This volume felt like a breath of fresh air after volume 7 and there was plenty to enjoy about it. There’s an army marching on the city of Orario but let the bigger familias deal with that crisis. Inside Orario there are better stories to be told.
I mentioned that this volume felt like a breath of fresh air and I mean that in the most literal sense. Volume 7 felt like the fight dragged on far too long and the single minded focus on characters trying to catch Bell made the volume start to drag. Volume 8 couldn’t be more different essentially presenting a series of vignettes focusing on the support cast as they go about their lives in the city of Orario. Sure, Bell is ever present in each of the stories and at times plays pivotal roles, but this volume really works on fleshing out that support cast that kind of got sidelined over the last few books and also fleshing out the city just that little bit more.
The back drop for all of these stories that holds them together is the invasion of Rakia driven by the god Ares. This means that Freya and Loki’s familia are spending a lot of time out of the city and fighting off the invaders and we’re reminded of this throughout but it isn’t really the main point.
Instead, we break from the war to see what Hestia familia is up with an initial focus on Mikoto who is trying to buy a gift for her previous god (and the one she will return to after a year). It’s a cute and funny story that has very little weight and yet really helps consolidate Mikoto’s character and role in the family. And any story that involves a deity having a cake thrown at them is going to be kind of amusing.
Not outstaying its welcome, we transition to a story that looks at Lily (from Hestia familia) and Finn (leader of Loki familia). I will admit, this story kind of comes out of nowhere given we haven’t really got a sense of who Finn is previously and his sudden decision to propose marriage to Lily seems a little bit random, but at the same time this story does help to do some world building about the nature of the Prum’s which is an area that had previously more or less been ignored. It is also another chance to get Lily and Bell together and away from the rest of the familia which is something we haven’t seen really since Welf entered the picture so I really enjoyed this story.
Speaking of Welf, his story comes next and it is probably the most directly tied to the war going on outside the city (see the book didn’t forget its own set up). Turns out Welf left the Rakia kingdom and they kind of want him back given he can actual forge magical swords. There’s quite a story here and we learn more about Welf’s family and Rakia but all of that is overshadowed as we see more of Welf and his love for his former goddess, Hephaistos. It also comes with a what must be one of the most straight forward and probably embarrassing confession scenes ever and it is just delightful to read.
I’m not going to give any details about the next couple of stories because they certainly up the danger a bit more and end up being a bit more focused on the external threat but Eina, Syr, Hestia and Aiz all get a moment to shine as the story continues.
If I’m honest, I actually prefer this format of short stories told within the greater narrative over the drawn out confrontation offered in volume 7. Each story is fresh and energetic and none of them over stay their welcome. It is exactly what this series needed to re-energise things and I really had a lot of fun reading it.
If you’re interested in reading Is It Wrong to Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon Volume 8 it is available on the Book Depository.
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