Arifureta - From Commonplace to World's Strongest
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Arifureta - From Commonplace to World's Strongest ?
Community score: 2.7
Arifureta delivering a recap episode last week, less than halfway through the show's run, probably doesn't bode well for its struggling production. Episode 5.5 did give us the benefit of summing up the show's story in the most concise way so far, and this week we catch back up with its one piece of unique animation. Much like the intrepid heroes of Made in Abyss before them, Hajime and Yue have plunged down a dangerous labyrinth, suffered a grievous arm injury, and now they'll meet a helpful bunny girl! But the bizarro nature of how Arifureta has progressed means things aren't going to unfold so smoothly going forward.
First of all, the bunny girl, named Shea, isn't all that helpful. She's mainly around to give Hajime and Yue their first new quest after they pop out of the labyrinth into a completely different setting. This episode is split between a canyon and a magical forest, and with nary a mention of Hajime's class from the preceding arc, it makes for a jarring break from that material even by this show's standards. After saving Shea by shooting some dinosaurs in the face, the silly rabbit spurs the power couple into action by being extremely annoying. It does a genuine disservice to the character and her motivations, since she does have the sympathetic backstory of being an outcast (much like Hajime and Yue), and actually saving a group of people is solid character progression for Hajime, who's been defined by looking out only for himself and his tiny girlfriend thus far. But when he initially ends up blowing off Shea's request, it comes off less like Hajime demonstrating his pragmatic tendencies and more like he just wants to spend less time with this irritating bunny-girl, which should be highly relatable to the audience, but maybe not for the right reasons.
The pacing of events doesn't help matters. Counting the cold open, we spend a full seven minutes in the canyon with Shea whining at the two main characters until her promise to guide them goads them into coming into the forest with her. But after that, the speed of the show suddenly shifts into overdrive, with the majority of our main man's monster mashing made into a montage. That's overlaid with some backstory narration from Shea, as well as seeing several little storylines that the episode gleefully skips through. There's a scene with some bear-people and some sort of deal with elves who also live in the forest, but it's all just barely depicted. Then we get a brief break before Hajime decides the best solution to help these bunny-people is to pull a Seven Samurai and train them to fight for themselves, so we jump to another montage!
Despite its ramshackle way of telling this story, at least Arifureta is still pursuing a plot, so I can still catch glimpses of what it's trying to do. The core idea of ‘monstrous outcasts’ finding kinship with each other is plenty palpable under the messy execution. Even when the attempts at comedy with Shea's character are unsuccessful, you can see the story driving at this theme. What's most interesting to me is that Shea actually has the opposite origin of Hajime. Whereas he was shunned for being ‘commonplace’ upon being brought into this world, Shea was labeled a ‘monster’ for her ability to use future-sight and other beastly powers. Flashbacks to her with her mother illustrate the same problem Hajime has confronted since his underground power-up. Being different can make you scary to others, but it also means there are special things only you can do. I just wish Arifureta would opt to spend more time exploring this theme instead of burning off its runtime with montages and bad comedy.
Sadly, Arifureta's problematic priorities persist. There are a few minutes dedicated to a gag where Hajime's training turns the peaceful, nature-loving bunny-people into a bloodthirsty warrior race. Some might find that distasteful, but I thought it was an amusing illustration of the story's dedication to its edgy and excessive aesthetic. I also liked the resulting sight gag where every one of the tribe shows up looking totally shredded. But in the end, it's a mere punchline to end this supposed storyline, as the episode ends with Hajime and Yue finding another labyrinth entrance, but it's the wrong one, which they can't even enter yet. So they have to take Shea with them and head somewhere completely different. Between its on-the-fly production and prioritizing the least-interesting parts of its narrative, this episode just felt like going nowhere slowly.
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