Oh my god, it’s been several months but now we’re here. Welcome to the rewrite of the final two episodes of Arifureta! I’m skipping episode 11 of the anime, so episodes 12 and 13 are going to become episodes 10-12 here thanks to a few alterations and omissions from the last part. Excluding some ideas I have cooked up for the 10th episode, this was the part that made me realize I want to do a rewrite for this show, and I’ll delve into what led me to do this later on. For now, let’s get this show on the road, shall we?
Episode 10: We begin with Hajime and co. traveling towards the mountains as Hajime tells them that Yuuka informed him that it is significantly easier to go into the cave-like depths of the mountains instead of traveling along the outskirts and rocky terrain. when Soon afterwards, witness the barely living demon lord from before, bleeding and writing in pain. Hajime looks at him begging for death, and Hajime, seeing the agony of his botched job, solemnly complies. He had never failed to finish someone off before, and even he’s surprised to find himself shaken up about an enemy. The others reassure him, and while it barely helps him, Hajime rides forward with his party.
This is the first time Hajime has ever actually killed another person. On top of that, this is the first time that he has seen anyone experience a level of helplessness and agony comparable to what his first moments being stranded in the first labyrinth were like. The more he thinks about it, the more surreal it is. He then loses focus as everyone enters a tunnelway in the mountains with Hajime going way faster than the others. It’s only after the screams of his comrades does he come to his senses and attempt to swerve before crashing. It’s too late, and he’s sent flying into another abyss. It’s only due to reacting in time to create a ramp to roll off of that he’s able to survive the fall, though he’s knocked out thanks to his arm and ribs slamming into a teleportation crystal. With the trio split, we now get to see how they would operate apart, at least for a little bit.
Hajime wakes to a dream of him being pinned down as everyone he has grown to care about is taken down one by one as he screams in agony. He’s helpless, his powers don’t work, and now the only girl left, Kaori, is slain in front of him. He wakes up, screaming before jolting in pain. His right arm is broken. He checks for healing items but to no avail He remembers when he crashed, seeing everything fly out and get destroyed, both the ATV and whatever he had on him. He tries using transmutation with his left, metallic hand only to discover that’s been mangled during the fall too. It finally sets in how helpless he is without these powers, as he begins screaming in pain and terror. He runs, desperate to find a healing stone given that there was a teleportation crystal in these mountains. He searches, searches, and searches, running into and escaping from a few enemies all the while. With only one functioning arm, all he could do was run, use his side-step ability, or hit them with a mangled metal fist. Encounters don’t go well as the enemies do significant damage to him both when he fights and when he flees. He begins questioning if this is also a labyrinth before concluding that there’s no way just a couple of messengers and food collectors would be able to make it through a labyrinth, meaning the enemies here are not native to these mountains. He then remembers the bit about there being two demon lords and how one of them summoned an army. As he silently puts two and two together, we cut to the girls.
Sometime during their hurried investigation, the two girls find themselves surrounded by enemies before blasting them. They also wonder if this is a labyrinth before Yue tells them that given the people who passed through here, it’s unlikely. Shea hopes Hajime is ok, and Yue assures her that he is given how long he was able to survive alone before meeting her. They mention that it’s been about an hour since they started the search and they’ve encountered a few waves of enemies. They say this before discovering remains of a dead body. Shea freaks out and assumes it’s Hajime before Yue calms and corrects her, confirming that it was one of the collectors they were told about, and promising they’ll find a way out with Hajime so they don’t end up like the pour soul in front of them. They ride a little longer and then stumble upon the exit. It’s still dark outside. The two are tired, but they decide to head back now that they know the way out. Shea assures Yue that she’s great at memorizing routes, and the two rush to find their leader.
Hajime is bleeding, badly. He can’t afford to face any more enemies. He’s exhausted as well. The boy begins sulking, wondering if this is his punishment for having actually killed another person. He’s alone, just like at the start. His body is getting cold, and he starts apologizing to Kaori, believing he won’t be able to reunite with her after all before scoffing. He’s stopped hoping that any of them even care. They’ve probably already died for all he knows. He recognizes how lucky he was last time, as without that healing stone, he’d have died off as pathetically as he feels he’s going to now. That luck led him to Yue and then Shea, but it seems to have run out now. He accepts this fact with tears in his now-closing eyes as he apologizes for not opening up to the two of them as much. Perhaps they won’t feel too devastated by his death. The last thing he sees is a group of enemies in the vicinity. Suddenly, the sound of ATVs roars in the distance, and his almost deathly slumber is interrupted by explosions and the sound of fighting. Unable to parse anything that’s going on, he lays there, coughing while dazed and confused before hearing the faint voice of Shea and seeing a faint blue light.
Hajime gasps, starstruck by the fact that he’s still alive before Shea hugs him, crying. He can barely muster up the energy to hug her before Yue does the same as Shea incoherently rambles about how worried the two were about him. He nervously apologizes, saying that he was sure he was about to die. He thanks them for saving his life, struggles to get his bearings, then lets Shea lead the way out as the three ride off. It’s night time. Hajime and co. approach the area where he was first summoned. An exhausted classmate notices him and begins pacing toward the labyrinth in fear. Since Hajime knows who he is, he stops them and demands an explanation as to what’s going on and if the demon lord has infiltrated the labyrinth already. The scared classmate recognizes the voice, and utters “…Hajime?” before we cut to the end credits.
This is basically an “anime original” episode in a sense. Here, we get to see everyone operate on their own devices for a little while. It’s nice to also have the main character get separated from everyone and be put in a genuinely perilous situation again for a change. This will also launch us smoothly into what I want to be the end of Hajime’s character arc for the season, which was something the anime kind of had an idea for on some level before all the chunni shit happened and then it was barely ever brought up again in the second half of the show proper.
Episode 11: We start with the timid messenger classmate in a flashback. His name is Endou Kousuke and he’s on the run from the female demon lord (whose name will be revealed eventually unlike in the anime). At one point, he hides in a crevice and waits to strike her, only for that to fail as his strike grazes her shoulder and she sends him reeling soon afterwards. He’s wounded and bleeding as he makes his way out of the cavern. The demon lord, unable to kill him, sighs and tends to her wounds, cursing this mission she’s on and cursing where she has to go.
After the opening, we cut to Hajime asking if he thought he was yet another demon lord, to which Endou confirms. He then laughs solemnly, saying the one time he gets to be relevant, he blew it, comparing himself to how Hajime was also a nobody that barely anyone cared about but now radiates a powerful aura with his own party. Yue tells him that the message regarding Kaori and the gang still plowing through the labyrinth made it through and that thanks to the person delivering it, they’re here now and one of the demon lords was taken out. This makes Endou glad as his message went through and the plan to have the party split up worked on some level. With tears in his eyes, he asks what happened to them, and Hajime cuts him off by stating that one of them made it and is resting in the cottage. He tries to hurry everyone up by asking where the demon lord is and if Kaori and the others know about this. This springs everyone into action as Hajime creates a new ATV for Endou to drive since he knows Endou is one of the few classmates with a driver’s license. As they head towards the labyrinth, Endou mentions that he arrived and was taken to be healed by Kaori, so they know of the intruder. However, he states that the demon lord may already be down there and waiting for everyone, giving everyone a reason to hurry. Hajime hopes that Daisuke doesn’t betray anyone else when the lord shows up. This shocks Endou before he vocally realizes that this is why Daisuke’s been acting more scared and shellshocked as time went on. Hajime plans to beat him once this is all over.
The rest of the episode follows Kaori and the remainder of the party. They ventured slightly into the 15th floor of the labyrinth as Kouki (the more paragon-type leader who has resumed his position now that the demon lord is here and since it’s been ages since the search for Hajime) tells everyone to be on the lookout for the demon lord as they won’t be able to have a decent time clearing the labyrinth with her hot on their trail. They split into two groups that venture out not too far from one another. The first is Kaori, Shizuku, and a few other completely irrelevant classmates. The next group is Kouki, Dasiuke, and Meld Loggins (the burly companion who oversees them in this world) who remains closer to the teleporter they’ve set up. The search does not last long, as the first group discovers a horde of unusually high-powered enemies that cause them to struggle for a little bit before the last of the enemies is defeated by a mysterious newcomer who warns them that the labyrinth has been more tumultuous as of late. Shizuku doesn’t recognize her throughout the past week or so everyone has been going through the labyrinth, and asks if she would happen to know about or in fact be the demon lord they were recently told would show up? The lady sighs and reveals her identity: Cattleya, the demon lord. She informs them that she was the one who summoned these enemies, meaning they should be well-aware of her power. Before anyone could respond, Kouki, whose group had just arrived and heard everything, asks how she got in here? She mentions that since she was unable to kill a certain messenger, she had to sneak into the labyrinth at night with a few supplies to keep her well-nourished for the time she’d be spending overnight. She couldn’t just storm up to where everyone was staying with a horde of monsters as she wanted to make more peaceful negotiations without having to perform raids or engage in warfare. Meld asks why she didn’t just destroy the teleporter they had built, and she answers that once she found the system that would teleport them to and from the 1st and 15th floors, she realized that it would be better to let them lower their guard somewhat instead of confronting them from the get-go. With all of that being said, she launches her preposition as that is why she came here: to recruit them.
Of course, they reject her offer, asking why they would join someone they’ve been summoned to fight against. She reminds them that they expended a fair amount of energy dealing with her more prepared waves, so they’re no longer in the best shape to take her on. She says this while summoning more enemies. She does not want to fight them or whittle them down until someone eventually says yes, especially here of all places, but she will if she must. She makes a final offer, and Kouki rejects. Everyone else, especially Daisuke, is nervous. The battle begins. Cattleya summons horde after horde of enemies, exhausting each party member as they’re forced to use some of their most powerful techniques to blow through the hordes while trying to reach and defeat her. She is also able to sneak behind and attack some of them while using transmutation to shield her from magic attacks. Some of them begin noticing how much disdain she seems to be having for this mission as if the act of doing this sours her mood rather than simply causing her to become stoic as she proceeds to fight to the death. A few enemy attacks manage to badly would a few combatants, and once she sees that Kaori is healing them, she focuses squarely on her. Daisuke, already on edge from everything and thinking he can protect her while surviving unlike Hajime, tries to defend Kaori before being sent flying. This gives Kouki a chance to close the distance and attack her, harming her and revealing an amulet containing a picture of her and her husband. She goads him to kill her, saying she practically died her once before so it’s only right that the job be finished. Kouki hesitates and Cattleya takes advantage of this. She questions if he’s ever killed someone before and that with the paragon persona he’s taken on, killing her would be a violent and traumatizing thing while not doing so will be failing to protect those he fights for. This gives her enough time to strike him, angry at his supposed cowardice, claiming that he’s just like “him”, unable to put his faulty morality aside to save everyone and finish the damn job. After struggling to calm down, she reminds him that they’re at war and that mercy will only get you killed.
With everyone battered, Daisuke pleads for Cattleya to stop, saying he’ll join them if she spares everyone. Everyone is stunned and outraged, one of them even asking him if he’s planning to betray them before he yells that he’s already done so before. He admits that back when they were facing that dragon for the first time, he’s the one who sabotaged Hajime and sent him plummeting to his death. He’s been traumatized ever since. Cattleya proclaims her disgust but also admires that he seems to be the only one with any kind of sense. Before they can finalize his turn, a stray enemy is sent hurdling towards Cattleya. As she transmutes ground spikes to stop it in its tracks, Daisuke takes this opportunity to strike. It fails as she notices and counters with a devastating blow to the stomach. She proclaims that she has no need for vile, untrustworthy filth like him, and that he’s the one she will kill first. Suddenly, she’s forced to transmute a defense against a gunshot, and that’s when she notices that Hajime, Endou from yesterday, and their party have arrived. These bouts of transmutation noticeably drain some of Cattleya’s energy. As she exhaustedly mutters how this day couldn’t possibly get any worse, she asks if this means the other demon lord has been put down, to which Hajime confirms to the shock of many. She comments that he has the eyes of someone who has killed, and Hajime tells her that it was not a pleasant experience. He then demands that he let everyone go, lest he add her to the list of those she’s killed. Finally reaching a boiling point, she asks who he thinks he is, only for him to answer with his name: Hajime Nagumo, the man who cleared two labyrinths.
Episode 12: Much like the penultimate episode, the finale begins with a flashback involving the arc’s antagonist. This time, it’s about when she, her husband, and their party were facing a demon lord, or rather, as Cattleya was screaming, surrounded by the corpses of her friends and loved ones. A demon lord asks her one last time as the sole survivor if she wishes to join him, as she cradles the corpse of her lover, screaming his name. She glares at the lord with a sense of resentment and despair, knowing that she cannot stop him with all the wounds she has. The flashback ends with this.
Hajime has his guns pointed at Cattleya. She utters how this is the second-worst day of her life and that this labyrinth houses both of her worst days. Meanwhile, Hajime tells Yue to help him blast the goons while Endou and Shea rush down Cattleya. He tells Kaori’s party to focus on protecting her as she tries to heal them, as he’s sure Cattleya will gun for the healer (as she’s already done). She attempts to bargain with Hajime and his party, saying that now there’s a whole demon lord position available for the taking and that he’d be more than suited for it with his aesthetic and power. He refuses, stating that he doesn’t even plan to stay in this world for too long. All he wants to do is defeat the demon lords go against the God of this world that made the demons reign terror on this world while the heroic mavericks were sealed off, and get out with his friends. Cattleya sighs, understanding what an admirable and ambitious, if ambivalent goal he has, slightly perplexed by the idea that he is from another world. She has no choice but to face them and find recruits, or die here. She resents the other lords for putting her up to this and potentially discarding her after years of service towards “those bastards”, before mentioning there are no hard feelings in this fight to the death. As such, the battle begins, playing out how one would expect. Yue wipes out hordes with absolute ease and both Shea and Endou engage in a hectic brawn with Cattleya, evading her attacks and attempting to counter her, blow for blow as certain monsters attack them. Hajime deals with some of the overhead monsters before bragging about his party towards Kaori and hers, telling them to stand back as he and his guys deal with things, confidently telling Kaori not to worry as that this time he’ll protect them without nearly dying. He then transmutes a stone wall to block a dragon’s fire blast before getting out a buster rifle and shooting the dragon’s eye. Kaori is stunned by all of this.
Cattleya manages to deal some serious blows towards Shea and Endou but not without sustaining minor injuries herself. After she punctures them with a horde of spikes that the two were prepared to block, they heal themselves and Cattleya is forced to block some of Hajime’s shots before enacting some offensive transmutations that he easily counters with his own. Just as she dodges, she’s hit by some of Yue’s magical attacks. She then tries to block more onslaughts but finds her wounds causing her to be susceptible to Hajime gunning down her limbs. She is now pinned down, angrily demanding Hajime to end it all with tears in her eyes. She’s already bleeding badly, hopeless, outmatched. She utters that “it’s just like back then”. We flash back to several years ago, as Cattleya and her husband, Mikhael, and their party. They were jovially chatting about the floor they had just conquered, claiming that next was the 20th floor. That was when a demon lord offered to make them part of his army.
She was married for 5 years, and they and their party had set off to conquer all of the labyrinths just like with the party staring her down now. In a way, she’s almost glad they conquered her party all those years ago. She even remembered how some of the tactics she used were the exact same that callous demon lord did back then. She spend several years thinking about that day, about the truths of this world, and about how none of the other demon lords really cared about her. Kouki tells her it’s not too late, that she can still abandon this life and live for herself. She laughs at his supposed naïvete before Hajime tells her that he actually agrees with him. He then offers her a healing crystal while making sure to point a gun at her just in case. She rejects, saying that those don’t work on demon lords, further accentuating how much it sucks to be one. Her body has gone cold, and she hopes that maybe they’ll live the life she was supposed to, that of becoming heroes with the people they care about as they conquered labyrinths and took down the demon lords that reign down on the world. Hajime reassures her that he has conquered this labyrinth already, and that before he leaves this world for good, he and his friends will do so. Cattleya dies peacefully, and out of respect, Hajime buries her with her amulet.
After a moment of silence, Hajime asks if everyone is ok before congratulating his team on a job well done as they heal themselves. Kaori asks if he really is Hajime, and he hugs her, confirming his identity and thanking her for not giving up on him. After Kaori starts crying about how much she’s been searching for him, Hajime apologizes for not coming back sooner. After seeing Shizuku give him a thumbs up since she always wanted him to make a move on Kaori, he adds that Aiko and the others back in the cottage are doing just fine, as he ended up paying them a visit before coming here. He understands that everyone is stunned by this dramatic change in appearance and attitude, telling them that a couple days stranded in the depths of a labyrinth with only one arm can do a lot to a person. He then looks at Daisuke, calling him out before storming over to his location. Daisuke, fearful for his life, hurriedly tries to bargain before receiving a brutal decking, as Hajime proudly proclaims that’s what he gets for trying to kill him back then. Some of the other rush towards Daisuke before he signals for them to half, painfully claiming he deserved that one. Kouki asks not to kill him, telling Hajime that they’ll deal with his act of treason accordingly. Hajime then tells him that he’s satisfied with kicking Daisuke’s ass and that he’s lucky Hajime didn’t deck him with his metal arm. He’s then asked if it’s true that he conquered the labyrinth. He decides he’ll tell them everyone heads back, introducing his new friends. Shea even teases Hajime about Kaori being the girlfriend he’s been constantly talking about, flustering him and shocking the rest of Kaori’s party while Kaori and Shizuku laugh. Kaori then kisses Hajime in front of everyone, stating that they had tied the knot the night before venturing into the labyrinth. Everyone is shocked.
All groups meet outside of the labyrinth at dawn and discuss what their plans are now. There are a few labyrinths remaining, so Hajime and his group plan on heading there. The others were planning on conquering each labyrinth one by one, and they expected this to last at least several months before they could finally be sent back. Now that Hajime and co. have conquered two in less than one month, they foresee this whole war ending in about 3 months tops. Hajime questions if they’re willing or capable of keeping up with him and his squad. The others see that as a challenge while Kaori remarks that even if she didn’t take that as such, she’d still go with her boyfriend regardless. Everyone laughs and Hajime says he better head for bed. He’s pulled an all-nighter dealing with two demon lords. One of the other classmates jokingly tells him not to do anything with his girlfriend in bed, and they laugh it off. We then cut to Hajime preparing to sleep as his GF wishes him a good rest before continuing to chat with the other girls. He laughs at how well she’s hit it off with Shea and Yue, unsure of what kind of embarrassing stuff they’ll be telling each other about him. He looks up at the ceiling with a sense of hope and pride, feelings he hasn’t really felt in ages. He then takes out a photo of himself and Kaori standing together in their class picture. He gives one last smirk before saying that things might be alright after all. As his eyes begin to close, so does the episode.
So that was a fucking journey! Let’s go over some differences between these two episodes and the final episodes of the actual show. As mentioned previously, Cattleya wasn’t even named in the show for some reason, and back then, she was basically just a generic bad guy with some slight hints of a past that don’t get explored here. When she used transmutation magic in the same general location as where Hajime got his brutal start and learned how to make his transmutations better, I immediately recognized the potential for a tragic foil. Afterwards, I actually made an attempt at a satisfying resolution to the whole “Daisuke betrayed Hajime” plotline, which is just dropped in the show proper. They never bring it up after episode 8, so Hajime never gives the bastard his comeuppance. We don’t even see him get jealous of all the chicks Hajime has clinging to his crotch and coattails. That was an easy fix. I also made it so that the penultimate episode wasn’t another terrible attempt at in medias res storytelling, instead making it a linear narrative with a flashback or two peppered in at opportune moments.
What I would do for a second season since I will not be watching the show past this point: Ideally, this would be where Hajime continues to grow into a charismatic badass with an actually complete character arc. The finale I laid out for season 1 is a reasonable enough stopping point, but now that he has a relationship, expanding that while giving the other relevant characters a small arc of their own with each labyrinth and eventual revelations I can’t be bothered to come up with would probably be the game plan. I’d probably pace it around 4-5 episodes per arc/labyrinth as the war escalates, resulting in a climactic conclusion where the demon lords are defeated, the world is restored, and everyone is forced to readapt to the human world the class has been absent from for months (or adapt in general in the case of Shea and Yue). Now that redemption has been taken care of, the show will continue the course of characters’ self-improvement and the connections they’ve formed in this strange escapist hellscape they were launched into. After all, part of the fun of escapism is the community in which people escaping end up interacting with as they learn more about each other and potentially even grow as people. As much fun as it would be to be a total badass that gets all the babes and shows up everyone who ever doubted you, it’s also fun to have people to just share the glory with and enjoy escaping with. These two factors are probably big reasons as to why something like Rising of the Shield Hero got popular. It’s escapism about proving the world that they were wrong about you and that you can be cool too. You’ll show them! This was also likely one of the big draws people had to Arifureta, as horrible as the show was. As such, despite how dismal the reception of it was, especially after its baffling first episode pissed most source material fans off, the show became one of the more popular anime of its season. I would never recommend this to anyone, and on the surface, this might not even look like something with any kind of potential. I hope this rewrite convinces you that yes, even trashy escapist fantasy stories like this have the potential to be fun and emotionally resonant. As much as I do not enjoy most of these kinds of shows (hence why I barely bother with any of them anymore), I’ve always seen that kind of potential for at least a few of these shows to be entertaining, perhaps even satisfying and emotional. That’s why I’m still willing to check out the second season of That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime thanks to the first season having some strong moments and generally being at least somewhat likable, earnest, and entertaining. Still, I think that’s enough rambling from me. I hope you enjoyed this 3-part rewrite which took way too long to make.