?” by Softbank Creative. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Winifred Bird.

When I had reviewed the Lyu spinoff of this series, I had wondered why we did not get the actual flashback showing how her Familia were all killed, and what set her on her roaring rampage of revenge. As you read this novel, it becomes clear: the author wanted to save it till we got to this point. Picking up right where the last book left off, and not even allowing Bell and company to emerge from the Dungeon (Hestia gets a small cameo to remind us she exists), this volume points and laughs at all the people who thought that we couldn’t possibly get even more over the top. A murder that sees Lyu as the prime suspect drives a bunch of 18th floor mercenaries and adventurers to hunt her down, and Bell’s team tag along because they think something more is going on here. They’re right, but the murder investigation soon becomes secondary to something far more important: trying not to be killed and left in a bloody mess.

As noted by the author in the afterword, we also get a much larger role here for Cassandra, the adventurer who, like her namesake, has prophecies that no one ever believes. She’s aware of this, and so this time decides not to lay it all out for people (it’s hard to interpret anyway, beyond “everyone will die), and instead tries to go along and see what she can do to help stop it from happening. Sometimes this is really great – the extra armor she has Welf make for Bell (which, amusingly, is a scarf, making it look like a present from a girlfriend) is ridiculously strong, and Bell would absolutely be dead by the end of the book without it. Unfortunately, she can’t really stop a landslide once it’s actually started, and once the true monster of the book gets going, she almost completely shuts down in despair and fear.

Speaking of which, this is a very different Lyu to the one we’ve seen before. To no one’s surprise, she’s not the murderer, but that doewsn’t mean that she isn’t rampaging through the dungeons, having spotted someone she thought long dead – because she killed them all. As I noted above, here we get the full story of what happened to her Familia, and why she’s so traumatized by the whole thing – in addition to the juggernaut killing everyone, she actually “sacrificed” some of her family members to escape… or at least that’s what she and the bad guy think, I suspect the actual reality is likely a bit different. Fortunately, she has Bell by her side, who is ridiculously impressive in the fights towards the end of this book, which are mind-bogglingly good. No one writes non-stop action and deep emotions at the same time quite like Omori does. The 5th chapter is worth the price of the book alone.

Sadly, and with the author apologizing to us for doing it again, there’s a cliffhanger here, so we’ll have to wait till the summer to see how Bell and Lyu get out of this. Not to mention Cassandra and the rest of Hestia Familia are still down there. I suspect it’ll all work out, but I dunno, DanMachi can get pretty dark. It’s still in the top tier of light novels right now.