Arifureta Zero, Vol. 3

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

I’ve been comparing Miledi to Hajime in these reviews of Zero. And just as Hajime was written to be the ultimate in “I am cool and badass and will happily abandon anyone other than Yue to a fiery death” and then walked back to where he is now reasonable a decent person, likewise Miledi was introduced in the main series as the most annoying person in the world and then we gradually see in Zero how much of it is a front. It’s a front she feels more comfortable with, in fact – despite her complaining, she’d much rather be yelled at for being irritating than praised for being a force for good, mostly as it embarrasses her too much. It’s also a good way to avoid simply having her be too perfect – Miledi is going to save everybody, loves everybody, and has magical powers that can take out a demon lord possessed by a God. Of course she has to be annoying. You need SOMETHING.

As you might guess by the cover, the new Liberator who join’s Miledi’s forces in this book is male, and men don’t get Arifureta covers, meaning Meiru and Miledi pull double-duty. They’re headed back to meet up with Oscar and Naiz’s group, to see if they can revive the comatose kids (spoiler: not quite yet), when they suddenly find out that there was an attack on the base and most of the group was kidnapped. As it turns out, they were kidnapped to avoid ANOTHER kidnapping. Vandre is half-demon, half-dragon, and all tsundere, as he kidnapped Miledi’s group to try to get them to help him own group of people being tortured for experiments by the Demon King. Of course, Miledi will totally save them anyway, especially when it looks like there’s more to the Demon King than meets the eye. But can she do it while fighting off a powerful local disease?

First off, the book begins and ends with broad characterizations of cross-dressing gay men who are, of course, sexual predators for the lulz. Ugh. This is not the first time the author has gone to this well, either. Aside from that, it’s a decent enough book. As with the other Zero books, it leans heavily on fight scenes, particularly in the second half, but there is also a decent amount of characterization, particularly of Vandre, the new guy, and Miledi. Vandre and Oscar also look to be adding a new annoying trait to the Liberators, as they don’t get along and snipe at each other constantly in a “vitriolic best buds” sort of way. I do wonder if they can actually weaponize this trait, the way that Miledi has weaponized being annoying to the point where it throws villains off.

We do also get a look at the Church here, briefly, and see that, thanks to evil people and also brainwashing, it may only have one sensible person in it. They’re also trying to get a jump on Miledi in snatching up Ancient Magic Users, so next time we head off to the forest. Till then, this remains a decent spinoff, particularly if you like fight scenes.

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