What They Say:
Living above the legendary dungeons of Orario ought to be enough danger for anyone, and in his short time as a member of the goddess Hestia’s familia, Bell Cranel has experienced more perils and pitfalls than most. So, when Bell unexpectedly wins a free trip, is it too much to hope that he might have actually won a real vacation? Of course it is!
Inexplicably chosen as the champion of Hestia’s friend, the goddess Artemis, Bell quickly finds himself up to his neck in ruins and monsters as yet another epic quest begins. And where Bell goes, can the ever-jealous Hestia be far behind? Explore the world of DanMachi like never before as all of your favorite characters return in Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?: Arrow of the Orion!
The audio presentation for this property brings us the original Japanese language track in 5.1 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 film 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 go a bit bigger than the TV series at times but never so much that it feels out of place to what the tV series has done. The film 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 released in 2019, the transfer for this film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. Coming in at a little under 90 minutes, well, there’s a lot of space here for the film to utilize. 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 property, 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 packaging design for this release brings us a standard sized Blu-ray case with a hinge inside to hold the Blu-ray itself with nothing else included. The front cover is pretty nicely done as we get the core trio here set against the night sky and all of the stars. It’s given a simple grid paper background that’s light while framed with the same kind of design as the TV series and OVA release was as well to provide some good continuity. The back cover keeps to the white background with a decent summary of the premise while also including a little time with Bell and a touch with Artemis as well. The images from the show are small when they need to be big and bold and we get a good breakdown of what’s included with the set. The bottom has the usual production credits and technical information that gets it all cleanly and clearly and, most importantly, accurately.
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 the cover image of Hestia that’s really full of white material. 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 promos for the film.
Having enjoyed the first season of the series, the hot spring OVA, and dipping into the Sword Oratoria well a bit, a new feature film for the core property came at the right time earlier this year ahead of the second season. I’ve honestly lost track of the property in the last few years since it skyrocketed to popularity because there are simply so many manga, novels, and spinoff works that it’s all turned to a blur. It wasn’t a surprise to see the editorial side expand on the property because with so many projects out there only a handful really ever end up happening like this and you have to try. The film for this property keeps things kind of small in a way that works while playing with some of the big picture ideas lightly. It’s fairly accessible which is a big plus but to be fair, the early instances of the franchise as a whole isn’t complicated.
With this being an original work it has to handle the not always easy job of being entertaining while not impacting anything in the larger sense. That can often make films feel meaningless or superficial and there’s certainly going to be that element to it by its very nature. But what it does is provide for a very fun experience for fans, especially if they saw it in the theater, as we see Bell and his group win a vacation trip. It’s a cover for something else that they’re unaware of but the whole King Arthur bit with pulling an arrow from a crystal and seeing so many of our familiar characters fail at doing so is a delight. There are no expectations when it comes to Bell – the life of this dude in general – but the arrow registers with him and accepts him for the greater mission at hand. What becomes amusing is that he wins the trip for him and his friends but it turns out that it’s Hestia’s friend Artemis that’s really working the event here. And Bell is now her chosen. Her Orion.
It’s practically worth it just for Hestia’s reaction to Artemis throwing herself at Bell. Discovering that the whole thing is a sham is enough to get most people to just walk away but there’s enough here the core group pulls together and heads off on the adventure. There’s a good bit here about Artemis that serves as the real draw and for the hardcore fans there’s more than enough to sink your teeth into. A lot of it is fairly standard journey mode material writ large for the big screen but I love that it shakes things up with Artemis being involved in the action as opposed to the familiar type. And with Bell always being in the thick of things and his personality being one that has him wanting to help someone in need, it’s no surprise that he and Artemis work well together. And that every instance of that frustrates Hestia more and more, with the others looking on waiting for the whole thing to blow up.
That said, the film doe what most anime features of this type always do. The bulk of events are reset by the end of it so that we’re able to go back into the other properties where they may or may not reference it. There are some high moments in the action throughout that are great and some good character button-pushing pieces as well, but that all gets dialed back as it gets closer to the end as well. I do like that almost all the main characters and some popular supporting ones get a little bit of time near the start with the town and festival underway so that fans of them get to see them on the big screen. It’s a given and obvious thing that anyone working on a screenplay like this would do for obvious reasons. But the sword in the stone element allows it to fit in naturally and with some nice comedy. And it sets things so that we understand why the main cast is kept so small as it heads off with the new additions, making it an easy project to manage overall when it comes to the wrapup at the end.
It’s been well over two years since I saw the original TV series and what little has come since then on home video has meant that I’ve got a light connection to this property. I’m sure fans of it will get a lot more out of aspects of it than I did with a greater familiarity to all of it. But from a casual perspective of someone like me at this stage, Arrow of Orion is a very fun and accessible film that does all the right things for a standalone story. Worries of whether “it counts” or not within the continuity are understandable but the primary goal is to be entertained and I could see new and old fans alike being able to sit down and watch this. It’s wonderfully animated with great designs, some deliciously fun humor along the way, and a standard plot that lets the tensions rise well along the way. The usual flaws of films of this nature are here as well but that becomes something that your more casual viewers won’t have any issue with. For the duration of the film, whether in Japanese or the solid dub produced for it, I was entertained with the cast and this world and delighted in the visuals of it all. It makes me wish I had the time to invest in the novels.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, 2 Original Soundtrack CDs
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: October 22nd, 2019
Running Time: 82 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
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.