Ryo Shirakome‘s profit for turning the pages of a fantasy light novel like Arifureta into a playground for massive superpowered fight scenes is well-publicized at this point. I certainly can’t begrudge the author for that, but it can still come off a little amusingly obvious where their priorities lie. Hajime and co. raced back to the capital so he’d be able to run into his confrontation with Noint. And then the beginning of this episode sees Yue and Shea bail on Liliana, even cracking wise about doing so, so they can jump into their own big fights with representatives of the demon army that’s invading. Priorities, to be sure, but they’re priorities I can get behind, as the refreshed Arifureta Continues to be able to depict those battles halfway-interestingly, and as I’ve repeatedly stated, I care about the fate of this kingdom about as much as Hajime does.
Not that Arifureta‘s above a few other fits and starts on its way to the fights that are the selling point of this episode. It says something about the memorability of this show’s antagonists in general that it has to reintroduce third-stringers like Mikhail and explain his deal so that we (and Shea) have any inkling of what his begrudging reason for confronting this crew is. I’ll give it credit for building off some of the story’s previous material: Cattleya’s pathos-ridden locket was a laughable contrivance from the show’s first season, but to follow up on it with her lover coming at our heroes for revenge here is a solid enough storytelling choice. But then the confrontation between Mikhail and Shea winds up devolving into a digression on the very idea of considering enemy backstories and grudges as an element of fantasy combat. Amusingly, not only do Shea’s remarks on not caring about the sob stories of the enemies she’s killed not really fit her character up to this point (Perhaps they were trying to show how she’s hardened up over the course of this journey?), it even flies directly in the face of her attitude just a couple minutes prior, where she expressed a desire to get revenge on Freid for attacking her precious Hajime.
Obviously the moral hypocrisies of the dumbass bunny-girl aren’t going to be the major thematic thrust of a show like Arifureta, so they kick off the brawling soon after that. And to its credit, the action does a far better job of communicating how far Shea’s come than any nihilistic emulating of Hajime she could ever do. Her effectively soloing Mikhail, shrugging off a petrification spell and smashing things with a giant kendama seem designed to make you recall “Remember when Shea was borderline-useless?”. Similarly, the downright competent presentation of this makes you reflect on “Remember when this show looked atrocious?” It rather fits with the sense that these fight scenes, as they were for the author in the original novel version, represent the series having the most ‘fun’ with itself.
That mostly carries through for Yue’s side of the conflict, somewhat more serious though it is. Even then, it’s nice to see how far the show’s come, as things like Yue’s characteristic lightning magic, or even her gaggle of spiritual dragons she summoned come through with more workmanlike effectiveness than I ever would have expected from the show’s first season. Our head heroine of Hajime’s harem isn’t even really deploying these things in creative ways to beat a super-strong opponent, we’re purely in “Show off how cool the author thinks the abilities they wrote are” territory. Boss-level character that Freid is, he still necessitates some effort by the end, treating us to the maneuver of Yue letting herself get impaled by a giant dragon, only to follow up with a seemingly-inexplicable new attack, which she immediately explains after . How very shonen.
I know it can be hard to evaluate an episode like this apart from a blow-by-blow description of the parts I thought were cool, so as with that earlier Shea stumbling block, Arifureta also sees fit to include some less-than-compelling parts of Hajime’s confrontation with Noint as he waits for Tio to show up and take Ai-Chan-Sensei off his hands. The idea that the demon invasion on the capital is effectively separate from Noint showing up to confront our hero is definitely a little funny, parallel to the fact that Hajime doesn’t even care about said invasion that much (to the point of asking if Noint or her god Ehit might be able to just send him home). But it also derails with points of divine pawn-moving and incidental human-supporting by said god that doesn’t really raise the stakes here so much as it simply verifies them. As if Hajime fighting a superpowered angel knight wasn’t set to be cool and entertaining enough on its own.
However, it is also the kind of customary dialogue-based stalling I expect in the lead-up to battles of the superpowered shonen showdown style this show is clearly emulating at this point. It’s less about inciting actual intrigue and more about dressing the set to feel cool and important by the time Hajime’s able to hand Sensei off to Tio and start fighting Noint for real. In that respect, and alongside the opening-act battles Shea and Yue had, I can’t say this episode didn’t succeed at what it was trying to do. But on a critical level, it didn’t manage to make me forget about all of the little bits of Arifureta that still don’t quite work even as it was showing off the parts that do.
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.