Illustrations By: Takashi Yagi
Original Story: Fujino Omori
Character Design: Kiyotaka Haimura & Suzuhito Yasuda
Translation: Andrew Gaippe
What They Say:
Deep in the dungeon, the rogue town of Rivira is under attack by a new breed of monsters and it’s up to the adventurers to defend it! Luckily, some of Loki Familia’s best have the situation well in hand. But when Aiz faces-off with Hashana’s murderer, she has a personal score to settle as well – why does this murderer know “Aria”!?
After an unsettling defeat, Aiz’s desire to level-up and become “strong” burns inside her more than ever, pushing her challenges in the Dungeon to the extreme. So her request that Finn and the others leave her behind in the lower levels must be for her singular goal … right?
Content (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The Under Resort was supposed to be a safe zone within the Dungeon, however after meeting Lulune and the mysterious package she was carrying for their mutual client, all that changed as the embryo orb emerged. Once the grotesque sphere was revealed it immediately shot forth into one of the Irregulars Loki Familia had been fighting and began the sickening process of metamorphosis, only to become something strikingly familiar – now looking like the abomination they fought on the fiftieth floor. Even as Bors and the rest of Rivira’s inhabitants are stunned by its appearance, these monster slayers do not hesitate and proceed in trying to pacify the menace, all except for Aiz who is intercepted by a surprise attack from the red headed tamer who began this entire fiasco. And yet as her friends helplessly watch their duel, they cannot help as they are preoccupied in trying to defeat this impossible creature whose multiple tendrils only seem to grow in ferocity with each one sliced off the body, their numbers increasing after each swipe of a blade.
Since weapons seem to be doing little damage, Finn leaves the task of defeating the monster to their powerful magic users Riveria and her student Lefiya, as they try to distract the beast from the growing energy as their spells multiplied in intensity. With duo releases of magical explosions, the beast is soon freed from its grounded lower half as the torso valiantly attempts to retreat into a nearby lake, but even as its speed increases it is no match for the momentum of the Amazonian twins as they gleefully slice the remnant into destruction. It is only then do the members of Loki Familia turn their attention to the one-sided duel between the monster tamer and their Sword Princess … one in which Aiz is unexpectedly losing. The usually emotionless blonde swordswoman cannot but have etched upon her a face a look of sheer amazement as this voluptuous red head matches her blow for blow, even with the benefit of her magic skill Airiel, she cannot make any progress. However even this obstacle does not worry the level five adventurer, the single inkling of concern is the manner by which this foe addresses her opponent, not by proper name but the heartbreaking misnomer of Aria. But even as this grievous affront begins to sink in, what causes more distress is her inability to land any strike upon this callous woman who is surprisingly agile considering she is able to match each strike without the benefit of any enchantments. As frustration sets in Aiz considers her options and comes to only one conclusion – she must summon forth all her strength and abilities to end this conflict … no matter what it may cost. Once again calling forth Airiel it enshrouds its mistress, thus increasing her speed and destructive force and so reinforced Aiz launches forward … only to find her final attempt effortlessly deflected and resulting in the Sword Princess being ruthlessly propelled into a nearby Dungeon wall. Aiz Wallenstein – considered one of Oratorio’s most talented and powerful adventurers has been utterly defeated by someone who apparently is not one of their kin, having no knowledge of explorers and considers them nothing more than a nuisance. How can she recover from this stinging defeat and will she ever consider herself strong once again with this cruel seed of doubt now deeply implanted within her fragile mind?
Ever since Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? On the Side: Sword Oratoria began we knew the central focus of the title would be our favorite blonde Aiz Wallenstein, but now she faces a seemingly insurmountable impediment … one of humiliating defeat. It never seemed possible, the idol which Bell has admired for so long now facing a turning point in her life and seemingly uneducated on what to do next. However, it is this shy and unsure attitude which makes her endearing to readers – someone who seemingly has been so sheltered and obsessed with growing stronger she doesn’t know how to overcome this overwhelming obstacle. And yet it is the comical chemistry with her friends which mangaka Yagi-sensei expresses so wonderfully within this volume which makes the tragedy uniquely heartwarming: while Aiz may not know how to take the next step, Lefiya, Tiona, and Tione plus the rest of Loki Familia still express their concern and try to cheer up their friend, all while never directly asking about her problem, instead allowing her to solve the conflict herself. It is this reserved concept of allowing Aiz to come to her own solution which defines the Sword Princess, making her the person she is now – while still a frightened girl who is unsure of her own strength, she is still someone who perseveres no matter how difficult it may be all to achieve her goal of reaching the people she adores the most … her parents. You cannot but shed tears when that tender moment was revealed, watching Aiz’s expression turn fragile as she recalls the true meaning being the name Aria, her mother and an unnamed father as they walk into the distance. It is moments like this which make the title so touching and memorable, elevating it to something which departs from a generic dungeon crawl and creating characters who touch our hearts in so many meaningful ways.
However as it is with Aiz’s headstrong personality, she cannot lean on her friends or knows how to express her uncertainty, making the awkward moments which arise all the more comical and touching, especially as chibi Lefiya fantasizes what she can do to ease the tension. It is scenes like this which allow Yagi-sensei to create such diverse situations that reflect a varied but similar mood and intensity from the original light novel so tenuously woven by Omori-sensei and still allows faithful depiction by keeping the meaning intact. While words alone crafted a fulfilling menagerie of heart-pounding action and incredible moments of awe-inspiring events, it is the materialization of those descriptions which make this volume one of my favorites; and while we may have seen this conflict visually displayed within the anime, it still falls short of this amazing effort presented by a talented mangaka with nothing more than ink and an accepting medium. To see the incensed monster tamer depicted with such seductively revealing allure versus the stern-faced resolution of our dynamic heroine is captivating, but to watch in stunned silence as the smooth transition between panels unfolds the action is much more thrilling when compared to colorful animation with overly ambitious sound effects and music. This minimalism gives the reader a much more pronounced concentration of what Omori-sensei was trying to accomplish, amplifying the desperation and thus leading wondrously into the determination which allows Aiz to accomplish her goal – to become more powerful. With too much movement you rely too much on what is appearing on the screen instead of allowing straight forward imagery to convey the essential essence of what we need … a will to survive and a need to grow.
This volume of Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? On the Side: Sword Oratoria has quickly become my favorite excerpt from this title – the defining moment showing how even Aiz can have a glimpse at vulnerability and yet perseveres to drive herself forward to her own astonishing goal. This exceptional story clarifies the essence of the Sword Princess, no one can be ever powerful since there will always be challenges, but with any true hero they will drive themselves forward and face these instances of indecision only to strengthen themselves for what is to come … a chance at redemption. Aiz Wallenstein is such a young lady and while she may project a sense of naiveté when circumstances do not involve combat, she will never give up as long as her desire is within sight.
Content Grade: A++
Art Grade: A+
Packaging Grade: A+
Text/Translation Grade: A-
Age Rating: Teen
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: July 24, 2018