After the large encounter on the 18th floor, Bell and his party go to celebrate at a local bar, keeping quiet about the events that transpired there. However, the newest god Apollo has laid his eyes on our hero Bell Cranel. In an attempt to claim Bell as his own, he declares a War Game against the Hestia Familia. And if that wasn’t troublesome enough, Lilly has been captured by the Soma Familia and it’s up to Bell’s allies to go save her.
Hinted at the previous volume, Apollo makes a brief appearance to stir up some trouble, creating quite a big deal out of his interest in Bell Cranel. After blowing up the town of Oratoria full of rumors, and literally blowing up the Hestia Familia’s house, Bell and Hestia are forced to enter the War Game with the odds out of their favor.
The beginning portions help set up the events latter half of the volume regarding the Apollo Familia and the Soma Familia.These are told through the lighter part of the novel, the grand ball that Bell and Hestia attend. It does emphasize a couple of long term plot details like the Zeus and Hera Familias and the Three Great Quests but the real highlight here is the cute cute interactions between the Gods and their top adventurers. For example, we get a scene with Bell struggling to dance together with Aiz and everyone reacting to the mere sight of them in various ways. Other parts show Bell meets Freya for the first time, Loki and Hestia have their standard fare fight, Hermes joking around, and everyone having a good time.
As for how the Soma Familia get tied into the affair between the Apollo Familia and the Hestia Familia, the day that Lilly’s past comes back to hunt her down has arrived. Her conflict explains more of the inner workings of the Soma Familia in their base of operations, following up with the appearance of the god Soma. Considering that we only know the Soma Familia through rumors from other adventures and Lilly, the novel provides a more personal look as we get to know what’s really going on behind the scenes.
Immediately when the novel starts, we get a small excerpt about how Lilly attempts to leave the Soma Familia but fails. So when they essentially force her to come back, it’s a reminder of Lilly’s feeling of worthlessness and weakness back in volume 2. However, due to Bell’s influence throughout the main plot and Hestia’s direct pleas, she is able to realize how much they desperately need her, not as a throwaway adventurer, but a dependable friend.
That boy was the only one who ever helped her, who ever said that she was needed–now it was time to help him out.
Other characters also pitch in to help the Hestia Familia and some of them have small highlights that briefly resolve whatever issues they had in previous volumes. Additionally, most characters have a small cameo appearance in the story (some completely unexpected) which can be interesting to read as they root for our hero.
Surprisingly, the story doesn’t involved the Dungeon at all as the two biggest fights are the running battle across the city of Oratoria and the War Game. Instead of fights against mobs of monsters, we get physical encounters from other adventurers. The writing stays consistent, now only with consideration for the other adventurer’s dialogue and actions.
The illustrations don’t stand out very much as they are purely character profiles in the same style as previous installments. However, I do want to point out the three-page long picture of Hestia dreaming about hugging Bell in their formal attire.
For the first volume that takes place right after the anime adaptation ended, it’s a strong start for many fans coming back to the series and those continuing to read along. For a largest and most influential event for the characters in DanMachi, its action and characters does not disappoint, topping itself yet again.
Rating: Highly Recommended
Author: Fujino Omori
Illustrator: Suzuhito Yasuda
English Publisher: Yen Press