One of the rare and delightful moments where we got to see Ais being cool.
Yeah sure, the Sword Oratoria anime adaptation got off to a really rough start. I was a pretty harsh critic, culminating in a decision to drop coverage around the third episode. Do I regret my decision? Not at all. In fact, I even feel somewhat vindicated. Let the rant begin.
Sword Oratoria is not terrible. It wasn’t even the biggest trainwreck of the season. It would be a lie to say I wasn’t feeling mildly entertained, blasting through the whole thing in one sitting. But it was easily my biggest disappointment this season, fundamentally missing out on many things that made the original Danmachi adaptation so charming and fun to watch. My grievance comes from the fact that they could have done better, because a fantastic opportunity was totally blown to smithereens.
For an anime that was meant to focus on Ais Wallenstein, we got surprisingly little focus on the sword princess herself. All I can say is, JC Staff… what the blimmin’ heck? You were the chosen one! It was said that you would bring balance to light novel turned anime adaptations, not leave them in the darkness! Putting Lightsaber Oratoria behind us, my points still stands. It felt like JC Staff didn’t care about this hot dumpster fire of an attempted adaptation.
Now let me make it clear. As a piece of fiction, Sword Oratoria doesn’t actually have many problems – I enjoyed reading the manga and light novel. I know, hard to believe, right? But the execution left much to be desired, particularly how it was brought to life. And the fault lies solely and squarely with JC Staff. And it was apparent that JC Staff simply didn’t care.
Don’t get me wrong, seeing Bell fight the Minotaur again was pretty hype. But when the best moment in the series was an exact replica of some scene adapted two years ago, it really feels like JC Staff took steps backwards. This was a far cry from the improvement on Touma v Accelerator in Railgun S from Index, cutting out important moments such as the information displayed on Bell’s back, which was a huge reason for inspiring members of the Loki familia to prevail in their expedition to the 59th Floor. Don’t even get me started on the smaller scale dungeon style fights. We did not see magic or weapons carve up the monster mobs. It was just a few flashes and special effects before they vanished in a puff of black dust, like what you see in the picture I used together with this post.
JC Staff had no excuse for reusing so much animation footage at the cost of substantial content. I mean, come on. Perhaps some effort could have replaced these reused sequences with some important things that were actually cut out? Some of the best panels in the manga and light novel were nowhere to be seen, including almost all of Ais’s inner monologue. Removing a legion of infernal skeletons massively downscaled the Udaeus fight, and that wasn’t even the worst change. They removed Ais’ hallucinations, where she saw the entire Loki Familia being brutally slaughtered by Revis. Talk about the motivation that pushed Ais past her limit, and JC Staff turned it into some less than ordinary aspiration for greater strength. Why do this in a story that was supposed to be about Ais?
That isn’t to say everything was bad. Aside from the portrayals of the Amazon sisters, Revis and Filvis, I really enjoyed the small cameos from Bell and Hestia, as well as what little we actually got of Ais. There was also some good action, particularly with the epic spellcasting, though the original series had Sword Oratoria beaten with action as I previously said. Admittedly, Lefiya became a lot more tolerable as the series wore on. She became far less annoying and even had moments where her character shone. For example, the character arc with Filvis really demonstrated her good points. She may be lacking in confidence, and show creepy possessive tendencies towards Ais. However, these are usually by-products of being a clumsy and hard worker, things I cannot fault her for. Lefiya means well, and is ultimately a kind elf. But the damage has been done.
At the end of the day, none of these slight improvements addressed the most serious issue at hand, as Lefiya becomes something of a scapegoat – deserved or undeserved. We still know very little about Ais, who is easily the greatest victim of Sword Oratoria’s anime adaptation. Her character development was severely undercut by this inexplicable obsession with centring the spotlight on Lefiya, and a staunch refusal to let us in on the secrets of her motivation and thought process. For what was supposed to be an oratoria about the deeds of her blade, we basically got a limerick about a staff.