Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka Gaiden: Sword Oratoria 04 – 06

This was what we thought we were getting…

winter15-highw Hey there! No I didn’t give up on DanMachi: Sword Oratorio. Here’s a post if you don’t believe me!

Days of Our Dungeons

And you gotta have a creepy bug thing

So I thought maybe do a DanMachi post every week. And then I watched it every week, and it’s like a soap opera, in that it doesn’t actually get anywhere. I think that a lot of that tracks directly back to what we discussed in the FI post and comments, that the narrative voice for this spinoff series is not Ais Wallenstein, at least not primarily. Instead, it’s whoever the author thought was important in the story at the time. And while I’ve gotten past the idea that the series was sold as “Ais’s point of view” and understand that might or might not be anyone we’re interested in.

“We need to fill some time… send Loki and Bete out there!”

Take Loki, for instance. There’s a thread of this show that’s mostly Loki looking for who is responsible for bringing the flower-monsters to the surface and setting them on her family members. So she’s making the rounds of different gods and goddesses to find out if they know anything. But to me, this whole effort seems pointless. Here’s the pattern: Loki goes to talk to another god or goddess. Asks an oblique question. Other god or goddess just straight up lies about the answer. Rinse and repeat. Or are we going to believe Freya now? “Oh, I set up something to screw with everyone, but I didn’t set THAT up.” Are we going to believe Dionysus? “Oh, I was just investigating it!” Sure thing, Pete Townshend.

You can totally trust a guy who sits on a throne on a 10-foot high platform in the dark

And then let’s go talk to Uranus, and of course he’s not going to say he’s doing anything bad. This whole investigation she’s doing just feels pointless to me, like it’s just a chance to get Loki more lines, or work Bete back into the show in a situation where he isn’t super annoying (a very little of Bete goes a very long way).

Sum total in this picture: 2 interesting storylines between the 4 of them

Thankfully, Loki is the worst of the storylines, if you ask me. Unfortunately, Lefiya isn’t that much better. The thing about Lefiya’s main character turns for me is that they’re so close to being about Ais… but they’re not. They’re about Lefiya. And she’s just not being interesting yet. She’s getting better, and she’s to the point where she’s actually an asset in battle, but as far as bringing an important narrative point of view? She’s just not there. She could be anyone. Honestly, I find Tione and Tiona more compelling, and they’re barely two notes. So I don’t mind that it seems like the show is pulling away from Lefiya a bit, although giving that time to Loki isn’t helping.

At least Lefiya is getting more reliable

By the Power of Elimination


Thank you for the clichéd secret past reveal

That leaves us with Ais. And honestly, I can see why they would want to play up the series as being from Ais’ point of view, because she’s the most interesting character, far and away. She’s certainly the most heroic character in the series, and she’s the one who’s working through her own issues. I don’t know if a secret past is the way to make her more interesting, since the character she is was working fine, without some tacked on ‘orphan’ story. I don’t really know what the point of adding that is, because I don’t think it’s necessary to make her more sympathetic to the audience, and I don’t really know that it adds any depth. And even if it does add depth, what’s the cost to the story to do so, because it really doesn’t feel organic. It feels like a cheap attempt at “instant mystery, ” which really didn’t feel like it was needed. Ais trying to work through her personality was working fine, trying to become stronger was working fine, trying to learn to fit in with the Loki Familia was working really well.

A boss who doesn’t move and only has one arm… but it holds a big sword

I really like the possibilities of the girl who is a prodigy trying to accept the familiarity and friendship of her comrades. And I actually really like the possibilities of the other characters in relation to that kind of goal. The problem is that when it’s bothered with that kind of story, it’s been the most unsubtle, black and white character types possible. And there’s room for more subtlety, really. Tione could be more than big boobs and Finn worship. They took a step there with her driving a hard bargain with the merchant, but it’s easier to fall back on the boobs. Lefiya could be more than a MacGuffin, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon either.

When you have very small facial expressions, the small expressions tell a big story

And I think that if there was more to those other characters, then the instance of Ais eschewing the help of everyone else for the Win or Die challenge of taking on the floor boss herself would have had more resonance. It was a pretty good fight, and I liked that it wasn’t all “I’m going to out-grit you!” (although there was a lot of that). Ais extended herself, which is what you’d expect her to do to move up that level. And the look of satisfaction when she did was a very good way to cap the scene.

I do think that the show’s moving forward, but it does it at almost a snail’s pace. I worry that they’ll have to wrap everything up in a hurry as they go toward the second half of the cour, but would like it if they’d pick a character to be more central, and would like if that character is Ais. I don’t really know how much they need to focus on her relationship with Bell, which they’ve just started to hint at now, because they made a big deal of that in the first series, without much actually happening there. I’d like to see Ais be facing her own problems, not have them subsumed by a non-romance with Bell. An interest? Sure, that works. But I don’t want them to change Ais too much from the character she has been. I just want to see more of that character.


Proving that you don't have to be young to love anime, I enjoy all genres and styles of shows. If it's not hurting anyone else, you should never be ashamed of what you like!
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8 Responses to “Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka Gaiden: Sword Oratoria 04 – 06”

  1. skylion says:

    When you can’t get a bead on the lead, you can’t depend on support from the rest of the cast. As you spell out, the flat characteristics aren’t helping. This is what makes it feel mostly with a steady aim, as this kind of story has to be character lead – dungeoneering is how things happen, not the thing that should be happening so it has to be character driven, not plot driven.

    I cannot really get a hang on the show. It looks nice, when it feels like it, and plays well, when it want to. But I feel more strain than anything else.

  2. zztop says:

    The narrative voice for this spinoff series is not Ais Wallenstein, at least not primarily. Instead, it’s whoever the author thought was important in the story at the time.

    From what I’ve heard, Ais’s POV and the crossovers with Danmachi is one half of Oratoria’s appeal with the novel fandom.

    The other is how it fleshes out the activities of pro adventurers and guilds and the conspiracies surrounding the gods of Orario, through the eyes of the Loki Familia’s adventures and interactions.
    AKA, the stuff which Danmachi’s author was unable to elaborate upon in his parent story.

    I can’t say however, if Danmachi’s shortcomings are due to its source material, or if something was lost in the transition from page to screen.

  3. Wanderer says:

    The manga version definitely gave a lot more focus to Ais: we heard a lot of her thoughts and internal dialogue, giving us insight into her character that we could never have gotten just from looking at her mostly expressionless face. The anime has shifted a lot of scenes that were focused on Ais to focus them on Lefiya, and while Lefiya certainly had a decent amount of focus in the manga, she wasn’t the primary character. She isn’t designed to carry the story herself, but rather to have her own, smaller personal arc within the larger story.

    There is also time spent with Loki and Bete and other characters. By spending time with these other people we are intended to learn more about this world and the gods and all the various things that are going on. A lot of stuff that we couldn’t see in the main story of Danmachi.

    But if I were to say what the weakness of this anime is, it’s that they’ve mostly taken the focus off of Ais, and kept us out of her head. That’s pretty much the exact opposite of how Sword Oratoria was designed, based on my knowledge of it, and the anime is suffering for trying to follow its own path.

  4. zztop says:

    On the topic of fantasy, is anyone watching both this and Granblue Fantasy in their schedule?
    And if so, would you say there is any significant difference in how both series approach characterization?

    • skylion says:

      I, for one, cannot reasonably say, as I only really watch Granblue for the visuals…I’m a sucker for fantasy skyships, I freakin’ love fantasy skyships, man. The characters seem about the same there as any other JRPG put on pot to boil for a while…something something something destiny, something something something magic, oh look the shopkeeper followed us let’s make a reference to that, something something something father.

      • zztop says:

        There was someone who said Granblue’s adherence to classic JRPG norms are its strength – plain simple fun. In addition, they also felt its story is very well structured and cohesive. They felt experienced, balanced JRPG writers know how to develop engaging, well-rounded characters for the player to interact with, and also writing smart or at least well-put-together narratives that are easy for the player to understand and become invested in.
        By contrast, they felt anime writing runs a risk of focusing more on the writer’s personal desires and those of their respective cult followings. Thus, narrative and character development often get pushed to the side in favor of fanservice.

        • Highway says:

          I think that’s a load of hooey, honestly. First, it’s comparing apples to 2x4s. Sure, let’s compare “experienced balanced JRPG writers” with “anime writers”, which are usually people who got their break with a manga and or a light novel. And it’s usually their first or second work, and even though they’re very inexperienced and mostly got a hit by coming up with an interesting enough setting, the Cult of the Author tends to treat them as the voice of god when it comes to an adaptation into anime. So you get a lot of iffy writing making it to anime, and even if they get an “experienced, balanced” scenario or script writer, they’re still shackled to this original concept and original lines and original characterization.

          They want to compare experienced and balanced? How about a show like Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid. I’d hold that up for engaging and well-rounded characters any day. That’s what you get when you’ve got a much more experienced author. A JRPG written by Rei Hiroe is gonna be just as stultifying as ReCreators. A JRPG written by new writer Reki Kawahara isn’t going to be much different from SAO.

          And is part of the argument that other JRPG anime adaptations have been poorly written, handwaving it away with a No True Scotsman argument? Because there have been a boatload of really poor JRPG adaptations. They can be just as fanservicey, and just as author-insert, as any LN or manga.

    • Highway says:

      I only watched the first episode of Granblue, but would say that they both kind of eschew the character development in favor of plot. And that’s typical for that kind of show. In the long run, DanMachi does get some character development just by virtue of the fact that people’s actions reveal their character. But because of the way it jumps around, it’s hard to make any significant progress on that. Like we have no idea why or even if Ais is interested in Bell. At all. She’s only seen him really 3 times. She’s only talked at him, she’s never conversed with him. Maybe that internal monologue would help, but we don’t get that.

      Now maybe I’m talking about something different from what you’re asking, but I don’t mind talking. 🙂

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