Arifureta – From Commonplace to World’s Strongest Season 2 Episode 11 Review
As ambivalent as I was about Eri’s big reveal last week, I admit that I like her conceptually. I can appreciate this wild little yandere as a character type, especially with the update that she’d apparently been this way even before she and everyone else got isekai’d (though she sadly removes her glasses after her true intentions are revealed, names a bigger downgrade). So many other series in this genre settle into the idea that the transported characters effectively continue to be themselves in a suddenly-shifted fantasy world, only they now have superpowers and there’s no one trying to dunk their head in a toilet as they deserve. But Arifureta, at least a few times, has more leaned into the concept of the switch in setting is a vehicle to bring out people’s ‘true nature’, whether that’s the tenacious will to survive that Hajime apparently harbored, or in this case, Eri’s willingness to go to absurdly violent lengths on account of how much she really, really wants to smooch Kouki. Given that Eri displays more personality in this single episode than the cardboard cutout Kouki has been all series, I don’t know that I mind her so much. Godspeed, you thirsty little necromancer.
Of course, outlining the setup for Eri’s crush-based crimes against humanity turns out to be something Arifureta is actually aware it hadn’t done enough up until now, so we’ve got to spend a laborious amount of time on our freshly-revealed villain extolling her motivations and methods. Some of it’s amusing in an aside way, like finding out that the affliction on most of the castle’s army wasn’t some kind of magical lethargy, and they had instead simply been killed and necroman-tified. But even the businesslike efforts of Eri slowly building up an army of really bored corpses isn’t enough info to make this stretch super-compelling. It’s odd, as I said since it really does sell me on Eri herself— She indicates she would have made some sort of moves even without the world-hop, and I absolutely would have been happy to watch her School-Days her way through this catastrophe of conflicting crushes in a more mundane setting. But going on seven minutes of her simply retroactively re-explaining everything that led her to this is a bit much. It says a lot when she declares that her obfuscating disposition let her get away with anything ‘as a joke when I’m pretty sure going back and rewatching the material would actually yield very few scenes that come off as clever foreshadowing now.
There’s also the question of how much of this scheme contextually lines up with that whole ‘Demon Invasion’ thing that’s been happening in the background for weeks now (but which even Hajime’s previous plot-mandated fight wasn’t directly related to). It makes some sense that Eri and Hiyama’s plan was knowingly to weaken the castle’s collection of defenses to both enact their own agendas and prime the whole thing to get taken over by the demons. But apart from Eri wordlessly taking off with Freid at the very end, there isn’t a lot of acknowledgment of how coordinated these efforts were (Hiyama, for his trouble, gets yeeted into a crowd of demons, seemingly messily murdered by them apart from any allyship). Honestly, part of me wants to believe that these characters really did orchestrate the murderous takeover of the whole castle’s structure over some stupid high-school crushes simply because that’s the funniest possible motivation to result in a wild status-quo upheaval like this. And there is the whiff of the pointed subversion in all this like it’s the series saying “See, this is why it is in fact a bad idea to use petty, short-sighted high-schoolers as summoned heroes.”
All that honestly doesn’t super-matter though, since the real reasoning for flipping this plot-twist switch at this point is to set up a big confrontation here at the end of the season, and to give the main characters a situation to show off in when they make their appearance in the episode’s second half. Credit to Arifureta’s structure which has just grown stronger as this season has gone on, once Eri’s done trying to talk us to death, the sequence where she’s gearing up to kill/control Shizuku shows off enough directorial chops to drive up the tension. I actually thought they might do it there for a second! But it’s also there to give way to the more compellingly-illustrated character arc, showing off that Kaori has become the kind of person who can ride into the rescue in a situation like this, not even fully stopped by death itself (she has multiple healing spells concentrated on her by the end though, she’ll probably be fine). For all the efforts at ratcheted-up tension with the classmate side-characters, it says a lot that as soon as she was involved my attitude immediately became “Eff those guys, is Kaori going to be okay?”
There’s the argument that most of the ‘central’ characters still acting as extensions of Hajime’s own arc isn’t the best look, but it’s still the most compelling Kaori’s been since this show started, and that feeling of extension does work when it leads into Hajime’s triumphant arrival here. Far from the seeming outlet for the spurned rage he came off as at the beginning of this series, he’s effectively evolved instead into a conduit for how little regard should be had for this component of the plot regarding the kingdom and his former classmates (This is one reason I’m comfortable being so flippant about the classmates; Hajime doesn’t really care about them anymore, so why should I?), having just as little patience for their lame high-school grudges as anybody watching. Eri is fun, sure, but getting to see her panic as she realizes just how screwed she is with Hajime’s arrival is fun too. The likes of that kind of turned-around escalation, or the way Hajime just blasts the demon army away with orbital lasers because that part of the fight was never really important, it’s an interesting application of Arifureta’s penchant for irreverence in a more dramatic style. It means this is an episode I can ultimately regard as one of the enjoyable ones, even as it took a little while to get there, and was kind of messy and ambiguous in doing so. Hey, kind of a microcosm of the whole show!
Rating: 4/5 Stars.
Arifureta – From Commonplace to World’s Strongest Season 2 Episode 11 is currently streaming on Funimation.
by Christopher Farris