Review: DanMachi – On the Side: Sword Oratoria (Vol 1)

(Art by Kiyotaka Haimura)

For general information on this series: DanMachi: On the Side – Sword Oratoria entry

This review is for the first volume of DanMachi: Sword Oratoria by Fujino Omori (with artwork by Kiyotaka Haimura). The English edition was released by Yen Press in November 2016. The second volume will be released in the following months (February 21, 2017). So far, there are six volumes available in Japan.

DanMachi: On the Side – Sword Oratoria Volume 1

How can you set a spin-off apart from its main series? DanMachi: On the Side – Sword Oratoria isn't most likely going to answer that question. But, while not shying away from its original story, the book in itself can be considered great enough on its own. Sharing the same world, same characters but a different point of view, Sword Oratoria wants to be its own story. One closer to grand choral fantasies while keeping this intimate relation between the main character and the reader.

Sword Oratoria is, just like DanMachi, a fantasy light novel set in the world of Gekai, a world where gods and dungeon-crawling set an entire economic system by allowing humans to fend for themselves, in the search for glory, discovery or a purpose in life. In the midst of this, we follow the daily life of the Loki Familia and Aiz Wallenstein, aptly named the Sword Princess Kenki, one of its most renowned warriors.

From the first look, the story unfolds like any typical fantasy novel, albeit slightly more grandiose in its development. And due to the change in points of view, it creates, by the use of a more cohesive story-telling, a wider look at the city of Orario and its functionality. Yet, you can't feel detached from some of the little quirks of the main story, its world-building narrative and the presence of Aiz's thoughts in a mishmash of dialogue and prose, all reminiscent of DanMachi. The story wants to be alone, by replicating what DanMachi did before.

But in the end, it further confirms this sense of duality between DanMachi and Sword Oratoria, one that could be better described in a fully developed comparison. The story nods at itself while taking its time to make us forget about the other side. It doesn't ruin the novel, per say, and fans of the main series will feel more at home, even if they would already be aware of some later content.

In a nutshell, Sword Oratoria is a bit like Aiz: Rarely directly connected to the main story, but still talking about it. And a goddamn great novel.

Melody's Rating: Recommended

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