By Ryo Shirakome and Takayaki. Released in Japan as “Arifureta Shokugyou de Sekai Saikyou Shouhenshuu” by Overlap Bunko. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Ningen
This was not the Short Story collection I expected, to be honest, at least not till the final third of the book. What it is is a rounding up of most of the very short stories that the author wrote for giveaways, store-exclusives, etc. A lot of series have these, few bring it out as a real volume. (J-Novel Club has quite a few of them as Premium Extras for subscribers, and indeed I think a lot of these originally appeared as exclusive extras in earlier books.) The book breaks down in four sections: the first are short-short stories taking place within the timeline of approximately Books 1-5 of the main series; the second is an alternate universe where the characters are at a “magical academy” type school; the third has three short takeoffs on popular fairy tales; and the fourth is the short story written exclusively for this book, which has the main cast (along with Myu and Remia) ending up in the crossover event we all wanted to see.
The cover features Hajime, reminding us why he’s rarely on the cover as he looks far more chuuni than grimdark; and Myu, whose character trait in this volume is to show off how she’s taking after her “daddy” despite only having been around him a short time. As for the content… I’m gonna be honest, while these were cute, about 2/3 of the book does not lend itself to a review. There’s lots of harem fights, there’s characters being dorks, there’s indiscriminate destruction of anyone who would dare go after Myu, etc. The Academy/Fairy Tale chapters are even less important, so I’ll skip them entirely. I did enjoy the chapters showing Hajime’s parents, first in a flashback showing off their otaku occupations (honestly, they remind me far too much of the parents from Outbreak Company) and then showing how upset they are at their son’s disappearance.
The main reason to get this is the last story, which has the cast, taking a final voyage with Myu (and Remia) before leaving her behind, and ending up spirited to a cursed city by a phantom whale that seems to only communicate with Myu. Unfortunately, the monsters here are too powerful for this group to handle. Yes, even Hajime. Fortunately, this whale can also reach back… in TIME! Yes, you guessed it, the cast of Arifureta meets the cast of Arifureta Zero, with Miledi being somewhat baffled as to why everyone hates her, Meiru becoming a total siscon about little Myu, etc. Eventually they do team up to take down the Big Bads, and we see Miledi and Yue comparing themselves to each other, as do Oscar and Hajime. Sadly, due to plot contrivance, they don’t remember the meeting afterwards, but hey. (This story also serves to show that Remia’s “ara ara” personality is for show, as if we hadn’t guessed, and also that she may be falling for Hajime for real.)
So in the end, this is pretty light and fluffy, and not an essential purchase. But it’s reasonably fun, and the last quarter was quite entertaining. Arifureta fans should like it.