Have They Managed To Get Anything Right?
Arifureta Episode 2
It is rare that I watch a show when I have pretty much no positives to discuss. Yet Arifureta falls into a very weird space where I feel oddly compelled to continue watching mostly just to see whether they ever manage to reveal the potential of the story in the light novels while at the same time I’m just weirdly fascinated that clearly the people who have adapted this do not understand at all what readers enjoyed about the story.
After the first episode aired, there were so many comparisons made in reviews of Arifureta to That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, but the thing is, other than both being isekai there really isn’t all that much that is similar about them beyond superficial genre elements. Yet you can’t actually blame them for the comparison given the anime version of Arifureta just seems like a failed attempt at a grim version of Slime. And that’s kind of appalling for a whole bunch of reasons.
However, even ignoring the source that is being adapted and just looking at this anime, two episodes in and it is pretty bleak. Not just because of lack of contrast in the scenes within the cave that make it almost impossible to distinguish what is happening, though way to save on drawing backgrounds.
This week we get a little bit more of a flashback about how the class ended up in another world but the characterisation is a simple matter of one liners from a few of the more prominent students with the teacher wailing in the background. Not one of these people comes across as an actual person. They are stand-ins for characters that might eventually develop in the space they are occupying but they’ve yet to do anything two episodes in.
Then we have our protagonist, Hajime. Putting aside the fact that I really feel they’ve butchered his character arc as presented in the light novels beyond salvation, I’d probably accept a different Hajime except that the one presented here is incredibly boring. His transformation was instantaneous last week and this week we see none of his struggle in these incredibly tough levels. Instead we get a simple montage of him knocking off monster of the week type creatures (only he covers it all in one episode) and now we’re fifty floors further down and knocking on the golden haired vampire girls’ door. Mostly it feels like no one writing the anime had any interest in actually developing their protagonist, or even cared for a moment if he came across as anything other than a stand in, so long as they could get to the naked vampire.
So was the naked vampire girl worth getting to? Not so far. Other than a few wispy lines of dialogue that sketch out a minimal back story she’s had no time to do anything. While Yue was a really great character in the source I’m not holding my breath at this point given the treatment the rest of the cast have gotten.
Arifureta may easily take the crown for most disappointing anime of the year. However, even if we removed any expectations readers had going in, this one isn’t even managing to hold its own against the rest of the isekai this season. It has so far been a bland and dull affair taking two episodes to jump through huge amounts of exploration and character levelling up but not taking any time to actually make us feel anything for a single character in the show.
All and all, this one is a train wreck of the highest order and it isn’t going to fall into the so bad it is amusing category. I can assure you, I’m not amused. Bemused, maybe, by how you take this story and make it this boring. I’d have settled for being a generic and fairly lame isekai over this effort.
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Images from: Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest. Dir. K Yoshimoto. White Fox. 2019.