Danmachi Season 2 was just announced, and I am super excited~! Not only because it’s been 4 years since Season 1, but because I’ll also get to see some of my favorite characters back in action. And, unsurprisingly or not, most of my favorites from the show are women. (I love Bell-kun too, though.)
With a title like Is It Wrong To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon? (Danmachi for short), you would think this series would be chauvinistic. But despite having fan service, it’s far from it. In a dangerous, monster-ridden world where you’d normally expect muscular, bulky male adventurers to reign, there are many strong female characters that are on par with men. Not only that, the women characters in the show are very diverse.
And that’s why I decided to write about Sword Oratoria, a spin-off of the original Danmachi series, for this month’s OWLS blog. If you aren’t aware, OWLS is a group of otaku bloggers whose goal is to use anime to spread acceptance to everyone, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, etc.
Every month, the members of OWLS are given a new prompt to follow. Here’s the prompt for March 2019:
In honor of Women’s History Month, the OWLS bloggers will explore the concepts of femininity and feminism. We each have our own definition of these two terms and we will explore our definitions using “feminine” characters from various pop culture fandoms. We will discuss how these characters are “feminine” or show signs of a feminist agenda. We will also share our personal stories about the amazing women that supported us in our lives as well as sharing experiences involving women’s rights, oppression within the patriarchy, and/or issues of growing up as a woman or having a feminine persona.
Before you start reading this piece, please check out the previous post in this blog tour by YumDeku, who wrote about March Comes in Like A Lion.
As I explained, the Is It Wrong… universe has a lot of strong women. If you aren’t familiar with Sword Oratoria, it follows the same overall story as Danmachi, but instead focuses on the Loki familia. Specifically, the plot centers around on a group of female characters – Aiz, Lefiya, and so on- and lets the audience learn more about them.
The girls of this group are unique in terms of… well, everything. With their various strengths, and weaknesses, the women of Sword Oratoria portray different types of women in a way that’s both refreshing and important. No two women – or human beings – are the same, and this should apply to anime characters’ looks, personalities, and mannerisms too.
I’m going to highlight the great female characters in the series and show just how diverse they are.
Aiz Wallenstein – Strong and Steady
It’s a stereotype probably many of us are familiar with: men are better at fighting than women. Knights and sword fighting are usually associated more with men as well. But Aiz Wallenstein proves otherwise.
She is a female adventurer in Damachi – one that has a reputation. She’s known as the “Sword Princess” because her skills with a blade. She’s also incredibly good at hand-to-hand combat. In fact, Aiz is so strong, she is one of the highest ranks for adventurers, which not many people – male or female – can say.
In the original series, Aiz is a side character, but in Sword Oratoria, she has a much more critical role. Through this spin-off, the audience gets to learn more about her ambitions as a swords-woman and what drives her to be stronger. We also see that she has her own personal turmoil she needs to deal with and she has trouble communicating at times.
With all of her character development, she is no longer just an unreachable ideal that’s up on a pedestal, which is how she’s presented in the first season of Danmachi. Instead, we see that Aiz is a regular human girl and that becoming strong like her (minus the magic part) is an attainable goal. This, in my opinion, makes her an even better role model for girls and women – and men.
In the beginning of Is It Wrong… Season 1, Bell-kun falls in love with Aiz because he is amazed by her tenacity and decides he wants to be as strong as her. Instead of a girl wanting to be strong like a man, the situation is reversed for once. Plus, it’s nice to see a guy love a woman for her physical strength instead of her looks, though Aiz is very attractive (women with swords = life).
Let’s see who is next on the list~
Lefiya Viridis – Timid and Queer
Another main character in Sword Oratoria is Lefiya, a small elf girl that can use powerful magic. But despite having a knack for magic, Lefiya has trouble in battle. She’s the opposite of Aiz; she’s very nervous and hesitant when it comes to fighting. Sometimes she can’t perform a spell because she buckles under the pressure. But this doesn’t make her a weak character. On the contrary, I think it makes her an even better one.
Lefiya isn’t some weak little girl – she is someone who has anxiety. Many women and men alike suffer from it. I myself am neurodivergent. Because of this, I could relate to Lefiya’s struggles. I also think Lefiya’s weakness makes her more realistic as a character since not everyone is going to have nerves of steel or a talent for fighting. As the series goes on, Lefiya needs to learn to deal with her anxiety and overcome her panic. This, in my opinion, is its own form of strength.
Author’s Note: If you suffer from anxiety or panic attacks, please seek professional help from a counselor, therapist, or similar service.
To make Lefiya more awesome, she shows queer tendencies …or at least I think so. Nothing is officially canon, but Lefiya seems to have a very big crush on Aiz. Whenever she is around Aiz, she basically turns to mush; she often stutters and gets embarrassed. She also frequently daydreams about Aiz and desperately wants to receive a head pat from her. For me personally, the yuri elements between Lefiya and Aiz made the show even more enjoyable.
The next characters coming up are…
The Hiryute Sisters – Bad-ass Women of Color
Think back on all of the anime series you’ve watched. Have you seen people of color in any of them? If you have, it’s probably only been a handful of times. That’s because most anime characters have pale skin. This isn’t really surprising since Japan’s population is almost entirely all native Japanese people. Still, it would be beneficial to see more anime characters with various skin tones since there are so many POC in real life (including my fiance <3).
Well, Tiona and Tione Hiryute from Danmachi and Sword Oratoria are a good (if not rare) example of people of color in anime. These twin sisters both have dark tan skin. It isn’t the kind you can get at a salon – it’s a color you’re born with. And it’s gorgeous. Having two tan women in a popular Japanese series is definitely a step in the right direction. Hopefully, more Japanese characters will be POC in the future. I’d personally love to see more strong, tan female characters like Korra from Avatar. They are my personal favorite.
On top of this, Tiona and Tione both have different body types and personality types. Tiona has a boyish appearance and tends to act more like a tomboy. On the other hand, Tione has more traditionally “feminine” characteristics. Presenting different female body types and mannerisms in anime is a plus because real women come in all shapes and sizes.
That being said, there is one small downside about the twins. They’re always arguing about their bust size – Tione has a much bigger chest than Tiona, and she teases Tiona about it constantly. It’s the frequency of the joke that bothered me more than anything; it emphasizes that larger breasts are better. But in the end, it shouldn’t matter since all women are beautiful regardless. Both of them also have some personality flaws that they need to work on – like Tione desperately trying to get a guy to like her.
However, these two tan twins’ pros outweigh their cons. Oh, and did I mention both of them are very strong, high-ranked adventurers that can kick ass?
Last but not least on the list is…
Loki – The Trickster Goddess
If you aren’t familiar with Danmachi, yes, you read that correctly. Loki, the goddess. In the Is It Wrong… universe, Loki is female. Although Loki is usually associated with a male god (probably thanks to the Marvel movies), the original Loki from Norse mythology could actually change their gender and biological sex at will, which is really cool to someone like me who is genderfluid.
In Sword Oratoria, Loki stays female and does not morph into a man. However, many times she dresses and acts tomboyish, which is probably an allusion to the Norse myth. She shows other queer traits as well, such as flirting with or pining after women. It’s awesome to see a female goddess being worshiped – especially a queer one – since most dominant modern religions only worship a male god. Though, just like all people, whether divine or not, Loki has some character flaws, like being too handsy with the girls. I guess that’s expected, however, since Loki is supposed to be a trickster who messes with people.
These aren’t even all the female characters in Danmachi and Sword Oratoria. Yet, those five characters have so much diversity. We see strength both physically and mentally. We see both heterosexuality and homosexuality. We see many different skin tones, and even some characters that aren’t strictly binary. Since it only streamed on Amazon Prime, Sword Oratoria definitely didn’t get as much recognition as the first season of Is It Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon, which is a shame. Besides all the great characters, this series has a good story and an interesting animation style. And it even has some yuri for girls love fans. I can’t wait to see more of these characters in Danmachi Season 2 and hopefully a Sword Oratoria Season 2!
Thanks for reading! And don’t forget to check out all of the other posts from this month’s OWLS blog tour. Here’s a head pat for everyone~