By Ryo Shirakome and Takaya-ki. Released in Japan as “Arifureta Shokugyou de Sekai Saikyou Rei” by Overlap. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Ningen.
In my review of the first book in this prequel series, I said that it was Miledi’s book and Miledi’s series. Here I’ll go further: I think that Miledi is meant to compare directly with Hajime. Yes, in terms of personality, she reads more like a horrible fusion of Shea and Tio, but as we see a lot in this book, even more than the last one, she is wedded to her ideals and prepared to do anything in her power to preserve them, even if that means taking on the Church, a bunch of pirates, or even a giant seas monster with her ungodly gravity powers. (Ungodly would suit her fine, I think). As for Oscar, he has Hajime’s snark down pat, but after this book we really know who he’s meant to be. He’s Shinpachi from the Gintama series. No, really, the author even straight up ripped off the glasses joke. Oh yes, and we get a new Liberator as well. That’s her on the cover.
The author suggests that the seemingly sweet big sister type who’s really a sadistic tease is a surprise for this book, something which… isn’t true, but whatever. Meiru is a lot of fun, though, and is not only a big sister to her captured real sibling, but also to a huge pirate family that she heads up. Yes, it’s Arifureta does One Piece. Miledi and company are arriving at the city the pirates work out of to find the next Liberator, and after a host of misunderstandings that eventually get resolved, find she… doesn’t want to join them. Well, that’s fine, we went through this in the first book. Till then, there’s sea monsters that get attracted to Miledi’s magic, and casino capers, etc. Of course, eventually the Church is ordered to destroy these pirates once and for all, which leads to the last half of the book, which is one giant melee battle that is highly entertaining provided you love 120-130 pages of fights.
Honestly, I’m surprised there isn’t a much higher body count in this prequel. We already know it’s going to end badly, and it always seems like there’s going to be some dead innocents, but so far the author has done a pretty good job of having them saved at the last minute. (There are a couple of Oscar’s orphan kids who are in a coma from the last book, but Meiru may be able to save them too). In fact, despite the grim Church and the ever-present threat of death, this is a fun book – I would say of all the Arifureta books, this one balances the wacky humor and the thrilling serious plot the best. Miledi is annoying as hell, but not to the reader, just to the characters – an important development! Even the art is really good, showing off both the silly and dramatic (the picture of Miledi giving the finger to the villain may be my favorite).
This is a long book, like most of the Arifureta series, but for fans, it’s a must read. Even casual readers who are turned off by Hajime being Hajime in the main series may want to give the prequel a shot.