As a fan of the Arifureta light novels (or at least I enjoyed them enough) I dove into season one with high expectations and found that most of my hopes were dashed. Not because of changes from the source but just because season one of Arifureta was pretty terrible visually and in terms of pacing and characterisation but I’m not going to rehash my review here.
With that said, I wasn’t going to give season two a look but having read that there’s a new director at the helm (Akira Iwanaga) and he worked on a number of anime I really liked (such as the criminally underrated Tegamibachi) I decided I should at last try episode one of the new season to see if they could turn this anime adaptation around. The source material was pretty entertaining so there’s a chance they could make season 2 of this anime better.
So how does this first episode of the new season of Arifureta play out?
Did Arifureta Season 2’s first episode repeat the mistakes of season 1?
It is a tricky thing continuing a story given you do need to align it with what has come before. Probably the worst thing about D Gray Man Hallow when it came out was the characters all looked so vastly different from the episodes that came before it that even though it was pretty decent in its own right if you are watching D Gray Man through the transition is jarring. Arifureta doesn’t have that issue here as the character designs are as they always were as are the voices.
I might suggest there’s an improvement in the CGI monsters that attack during the episode but perhaps that’s just my lowered expectations going into the episode rather than a genuine improvement. Regardless, it is still hardly a visual masterpiece hiding the majority of its action behind a sandstorm in this episode and the harsh terrain being quite at odds with the super cute designs for the members of Hajime’s harem.
And his harem are in full voice in this first episode of season 2 of Arifureta. Prior to the battle the audience is privy to a cat fight between Yue and Kaori over who knows Hajime best that gets to the point where Yue declares she knows more about what Hajime likes in bed at which point the conversation is mercifully cut short. But even once the battle begins and we’re no longer viewing the interior of the vehicle all of the girls continue to banter as we watch sand worms pursuing the car across the desert until finally Hajime, as an audience proxy, pretty much asks them to all shut up.
But complaints aside, in a fair assessment I’d have to say this first episode was largely watchable. The opening sequence is clearly a flash-forward to some fight Hajime will encounter in the future where he’ll be pushed hard. It couldn’t even begin to rival the desperation of his situation after falling in the dungeon so there’s little reason to get invested but at least it gives some direction to the current journey.
Arifureta also brings the hero’s party back to the kingdom and we get a bit of time with Hajime’s former classmates. If they get a bit more screen time they may even start to feel like actual characters in this story.
However, outside of random sandworm encounter, what episode one of Arifureta does is establishes a clear new mission for Hajime and his harem and then cuts over to the demons and establishes a new face for the antagonists and sends both parties on a path to meet at the same location in the near future. It’s enough of a hook and a progression to make it hard to stop there and as much as I still have misgivings about Arifureta the anime this first episode is pretty decent and doesn’t make too many missteps, though mileage may vary on how endearing you find the nattering of the harem.
Images from: Arifureta 2nd Season. Dir. A Iwanaga. asread & studio MOTHER. 2022.
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