Arifureta Zero, Vol. 5

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.

It’s been a good sixteen months since I last read Arifureta Zero… and come to think of it, eleven months since the last Arifureta in the main series. This is the danger of catching up with the Japanese release, and I knew this meant that a lot of my time was going to be spent trying to remember who everyone apart from the main characters were. Little did I realize that that was going to be ALL of my time. This is the 2nd to last book in the series, and as such it has to gather everyone in the cast together for the big battle in the finale. And I do mean everyone – every single ally we’ve seen in the books to date pops up again, along with new characters we haven’t seen before, and they’re all written as if we remember who they are and are nostalgic to see them again. It’s exhausting. Fortunately, there’s BIT more going on than just setup.

A month after the end of the previous book, Miledi is still in a coma, which has everyone stressed out, especially Oscar, whose fighting abilities are actually being affected by his worry. Fortunately, she wakes up soon after the book begins. Unfortunately, she’s… a bit different. Yes, it’s We Want Our Jerk Back, the light novel. The largest chunk of the book is spent getting Laus, their newest ally, to the rest of them, as he’s being hunted by the entire church… including two of his own sons. (This is framed as a big reveal, but it’s telegraphed so badly I feel no remorse revealing it here.) Once he’s arrived, and Miledi puts everyone through RIGOROUS TRAINING, it’s discovered that three of their allies are going to be put to death publicly by the Church. So Miledi decides now is the time. the Big Battle. (In Book 6.)

The author apologizes for this book being so long, and he should. It’s too long, and a lot of this wasn’t needed. The “checking in with everyone who the Liberators ever met in prior books” section is a lifeless slog. Better were the scenes with Miledi waking from her coma, but she’s missing her annoying. Without it, she’s a cute adorable teenage girl in love with Oscar and not ashamed to say it. This is mined for much comedy, and for once it actually works quite well, especially her reaction once she returns to normal. Speaking of love, Miledi and Oscar don’t confess here, but that’s because they want to wait till after the battle – their feelings are known to each other. Oh yes, and there’s an incredibly annoying bunny girl in this as well, who seems to combine all the worst parts of Shea and none of the good points. The author loves to write “incredibly annoying but secretly goodhearted and awesome” people – indeed, the lesson of this book is that all of the Liberators are eccentrics – but sometimes I feel they overdue it.

So next up is the finale, and it’s not a spoiler to say that Everybody Dies – this is a prequel, after all. But it’s not the journey, it’s the destination, and so we’ll see how it all happens and how many times our heart can be broken. If you like Arifureta, you should read this, but be aware – it’s long and has boring bits.

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