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by Rebecca Silverman,

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Astrea Record

Novel One Review

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Astrea Record Novel One Review

Seven years before Bell came to Orario, a horrific series of events unfolded. Familias headed by vicious gods unleashed their members on an unsuspecting city, causing mass casualties and unheard-of chaos. Without as many strong familias as they'd like, the Guild calls upon Astrea Familia alongside heavy-hitters like Loki Familia and Ganesha Familia, but as events take shape, it becomes clear that not everyone is going to make it out of this situation alive.

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Astrea Record is translated by Jake Humphrey.


When even the author says this story will hurt, you know it will be bad. That's assuming, of course, that you weren't prepared for it going in. The fate of Astrea Familia is well-known to readers and viewers (and players) of the various Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? iterations, and the most recent season of the anime (as of this writing) showed us their deaths and how they have haunted and shaped Lyu ever since. But we've never before been fully privy to the events that led up to Lyu being left alone. However, the game has dealt with them, and now author Fujino Ōmori brings us that piece of DanMachi history – with the full knowledge that there are no happy endings here.

One of the most striking pieces of this book is getting to see the characters we know from the franchise's present as they were seven years ago. The answer is almost universally "more innocent." This story takes place in an Orario that has never been touched by the Evils, making their advent all the more shocking for the residents. People are used to adventurers dying in the dungeon, but life above it is relatively peaceful, and familias work to help keep it that way. Finn is still strong and capable, but he's also got a bit of an untested air about him, while Aiz, Welf, and Lilly are all still children, although one could argue that Aiz was never really allowed a childhood and never wanted one. And Lyu? Lyu is the quintessential teenager, trying to find her way in the world while being as prickly as possible. She wears her hair long and bickers with her sisters in Astrea Familia. She isn't entirely sure how to meet her goals and dreams, and she feels very human. She's at a turning point in her maturity, and we can see that had Alize and the others not died, Lyu would probably have grown into a very different person.

That is, of course, part of the inherent tragedy of the story. We know where Lyu will end up in seven years and how her life will guide her there. To see her as a mildly grumpy spitfire of a girl is to acknowledge everything and everyone that she lost – this is a Lyu we'll never see again after the formative events of this story. And really, that's what the Astrea Record storyline does best: remind us of what was lost and what never will be. In the main series, we see Bell fighting so that it never happens again without truly understanding what happened when he was a kid in the countryside. Here, the entire tale rests on Lyu, how it will shape her, and what might have been. It's tragedy nostalgia, and it works surprisingly well.

It also serves as a shorthand for those you shouldn't get attached to. While we know that Astrea Familia is doomed (and it's still hard not to love Alize), any named character who you don't recognize from the main series is a safe bet for someone who is going to die. That's either a good thing (protect yourself from reading pain) or gives the game away far too much, and even more than other literary devices. How you feel about this one is entirely up to your reading style. OMORI's a good author, particularly in the realm of light novels, but he's still no Louisa May Alcott, whose 1863 record of her time as an American Civil War nurse, Hospital Sketches repeatedly introduces you to characters you know are going to die and then still reduces you to tears when they do. The younger sister of a familiar member of Ganesha Familia comes closest to hitting an Alcott note. Still, it also feels like some of the power of these deaths is being undermined by the foreknowledge that they are going to happen.

On the mythology front, many familias, such as Osiris and Apate, no longer exist in Orario and are mentioned on both sides of the battle. The latter is the Greek goddess of deceit (Fraus in Roman mythology), who helps Hera take care of some of Zeus' lovers, which is fitting since both Zeus and Hera Familias come up in this book as well. We don't see much of Thanatos and Rudra Familias, who main series fans will remember were revealed to be part of the Evils in the present day, but it's worth it to get to know Astrea and her familia more closely. After all, the story of the worst years in Orario's history is only starting to take shape in this volume.

Is Astrea Record essential reading for DanMachi fans? That's hard to say as of this book. Certainly, if you're fond of Lyu, this sheds a lot more light on her character and helps to enlighten us as to how she became the woman she is in the present day, and with the events of the most recent main volume to be released in English, I think knowing Astrea herself is likely going to prove helpful. But this is a complex story and one that's only going to get harder going forward. That may not make it worth reading for some people. Ultimately, I think that will be okay – after all, the past is over and done. But as the late Terry Pratchett put it, the town you just drove through is still there in the rearview mirror, and the events described in this story are still very real for most of the leading players in DanMachi's world. It's not an easy book, but sticking it out to the bitter end may be worth it.

Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B

+ Fills in a lot of Danmachi history gaps as well as giving us more insight into Lyu.
Easy to predict who will die based on names, a little too overstuffed with events and characters at times.

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Production Info:
Story: Fujino Ōmori
Original Character Design: Suzuhito Yasuda
Licensed by: Yen Press

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