Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? On the Side: Sword Oratoria Vol. 1 TP
Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date: October 18, 2017
Price: $13.00
Creator: Takashi Yagi, based on an original story by Fujino Omori
Format: 228 pgs., B&W, 5" x 7.5", Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-3165-5286-8
Age Rating: Teen
ICv2 Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5

This is not a stand-alone book, but is instead a story taking place in parallel to the events in the main Is It Wrong… series story.  The ridiculously long title is trying to explain that this is a parallel series to the original.  In fact, this book finally explains a puzzling episode from the first volume of the main series, and thus most of this book is technically a prequel to some of the events there.  Unfortunately, you can’t read it in that order.  Readers of this book are expected to have read at least volume 1 of the core series before reading this one. Otherwise, some of the revelations in the book won’t make a bit of sense, and the reader’s perspective of the characters will be skewed.

This spinoff series focuses on the Aiz Wallenstein character, best of the best as a sword fighter in this fantasy setting.  She is driven, however, to become even better, and this story begins to make clear just how driven she is.  This begins to make the interactions with the main character in the main series even more interesting, with their parallel drives.  Can one person strive to be the unsurpassable best while another is striving to be their equal?  How will that play out?  The narrow focus of Aiz’s character is shown here in a few moments of crisis, but there are also a lot of interesting battle sequences, as she and her friends face unknown monsters with odd abilities.  The author put a lot of thought into battle tactics of various kinds.

The art is not remarkable, but is very good, and readers of action/adventure manga will enjoy it. There is a bit of edited nudity, as well as the warnings for language and violence, so it’s not for younger kids.  For fans of the original series, this will be a must-read. Recommended for older teens and adults who like adventure fantasy manga.

--Nick Smith: Library Technician, Community Services, for the Pasadena Public Library in California.