FIRST VIEWING, NOT HAVING WATCHED DANMACHI FOR YEARS
I enjoyed Season 1 of this show in 2015, but I'm wondering if I should stop following the series. A key part of Season 1's success had been that Bell and Hestia had to earn their hero status. They started as losers. Bell was little more than cannon fodder as a Level 1 adventurer, while Hestia had to do part-time jobs to make ends meet, despite being a goddess. I like those early episodes, so this affection spilled over into the rest of the season.
After that, though, Sword Oratoria was only okay. The 2016 hot spring OVA is rubbish. And this film... well, it's a tale of two halves. It starts out as light-hearted nonsense, almost devoid of interest if you're not invested in the cast already. Bell's graduated from "no-name nobody" to be instead a massive cliche, being a personality-free harem hero who doesn't seem to have noticed girls squabbling over him. (Lily and Hestia should shut up and calm down.)
Meanwhile, the outfits are silly. Hestia wears a micro-dress and a boob string. There are mini-skirts, midriff-baring tops, etc. These people are monster-fighting adventurers! Don't any women wear armour? Well, maybe, if you look really hard. In fairness, though, you'll also see shirtless male fighters.
After a while, the film starts trying to get serious. A goddess has a job for Bell. It's going to end in tragedy. I can appreciate the effort and all this is clearly an improvement, but it's also too simplistic and vanilla for me to take particularly seriously. The "tragedy" is undercooked, then outright undercut by a five-minute bonus episode.
I should probably rewatch Season 1, ideally with the Sword Oratoria episodes interspersed in chronological order. I'd been wanting to do that one day anyway. Both this film and the 2016 OVA give a deceptively large amount of screen time (albeit in little bits) to the franchise's supporting cast. If I rewatched everything to get all the mythology at my fingertips, I'm sure I'd appreciate it far more.
Hmmm. I'll report back.
REPEAT VIEWING, AS PART OF A MARATHON DANMACHI REWATCH
Well, it's still not very good.
It's basically a jumped-up episode. It could have been a good 25-minute story, or maybe a two-parter, but there's not enough meat to it and I didn't buy the all-important Bell-Artemis love story. Bell's a void, likeable but unconvincing as anything but an audience insert. Artemis had more potential, but I have no patience for the supposedly tragic scene where she finds her murdered familia. It's underacted. Imagine that material given to a live-action actress.
Hestia-Artemis has far more chemistry than Bell-Artemis. That would have been a stronger love story, but unfortunately everything in DanMachi has to revolve around Bell.
There's not much point in this film. It's not even essential to its parent series, since it'll be a standalone, like all anime movie spin-offs of TV shows. The rewatch as a whole has been a minor revelation, though, and I'll definitely be continuing with Season 2.