Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 3

By Ryo Shirakome and Takayaki. Released in Japan as “Arifureta Shokugyou de Sekai Saikyou” by Overlap. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Ningen.

This was a relatively good volume of Arifureta provided you understand what genre you are reading – it’s a teenage power fantasy of the strongest kind – so let me get the weak point out of the way straight away. It’s not hard, she’s sitting on the cover. Judging by Arifureta fans’ reaction, I’d expected to dislike Shea, introduced last time, but instead I really found myself taken with her. Tio, introduced in this volume, is not nearly as fortunate, mostly as she’s a walking sex joke (it’s a sad state of affairs when the buxom bunny girl is NOT the walking sex joke). She’s a dragon person who is mind controlled to kill the party that Hajime and company are tasked to rescue, and is unsurprisingly very hard to kill. Hajime, who as we know prefers overkill anyway, ends things by shoving a giant spike up the dragon’s bottom… which apparently not only dispels the mind control, but triggers her masochistic side. She spends the rest of the book making the standard “your abuse turns me on” jokes. Also, if you’re going to develop a heroine, don’t do it at the end in an extra story. It just looks like you forgot to.

Leaving Tio aside, the rest of the book is much better. The teacher of this sent to another world bunch, Aiko, gets the bulk of the development, and honestly probably should have gotten the cover, especially as I suspect she’s eventually going to be part of the inevitable harem, though I’m not happy about that. She still has a tendency to be a bit too much of a ripoff of Komoe-sensei from Index, but her desperate idealism and desire to help everyone she meets – as well as all her students, even when they’ve turned totally insane or (in Hajime’s case) become cynical and bitter. In fact, she’s far stronger than you’d expect, and when she goes up against Hajime to convince him to do the right thing and save the town, it’s him who blinks first. Yue also helps here, saying that the Hajime she fell in love with is not someone who will kill for no reason. Having taken the hero as dark as we can, it’s time to start bringing him back to the light.

That will take some time, and may never completely happen, though I particularly liked his reasoning for killing the villain at the end, even though he was dying anyway. Hajime, Yue and Shea continue to be the most broken trio ever, and Shea has now fully integrated herself into their little group (though he still won’t sleep with her.) If you read a series in order to see the hero overcome hardships and struggles, this is so not the book for you. If, on the other hand, you enjoy seeing a ridiculously overpowered twink waltz his way through a fantasy world and occasionally be reminded that he once had an actual soul, and don’t mind him abusing nearly the entire cast, you should enjoy this quite a bit. I would not go as far as Yue and say that Hajime is a tsundere, though. Maybe he’s a tundra.

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