A Quick Hi and Bye
Arifureta Episode 6
With the start of what is ostensibly a new arc as it was more or less the start of the next novel, the introduction of new settings and characters and the first leg of Hajime’s new ambition to conquer the labyrinths, get the magic he needs, and go home, you would think this would be a good chance for Arifureta to up its game and pretend like the first five episodes hadn’t really happened. Particularly after dropping a recap episode on the audience essentially giving this the sense of a new beginning for the story.
And in some ways it kind of is a new beginning. Gone are the hideously bleak and poorly contrasted walls of the dungeon and instead we have blue skies and forests with flowers. We also have a weirdly slap-stick vibe coming through with the introduction of Shea who for whatever reason not only puts up with Hajime and Yue’s attitude but voluntarily throws herself onboard their mission. Admittedly, I can’t blame the anime for that weird tonal change that is entirely coming from the source and is one of the reasons why the book series had increasingly diminishing returns in terms of entertainment. Every new female character seemed to reduce the overall fun of reading the story.
Yet despite the new characters and the scene change, Arifureta hasn’t managed to shake the real problem that it has had since episode one. It continues to charge through content, checking off plot points rather than actually exploring them or making them in any way interesting or palatable for the viewer.
Even if I ignore what I know of the characters from the source and assumed this was the first I’d seen of Yue and Shea’s interactions, I would know that this episode does little to build a foundation for that relationship. We have a few moments where Yue, for whatever reason seems to soften in her open hostility of the rabbit-girl and a fight sequence that ends with Yue agreeing to bring Shea along with them, but honestly there’s no chemistry or feeling between these characters. While they could certainly develop it as we go, it really feels like they wanted to just jump right over dealing with establishing anything (once again).
Equally, Hajime essentially changes the core nature of the rabbit-men and it is handled with zero care. He gets mad at them, stomps a flower, and suddenly they are killing machines. It makes little sense and it certainly isn’t riveting viewing. When we throw in that the novels actually looked briefly at the small feelings of guilt and unease Hajime had and the tiny wondering of whether he’d done the right thing, it really makes you realise just why this viewing experience feels so devoid of any meaning. Because it literally is. Hajime makes killer rabbits. Then they travel on. In the anime he gains nothing from the experience and the viewer doesn’t see anything of his inner character. It’s just Hajime going through the motions and it isn’t even really clear why he bothers at all.
I’ve really given up expecting much from this anime but it would be nice if we could get a character moment that felt genuine at some point. Or at the very least if they would stop charging headlong forward like they had some race to win and if they actually let the narrative develop and flow in a way that felt in any way natural.
supporting 100 Word Anime.
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Images from: Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest. Dir. K Yoshimoto. White Fox. 2019.