Anime Review

Anime Hajime Review: Arifureta Shokugyou de Sekai Saikyou

Original Run: July 8, 2019 - October 7, 2019
Number of Episodes: 13
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Harem, Isekai
Based on the Series Created By: Ryou Shirakome and 

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Arifureta Shokugyou de Sekai Saikyou. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

Hajime Nagumo (voiced by Toshinari Fukamachi) was your average teenage nobody when he and his entire class were suddenly transported to a world of fantasy and magic. They were told they were the heroes of legend who would fight to protect the land from evil. The class grew accustomed to their roles, and Hajime was content with staying quiet in the background.

Then one day, when exploring a mysterious labyrinth, there was an “accident”.

Hajime is cast into the depths of darkness. Alone and helpless, Hajime is sure he will die. However, a spark lights within him. He becomes furious to have been put into this doomed position. He vows to survive this ordeal and destroy everyone and everything that gets in his way.

Resigning himself to consuming the meat of fallen monsters, Hajime’s skills and power rapidly grow. Soon, he is no longer the weak nothing he once was. Now, he is perhaps the strongest fighter in the entire world.

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Series Positives

I make it a point to go into every series as blind as possible. Before every show I watch, I don’t read other reviews, I don’t skim through any wiki pages, nor do I research anything other than the most barebone details (how many episodes there are, how to spell the title, etc.). I do this because I want my reviews to be, well, my reviews. I never want to just parrot what everyone else is saying simply because everyone else is saying it. Nor do I want to go against the grain merely because I’m trying to be different. If my points agree or disagree with the consensus, that is coincidental.

Still, I live and work on the internet. So, despite my best efforts, sometimes I hear things that I can’t un-hear. For example, before I ever got around to watching Arifureta Shokugyou de Sekai Saikyou (Arifureta), my impression of this series was: People have not liked it; I think that’s putting it mildly.

Trying to stay as neutral as I could, I didn’t attempt to discover, at the time, what people’s grievances towards Arifureta were. But since I knew objections existed I had to wonder: Was this show a lousy adaptation, or was it, indeed, just bad? Since I have never read Arifureta’s source material, I cannot speak on its merits as an adaptation. As a stand-alone anime, though, what I can say is:

Arifureta was fine. In fact, I kind of liked it.

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Don’t get me wrong. There were problems with this show. There were MAJOR problems with this show. It wasn’t anything special. This wasn’t some sort of masterpiece that has been grossly mischaracterized and unfairly looked down upon. I can see and understand the reasons why someone wouldn’t care for this series. But why it is so vehemently hated by so many is lost to me (again, this is coming from someone who hasn’t read the original story).

Additionally, I will gladly admit that as one of the latest entries in the isekai genre (I have, no joke, lost track of how many of these shows I’ve reviewed from 2019 alone), Arifureta wasn’t anywhere close to as good as That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime or The Rising of the Sheild Hero. However, 2019 also saw the releases of both Tsuujou Kogeki de Ni-kai Kougeki no Okaasan wa Suki Desu ka and Isekai Cheat Magician. So, for those who are saying Arifureta is one of the worst things to come out of this year, boy do I wish I lived in your world.

My point is, although Arifureta did have its flaws, it was no more unremarkable than the average series. So, why all the hate? This is even more curious to me since this series had a lot of redeeming qualities.

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For one, Hajime was one of the best isekai protagonists I have seen.

A staple of the isekai genre is that the main hero is absurdly overpowered. Through a freak accident or other reasoning, the hero possesses near godlike abilities. I confess that one of the reasons I enjoy watching isekai shows is because I like watching this gross imbalance.

Hajime was also the strongest person introduced by the end of this series, but he didn’t start out that way. When we first met him, Hajime was a pathetic weakling who was barely capable of protecting himself. At the start of his story, he was battered, beaten, and bloodied to the point of near-death. Through sheer determination and perseverance, Hajime pulled himself back from the brink. But that was just his trial to survive. He had to keep pushing because he wasn’t in a position where he could give up. Hajime earned the strength his other isekai heroes are simply given.

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Along with that, Hajime had a team who stood shoulder to shoulder with him. There was a reason why people in this series referred to Hajime’s group instead of only Hajime individually.

I want to take back what I said about Hajime being the strongest person in this show because that may not be true. The vampire princess Yue (voiced by Yuuki Kuwahara) was as powerful, if not more so than Hajime. Together, these two were an unbeatable team that could take on and conquer any obstacle in their path. On top of that, they had a partnership unlike I have seen in other isekai anime.

There have been plenty of romantic feelings between the hero and a companion, but in Arifureta, Hajime and Yue recognized they were only one side of their shared coin. They completed one another, and due to that, no enemy or rival stood a chance.

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As this series went on, more people began to join Hajime and Yue’s party. The rest had their qualities, but the only one who was of any real note was the rabbit beastman Shia Haulia (voiced by Minami Takahashi). If there was anything Shia proved, it was that even a comic relief character can still hold their own in a fight. She may not have been as formidable as Hajime or Yue, but Shia wasn’t someone who needed looking after. She could be depended on when in the middle of a battle.

I think one of my favorite moments of the show was at the end when Hajime reunited with his classmates. When he left them, he was an unimposing wimp and could hardly keep up with his more charismatic peers. But after so much time away, Hajime came back looking and behaving vastly different than he did. On top of that, he was accompanied by a team of equally strong companions who followed his lead. It was clear that the classmates Hajime had been separated from had spent their time in comparative luxury, whereas he had not only been to the depths of hell, he had kicked its ass.

I’ll say this definitively. I thoroughly enjoyed Arifureta and not in an ironic way. This show, flaws and all, was a lot of fun.

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Series Negatives

The GGI in Arifureta was f@#$ing atrocious. Yeah, I might have liked this show, but this…this was unacceptable.

You have to wonder what sort of budget constraints the studio was under for them to look at the monster designs for this series and say, “That is as good as we are going to get.”

I have said in the past that the quality of a show’s animation is secondary to things like story and characters. How a series looks has never been a death knell for me. Granted, garbage visuals have never done a show any favors either. But in the end, when a series is already plagued with other issues, terrible art is only ever the cherry on top.

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Putting aside the animation, Arifureta was a show that existed in two parts.

The first was when Hajime was stuck within the depths of the labyrinth. This was when he saw his most growth as a fighter. This was also when he met Yue, and their relationship solidified into the rock that it was. Whenever this series focused on what Hajime was doing, things were interesting. But every now and then, the story would cut to showcase what Hajime’s classmates were up to, and I can tell you this right now, they never said or did anything of relevance. These segments were time-wasters, and I wouldn’t fault you for skipping right through them.

The second half of this series comprised of Hajime and Yue’s time after they escaped the labyrinth. The most significant difference between this half and the first was the pacing. Suddenly, Arifureta felt it needed to speed through the rest of the story. Although someone like Shia was allowed to be introduced and settle themselves within the party, someone like Tio Clarce (voiced by Yoko Hikasa) basically said, “Hi. My character is a pervert, and now I’m joining you guys.”

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Also, Tio’s introduction was certainly something to watch. This was a clear instance where Arifureta’s piss-awful CGI made a scene a lot stupider than it already was.

It was disappointing to see Arifureta half-ass its way through the rest of its main cast after it made an effort to establish who Hajime, Yue, and Shia were.

The next thing I want to talk about was something I found to be hilarious, but for all the wrong reasons. This isn’t so much a criticism towards Arifureta. Instead, this is directed to the current state of the isekai genre.

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I’ve been throwing the term around, so for those who don’t know, an isekai story is when a character or a group of characters are transported to another, more fantastical world. Often the ones summoned are tasked with saving the land from some great evil. Therefore, the actual arriving in the other world is sort of the thing that makes an isekai, an isekai.

However, isekai stories are so prevalent in today’s anime landscape, a show like Arifureta can come along and actually have the balls to skip such a crucial scene. To be fair, “skip” isn’t entirely true. This series did show the moment when Hajime and his classmates were transported to the other world. It was referenced in the opening song.

Nevertheless, that quick glimpse of a portal opening up and transporting the characters was all the information required. I saw that and instantly filled in the blanks. That’s the state of isekai today. These stories are so frequent and so standard that the very thing that makes them what they are has become irrelevant.

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Lastly, and I’m taking a guess at this, I have to think that people’s negative response to this series is due to its standing as an adaptation. Having never read Arifureta’s source material but having not liked adaptations of other stories in the past, my gut is telling me this series did something wrong. Now, I believe when anything from one medium is brought to another, some aspects need to be different. What may work on paper may not translate to the screen. Therefore, a good adaptation doesn’t mean a full one-to-one conversion. It means that the spirit of the story is still there.

Correct me if I am wrong, but based on so many people’s dislike of the Arifureta anime, it must have failed to recapture what made the original story what it was. If you are someone who doesn’t like this show because of that, you are not wrong, for that is a perfectly valid sentiment.

The point I’m making is, Arifureta, as a stand-alone anime, under its own merits, was fine.

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Final Thoughts

Supposedly there is a season two in the works. Although some scoff at the idea of one, I, on the other hand, am looking forward to it.

Was this show great? No, it had problems; bad animation; inconsistent pacing; overused story mechanics. But was this show terrible? No, not at all.

This series had a strong main character in Hajime and equally strong supporting characters to join him on this journey. Speaking of which, this was a journey where nothing was just given. Every obtained was earned, and therefore, the final triumph felt so much better.

If I am the only one who thinks this, then so be it.

I encourage everyone who wishes to challenge me on this series to do so because Arifureta Shokugyou de Sekai Saikyou has earned a recommendation.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? How would you advise Arifureta Shokugyou de Sekai Saikyou? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

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