Bell and the crew prepare for their biggest adventure yet in the first Danmachi film: Arrow of the Orion.
Title: Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?: Arrow of the Orion (Danmachi: Arrow of the Orion)
Studio: JC Staff
Runtime: 1 hour and 35 minutes
Far from the dungeon beneath Oraria rises a new threat, one the beautiful goddess Artemis has sworn to destroy with the help of her chosen warrior. But this fighter isn’t the renowned Ais Wallenstein or another storied hero of Orario legend. Instead the fate of Artemis’ quest falls upon the shoulders of Bell Cranell, who must partner with the goddess and stand against the menace lurking in the remains of a distant, ancient city. Although Bell is the ordained champion of Artemis and a member of the goddess Hestia’s familia, their adventure will test every skill and take every ounce of courage that Bell has — and perhaps, along the way, turn him into the hero he has always aspired to be…
Nowadays, it seems like every popularized anime series needs a theatrical tie-in for one reason or another. Not all being against expanding upon an immersive world, likable characters, or even strengthening the bonds between audience and anime, most do feel like underwhelming and cheap attempts at imbuing longevity into properties starting to peter out. Only able to count the number of anime films that work within a defined series favorable, nonetheless, I still enjoy the act of seeing what comes from the process. Danmachi (or Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?) is the perfect example of a series enjoying the height of popularity byway of the light novel and anime series. The first foray into film, Arrow of the Orion is by no means spectacular, but also not harmful and even a little more than a nice diversion.
Taking place loosely somewhere in the middle of the first season and spinoff Sword Oratoria, this original work features Bell, Hestia, and friends enjoying the events of Orario’s festival. After a series of events, what was supposed to be a contest for a paid vacation turns into a petition from Artemis, a god looking for a champion and crew that can exterminate Antares, a dangerous monster held up in faraway ruins and a great threat to the world. Unsurprisingly, Bell proving his worth by freeing the legendary spear crafted by Artemis herself, he is the perfect champion – her own Orion. Sounding like a seemingly hollow derivative work that adds nothing to the main series, this couldn’t be any further than the truth.
Where light novel writer Fujino Ōmori doesn’t have any direct material for the film to stand on in cannon, much like with the mobile games, Omori does provide guidance and oversight to make it fit into the overall lore and mythos of the Danmachi universe. As the anime series does focus exclusively on Bell and his adventures in Orario, I am glad this movie does depict something of a wider world that the light novels have touched upon, but not fully explored. Of course, where most of this is not exactly exciting and just about as nebulous, it does provide some air of mystery and wonder to this already intriguing world. Another significantly more interesting element is Artemis herself: a deity that does have combat experience despite the lore placing those on high equal with humans and not much for dungeon diving. Her relationship with Hestia is also nice detail that does highlight briefly a little more of what she was like as it does Artemis before descending into the realm of humans.
Even though Bell is the start of the show and his relationship with Artemis used to highlight his character in the overall series and catalyst for his role in the movie, I’m slightly crestfallen that being of original status it will not carry into the anime. With the series appeal focusing on Bell becoming a better adventurer through whatever the dungeon throws at him, the trouble in the ruins is certainly described more than perilous and our leading boy does deserve some personal achievement than a stronger resolve. Without that kind of comfort, it just feels like an hour and some change film with some cool battles and presenting the characters fans know and like doing their thing. Having no qualms over the former or latter, I was surprised to see in the case of the latter a certain character thrown into the mix and contributing something on his part. Too bad that half of the movie is hardly interesting and get to see anything noteworthy go down.
As far as production values go, the artwork in Arrow of the Orion is just as great as it is in the anime series. One of my favorite designs come from the new outfits (thanks to a certain familiar and flippant face) the main cast get to don for the quest. Even getting to live on in the mobile game, I do hope to see designs like for Hestia and Welf make some sort of return for the main series. The animation on the other hand for battle sequences and the like do seem off in certain instances, yet not completely noticeable in that regard. As for music, it is one of the more weaker elements, the insert song used halfway through the only noticeable piece.
As the film does near the end and teases a brief cameo of a second season character, I do sincerely hope that Arrow of the Orion isn’t completely left as an omissible footnote. Already having admired a bunch of personal stories and diversions added into the mobile game that can never be apart of the main anime series, Arrow of the Orion is at least one that adds some value to the lore and gives more exposure to what makes the series great. Hard to call it a must-watch or particularly overwhelmingly great film, it is one that is a nice start for a series that has a long shelf life in popularity ahead of itself.
Final Verdict: Filled with wonderful action scenes and giving more to time to even more wonderful characters, Arrow of the Orion is a nice addition to the Danmachi universe that expands the mythos a little and provides a serviceable time while doing so. Where its place in cannon might not be completely solidified, it is a nice movie either way for those that want more of the same from the anime series and slightly more than a fun diversion.
You can buy your tickets for Arrow of the Orion now. The one day only film debuts July 23 at select theaters.