Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 13

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.

The last third of this very long final volume of Arifureta is a giant victory lap. We get lots of cleanup after, the apocalypse, lots of comedic stuff involving the Haulia, some vaguely amusing jokes, and Hajime finally gets around to having sex with most of the rest of the harem (offscreen, sorry to all those wanting your “snu-snu”). It probably goes on far too long, frankly. But I was so happy to be reading it, because it meant that I was not reading fight scenes. After last volume being 175 pages of fights, this volume is 220 pages of fights, and frankly I would rather chew my own arm off than read more of the battle first going one way, then the other, and the occasional nameless person that we don’t know actually dying. The only named people we know who die are the evil God, and Eri, who was killed off last book. We know how this final battle will turn out, this is not Arifureta Zero.

Even the fights in the book are divided neatly in half. The first third of the book shows us Ehit’s apostles versus the rest of the cast that weren’t fighting in Book 12, including Kaori, who frankly gets the MVP for that battle easily. That said, it shows off everyone’s cool moves, shows everyone almost winning and them almost losing, etc. It’s very much a final battle. Then we cut to Ehit vs. Hajime for the second half, and the same thing happens, only every time it appears that Hajime is almost losing, he pulls some new “I was only fooling” bullshit out of his ass, because, frankly, this is Arifureta, and if you didn’t think this was coming you’re reading the wrong series.

So yeah, the first two thirds of the book is basically fight now grr. the only emotional moment is the one pre-designed to be a tear-jerker, which is where Miledi shows up to save the day and also die, because now that Ehit is finally defeated there’s no reason why she cannot finally pass on and rejoin all her friends and her true love. (There’s an additional short story that adds a nice even happier ending to that, if you like). The last third is a bit more varied, as we see Kouki trying to deal with apologizing to literally everyone he’s ever known, Kousuke unlocking his inner chuuni and ending up with a rabbit girlfriend, and Liliana pouting because she’s still too young to get the sex that the rest of the girls all get. And there’s a nice little epilogue where Hajime finally returns home to his family, which is heartwarming.

The webnovel this was based on has an After Story that would probably run about 13 more volumes, but Overlap has shown no sign they plan to release any of it, so this might be it for Arifureta. Which is fine, frankly. It ties up well, and I don’t need the wacky adventures of Yue in Japanese high school. To the end, Arifureta was the “I’ve got the lamest power and everyone hates me, but it’s secretly THE COOLEST” that every other similar series tried to be, and none of them really could ever touch it. I won’t MISS it per se, but I’m glad I read it. Mostly.

Arifureta Zero, Vol. 6

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.

My biggest fear with this 422-page final volume was that it would be one long fight scene, and thankfully that is not the case, though the first third of the book is one long fight scene. My second fear was that it would be unrelentingly grim, and while it is grim, with lots and lots of deaths of people we care about, it’s not unrelenting, and there are moments of silliness and humor in the middle of the book. Heck, even some of the main characters survive, because I’d forgotten the main series talks about their descendants. But for the most part this book is “Miledi tries her hardest but fails”, as we knew it would be – it’s a prequel, after all. It also helps to set up the final volume of the main series, coming soon I hope, which will likely feature her showing up to save the day. At least I hope she does, because the day is certainly not saved here.

The first chunk of the book, as I said, is one big fight, and goes fairly well for our heroes right up until the very end, when they’re forced to retreat. They then take the time to try and gather a few more allies – the dragons are now ready to help them, and even the vampires are willing to pitch in… that is, after we discover their long-lost royal daughter (who is closer than you’d think) and resolve the issue of the missing heir to the throne. We also discover that you can access the most powerful magic ever if you get really, really drunk. Unfortunately, Ehit has finally had enough, and decides to force the hand of Miledi by brainwashing everyone who is not a Liberator to kill all their allies. This takes up most of the rest of the book.

As always with Arifureta, this book had a lot of things I enjoyed and some things I could really do without. The main issue with the last third of the book is that this cast is simply too damn large, especially with the books coming out every year or so, and it’s hard to get sad when a character who you can’t really remember well dies. I needed a guide at the start. Also, Naiz marrying one of his emotional support 8-year-olds once she came of age is not something I wanted at all. On the bright side, Miledi and Oscar are handled perfectly, and her execution and subsequent golemification are also done well. There’s even some good horror here, as one of the few bad guys who’s likeable has her soul destroyed so that the big bad can take over her body.

So yeah, not everyone dies, but the majority of the cast die, and Ehit still rules. It’s gonna be up to Hajime and company to fix things. In the meantime, this was a fun yet annoying prequel, just like its heroine.

Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 12

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

It was about 18 months in Japan between Vol. 11 and 12, and it’s been about the same here in the West as well. I was briefly worried that I’d forget literally everything that had been happening before, but that was before I remembered what series I was reading. Arifureta is not particularly interested in its own plot, or even that much in its characters. Arifureta is interested in people powering up and getting new special moves. The author has clearly drowned himself in Jump series as a kid, and as a result this book, especially the back half, can be summed up by using the “It’s over 9000!” meme over and over again. That said, there is a little bit of character stuff in the front half, but I was less happy with that, as it leans too heavily into an evil cliche stereotype I dislike. This is also NOT the final volume of the series – we’ve got one more to go after this. Fortunately, it’s scheduled for the fall in Japan.

Kaori gets a nice cover art picture, which makes it a shame that she’s the only one not in the main book, getting left behind to guard everyone else and make sure they’re not killed. (She gets a nice short story at the end to make up for it.) The rest of the book is divided almost exactly in half. In the first part, Shizuku, Ryoutarou and Suzu head over to try and beat Kouki and Emi up and return them to their senses. Only one of them actually gets beaten up enough to have that happen, and you can probably guess who. But hey, Suzu gets to say goodbye. In the back half, Hajime is sent ahead to go rescue Yue (which will clearly be most of Book 13), so we get Shea and Tio taking on a whole bunch of apostles and monsters, as well as Freid. Unfortunately, the bad guys seem to have forgotten how our heroines are basically nightmares themselves by now.

So yeah, we get Eri’s backstory here to explain why she’s incredibly evil, and it’s because her father died saving her from getting run over, her mother blamed her and abused her, and she was almost raped by her mother’s new boyfriend. Getting abused as a child leading to a bad person later in life is something we need to see less of. Kouki, meanwhile, remains a shallow parody of the standard shoujo boyfriend, so it’s no surprise that once the mind control is removed and he’s punched a lot he manages to recover what wits he has… though we’ll see what happens when he sees Hajime again. But really the majority of this book is exactly what I said earlier: yelling out attacks, just barely avoiding lethal moves, pulling off near lethal moves in return, and lots of shouting.

The return of everyone’s favorite Zero protagonist at the end of the volume is interesting, and I wonder if she’ll help Hajime in the next volume. Till then: boy, this sure was a volume of Arifureta.