Why Arifureta Anime Reviews Are Negative, But The Light Novels Have Been Praised
Adaptations are always tricky, but why did the Arifureta anime get so much criticism from fans of the light novels?
Novel adaptations come second only to video game adaptations in terms of fan scrutiny. Translating text into a visual format is sometimes difficult, but it is doable. Unfortunately things tend to get left out and some portions are rushed in order to accommodate whatever is going on. This is especially true when there are only 12-24 episodes to fit an entire arc or even an entire story. However, Arifureta fans are upset because it’s not just the story that’s the problem.
Recent years have seen an increase in adaptations of light novels, a type of young adult novel that is typically around 50,000 words and aimed at middle school and high school students. Arifureta is one of those novels, falling into the popular isekai genre where the protagonist, in this case Hajime, is transported to another world. The new version of the story is highly praised for its world-building and characterization. The anime, not so much.
As recounted by Anime News Network’s Christopher Farris, the first episode forgoes important background and character information and simply puts Hajime in the middle of the action without telling the viewer what’s going on. MyAnimeList’s reviewers also cite the poor pacing as one of the biggest fitment issues. Many reviewers call it a hilarious wreck of bad animation and poor writing that’s enjoyable to watch for its “so bad it’s good” quality. Another criticism is that Hajime’s character is completely trashed from being traumatized to just being an “edgelord” as one comment calls it. One of the only accolades it received was for its sound design. Otherwise, the reviews are overwhelmingly negative. The phrase “dumpster fire” is seen several times when referring to the animated series.
This is in stark contrast to how the light novels have been received. The books were highly praised for their world-building and character relationships, ranking 27th in the best-selling light novel series of 2017 in the first half of the year with over 84,000 copies sold in Japan. The idea that the protagonist has to work for their powers instead of instantly being a powerhouse upon entering a new world is one of the most cited reasons for people enjoying the series. With the source material being so informative and well-written, why did the anime turn out to be so heavily criticized?
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The reason could lie in the fact that the personnel have changed since the initial announcement of an anime adaptation. Originally it was to be directed by Jun Kamiya, but that was changed in 2018 to Kinji Yoshimoto. The character designer was also changed from Atsuo Tobe to Chika Kojima. The script was originally to be written by Kazuyuki Fudeyasu, but he left his position and Kinji Yoshimoto and Shoichi Sato took over the work. The series was also scheduled for release in April 2018, but was postponed due to unknown “various circumstances”.
These production issues plagued the series and seemingly left a short lead time for the series to actually be finished. With such a negative start, only time will tell if Season 2 improves where Season 1 failed.
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