Otaku USA Magazine
The Strongest Hero of Arifureta Is a Devoted Teacher

Arifureta is full of unlikely heroes...

Isekai anime involves average characters from everyday life discovering powers beyond even their own imagining. Sometimes our heroes get them as a gift, and sometimes they train up. In Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest it’s a little of both. But even in the face of the show’s overclocked protagonist, it’s a high school teacher who shows some of the cast’s most impressive strength.

Arifureta takes place in a fantasy world which summons normal people to do battle with monsters and demons. Each takes on a magical class, like Swordsman or Monk. Resident otaku Hajime Nagumo is a Synergist: basically a craftsman in a team of fighters. When a classmate attacks him and leaves him for dead in a dungeon, he must find ways to survive. Between magic mineral water and monster meat, he becomes superpowered. Basically, be careful who you make fun of in high school.

Hajime Nagumo of Arifureta

Hajime, along with his new vampire companion Yue, has only one goal now: get home. Yes, that means without his classmates. (And we really can’t blame him, considering what happened.) Eventually, he does meet up with his class again — and that includes his teacher, the protective Aiko Hatayama. Aiko definitely seems out of her element at fist. But when she and Hajime cross paths again, we see just how capable she is.

Aiko’s skill set is Farmer, by the way. She’s not made for combat like the rest of the Arifureta cast, but she knows how to keep everyone safe and looked after. So when her former student essentially returns from the dead, she kicks into protective mode. She has no interest in Hajime’s standoffishness, no matter what happened. As a result, she’s the first of their traveling party to hear the truth of this fantasy world. It’s an awful and unpleasant one, but even Hajime knows she needs to hear it.

Aiko in action

Aiko may not wield a weapon or throw healing magic like her students. She’s tiny and sweet and still dressed for a day at school. But she loves her students no matter what, and wants them to become good adults. Of all the people Hajime encounters from his climb to the top, she’s one of the few to not be influenced by his sudden change. She challenges his new brand of cynicism at every turn. And, possible, that’s what helps him begin to level out. Although “leveling out” in Hajime’s case is kind of a low bar, considering how angry and powerful he’s become.

Aiko Hatayama of Arifureta

In the midst of otherworldly heroes and magical teens, Aiko injects humanity back into their senseless war. In particular, she sees what Hajime was, and tries to bring him back around to it. She may not look like much, but she’s dynamite. Even compared to vampires, dragons, and Hajime himself, when it comes to resolve, Aiko is definitely one of Arifureta‘s strongest.

Watch Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest on Funimation.

Kara Dennison

Kara Dennison is a writer, editor, and presenter with bylines at Crunchyroll, Sci-Fi Magazine, Sartorial Geek, and many others. She is a contributor to the celebrated Black Archive line, with many other books, short stories, and critical works to her name.