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Sword Oratoria Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? On The Side Complete Collection Blu-ray Anime Review

8 min read

Side stories are always fun, right?

What They Say:
Contrary to what the adventures of Bell and the Goddess Hestia might imply, not everyone goes into the dungeon of Orario to pick up girls. The veterans of the Goddess Loki’s Familia have lots of reasons for risking life and limb facing the monsters and mayhem lurking within the deadly labyrinth’s multiple levels, but new member and mage Lefiya just wants to prove that she’s worthy to be on the same team as her hero, the famed sword princess Aiz Wallenstein.

As for Aiz herself, she’s seeking something that no one else even suspects, and she may find it when trouble comes after her from the previously unreached 59th level! If you thought you knew the Danmachi universe, be prepared to think again as the adventure continues from an all-new point of view!

The Review:
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo as well as the newly created English language dub done up the same, both of which are encoded with the lossless DTS-HD MA codec. The series is one that works a good balance with its action and dialogue as we get some fun and creative things with monsters and the dungeons as well as a few bits and bobs here and there outside of the dungeon. These action pieces aren’t big and exciting for the most part but they get better as it progresses and they work the forward soundstage well to make for some solid pieces that keep you engaged. The show works its dialogue side in a similar manner where there’s some good placement as needed and overall it moves across the forward soundstage without problem. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2017, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second. Animated by JC Staff, the show has a really nice look and feeling about it with some very fluid action sequences to be had. The color tone in particular works well throughout as there are some very vibrant pieces but also a good sense of earthiness attached to the detailed backgrounds that make this feel like a lived-in world. The character animation is solid throughout with no problems and the high motion pieces are free of breakup or other noise related issues. The series, in general, is one that definitely looks a few steps above average and it pays off with a clean and pristine kind of encoding here that brings it to life wonderfully.

The menus for this release stick to the kind of simple but appealing approach from the cover with the white background dominating the static pieces. The left side features the navigation that uses the same framing as the cover artwork in a good way that makes it easy to read but also with a bit of creativity about it. The rest is given over to character artwork where it’s full of white material for the background but lets the characters shine, which naturally is a bit brighter thanks to her hair design. Menu navigation is a breeze and it looks great both as a top-level menu and as a pop-up menu.

The extras for this release are kept simple as we get just the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences as well as some of the Japanese promos.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the popularity of the main Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? series, it wasn’t too much of a surprise to see creator Fujino Omori dig into creating a spinoff book that focuses on Ais. She’s got quality time in the main series but this is where things get to expand and we see a different side of living in this world. Originally airing in 2017 with JC Staff handling the animation, the novel series itself has been ongoing since 2014 with nine volumes and a few to work with when this went into production. What’s interesting is that it plays kind of similar to the main series in that there really doesn’t feel like there’s a larger storyline at work here, though there are enough binding snippets to keep it all together. It’s similar in that there are a lot of little things and it’s focused on the character side more than anything else.

While the main series focuses on Hestia and the “familia” that comes together around her, this one focuses on the Loki familiar with Ais Wallenstein as the main person from it. Ais was always the interesting one for me in the original series because she’s the established character that Bell looks up to. She’s got beauty and skill and is definitely smart and strategic in how to survive in the dungeons. She’s well-liked in general and there are plenty of suitors after her. But she plays it in a way that you don’t often get because she’s fairly subdued and quiet, which allows others to place their views of how she thinks of things on her rather than actually listening to her. We do get a good idea of who she is from the time we spend with her and just how thoughtful she is of things as they deal with their jobs and the impact of one of them.

That’s one that gets things underway as they end up not dealing well with a particular level and a number of beasties from it escaped and headed down level, causing trouble for a lot of lower ranked adventurers. This has some in the group like Bete basically looking at it all in a kind of cruel way in that they just need to get better to handle things but it just shows how he, the beastman of the family, simply doesn’t have the leadership side that Ais wants to create for the group. We’ve seen her dealing with Bell in the main series by her curiosity in how quickly he grows and she takes a real interest in that in people. So when we get a moment with Bete in the tavern going off on Bell, not realizing he’s nearby and listening, let’s just say he handles it about as well as you’d expect by running off with Ais trying to find him afterward, unsuccessfully. It just intrigues her all the more.

That early adventure on a high level with the lost beasties leads to other things, such as a mysterious person who indicates that she’ll find what she’s looking for even higher in the dungeon levels. Ais has that in the background for a lot of the series and it builds up well toward the end but the show really isn’t interested in this sprawling larger arc, ala something like Sword Art Online. It’s about the smaller moments, where we see Riveria dealing with the familia and the little ripples from there with Ais to the growing interest in LEfiya. Lefiya in a way is the one that felt like the Bell character of the series because we see how she’s a young adventurer, level three when I think this starts, and has immense potential but not the right personality yet. Ais doesn’t exactly just take her under her wing and work her over but rather things take on a natural kind of arc within it as we see how the familiar as a whole helps her – some more than others – to gain confidence to be able to handle herself in the battles and enhance the group as a whole.

Marathoning this series over the course of the day, Sword Oratoria is the kind of work that presents itself well though I know fans of the franchise as a whole will get a lot more out of it. It’s fairly episodic with what it does and within that is focused on the characters. They’re mostly standard party type characters with a few quirks in the mix and that works out well. The stories deal with the various monsters, which have their moments, but the general ideas behind the encounters for a lot of it is the way Ais and the others are getting better at handling them so they can hit the higher level dungeons and simply being better adventurers in their own way. What drew me to it the most was watching how Ais and Bell handle things, especially when Hestia isn’t around. For a lot of the early encounters they barely interact as he’s running away or just not saying anything. But later in the season we get moments where she’s prodded to understand more of what she’s really feeling for him, if it’s more than just his adventurer side, and she begins to really soften toward him in a neat way. It’s not a romance in some ways but it’s that kind of tentative early side of being interested but not in that way and then discovering you just might be.

In Summary:
I liked the original series well enough though that had the extra appeal in the hyper nature of Hestia to drive things and make it feel like it’s really on fire. Here, things are more subdued and it’s less focused on a bigger plan at the moment, instead letting us ease into the characters and their settings. Both approaches work because they’re different and I like the bits of overlap that we do get as it made me want more of both. But it’s also, to me, that kind of slow burn season because it’s as episodic as it is. I really like the designs and animation and the work put into the end product here is solid with a great looking show, a solid dub, and a good package – plus a premium edition out there for those that want to go all in. I’d recommend it both if you were a fan of the original and if not because it does offer something different from that show and there simply aren’t enough good fantasy shows out there in general.

Japanese 2.0 DTS-HD MA Language, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA Language, English Subtitles, Promos, Clean Opening Animation, and Clean Closing Animation

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: May 29th, 2018
MSRP: $69.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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