Arifureta Shokugyou de Sekaisaikyou (S1)

Title:Arifureta Shokugyou de Sekaisaikyou (S1)
Arifureta - From Commonplace to World's Strongest
Keywords: , , , , , , ,
Notables: Animation - WHITE FOX
Animation - asread
While on an training exercise within the Great Orcus Labyrinth, minor adventurer Hajime Nagumo is plunged into a deep and dangerous level, where he finds himself up against terrifying creatures that he would never dare to fight if he had the slightest choice. In a literal do-or-die situation, he manages to acquire the necessary skills to survive--and then some.

13 episodes

See also: Arifureta Shokugyou de Sekaisaikyou (S2)
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Rent Stretch [series:3733#628]

(All episodes watched):

I was confused by images of what seemed to be modern day Japanese students in their typical uniforms within the OP sequence, and the fact that episode one was set entirely within a fantasy setting and made no attempt to explain the anomaly. According to ANN, these kids are in fact Japanese students who have somehow been transported to this alternate reality as 'heroes', much like the premise of Rising of the Shield Warrior. The fact that Nagumo acquires amazing powers in a hurry reminded me of Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken as well. This is yet another example of an anime about a fantasy world that is based on one or more video games. A person would never be able to achieve anything like what Nagumo does (after sustaining a grievous wound) in the real world. Since we don't know what rules apply and what is possible and impossible, it gets kind of confusing at times. Nagumo goes from being unarmed and helpless to wielding a fearsome magical revolver in the space of one episode--don't ask how this happened, because I do not know myself. Exactly what message the episode was trying to get across to us was unclear; Nagumo blames his classmates for what happened to him, but if that is shown to us one must watch carefully in order to catch it (I did not). While watching I noticed that I wasn't getting any strong feeling about whether this was a good show or a bad one. I ended up with little idea where this story was headed now that Nagumo had become a fearsome warrior. Would he try to take revenge on his classmates? But I was somewhat curious, and given the vagueness of episode one it seemed too early to draw a final conclusion regarding whether to watch or to quit.

Episode two left me fairly intrigued by what's going on. Apparently these Japanese teens have been drafted to fight against demons and beastmen who threaten to annihilate humans in this alternate reality. Most of them freely agree to do so, once the situation is explained. Nagumo was indeed betrayed because a classmate is attracted to his sort-of girlfriend. The girlfriend refuses to accept that he is dead and begins organizing an ad hoc rescue mission. Nagumo, meanwhile, comes across a pretty vampire, Yue, encased in stone deep in the labyrinth, and frees her. Perhaps because the story was operating on several different tracks at once, I got the feeling that this was all going somewhere, and there would be a fairly sophisticated plot to it. At the time, I was surprised how much fun I was having watching it. Whereas many shows just load on numerous shallow and unnecessary characters, here I found myself curious about who the second and third girl who would presumably team up with Nagumo would be, and what would happen when he was reunited with his classmates.

It turned out that the plot was somewhat less disciplined than I had expected. Episode four was a drawn out battle which took up time that I would have preferred be spent moving the plot forward. Nagumo (after predictably finding himself naked in bed with Yue) harvests a bumper crop of awesome magical powers found at the bottom of the labyrinth. I wish he would hurry up and be reunited with his classmates, and go looking for whoever betrayed him, but that seemed unlikely to happen until he acquired the remaining two girls of his harem. In episode six Nagumo and Yue do indeed meet the second girl, but I was not thrilled. This person is a rabbit-earned female who has some exotic non-combat skills but is otherwise appeared to be completely useless and to have been included purely as a joke. She initially seemed like largely a waste of time to me, in a show which was looking more and more like it was about the visceral thrills of playing a video game rather than having much of a plot. The encouraging signs which I had thought I had detected earlier of a sophisticated plot were not coming to pass. In episode seven it turns out that Rabbit Girl isn't completely useless after all, which was a relief. If she knows what's going on, she can take down an opponent with some skill. And the remainder of her people are left behind, which was another relief. In episode eight Nagumo is finally reunited with some of his classmates, but not the important ones, and the event wasn't nearly as powerful or pivotal as I had once expected. He informs them that he was betrayed, which is news to them, but doesn't seem to be particularly determined to take revenge upon whoever was responsible. Apparently in the long run he just wants to get back to earth, but that isn't all that exciting or dramatic. What he wants in the short run seemed vague and confusing. Another confusing thing is that he has somehow gained the ability to summon high-technology devices out of thin air. In episode eight he summons a Hummer and in episode nine some sort of Dragon-fighting device. Once subdued the Dragon transforms into the third member of his harem, Tio (I saw this coming in advance). The trick he used to subdue her was at first amusing then quickly got sordid, as Tio predictably went from excruciating pain to an orgasm-like experience. Time was rapidly running out (this isn't a two-season production) and there didn't seem to be any signs of Nagumo's pseudo-girlfriend making another appearance at all. Nagumo is persuaded to annihilate and army of monsters in order to save a town, and we get a slight surprise regarding who was leading them, but we are left wondering what the point of this was in regards to the overall plot, which should be nearing a climax about now. Likewise when Nagumo helps out a 'merfolk' girl, Myu, in episode 11. I had pretty much given up all hope that we would ever get a solution to the basic conflict behind the show. It was looking like little more than a 'what would you do if you had virtually unlimited power in an alternate reality?' romp.

Lo and behold, completely unexpected, in the next-to-last episode Nagumo and his girls happen to visit the town near the Great Orcus Labyrinth and he gets a urgent call to save his old comrades from a deadly trap they have walked into. Initially, he couldn't care less what becomes of them, but he is persuaded to intervene. So, basically Nagumo gains fantastic powers in a hurry, wanders about collecting a harem for most of the show, but in the end we do get a resolution of the basic conflict. Better late than never. And I was surprised how much fun the final episode was. His merciless but justified treatment of the demon girl who had ambushed his classmates was cathartic. This guy doesn't fool around. It's clear that he has become a total ass kicker and has no need for revenge since he has humiliated everyone who once looked down on him and drives off with all the hottest girls. Until the final episode I had been thinking that this was a pretty cheesy show which had barely been worth my time, but things turn around in a hurry and afterwards I was glad I had watched it.

P.S: there is also at least one special. In the first (only?) one, the girls are bathing nude when they come across Yue's diary and cannot resist the temptation to take a look. I noticed that the background artwork seemed significantly better than that of the original series. A good deal of this special (but by no means all of it) consists of clips from the series, but it was sort of amusing.

Last updated Sunday, January 19 2020. Created Saturday, July 27 2019.

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