From its dubious tropes to its collapsing production, Arifureta - From Commonplace to World's Strongest is hardly the pinnacle of isekai entertainment. This week, Nick and Steve explore what went wrong with this initially anticipated fantasy series.
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Well Steve, we're finally getting to the most anticipated isekai anime of this stacked summer season. And I have just one question for the folks behind Arifureta - From Commonplace to World's Strongest
Let me answer your question with another question:
In general, Arifureta
has left me with more questions than answers, but most of those questions essentially boil down to "Why?"
Yeah let's not beat around the bush. From a purely production standpoint, Arifureta
is an obvious wreck. I'm used to these light novel isekai adaptations getting at least a warm welcome from their established diehards, but it's been difficult to find even a single positive response to this one, and I cannot blame them.
It's a concatenation of baffling decisions on both a story and production level, almost like it's going out of its way to be as unlikable as possible to the greatest number of people. I'm honestly kinda impressed.
I kind of feel sorry for Arifureta
. It's a disasterpiece that's constantly trying to impress the viewer with how badass its main character becomes, but its own production issues (partly thanks to its original author!
) give it all the gravitas of a poorly drawn Cannibal Corpse logo in a teenager's chemistry notebook.
It's fitting that the big bad threat it chooses to introduce first carries all the weight of something Monty Python used as a punchline over 40 years ago.
I'm sure it's quite terrifying when you can actually see it. But you can't, because on top of bad animation, somebody decided the first episode of this show should be broadcast in Night Mode.
I mean, at least it primes you for the rest of the show, which is equally bad to look at. But the premise is also the most tired kind of nerd revenge fantasy, with the dweeby Hajime being dropped to his doom by the class jock (of course). After five minutes of whining about having his arm eaten off, Hajime eats some rotten monster meat that makes him the most powerful edgelord in the world.
That's his entire hero's journey: he gets angry, eats some rancid meat, then gets his hair Tokyo Ghoul
The anime apparently skipped like three episodes worth of setup to get us right to The Kaneki-osis of Hajime, which woudl have better established why one of Hajime's mundane classmates would try to off him. But all we get without reading the LNs is this single shot of him getting bullied for bad stat rolls. Because, as always, this totally organic fantasy land has quantifiable character points.
I for one love it when isekai stories skip past all the boring stuff, like making your main character likable or even slightly distinguishable, and get straight to the good part, which is talking about rocks while numbers go up onscreen.
To a certain degree, I get it. You don't want to bury your lede and make the audience think this is a standard story about some random Melvin getting yoinked into a fantasy world and told to level grind until all the girls like him. But also we know Hajime the Dweeb for all of four minutes before he's crawling in his skin.
It's honestly hilarious. He becomes a completely different character well before the first commercial break, and his first game-breaking superpower is the ability to minecraft a Gun.
And you can tell the author wants him to be the coolest guy in the universe, but the anime sublimely undercuts this entire transformative scene by scoring it with smooth jazz.
That's the weird charm of Arifureta
for me. In a more competent production, Hajime's pivot from total weenie to Dante from Devil May Cry
would probably feel too mean-spirited or indulgent, but because it's always kicking the chair out from under itself, I just have to laugh.
Just imagine this image, but set to the sound of a jazz flute doing scales. That's Arifureta
, and it's, in the most literal sense of the word, incredible. I don't say this lightly, but it's got some big Big Order
It can't earn that title until at least one girl gets magically pregnant and you know it, Steve. Though Hajime seems to be working his way up to that.
I'm just saying, my biggest regret about this column is that we started it too late to cover Big Order
, so I have to appreciate whatever joy I can get out of similar shows. But since you brought it up, once Hajime establishes himself as an unstoppable magic gunslinger, the next thing he does is find himself a tiny nude vampire wife trapped in a cube.
Personally, I wish he'd gone with his instincts on that one and left her be.
Personally I wish he'd go with his instincts less, because while most shows will at least possess enough shame to dance around the whole "actually 300 years old, looks 10 years old" thing, my dude wastes zero time Frenching his new friend.
Yeah, there's no getting around how Hajime's only companion (so far) is defined entirely by how she wants to
drink his blood.
Yue supposedly has a deep, involved history where she literally ruled a kingdom, but none of that matters outside of motivation for Hajime to save her. Heck, she even lets him name her.
The seriously uncomfortable thing about Yue is that she's not given any personality outside of an almost pathological devotion to Hajime. She doesn't even get real-person clothes until the very end of the fifth episode. It's just yikes after yikes.
But to be fair, I guess I shouldn't belittle the powerful bonding experience of fighting a poorly-rendered CG hydra for an entire episode.
That god damn hydra fight...
It's literally an ENTIRE episode of them battling a monster that looks like it walked out of a pre-rendered cutscene from a 1995 PC adventure game.
You and I have watched some embarrassing action sequences before (hey Hero Mask
), but I legitimately think episode four may be the worst anime fight I've
Just LOOK at this! The lifeless rigging, the way-too-shiny texturing, the way they deform the model to make it look like the snake is extending its hood. I just can't.
It's astonishingly bad to look at, down to the editing and staging. Nearly every shot is absolutely wrong for what they're trying to achieve. The fact that it's still comprehensible enough to follow mostly comes down to how stilted the action already was on paper.
Plus the compositing is just terrible. Nothing looks like it exists on the same planar system as anything else.
My favorite is how they couldn't even get the snakes being crushed offscreen to look convincing.
Like much of the show, I would have found this all enjoyably bad, if not for the fact that it takes up the entire fourth episode. At the end of the day, I'm only human, and there's only so much I can handle. This was just miserable.
For me, it works entirely because it's basically 20 minutes of every Anime Fight cliche you can think of. We get not one but two moments of characters sacrificially getting hit with laser blasts. The aforementioned makeout session happens because Hajime has to snap Yue out of a mind control spell that traps her in her own worst fears. Then Hajime wakes up from near death because Yue starts crying over him. It feels like an attempt at every cool dramatic beat the author's ever seen in an anime, but delivered through a corrupted Sega
I mean, at least I can say it definitely made an impression on me.
I gotta find entertainment in here somewhere, and I'm certainly not going to get it from Hajime's dungeon crawling checklist, so let me enjoy the Skeleton War.
Oh yeah, there's also the boring B-plot where the rest of Hajime's class (they all got isekai'd together) continues their fantasy spelunking training course, while everyone but his former-yet-age-appropriate love interest has resigned herself to the fact that Hajime is totally dead. And they too get to fight against their own
The whole Isekai School Trip is actually one of the elements I wish the story had bothered to flesh out. The idea of being stuck in RPG world where your party is just the kids in your homeroom has a lot of potential for characterization! Sadly, everyone ends up with maybe one personality trait, two if you count cleavage
as a personality.
For real, there's potential intrigue or at least entertainment in having an entire class of isekai'd kids who have literally been burdened as God Warriors, but all of them are either potatoes or
The Most Obvious Villain Ever.
Yeah, you always want to check before you touch your [ahem] glanz crystal.
The dude even talks out loud about getting away with this, without checking to see if anyone else is around. If Hajime's classmates didn't have dirt for brains, he'd be in jail long before the protagonist ever returned.
Don't worry, I'm sure he'll eventually be run over by Hajime's magic Hummer, which is a Thing that Exists.
I mean, yeah sure. After Hajime transmutes a railgun out of a scorpion carapace, I'm willing to believe he could make that.
Speaking of carapaces, I refuse to believe those are muscles. My dude has an exoskeleton.
It's there to match his new eye, obviously.
Yeah, if making lightning guns out of rocks wasn't chuuni enough, his reward for conquering the first labyrinth includes a fake ruby eye, new eyepatch, and a robot arm. Oh and his favorite meal: fetid monster meat.
While I don't have a way to demonstrate it, I promise that while my dude goes in on that Flintstone-looking hunk of meat, the show absolutely plays the running sound effect from a Hanna-Barbera
I can vouch for those bongos. As absolutely bonkers as that was, it barely registers amongst the show's weirdest creative choices.
It's just another grain of sand on "Why?" mountain, but it's that exact inscrutable decision-making that keeps me coming back to Arifureta. With a more comprehensive production, this show would probably just feel like every other isekai show that's come out in the last couple years, but in this sorry state, it's at least an interesting dumpster to sift through.
Also, it's extremely funny to me that the week we chose to cover Arifureta is the week it decided to have a recap episode. To be fair, I don't think we could have possibly anticipated that they'd resort to one after only five episodes, one of which was just a single boss fight.
Frankly I'm thankful for that, because I did need a refresher on all the worldbuilding the show insists is important but hasn't mattered to the characters at all.
Like hey, thanks for reminding me that there's supposed to be animal people in this world. Otherwise, when the half-naked bunny girl showed up at the end of this recap, I'd have been confused.
Not just a half-naked bunny girl—a half-naked bunny girl being hunted by a dinosaur! Honestly, this show
For as much as I like to rag on isekai tropes, my appetite for absolute garbage reigns supreme, and much like Hajime gets his powers from eating monsters, I feel stronger having sat through Arifureta
. I can't wait to see what other delightful bullshit it has in store.
Same, but with less prepubescent
bath tub humping, please.