Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 10

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

In general, if you’re going to have an unbalanced book, it’s best to have the strongest material be towards the end than towards the beginning. This is a problem for Arifureta Book 10, which has as its first third or so some of the best scenes in the entire series, then tries its hardest to keep it up. Unfortunately, keeping it up would require the reader to feel a lot more sympathy – or a lot less – towards Kouki than they do. This means that we spend a good deal of the last half of the book waiting for Kouki to finish typing his Reddit post on how girls he deserves won’t sleep with him. To be fair, the book very clearly takes a negative stand on this sort of behavior, and I appreciate that. I’d appreciate it more if this wasn’t also a male power fantasy where a bullied loner literally gets revenge on his high school class and also has sex with all the hottest babes. Which it still is.

Before that, though, there is the battle with Yue and Shea. I haven’t talked about Yue much in these reviews, mostly as there hasn’t been that much TO talk about. Here, though, she gets some backstory showing off who she used to be and the family that she loved – including a set of double reversal betrayals, which left her so devastated that she’s tried hard not to think about her past at all, including why she was sealed rather than just killed off. After meeting up with Shea (who sails through her own test), A pensive Yue makes the mistake of saying that if anything happens to her, she wants Shea to take care of Hajime. Actually, the bigger mistake may be that she doesn’t get why that’s upsetting to Shea. What follows is one of the best fights in the series, as Shea and Yue go toe to toe with each other as Shea tries to beat the resignation out of Yue. The funniest part is that it takes in Kaori’s fight as well – normally the idea of Kaori as the “Steph” of this series annoys me, but it’s handled SO well here I can’t be churlish.

Elsewhere, Tio also sails through her test, showing off that she’d be a fantastic character if she weren’t such a depraved masochist. Suzu is forced to admit that she lives her life by deflecting, and Ryutarou that he really would rather not be a sidekick character (even though he totally is). And then there’s Kouki, who is forced to admit that he’s jealous of Hajime and not as good as he thinks he is… and fails miserably. At this point I’m fairly sure Kouki is not going to be killed off, as if he was this would be the perfect place to do it. Instead we simply see him fail – again. He comes to his senses later to a degree, but there’s still seething resentment underneath everything he does. It’s well-written, but also means that I have to read far more about him than I really want to. Also, I suspect he’ll be useless in the upcoming battle that the cliffhanger suggests.

There’s only a couple more books left in the “main” storyline judging by when the webnovel is, so the cliffhanger ending may be moving us to the climax. Everyone (bar Kouki) has evolved and powered up. They know they can now get home. All that’s left is beating the bad guys. I expect the next book will have a lot of that. Till then, at least we can enjoy Shea beating the snot out of Yue and Kouki railing against the friendzone.

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