Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? On The Side: Sword Oratoria, Vol. 11

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.

(Note: I spoil the ending for this one, be warned.)

Sigh. I can’t say it wasn’t hinted – it’s been hinted since she first showed up, and there’s a massive deadly flag in this volume where Lefiya and Filvis promise to visit the elven country after they finish this next battle. I almost smacked my forehead. But yeah, there are two characters in this series who are fairly obviously coded as lesbians, and Lefiya has protagonist armor, so the other one had to go. The death is handled well and all – Filvis is not shot by an impossible bullet or anything – but yes, I am grumpy that we get to throw another dead lesbian on the pile of dead lesbians. Lefiya is in a sort of grief coma after this, so I’m not sure whether she’ll turn evil and try to destroy the world. Probably not. And Aiz makes for a poor Buffy in any case. And now I will drop this stretched analogy and look at the rest of the book.

For about three-quarters of this book, it’s actually fairly triumphant. Finn and company are getting ready to defeat the evils once and for all. It’s a plan in two stages, the first of which is to map out as much of Knossos as possible, with help from other families – including the Hermes Family, with Hermes being fairly straightforward for once, and the Dionysus Family, with him basically begging to come along so that he can avenge the deaths of his other family members. Things go well. They have a SUPER POWERFUL healer with them on this one, and therefore cursed weapons don’t work like they should. They manage to defeat the guy who makes the dungeons and his hideous monster form. All is going pretty swimmingly, in fact, till Dionysus sees something off to the side and splits off down a different corridor…

I have to admit that I’m much of the same mind as Loki and Hermes are at the end of this – I suspect Dionysus to be a double agent of sorts. That said, I also do wonder if there might be some self-brainwashing going on, as he really does seem to care about the fate of his family. Which, every single one, is killed off at the end of this book, in one of the biggest massacres we’ve seen in DanMachi to date. And Levis is alive and has escaped again, which is frustrating as the start of this book, which features Aiz making a deal with the devil and being told exactly why she’s having trouble fighting Levis – implied that a great final battle was coming. The reader feels as frustrated as Loki does.

The next volume is huge, and the afterword implies it may wrap up this plotline once and for all. As always, it’s very well told and has some great fights. But yeah, at the end of the day, what a miserable ending to a book.

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, Vol. 14

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 Winifred Bird.

This was long. Hideously long. Even by the standards of DanMachi, which has had some very long books, it’s long. It’s longer than Book 8, the previous record holder. It’s longer than almost all the Tanya the Evil books. Arguably, it uses its length wisely, which may come as a surprise given how much of it is just straight up monster fights. But it doesn’t just have fight after fight with no purpose. Each of the fights is meant to develop the character of one of the regulars, mostly Bell and Lyu, who do the heavy lifting in the book, but also Welf, Cassandra, and the rest of the other party who are desperately trying to find them. It earns its length. That said, I do think it could have bee a BIT shorter. I love the way the author writes fights, but by the end of the book I felt like Bell and Lyu do, i.e. mostly dead.

The book is divided into two halves, or rather one third and two thirds. The first third features the rest of the cast down in the dungeon on the 26th floor trying to survive without Bell, and finding strength beyond simply supporting him in his own dream. Welf in particular comes off well here, making an even more magic sword than his others, but Cassandra has perhaps the best emotional arc of the section, even if I’d have liked a bit more payoff where everyone actually admits she was right. Which, yes, goes against her character name. The second part of the book features Bell and Lyu down on the 37th floor, where Bell has to battle Killer Sheep Skeletons, The Juggernaut that he thought they’d killed off earlier back for revenge, a battle arena filled with infinitely spawning monsters, and perhaps most dangerous of all, Lyu’s suicidal tendencies.

Lyu’s backstory is finally given in full here, and it’s pretty much what I expected. It’s broken her to such an extend that, experiencing almost the same events as well as Bell seemingly trying to throw his own life away to save her (which happens… I lost count, but a LOT in this book) is making her want to give up, and the only reason she keeps trying is she wants to save Bell and see him safely off before she allows herself to be destroyed. It’s heartbreaking, and those who wanted Lyu to be a bit more emotional will be happy but also sad. (That said, I could have done without the comedy epilogue with her losing her top… but I guess after the emotional wringer you needed SOME comedy.) As for Bell, he’s had other books that have helped to show off his development more, and this is more Lyu’s. Here he’s just the almost indestructible rabbit that will save everyone in the world. Of course, this also means that Lyu has fallen in love with him. Honestly, given the sheer amount of focus she’s gotten in this series, she may be second only to Aiz in the “what if it’s not Hestia?” love interest sweepstakes.

Thankfully, the next book in the series looks to be much shorter than this, and also less emotionally devastating. Unfortunately, it’s not scheduled yet for North American release, so it may be a bit. Till then, this is one of the best books in the series, assuming you survive the read.

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.