“I used to envy heroes. They can crush any beast; bring a smile to people’s faces. There’s never a damsel left in distress. They can save anyone. That’s the kind of hero I wanted to be!” – Bell Cranel
Popular light novel series Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? (otherwise known as DanMachi) has so far been adapted into two seasons of anime with a third forthcoming and an original movie: Arrow of the Orion. Today I’m here to check out that film and find out if it’s a worthwhile addition to the series!
Far from the city of Orario, a vicious monster has set its sights on destroying mankind. The goddess Artemis has come to the city of Orario seeking a hero who can overcome the danger and protect everyone. With the help of Hermes, she sets up a challenge where a worthy adventurer must pull a spear from a rock. Only those the weapon deems pure of heart will be able to wield it and it just so happens the chosen adventurer is Bell Cranel, from Hestia Familia.
As it turns out, Hestia and Artemis used to be friends up in heaven and she’s overjoyed to be reunited. Bell would never turn away a friend of his goddess and agrees to take on the quest to hunt down the powerful monster. With Familia members Welf and Lili by his side, our hero sets out alongside Hermes, Hestia and Artemis to face one of his toughest challenges yet.
Fans of DanMachi will be familiar with the fact that most of the series takes place in the Dungeon below Orario, but Arrow of the Orion is set entirely above ground for once. Likewise leaving Orario seldom happens, so this is a rare treat and a chance to see more of the world.
As they travel to their destination, Hestia begins to bond with Artemis once more but grows wary of her when she realises not all is as it seems. The Artemis she knew is different to the one in front of her now and even with Hermes’ reassurance that things are okay, our goddess wonders what Bell and co. are going to have to face at the end of their journey.
Arrow of the Orion quickly became one of my favourite stories in the DanMachi universe. Not only is it nice to spend more time with the gods and goddess, but not being in the dungeon significantly changes the dangers our cast are faced with. But more than that, I think the movie does a fantastic job of touching on everything I love about the series. There are flashy battles, heartfelt character development and comedic scenes that will have you burst out laughing.
The story for the film has been written by author Fujino Omori and this both works for and against the movie overall. Omori writing the plot ensures the story is as captivating as his current books, but it does cause several inconsistencies with the universe.
Arrow of the Orion is supposed to be set in between Seasons 1 and 2 of the TV anime, yet the way Bell fights is closer to that of the current light novels. There are also much smaller things like the inclusion of Lefia who viewers won’t recognize unless they’ve also watched the Sword Oratoria anime. Also, the fact that Welf brings a magic sword along with him on the adventure – something he hasn’t yet made peace with in Season 1 of the anime. The average viewer may not notice them, but as someone heavily invested in the franchise, these little things did distract.
Perhaps the biggest issue is that Bell would never be able to take down a monster as powerful as the one in the film. Even Omori admitted in an interview that Bell’s power level is closer to Volume 11 of the light novels than where the anime was at this point. For the fun factor, I think this is fine, but it’s going to be weird going to Season 2 and seeing Bell struggle with far easier enemies in the grand scheme of things.
Having said that, I do think Omori does well to tie in Bell’s feelings to what’s to come in Season 2. A lot of the things he struggles with in this film are emotions he’ll have to face up to and find answers for in the near future and that’s going to be rewarding for viewers.
Like the TV series, Arrow of the Orion has been handled by animation studio J.C. Staff (Food Wars, Flying Witch). With a movie budget behind it, the film looks absolutely beautiful. Fight scenes are captivating and exhilarating to watch while the world around our cast is bright and colourful. If you’ve watched the first season of the anime, then you’ll be familiar with how good the show looks at its best and this is it at its best for the whole runtime.
Music for the film has been handled by Keiji Inai (Hyouka, Do You Love Your Mom and Her Two-Hit Multi-Target Attacks?), who also returns from the TV series. While quite a lot of the music sounds like remixes of tracks from the TV anime, that works out fine since the compositions are memorable. You certainly won’t be disappointed with what’s on offer.
Where voice actors are concerned, this release includes both the Japanese audio and the English dub. While I’m not a fan of the English dub (you can read more about my thoughts on that in my review for the anime), the Japanese cast does a fantastic job. Perhaps it goes without saying that Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (Kirito in Sword Art Online, Sorata Kanda in Pet Girl of Sakurasou) does impressive work playing the role of Bell, I also found myself admiring Maaya Sakamoto (Haruhi Fujioka in Ouran High School Host Club, Shinobu Oshino in Monogatari) who plays Artemis. As a character, Artemis is fairly quiet, but she has a burning desire to protect those around her and I think Maaya manages to portray all that in her voice work, which is important, given how important the character is for this story.
This release comes to the UK thanks to Manga Entertainment and has been released on Blu-ray and DVD. As previously mentioned, the set includes both the English dub and the original Japanese audio and on-disc extras include a selection of trailers. One thing to note is that the slipcover for the Blu-ray set advertises a digital copy of the film, but we have been told by a Manga Entertainment representative that this is a printing error and no digital copy is included.
Overall, Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?: Arrow of the Orion is a memorable addition to the franchise. While there are some inconsistencies with where it’s set in the anime’s timeline, these are easily forgiven, given they don’t impact on the viewing experience all that much. If you’re a fan of the series then this is a must-own!