I’d hardly call it the comeback of the century or anything, but it still seems pretty impressive how far the Arifureta anime has come since its incredibly iffy inception. After multiple studio switchovers and a first-season opening that seemed to misrepresent the tonal appeal of the series, here we’ve arrived at the wrap party for its second season, finishing in a mostly satisfying, effective way. While it’s fine for me, I guess I mostly find myself hoping this has worked well for fans of the original work, ending up with a solid adaptation that supplements their appreciation for the novel after all. This isn’t even the actual end for Arifureta Either, as we’ve already got confirmation that there’s an OVA coming later this year. Which makes sense, given that the story is hardly over by the point of this season finale. But much like Hajime’s growth from a ‘commonplace’ weakling to an overpowered edgelord badass, the anime’s glow-up from the murky, shambling mess it originally was into a perfectly serviceable little fantasy cartoon makes for an appreciable journey all its own.
Simply taking stock of the state of the product is appropriate enough at this stopping point, since so much of this season finale similarly spends its time consolidating the leftover pieces of the big blowout of the last few episodes. The biggest dangling thread is almost certainly the fate of Kaori, but as I was last week, the storyline is so assured that she’ll be ‘fine’ that the characters straight-up turn to the camera and tell us that before sending Hajime over on a few other personal diversions. Instead, the actual biggest return on an emotional investment comes from Ai-Chan-Sensei, which probably isn’t that surprising to anyone who’s been paying attention through this arc, but is still nice to see just for a sense of completion.
Part of Ai-Sensei’s focus here is necessarily on her processing the guilt over the people killed around and as a result of her in this battle. So she’s got to come to terms with the church full of people she leveled, or the fact that Hiyama’s demise, played somewhat flippantly as it occurred last episode, was still an instance of one of her students dying, so she’s a bit tore up by that as well. What’s nice here is that Hajime’s contribution to talking Sensei through these feelings isn’t to insist on his personal method of burying any trauma beneath a badass facade, but instead advising her to hold onto the weight and importance of that guilt. The association he asks for on it could come off like Hajime basically asking Sensei to perform emotional labor for him, but to hear him tell it, his experiences thus far have left him unsure if he even can still experience those human extremes of emotions anymore. Of course, our boy’s actions regarding his teammates, friends, and the likes of My handling indicate that he’s things more healthily than he’s giving himself credit for, but the concern being there at all still rings true, and fits with Hajime’s desire to have a ‘way back’ for himself, both in terms of physically returning to Japan and living therein apart from his current vengeful disposition.
It’s that long-term mission statement I’ve always appreciated about Arifureta, a power-fantasy makeover isekai that nonetheless sets its hero’s ultimate goal of getting back to his original life after all. And given Sensei’s long-standing willingness to shoulder these kinds of burdens for all her students, it fits, and continues the unique reciprocal relationship between her and Hajime. Where her presence and faith in him has comforted Hajime in the background of his struggles so far, he gets to return the favor here by turning his back on her only to allow her to cry into it in the event of being overwhelmed by her own struggles . That alone speaks to Hajime not being as callous as he’d like everyone to think he is. How moe.
I’m glad this closer can provide that kind of emotional closure, as the rest is more mechanical plot stuff getting sorted out for future stories. Kaori does indeed survive, with the outlandish side-effect of having her soul moved into the defeated Noint’s body in the process, in a power-up acquisition so out there I absolutely didn’t see it coming from this story. They even expressly detail that the move was entirely Kaori’s desire and her old body is fine in stasis and ready for her to migrate back to once everything’s taken care of. I kind of appreciate how buck-wild this is just as an expression of the lengths Kaori is now willing to go to in service of Hajime’s adventuring harem. Something to be said for conviction, I suppose, and the animation here does a decent job of communicating it’s still Kaori through facial expressions and the like, so it mostly works.
The other big shift that happens at this stage in the story comes from Hajime finally bringing everyone else up on that whole “The gods are evil jerks” thing, and a huge collection of the classmate crew resultantly deciding to tag along with him on the next leg of his adventures. I’m rather more apprehensive about this development, least of all because of the crowd factor involved (how are they all going to fit in the Hummvee?!), even if I can see the reasoning for it within the storytelling. For one thing, most of these people are going to have a way more basis to interact with Eri the next time she pops up as a dedicated villain. Plus it’s another point that acts with Hajime’s arc from his original forced ousting from the group. Yes there’s something a bit obvious about him suddenly finding that everyone thinks he is cool and wants to be his friend, but so long as the story isn’t leaning too hard on Hajime reveling in vengeful vindication over the turnaround and is instead simply acting adorably tsundere over the whole affair, I think it’s fine. I guess we’ll just have to wait until that OVA (and who knows what other anime extensions) to see how this setup is actually going to shake out.
To the end, Arifureta is still Arifureta, so even among all its emotional satisfaction and interesting status-quo shakeups, this finale still can’t finish without, say, a scene where all of Hajime’s wives feed him or Tio, as she always does, returning to the bit about dragon sodomy . “I’ve never been so uncomfortable” indeed. But while I don’t know if ‘respectable’ is a term I’d associate with all of that, it still all feels assured enough. I left the first season of Arifureta with a surprising amount of hope for its future, and I now leave the second season reasonably satisfied with the fulfillment of that hope. It’s hardly the “World’s Strongest”, but I don’t think there’s any shame in going from Commonplace to Decently Entertaining.
Arifureta – From Commonplace to World’s Strongest Season 2 is currently streaming on Funimation.
Chris is a freelance writer who appreciates anime, action figures, and additional ancillary artistry. He can be found staying up way too late posting screencaps on his Twitter.