Sword Oratoria: Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? On the Side
Episode 5

by Rebecca Silverman,

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Sword Oratoria: Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? On the Side ?

Before we start talking about this episode, I'd like to address the issue of Aiz's annoying armor, which we see much more prominently this week. Having recently read the eight DanMachi novel and gone back and looked at pictures, the missing half of her breastplate appears to be an anime invention, or at least an anime exaggeration. I'd guess that it's a similar issue to the reworking of Lefiya's character within this story – an attempt to appeal to a fanbase that may not be solely drawn in by the narrative. Given that the original novels are among the better-constructed of light novels available in English, it feels like they're not giving the source material enough credit.

Regardless, this is one of the better episodes of Sword Oratoria thus far, despite the many full-frontal shots of Aiz's one-breast plate. This is partly because Lefiya is kept to a minimum, but it's also because the opponent Loki Familia faces is much more vicious than any they've squared off against to date. This time, they're fighting a human(oid), who's capable of actual thought and malicious intent, not just a monster following its nature. She's also the woman who murdered the Ganesha Familia member, so we know she's not just evil, but strong too. She's clearly controlling the toothy plants, which adds to her threat level, and to compound things, she's capable of disguising her appearance. Not like Lilly does, via her Cinder Ella magic, but by actually taking the face off her victim and wearing it like a mask – when she faces Aiz, Lefiya, and Lulune, she appears to be the man she killed until she's called out.

Her reason for doing this is definitely loaded – she says that it's easier to escape notice as a man, even a dead one, than as a woman. It would be too easy to take this at face value and tie it to her skimpy outfit, but we've seen Amazons wearing much less and frilly Elven gear that stands out more than her leotard-based get-up. Instead, this probably refers more to the relative rarity of female adventures, particularly high-powered ones, which is part of what got characters like Aiz noticed in the first place – she's a skilled and talented woman in a field associated with men. Original author Fujino Ohmori has touched on such gender issues in volume seven of the main series, which is set in the Pleasure District, and we see it take on a different dimension here. Granted, everyone knows that a woman is the murderer they're looking for, but the surprise that accompanied that revelation was noteworthy. Even if she was a man to begin with, she'd still have an easier time blending in with the crowd than she does now.

It feels safe to say that this is no ordinary adventurer, either. Not only is she strong enough to break Finn's finger and vicious enough to try and parasitically infect Aiz with her weird monster baby egg, but she also knows a lot more about Aiz's past than expected. She calls Aiz “Aria,” which clearly shakes the Sword Princess to the point where she's still dealing with it three days after the battle. Whether Aria is the name of Aiz's (dead? missing?) mother or Aiz's childhood name isn't entirely certain – there's a good chance that it's both – but we do know that it's something Aiz doesn't want to share with anyone. That the murderer somehow knows about Aiz's heritage is unsettling, and it speaks to a conspiracy on a larger scale than just staging attacks on Orario.

But who is behind these actions? Loki suspects the Guild itself, possibly sanctioned by Uranus, who she lightly confronts this week. Finn and Riveria seem to have some thoughts that they're keeping to themselves as well. We know Dionysus has something going on that could be related, and Freya's always worth keeping an eye on. With a pantheon of potential rogues, it's hard to narrow things down, but whatever the answer turns out to be, Aiz is clearly going to have to come to terms with her past sooner rather than later – whether she wants to or not.

Rating: B

Sword Oratoria: Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? On the Side is currently streaming on Amazon's Anime Strike.

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