When Arifureta directed Hajime onto his quest to conquer each of the Labyrinths, initially as a goal to maybe get home and then apparently to bring down the gods of the world, or whatever, I wondered how they would keep this scenario interesting.
The first Labyrinth (in season one) was brutal for Hajime given his weakness when he fell into it and transformed him entirely teaching him a huge range of skills along the way. Subsequent labyrinths have been less impressive. While the second presented some challenges, mostly they’ve been a walk-through for Hajime and gang and while they’ve learned a new magic at the other end there’s been little personal growth associated with the journey.
If the journey is giving diminishing returns, what will Arifureta do next?
I guess if someone was determined to attempt defending the Arifureta anime adaptation they’d point to Kaori’s understanding this week as she accepted her position in the party and that Hajime was in love with Yue. I’m not entirely sure that was a winning decision but I guess it counts as character growth.
For Hajime though, this latest Labyrinth really didn’t do much for him other than give him the token that means he now has conquered enough labyrinths to go back to the one in Shea’s forest. I’ll admit though, as Hajime himself points out, the visions in this Labyrinth would have been much harder to deal with if you were from the world originally. As it was though it really was as Hajime put like “watching a bad play”.
Basically this Labyrinth revealed that a year after peace was forged between humans, beastmen and demons, the human king got all the delegates from the beastmen and demons onto a boat, went off on a religious extremist rant before executing the lot of them. Go figure it was a human who broke the peace treaty and did it because he was hiding behind religion.
Although, I guess we are potentially being led to believe that he was being manipulated behind the scenes. With the end scenes showing us what is currently happening in the palace where clearly people are having their minds controlled, it is certainly possible.
And certainly they remind us at the end of this episode of Arifureta yet again of things going very wrong for the students waiting back at the palace. While Hajime and his group are out doing and as a result continuing to gain magic and skills, the rest of the summoned heroes have kind of stagnated and seem to not even be venturing out from behind the walls anymore.
Even as they worry about their teacher who has not come back and others who have gone missing, they still simply sit at a table and wring their hands rather than taking action.
Honestly, we’re very back to Arifureta just kind of being adequate. We’ve returned to the murky visuals at points in the Labyrinth making it difficult to see what is happening. We’re also back to seemingly little to no challenge for Hajime and his gang as they simply walk through one of the most dangerous places on the planet. Even the one potential threat that may have challenged them was easily dealt with due to the arrival of the talking fish Hajime randomly rescued way back when (and how many viewers had just forgotten about that).
That said, there is a sense that this season of Arifureta is actually moving us toward something. The ongoing saga with the other students suggests that Hajime isn’t going to be ignored for too much longer and it makes me wonder where this season will end.
Images from: Arifureta 2nd Season. Dir. A Iwanaga. asread & studio MOTHER. 2022.
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