Arifureta Zero, Vol. 1

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

If a spinoff of Arifureta was going to be done, the Liberators were the only obvious choice. And, despite the novel starting out trying to make us think that Oscar was going to be the main character (which he is to an extent), this is all Miledi’s plan and all Miledi’s book. As such, enjoyment of this book will depend on how much you enjoyed Miledi in the second novel. She’s deliberately written to be annoying, and even though we get a tragic backstory here to explain why she does that it can still make you want to grit your teeth at times. That said, her drive to try to change the world and go up against the gods is laudatory, and her recruitment of Oscar (and later on Naiz) also allows plenty of scenes of her getting physically and emotionally abused for comedy purposes. (She reminded me of Shea a bit, to be honest, without the trolling that Miledi does all the time.)

(The author wonders if we were surprised at Miledi’s appearance, but honestly, this is pretty much exactly how I imagined her.)

As I said, Oscar is the focus at the start of the book, a synergist (much like our hero in the main series) trying to keep a low profile to avoid the Church. Said low profile falls to bits once Miledi arrives and starts harassing him, but honestly the church is so evil anyway that it was somewhat inevitable that it wouldn’t last. We also get a pile of adorable plucky orphan children, and once Oscar and Mikedi team up to find Naiz we get two more plucky adorable children, all of whom are put in deadly danger by events of the plot. And do you want tragic backstories? You’ll love Miledi’s, whose childhood was pretty crappy and then got much, much worse. There are also several very cool fights, as you’d come to expect from Arifureta, involving clever manipulation of gravity, creating impossibly hard shields via a cool umbrella (apparently a reference to Kingsman, though I kept thinking of Ryouga Hibiki), and teleportation badassery. And, as I said before, Miledi being really, really annoying.

This actually came out a mere 4 months after the Japanese release, so I would not hold your breath for the second volume right away. That said, I can’t imagine fans of Arifureta not enjoying this, even though the regular cast are nowhere to be seen. You get a good sense of the three leads and why they made the dungeons that they did. It also reminded me that Miledi’s spirit is technically still around in the main series, and I wonder if she’ll do anything else. (I also wonder if she and Oscar will ever hook up. Probably not, I suspect.) Basically, this is exactly the sort of thing you’d like a spinoff to be, and I will definitely enjoy more of it whenever it comes out.

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