Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 8

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.

The last few reviews I’ve talked about Hajime as Christ figure, Hajime as overpowered author fantasy, and Hajime as nerd. Given the events in this volume, particularly near the end, it seems appropriate to talk about Hajime as asshole. Hajime’s experience in the dungeon in the first volume broke him in many ways, and aside from his power levels the most obvious has been in his attitude towards… well, almost everything. And while we’ve seen occasional nudges back towards non-sociopathy, particularly thanks to Aiko, there’s still an awful lot of Hajime making the choice that will upset people the most, either because he wants to or, more frequently, because he can’t be bothered. And the main reason he does this, of course, is that the author (and I assume readers) find it funny. Honestly, given all the attention focused on humiliation being a subset of arousal in this book, I suspect we learn a bit TOO much about the author’s mind here. But at the end of the book, Hajime seems to genuinely mellow out.

The bunny girl on the cover is one of the big reasons, to be honest. Much has been made by Hajime of the fact that Yue is the girl he loves and the rest of his harem are far, far below her. And while that’s still fairly true, Shea’s actions over the course of the series, and particularly in the last two books, have led Hajime to realize that he does, in fact, love her as well. Not the same way he loves Yue – there’s no sex here, much to Shea’s disappointment, though I’m not sure “platonic” is how Hajime feels either. But Shea makes Hajime happy, and he wants her to be with him – and not with anyone else. This is helped along by the other big thing that mellows Hajime out, which is that he gains magic that should finally lead him to being able to return home to Japan. Just the idea that he can escape this, let’s face it, pretty dystopian world makes him smile like his old self, much to everyone’s surprise.

Speaking of ‘harem tiers’, the majority of this book is spent clearing another dungeon, this one designed to tend the bonds of love, friendship, and teamwork. Along for the ride are the B-team Japanese group, and let’s just say they don’t do really well. Dungeon-wise, the ‘tiers are Hajime & Yue -> Shea, Kaori and Tio -> big gap -> Shizuku -> Kouki, Ryutarou, and Suzu. You’ll notice Shizuku is a level higher than the others, and indeed we also see it becoming more obvious that she’ll be part of the harem eventually, which everyone else seems to have accepted but her. Indeed, at the end of the dungeon the bottom three don’t get the reward for clearing it – they weren’t good enough. That said, props to Suzu for stepping up and asking to go try the next one anyway, especially because she tells Hajime her reasoning is to be powerful enough to try to talk sense into Eri when they next see her. I suspect the reader knows this is futile, given the epilogue, but I was honestly surprised that the whole group is going to stick around. Even Kouki, who was on his best behavior in this book.

The author says we’re in the home stretch, though I suspect that still means about 3-4 more books. Till then, this volume is very long but satisfying, particularly if you like sweet, heartfelt scenes – that last short story was almost pure sugar. On the other hand, when you get to the scenes with the “slime creatures”, take my advice and skip a few pages. What is it with Japan and “fake bukkake”?

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