Arifureta: From Common Place to World’s Strongest Review Episode 3

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Battling Monsters and Bad Visuals

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Arifureta Episode 3

Outside of the still incredibly ugly visuals that make is difficult to figure out what is going on and what is monster and what is grainy textured background, Arifureta is kind of settling in as an underwhelming entry this season. Now that we’ve moved past the introduction, the fact that we skipped all the back story (or got the cliff-notes version of it in a couple of flashbacks) just means we have a main character with little depth to him because we have no actual connection to him prior to him becoming an unstoppable juggernaut within the dungeon.

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We briefly, as in blink and you’ll miss it, get a scene with the main kids from the class who are about to go back to the labyrinth and again we have no connection to these characters, who they were, how they’ve changed since arriving and since Hajime’s death because any context that might have helped us figure out who they are outside of their name and title was stripped away. So other than knowing some of the class are still going into the labyrinth the scene serves little to no purpose. Though I guess it at least gives us an outdoor scene that is actually bright because otherwise this episode was just a murky mess visually.

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This is Hajime about to land on the back of a monster. Looks good, doesn’t it?

As to Hajime and Yue, they’ve insta-bonded over being betrayed (which I remember being more affective when reading) and that’s more or less fine. They work together to bring down some scorpion monster thing at the start of the episode and this is where the visuals were at their worst. I know the monster was supposed to be blending in with the rocks but it became almost impossible to really distinguish what was going on in the fight and so the ultimate victory for Hajime and Yue wasn’t that amazing.

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We then speed run down to the 100th floor stopping only long enough to deal with some flower monster. That wouldn’t be a problem if they used the time to do something but in the duration we learn practically nothing new about Yue other than she’s maybe well over 300 years old and doesn’t need to eat so long as she’s drinking blood. Otherwise there’s little to nothing going on in the second half and then we arrive at the 100th floor and find a mysterious looking door.


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This episode definitely wasn’t a disaster because we’re past the introduction to this story now and there’s no going back. While the absence of it is sorely hurting these characters and the world building, this episode did the best it could with the foundation it had been given. It isn’t good and I’m still miffed they have managed to make it this unimpressive, but in fairness it is a reasonably average episode in terms of story though a bit more going on would have been nice and if it wasn’t for the awful visual choices they’ve made in portraying the labyrinth the episode overall would be about average for the genre.


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Karandi James


If you are game, check out more reviews of Arifureta.

Images from: Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest. Dir. K Yoshimoto. White Fox. 2019.

Arifureta: From Common Place to World’s Strongest Review Episode 2

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Have They Managed To Get Anything Right?

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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.

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Hajime would like a word with the writers of the anime.

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.

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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.

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But she’ll look cute in all the promotional videos.

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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Karandi James


If you are game, check out more reviews of Arifureta.

Images from: Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest. Dir. K Yoshimoto. White Fox. 2019.

Arifureta: From Common Place to World’s Strongest Review Episode 1

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Let’s Just Skip The Intro

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Arifureta Episode 1

When I picked up the first light novel volume of Arifureta, I was drawn into a story that really hit me emotionally as I watched Hajime’s character get broken down and literally rebuilt from the ground up. It was horrifying and compelling and truly a riveting reading experience. I really do recommend grabbing the first volume of the light novel series.



Then we have this first episode of the anime, which outside of being so dark and gloomy visually that at times it is almost impossible to actually see what is happening in a scene, drops us into the middle of the action and fills in a few details through flashbacks but leaves a lot still unsaid. Admittedly, it is a first episode and they probably didn’t want to go through the standard isekai motions of showing us the class getting summoned etc, but we’ve lost some important points that would make the character transformation actually have impact along the way.

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Because in the anime so far we don’t know anything about Hajime other than he was a bit of a punching bag for some of the others who were with him and that there’s a girl who is a little concerned about him. The impact of his transformed character is incredibly diminished because we’ve spent no time walking in his shoes as he’s struggled to train his ill-suited ability into something usable and the few flashbacks we get don’t really give us enough emotional connection.

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So much set up and so many character relationships just utterly cut from the story. They are either going to have to fill it in later in flash backs or they are going to have serious issues adapting later parts of this story.

Again, it is a first episode and these details might get filled in later. However, that would mean that we at least got an exciting fight filled opening that drew us into the action of the story… Only as I said, visually this one is pretty bleak and the fights with the monsters have so far been pretty pedestrian.

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Sorry, just what is that supposed to be?

Now part of this is a problem on my part because I really loved the first book of this series and the anime has literally just skipped over all the foundation of it as though it was filler. However, even if I back away from knowing what the story was about, this episode isn’t very compelling. I’d put it on par with Demon Lord Retry for the season, which is to say there’s potential for growth and it is a genre I like but the first episode was not overly exciting or promising.

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Great mission statement. This felt a lot more justified in the book.

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Karandi James


If you are game, check out more reviews of Arifureta.

Images from: Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest. Dir. K Yoshimoto. White Fox. 2019.

Arifureta: From Commonplace To World’s Strongest Volume 4 Light Novel Review

Arifureta Volume 4 Cover

Arifureta = Complete a quest, rescue a child, save the hero, and win the girls!

Okay, volume 3 and I of this particular series parted on a fairly rough note. They’d introduced a character I pretty much despised and she was eating a lot of page time with comments I found neither interesting nor funny. I felt perhaps that this would be the end of my acquaintance with these characters and that we would go our separate ways after this volume.

Let me assure you, I’m not parting ways with this series.

The annoying character is most definitely still there, though with so much else happening in this volume Tio’s presence feels muted or diluted at least. But, everything is happening in this volume.

Arifureta Volume 4 Shea gets a new collar

There are two fairly major stories that happen in this volume and then they are book-ended by information that is pretty crucial to the ongoing narrative. It makes for a very satisfying read in a series where drama introduced within a volume resolves but the greater story it is apart of continues fairly seamlessly. This is my favourite kind of series to read where I feel like I was given a wonderful conclusion yet am desperate to read more to find out what the next thing for the characters is.

The first part of the story feels less consequential though it does introduce us to another character (yet another girl) that is going to have a fair impact on Hajime. After volume 3 reunited Hajime with his teacher, he’s definitely started thawing though that isn’t a huge improvement given he still treats most everyone outside of his harem as his enemy. No, they give Hajime a child to protect and while that could have gotten very inappropriate and a little uncomfortable given Hajime’s relationships with the other girls in his life, they actually make this one a fairly wholesome guardian and daughter relationship and the impact of having someone vulnerable and impressionable to protect pushes Hajime’s personality yet further toward the Hajime we met back in volume 1.


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Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want that Hajime back. However the extreme personality make-over took Hajime to a place where he’s almost impossible to connect with so these small steps back to humanity are actually really appreciated and keep each step of the journey feeling fresh. Hajime isn’t wavering in his plans to defeat the gods and get himself back home and he’s still willing to trample whoever he needs to get there. But he is now carrying quite a few others with him.

While this was the shorter section of the book, it was nicely done. There were some battles and some city-wide destruction, and then Hajime moved on.

Which brings us to the second stage of the book. Finally Hajime is going to come face to face with the hero’s party and the other students. When first requested to go and rescue them, I really figured he’d walk away. Despite meeting Aiko in the last book and thawing a bit, and despite the influence of the child he was looking after, I honestly didn’t see Hajime as having captured enough of who he was to care about his former classmates.

Turns out I was right and wrong.

Arifureta Volume 4 Hajime and Kaori

It wasn’t the class he went to save but rather Kaori, the one person in the class who had been nice to him.

This is perhaps the first volume since the first that has devoted any time to fleshing out the students and their personalities and interactions. It is also the first time we find out why Kaori was so distraught when Hajime ‘died’ back in volume 1, you know, other than seeing a classmate fall into an abyss.

Arifureta Volume 4 - Kaori and Shizuku watch Hajime

It is a lovely bit of character development and they managed to simultaneously work in some world building because the students encountered a demon who ended up being way stronger than anticipated and surrounded by incredibly powerful monsters. We finally get a bit of a look at the threat the students were summoned to defeat.

All and all there’s little to complain about in this volume as it seems to keep powering from one event to the next and each part feels meaningful. There’s some excellent character moments from a huge number of the cast, and the ending will leave you wanting the next volume ASAP.

You can check out my review of the anime adaptation here.


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Karandi James


Arifureta: From Commonplace To World’s Strongest Volume 3 Light Novel Review

Arifureta Volume 3 Cover

Another volume of Arifureta and another girl and if I thought Shea the Bunny Girl was annoying, wait until we meet this one.

You know, I’m going to take back every mean thing I said about Shea in volume 2. Yes, she felt like an unnecessary additional character who existed just to create a harem, but at least she had a clear goal of her own and while she might sulk a bit she mostly worked hard. All of those traits are clearly on display in volume 3 and despite the clear harem established with Yue, Shea and Hajime, they’ve actually managed to make the dynamic between the trio work. And yet, in the process of making me actually accept the previous additional member to the harem, volume 3 throws yet another girl into the mix. This time its a dragon.

Arifureta Volume 3 - Hajime and Yue

But backing off that point a bit, because criticising a harem fantasy for having a harem in it is kind of on the pointless side, volume 3 is a really exciting read. Hajime racing to rescue someone from a mountain that has rumours of monsters and in the process running across his teacher and a handful of his classmates. This is the first reunion since Hajime fell and his incredibly different appearance and mannerism become a key plot point for really the first time since volume 1.

In volume 2, despite encountering many characters, none of them knew Hajime or had any frame of reference. So his hostile, Yue and me against the world, attitude was just seen as his default. But running into the teacher who knew the Hajime before his life was pushed to the breaking point brings a new and fairly exciting character development that I really hope gets followed up on.

Arifureta Volume 3 - Hajime meets Aiko.

We’ve got some great action sequences in this book with Hajime’s ability to make weapons and vehicles based off his memory of one’s on earth adding a bit of a different flavour to battles in what would otherwise be fairly traditional fantasy settings. Pulling a Gatling gun on a dragon is certainly a novelty. Throw in some solid magical efforts and the team work between Hajime, Shea and Yue and all and all it makes for a very satisfying read that continues the story, injects some excitement, and sets up future plot developments.


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I’d continue to sing the book’s praises except for Tio. And I’d love to detail just why Tio is so horrible but unfortunately that would step majorly into spoilers so I’ll keep in general.

You know, I get that sometimes characters are annoying on purpose and when even the other characters in the story can’t stand them I assume it is supposed to be on purpose. However, there are almost no words to explain how annoying she is. Fortunately you only have to really put up with her in the latter stages of the book, but literally everything she says made me want to stop reading. She’s like the most intrusive fan-service character ever invented.

Arifureta Volume 3 - Tio

I walked away from this volume thinking how one character managed to sour the entire experience. Because outside of her, I really had fun with this story, but I had to think really hard about that because her presence becomes such an issue. If I hadn’t had the next volume already I may have thought twice about continuing on.

I will admit though, that your tolerance of her antics may vary and if a girl asking to have her butt violated doesn’t completely turn your stomach then you might have a great deal more fun here in general.

So on that note, while I still really see a lot of potential in this overall narrative and I really like the majority of the characters, there’s definitely a sticking point at volume 3 so I can’t completely recommend it.


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Karandi James


Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest Volume 2 Light Novel Review: They Introduced a Bunny Girl

Arifureta Volume 2 Cover

When you have a main party this overpowered the only thing to do is throw everything at them, including terrible puns. Hajime and Yue having escaped the dungeon now encounter a blue bunny girl before setting off to defeat the remaining labyrinths. If you missed my review of Volume 1 you can find it here.

Review:

I’m really torn on this second volume of Arifureta. On the one hand, I like the overall quest Hajime and Yue are on to conquer all the dungeons and get back to  earth. On the other hand, we’re definitely starting to build a harem with the introduction of Shea, the single most annoying punching bag character ever introduced. So reading this volume was a mix of moments that I really enjoyed followed by a lot of inane interactions between the new core group of three that just didn’t sit well with me.

Arifureta Volume 2

There are two real parts to this volume. The first is Hajime and Yue leaving the labyrinth and being recruited by Shea to save her family of bunny men which Hajime ends up doing despite his endless protests because despite being a complete ass ninety percent of the time they still want us to somewhat like him and believe that he’s kind of a good person who was just warped by circumstance. What follows, after a lot of waffling and some not so funny attempts at comedy, is a sequence that kind of reminded me of that episode in Full Metal Panic Fumoffu where Sousuke turns the soft-hearted football team into killers.



I will admit, while I found the sequence fairly entertaining it kind of left a bad taste in my mouth because we now had these ruthless rabbit people pretty much happy to engage in the kill or be killed mentality that Hajime had to develop to survive. Then again, part of this process is probably trying to emphasise what Hajime lost in the process and maybe the point is to help him slowly figure out that he needs to reign it in. At least he kind of acknowledged he may have gone to far before they moved on, though even that moment is kind of ruined by Shea being Shea (and can Hajime stop using rubber bullets on her and just kill her).

“You know, I really did feel bad about what I did to you guys. Even if it was to train you as quickly as possible in the short time we had, I should have put a stop to it after a while.” – Hajime

The second half of the story focuses more on Hajime, Yue and Shea venturing into the human towns and joining the adventurers guild before taking on their second labyrinth. The issue with this part is that the first book was fun because we started with Hajime literally at the mercy of everything and having to coldly build himself up, discarding everything human in the process in order to survive. This labyrinth doesn’t have that.

Instead we artificially limit Yue and Hajime by using a mineral that makes it hard to use Mana or magic, making Shea the tank of the team as they traverse this labyrinth. There still is never a real sense of danger and Hajime and Yue don’t ever really get serious, although they do get annoyed more often than not at the taunting of the labyrinth’s owner.

We get a few cuts to the other students and what they are up to, but they are definitely side characters at the moment and their scenes feel very much like after thoughts. They might be leading to something later on but right now they aren’t very interesting.

Basically it isn’t as compelling a read as volume 1. It is still quite fun in its own way but a lot of the tone and the general idea of Hajime’s character is kind of lost and this volume settles into far more generic isekai tropes. And while that doesn’t result in a bad book by any means, it also isn’t grabbing me as much as volume 1 did.

I’ll give this series another volume and see if it can pick itself back up or whether I’ll part ways with it there.


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Karandi James


Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest Light Novel Review – I Dare You To Call the Protagonist Overpowered

Arifureta Volume 1 Cover

Arifureta is a novel I picked up off a recommendation from the Book Depository when there happened to be a sale and I had 10% off. I hadn’t heard of the title or read anything about it. As a result, it ended up fairly low in my read pile and I passed over it a number of times before I finally decided one day to start it over a long weekend. Well, a day and some eye strain later I’d devoured it, but was it actually any good?

Arifureta Vol 1 Review:

Look, if you have an issue with isekai stories, stories where the weak guy suddenly becomes an unstoppable killing machine, or stories that insist on making the vampire girl look like a pre-teen and finding any excuse for her not to be wearing clothes, right now you already know that this book isn’t going to work for you. This book definitely ticks off pretty much any trope you want to throw at the isekai genre and it does it with a smug sense of ‘look what I did’. Yet that is what probably works in the book’s best interest. It doesn’t try to hide its genre or shy away from it. It isn’t ashamed to be exactly what it was trying to be and as a result this is a story full of excitement, danger, slightly uncomfortable moments when turning a page and finding a fairly unclothed vampire girl staring at me, and generally a lot of fun.

So what is Arifureta about?

Essentially Hajime is your standard protagonist for these kinds of stories. He’s an otaku who likes to sleep during class and doesn’t have many friends. Then his entire class get summoned into a fantasy world where they are tasked with saving it. And they all have powers, only Hajime’s is considered pretty lame and useless and he ends up being beaten up by some of his own classmates.

So far, so standard, and only some fairly decent writing managed to get me into this story. It isn’t exceptional, but considering some of quality of writing in some of the light novels I’ve read in the last year, it is perfectly readable and occasionally there’s some very nice description thrown in amongst what seems to be a fairly hefty exposition dump setting up the scenario.

Despite that, the story manages to draw you in as the students deal with some fairly real challenges with suddenly gaining power but having no training or actual skills and dealing with a world most of them thought only existed in stories or games. There’s a lot going on with the political situation of the world and plenty of what is happening in these pages is set up that could potentially be very interesting further down the line though remains fairly underused in this volume.

Page 106 is where it all just decides its had enough of the play nice with the class where the biggest issues involve avoiding being bullied. Hajime is literally tossed under a bus by one of his own classmates in a misguided fit of jealousy while the teens are training in a dungeon and the next thing he knows he’s sent plummeting to the very bottom level far below where anyone even realised the dungeon reached. It’s a pretty tragic event and one that isn’t over.

See the next 250 or so pages deal very much with Hajime climbing his way back out of the dungeon. There are impossibly tough monsters around every corner and our protagonist is not getting off unscathed. I may have warned you earlier about the nudity, but here’s a warning about the violence. In a very early monster encounter Hajime has his arm torn off and eaten. No joke and no get out of jail free card for the kiddo. He’s just traumatised and it takes him a fair while to do anything after that event. However, it is a magic based world so at least he doesn’t die and he does find the mean to begin rebuilding himself into the nastiest thing to ever crawl out of a dungeon.

Arifureta Volume 1b

And that’s where this book does distinguish itself quite well. Other than the occasional flashes to what the rest of the class are up to, we spend the rest of this adventure watching Hajime fight for his life and develop the tools he’s going to need to become a seriously overpowered hero. In the process he’s going to lose most of what made him human. Some things are ripped from him (like his arm) but others are things he willingly discards in a quest to become something that can survive in this world.

In that, his meeting with Yue becomes pivotal because it was possible Hajime would become something totally unrecognisable and relatable but the vampire girl manages to reawaken some of the humanity inside of him. The dynamic between the pair might be awkward at times but it was most definitely an essential development in this journey.

Overall, there’s a lot of fun to be had in this adventure and it clearly isn’t done with volume 1. There’s ridiculous amounts of world and lore still to explore and the characters have clear goals to continue to work towards. While this is hardly the best thing ever written it was incredibly bingeable and I most definitely added the next book to my wish list as soon as I finished this one.

If you are interested in my thoughts on the anime you can find my season one review here.


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Karandi James