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Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? On the Side: Sword Oratoria Vol. #20 Manga Review

7 min read
The series continues to challenge readers into wondering what is the right side of an impossible conflict

One choice can turn the tide … whether for good or bad.

Creative Staff:
Illustrations By: Takashi Yagi
Original Story: Fujino Omori
Character Design: Haimura Kiyotaka & Yasuda Suzuhito
Translation: Andrew Gaippe
Lettering: Barri Sheager

What They Say:
As captain of Loki Familia, Finn has come a long way from his small village in the mountains. Back then, he and his family lived a life of servitude, but now, Finn is giving the orders.

And with armed monsters roaming about, civilians to protect, and a Knossos key to retrieve, he has more than his far share of commands to dole out. But there’s one mystery that requires his personal attention, and to solve it, he’ll need to track down Bell …

Content (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Born in a small village isolated in the mountains where all races supposedly lived harmoniously, even here Prums were considered weak, and yet a clever child named Deimne rebelled at every chance, watching with growing anger as his parents and others of his people who willfully accepted every insult hurled at them in order to survive, and yet they laughed it off, making him hate them for their compliant attitudes. Never did they stand up against those who looked down on them, sought knowledge to better themselves or fight for what was right like the mythical goddess Phiana, with each instance irritating the boy with every exposure, causing him to act out by sneaking into the elder’s house in order to read from his extensive library, he being the only Prum who never allowed himself to be belittled. There were times when Deimne intentionally goaded those stronger than him, and even if they answered these provocations with fierce punches and kicks, he never allowed himself to become pitiful like his parents, immaturely struggling against a ruthless world until it answered back when he turned ten, with monsters to attacking the town. While he ran and fought fear back along the way, this child did not hesitate to help those in need, even the bullies to had tormented, just like the heroes of old and Phiana herself, and yet foolish pride which fueled this false sense of bravery and the wisdom he had gained could not protect him from the beast about to attack, only to be saved by the supposedly cowardly parents who valiantly placed themselves in harm’s way to rescue their only son. Many other adults died that day to fight back the invasion, and now no longer able to hold back Deimne finally released his bottled up emotions and cried, dashing off into the woods as he continued to shed tears and remember how other Prums ran off, yet his hated guardians showed such bravery against something much bigger than them. It was then when he saw promise for his race, turning his back on the village and abandoning his family name, accepting his given name and the Prum word for light, thereafter becoming Finn Deimne in order to show those of his race there was hope, and chance for relevance against those who still looked down in those smaller than them.

It was from Loki Familia’s base on Daedalus Street where a grown Finn now gave confident orders, surrounded by unsure members bombarding him with information, the bold Prum calmly listened to every piece of news about armed monsters coming through Knossos, presuming they had obtained the key from a defeated Ikelos Familia, but with remnants of the Evils still hiding in that man made labyrinth, they cannot afford to let their surveillance falter, and yet no one saw the internal conflict making their leader doubt himself. It was only Riveria who noticed this subtle change in her long time friend, but as Deimne continued to issue orders, the high elf bluntly asked when was the last time he slept, implying gruffness in his voice was affecting how Raul and the others perceived him, with Finn finally surrendering and stating he would take a nap after this round of commands. As a calm knock sounded on the door frame, Anakity interrupted their discussion to inform the head of the Guild Royman had arrived, and after a heated discussion Finn accepted they would surrender the key to Knossos in exchange for formally posting Loki Familia in Daedalus Street, but while he may not trust the robust elf, this leader knew these negotiations were at the behest of Ouranos. However, as Aiz returns from her patrol and reports Bell is in the area, Finn logically concludes the boy is at the center of this incident, his foolish attempt to stand against them leading him to consider Cranel is somehow involved with the armed monsters and thus causing his bold actions which were against his character, whether he is now their enemy or ally, there is only one option for Finn to chose in order to find out the truth – he must seek out and talk to Bell.

In Summary:
As we delve deeper into conflict of the Xenos versus Loki Familia, it is a rewarding departure from Omori-sensei’s light novel that this manga adaptation creates a touching opening scene, one from which loyal fans are able to see how a young Deimne detested his Prum heritage, witnessing how his parents and those of his race pitifully accepted what was handed to them, even if it meant bowing to those levied harsh verbal harassment for a pittance of what they deserved. To watch as this brash boy resist at every turn, made more reassuring due to mangaka Yagi-sensei’s amusing depiction of this rebellious child, the first depiction showing bruised cheeks and a blooded nose, adds to the unsaid underlying tone before we start reading, that this youngster will not tolerate anything which he does not like, as seen by these injuries. Yet as we marvel how Deimne takes up his own cause, breaking into the elder’s house to better himself with knowledge, only to be contrasted by the cocky attitude of challenging those bigger than he, creating a boy who prizes both wisdom and strength just like mythical goddess Phiana who fought for her people, even if the child does not understand how to balance the two contrasting qualities into one unified personality. However, it is from the traumatic turning point for a ten-year-old where readers cannot but tear up upon seeing Deimne bravely struggle to prove himself, only to have those who he thought of as cowardly parents redeem themselves by sacrificing their lives to save the one who they work so hard for, with all of his bottled up emotions rushing out to create a moment of tear-filled salvation, the one from which he would re-forge himself into a hero for the Prum people. We cannot but smile and cheer to see the faintest inkling of how Finn became a bold light that day, and yet it is throughout the rest of this volume of how he ironically sees himself as a false hero, one who was created to soothe a bruised ego for not being strong enough to do anything back then, and now thirty years later, this man-made savior once again proves himself as useless when compared to a true protector such as Bell. This human boy is someone who would readily sacrifice his hard-earned reputation in order to be on the right side of this hopeless struggle, not caring how the people might see him as an irredeemable hypocrite, as long as he can protect what is most important to him, even if he may eventually face his cherished idol Aiz.

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? On the Side: Sword Oratoria continues to challenge readers into wondering what is the right side of an impossible conflict, with Finn being the face people see as protecting what is humanity’s right against the foul pretender Bell, someone who they once saw as an admirable boy who might prove himself to be worthy of the name Hero, and yet now due to recent actions, is now hated as being nothing but an opportunistic charlatan, both name and perhaps his familia sullied due to bewildering actions. It is only Deimne who tries to sift through the veil of falsehoods and clouded actions perpetrated by both gods and mortals, his well-honed instincts understanding Cranel is hiding something which will prove his innocence, even if the former Little Rookie does not wish to verify himself as true, knowing one slip from this well-staged play will prove to be the end for both his goddess and companions. However, as these two commanders face off on the battlefield, one force the strongest in all of Orario and the other a group of inexperienced friends protecting what they deem irreplaceable, the audience cannot but wonder which side are the worthy champions of true freedom, whether it be for ones who deserve it or those who see it as their granted privilege for existing on the warm sunlit surface.

Content Grade: A+
Art Grade: A+
Packaging Grade: A-
Text/Translation Grade: A-

Age Rating: Older Teen
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: April 25, 2023
MSRP: $13.00