Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? On The Side: Sword Oratoria, Vol. 5

By Fujino Omori and Suzuhito Yasuda. 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 Liv Sommerlot.

Jealousy tends to be pervasive in the DanMachi series. Some of it stems from people being jealous of Bell’s power and the time he took to achieve it – Aiz falls into this category best. But sometimes it’s simply “I am in love with this person and have not confessed but am simply pining for them, and how DARE they look at that other person and not me?”. It’s very common, very ugly, and very realistic. That said, authors who write it into their series almost always expect readers to be amused by the antics of the jealous person, and in reality I tend to find that the reader ends up thoroughly pissed off instead. I’m not just talking about others here – Hestia’s jealousy of anyone coming near Bell is one of her biggest faults, and I don’t like the author hammering on it. The same applies to Lefiya in this side series. Unfortunately, this volume has few fights and a lot of jealousy.

Most of this 5th volume of Sword Oratoria aligns with the 5th volume of the main series, meaning we’re on the 18th Floor and having a rest. Loki’s team is coming back from their attempt on the 59th floor from the last book; Bell and company are coming down from their own disastrous mission. Aiz takes something of a backseat here, though there is some interesting discussion of her background and possible origins now that the Loki team can use Bell as a walking Wikipedia, as he’s read and memorized the most detailed and unexpurgated version of the myths and legends they all know. There’s also an amusing reminder that most of the elves we’ve dealt with in this series are not your typical sort, and that the proud, haughty elf is meant to be the norm. And of course we get the “backside” to all the DanMachi scenes from Book 5, including Hestia’s arrival (though the Loki cast leaves before the rest of that book happens.)

But most of what the reader will focus on is Lefiya’s insane jealousy of Bell, which goes up to eleven in this book and also gets them into big trouble when she chases after him in such a rage that they both get lost in the middle of the vast floor forest. These scenes are meant to show Lefiya that Bell is not the evil lothario she might expect him to be – inde3ed, like Aiz, she’s started to boggle in disbelief at how skilled he has gotten in such a short time. They also do work together well when pressured to, and Lefiya is able to forego her jealousy in a crisis. Still, I’m going to be honest, Lefiya’s obsession with Aiz is bad for her character. I thin k the author knows this, which is why she’s playing up Lefiya’s relationship with Filvis as well, which is far healthier and more grounded in mutual admiration and respect.

I think this is overall a volume with more positives than negatives, and of course there is also development of Sword Oratoria’s main plot with the Evils. If you are a Danmachi reader who dislikes “girl is jealous of other girls getting along with her crush” stories, though, be advised this volume wallows in it.

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, Vol. 10

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 Andrew Gaippe.

Last time we asked what would change about monster hunting if we knew that not all monsters are evil and mindless. But if there are good and bad monsters, then there are also good and bad people. And the bad people who make up the Ikelos Familia are very bad indeed, so a good deal of this book is reversing any gains made by the last book. In fact, reversing may be a bit of an understatement – by the end of this book, Bell’s reputation is in shreds and everyone is furious with him. (Well, not his own Familia, thank God.) And while Ouranos’ experiment is still living on, it’s hanging by a thread. It’s hard not to sum up this volume of Danmachi as “Everything is terrible. The end.” That said, how we get there is important, and there are some excellent fights, good character moments, and… OK, yeah, no humor this time around. Not even any harem antics.

Much of this book continues to revolve around Wiene’s story, and unfortunately that’s a weak point in the novel, as she is absolutely a damsel in distress throughout it, whether it’s getting captured and sobbing in captivity, or being forced to mindlessly rampage aboveground. The trouble, of course, is that her plight is needed to advance Bell’s character, so she has to suffer as a result. The moral battle between Bell (pure, good, a bit headstrong) and Dix (twisted, evil, scheming) is a highlight, though I’m not sure Dix’s description of Bell as a hypocrite quite fits. Dix’s anger stems from a classic dilemma in stories like this – who do you choose to save if multiple sides are in peril? Do you save humans or monsters? Bell saves both, of course, and that’s why Dix rails on him for such impossible optimism. Dix himself is a thoroughly loathsome villain, though I wasn’t all that fond of the whole “descendants must carry on the insane plan” thing.

Aboveground, the rest of the cast gets relatively little to do – Lili and Hestia investigate a bit to try to find out where the middleman is in this conspiracy, but for the most part they’re sidelined. As for Team Loki, they get the bulk of the climax, trying to stop the rampaging monsters in the city and wondering why in God’s name Bell is chasing after one of them. (It is fairly notable that Bell’s “this is my kill!” excuse is rather lame, and while it is what kills his reputation I don’t think anyone who really knows him buys it for a minute – Eina certainly doesn’t.) I was wondering if Bell would have to fight anyone from Loki Familia, but we avoid that, mostly as he’d get the crap kicked out of him, I expect.

And so now we wonder where to go from here. Bell’s reputation is bad, but he’s not thrown out of the city or anything. And Hermes is already trying to find ways to fix things. I have a feeling that the next book will involve a lot of dungeon crawling. and I hope that it’s a bit more lighthearted. Still, if you’re looking for a dose of Danmachi at its most serious and grim, this is the volume for you.

Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? On The Side: Sword Oratoria, Vol. 4

By Fujino Omori and Suzuhito Yasuda. 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 Liv Sommerlot.

I’d mentioned in my last review that the battles are what Omori writes best, and it’s still true. I’ll go even further: if you aren’t enjoying the battle sequences, there’s no real reason for you to read Sword Oratoria. That’s not to say the entire book is wall-to-wall fights – in fact, we don’t start the descent to the 59th floor till the 2nd half of the book. But I have to admit, the plot is being dripped to us in tiny amounts as the author struggles to fit this into the continuity of the main series. And, much as I like Lefiya a lot more than most DanMachi fans, it has to be said: as a jealous pseudo-lesbian, she’s rather irritating. As a female expy of Bell, she works far better, and her triumph in the dungeons towards the end is one of those “pump your fist” moments.

Yes, that’s Bell on the cover, and while he’s not in the book as much as I expected (the scene with the minotaur is kept to the bare minimum), we get a lot more context here for how Aiz feels about him. Whether those feelings are love or no, it’s pretty clear that Lefiya is not being paranoid in her jealousy – Aiz is becoming obsessed with Bell and how fast he’s growing as an adventurer. And he’s not the only one – the minotaur scene may be downplayed in the spinoff, but the impact is shown on all of Loki Familia as they descend to the 59th floor, each one using Bell as inspiration for their own growth. As I said above, when Lefiya is not chewing walls while staring at Aiz and Bell, she’s also excellent – Aiz’s hardcore “I don’t actually know how to teach” training may not help her much, but her friendship with Filvis (the Dionysus adventurer from the previous volume) proves to be far more impactful.

And then there are those fight scenes. This is Aiz’s spinoff, but in reality it’s proven to be more about Loki Familia in general, and the leaders of the family all get a chance to show off their amazing stuff here, with Gareth literally flinging a dragon like you would an Olympic hammer, Riveria’s magic providing seemingly over an hour of support allowing the rest of the family to rescue Lefiya (who has plummeted down six levels – don’t worry, it leads to better things), and Finn being the competent, sensible leader this team of hotheads needs – until the situations grows dire, when he takes off his limiters and proves to be more hotheaded than all the rest.

DanMachi is never going to be the sort of series that rewards deep analysis, and that goes doubly for its spinoff. This is fast food. But it’s very tasty fast food which leaves you satisfied and wanting to go back, which is all a franchise can really ask of its ongoing volumes. Highly recommended to DanMachi fans who can get over Lefiya’s behavior around Aiz.