So a long while back, I write an article describing the high quality of volume one of the official serialization of Arifureta. You can find it here. It had really good written structure, a well defined writing style of the stream of consciousness school of writing which is quite often seen in Japanese media and the story was quite interesting albeit a little cliched.
Volume 1 of Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest was an exciting read without a moment of mundanity or boredom, and the plot set up for later installments was on point as well.
What exactly happened in volume 2 and the succeeding volumes that made a percentage of fans dislike them? Let me tell you.
The first reason is also the most obvious, and that is the drop in the quality of the translation from volume one to two. If volume one was like a clear river flowing proudly then volume two is akin to a muddy and polluted river, overall they’re the same thing, but their quality is incomparable.
This is an issue that gets rectified in later volumes, noticeably from volume four and five, but it never quite reaches the same gold standard as the first volume.
The second, and only slightly less obvious reason is the huge tonal shift from volume one to volume two. I did predict in my original post that part of the reason that the masses did not like volume two was that the author tried to write a crowd-pleaser type volume and that is exactly what happened.
The first volume of Arifureta is dark and gritty, with emphasis on the scheming happening behind the students’ backs and the horrifying situation Hajime Nagumo had to deal with, including the loss of his compassion and humanity, emotion, being pushed to the brink of insanity, etc. It’s just on the edge of being too edgy, but manages to straddle that demarcation perfectly.
Volume two(and the subsequent volumes) is a slapstick and situational comedy. Part of the reason why volume one was so good was that it was quite far removed from the average isekai, with the main character straying far away from ‘normal’ isekai MC tropes like lucky lecher moments and comedy in the most serious of situations. Volume two definitely tries to incorporate more and more of these tropes and cliches into the story, with the introduction of the living embodiment of slapstick and violent humor, Shea and the peace-loving turned warrior rabbitman tribe, the Haulias.
This trend towards slapstick and cliches continues with the introduction of Tio, a perverted dragon whom I will let you find out about on your own.
Hajime also goes from an actual badass main character with his own quirks to the typical, ‘i don’t care but still will help but actually care’ type character and the author really tries to force the virtues of a polygamous relationship onto Hajime with his surrounding females. Never once have I been able to understand why isekai authors write as such that every female within their stories will fall in love with the main character. That’s not how love works man! That’s also not how relationships work! I can understand having at most three partners, whether they be male or female, for a main character(hey, who says girls can’t have multiple husbands?), but more than that is entering a realm of actual fantasy whose only propensity is in the mind of a horny teenage boy.
The overall attitude the main character takes towards these women surrounding him is also quite strange. It’s a mixture of hostility and forceful indifference which turns into awkwardness and acceptance and being noncommittal, which would seem quite natural if it happened once or twice, but not every goddamn time! Fuck that shit! I’ve long given up on the isekai genre in this regard.
All I can say is that the main character goes from a badass facing adversity head on to a pussy who likes to pose and doesn’t end up doing much more than that in spite of all the things he could do. And his personality ends up becoming very annoying due to certain ‘reasons’ which become quite apparent while reading the later volumes.
The third and least obvious reason is the change in the motivations of the characters. Outwardly, Hajime still wants to go home. As explained in the first volume, due to the situations he was put in, Hajime’s deepest, most burning desire was to return back to Japan. He works hard towards this goal and we can actually feel his conviction through the pages of the first volume, which is one of the biggest things which kept making me turn pages one after another.
In the subsequent volumes, even though Hajime’s main focus is still returning back home, that conviction which could be felt through the pages is sorely lacking. It’s like Hajime’s merely going through the actions of what he’s doing instead of being a character with free will and ambitions. Instead of remaining the complex character he was in volume one, he turns into a puppet of the plot.
When you read the subsequent volumes, you notice that all of these changes occur due to the lack of one integral component of any story, tension. After volume one, the tension that was present in almost every situation is either replaced by slapstick humor or monotonous, disharmonious commentary. Hajime’s too strong and the situations he faces no longer warrant any sort of attention or sympathy on the reader’s part. The most important element of a story is tension, as it is the factor which makes us worried about the characters and their fate. A story with no tension is like a kite without a string, it may be able to stay afloat for a while, but it will never be able to fly for long.
Of course there are exceptions to this rule of tension, masterful writings which capture the reader’s attention with the characters and writing rather than story and plot, but good examples of those are far and few between, otherwise they wouldn’t be exceptions.
On account of this, in my eyes, volume two is the biggest sinner of them all out of the many volumes of the Arifureta series(and the ones to come). It is the most abhorrent, least enjoyable and least readable out of the bunch and I would recommend just skipping that volume.
The subsequent volumes actually do regain a higher quality of translation and the story does keep becoming more and more enjoyable, with an almost strictly increasing trend from volume three onwards, but it’s enjoyable in a very different capacity from the first volume and people who liked the first volume may not necessarily enjoy the slightly garish, cliched and rotund but still good story and plot of Arifureta. It’s just that volume two is a completely different level of bad than the others.
As such, I would recommend that if you enjoy your isekai light novels, you continue reading Arifureta.
A small message to prospective anime watchers who want to get a feel for the light novel through the anime, the anime is quite different in atmosphere and pacing as compared to the light novel and I don’t really like it much. It’s not exactly a great adaptation in my books, so be warned, I would rather you watch the milf isekai, alright?
Farewell for now my dear readers, I am quite excited for all the changes and updates that are going to be happening to this website. No cosmetic changes though, I like the theme as it is.