You feel your body ache all over as you get to your feet.
The dim light from the cavern’s white crystals barely pierce the darkness.
The last thing you remember is falling into a dark, bottomless chasm in the Great Orcus Labyrinth. You were using your Transmute Skill to delay a horde of rampaging monsters on a stone bridge while your classmates got to safety. When you tried to follow them, a blast of magic knocked you into the shadowy chasm below as the bridge collapsed.
You must be somewhere deep in the Labyrinth where no one has ventured before.
Anyway, you should try to find some stairs to get back up…
It turns around. Its eyes are hideous.
Without warning, it does a forward backflip in the air. Instinctively, you dodge left and the wall behind you is inflicted with a deep fissure, as though a massive sword cut it!
Did the rabbit do that?
You have no chance against it!
You back away slowly as the rabbit advances on you, then it seems to glance away.
What’s it looking…at…
With a swipe of its huge paw, the monstrous bear mauls the rabbit to pieces. It then begins to chew and lap up what’s left of the rabbit.
An even bigger predator! And you’re the prey! It’s like a jungle down here!
You’d better get away while it’s busy!
The growls behind you get louder as you run.
Your left side feels a bit lighter for some reason.
Your ARM! YOUR AAARRRM!!
Fighting tears, you swivel around as you cradle the stump your left arm was. It HURTS! HURTS!
You see your dismembered, bloody arm on the floor in front of you.
The bear shuffles to your arm, picks it up and devours it.
No, no, no, no…why is this…happen…ing?
You press your back against the cavern wall as the bear eyes you hungrily.
Wait, that’s it!
Despite the dizziness, pain and terror filling your mind, you use Transmute to dig yourself into the wall.
Transmute, transmute, transmute, transmute, transmute!
Away, away, away, away, away!
Mustn’t stop! Mustn’t stop! Mustn’t stop!!
Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest (ありふれた職業で世界最強, Arifureta Shokugyō de Sekai Saikyō) is a web novel, light novel series, manga and anime written by Ryo Shirakome (白米 良, Shirakome Ryō).
An entire class of Japanese high school students suddenly find themselves transported to the fantasy world of Tortus. Among these students is the shy otaku Hajime Nagumo, who was long bullied for his friendly relationship with Kaori Shirasaki, the class’ most popular girl. While all of his classmates receive powerful abilities, Hajime receives only the Transmute Skill, which uses basic alchemical magic to analyze and manipulate solid matter. During an expedition in the Great Orcus Labyrinth, he is betrayed when one of his classmates attacks him with a blast of magic that causes him to fall into the unexplored depths of the Labyrinth.
When Hajime awakens, he almost immediately loses his left arm to a huge Claw Bear. After digging himself underground to hide, he accidentally finds a Divinity Stone, a crystal that secretes a liquid that could heal any injury. Badly injured and starving, the delirious Hajime is consumed with despair and rage as he vows to survive by any means necessary. After recovering, he hunts the Labyrinth’s monsters, eats their flesh and swiftly grows in power. Eventually, he kills the Claw Bear that ate his arm.
Later, Hajime discovers and frees an imprisoned vampire girl he names Yue. The pair eventually fight their way to the lowest level of the Labyrinth, where they discover the mansion of the Labyrinth’s creator, Oscar Orcus. A magical recording left by Oscar tells Hajime the darkest secret of Tortus: the god overseeing the world, Eiht, is the god of humans and demons alike and is a cruel, malicious manipulator who plays everyone’s lives against each other for his own twisted amusement. Inheriting Oscar’s Creation Ancient Magic as a reward for conquering the Labyrinth, Hajime gets the idea to find and conquer more Labyrinths in order to acquire their stored Ancient Magics and use them to return home.
During their travels, Hajime and Yue are joined by the rabbit girl Shea and the dragonborn princess Tio. At the request of an adventurers’ guild, Hajime eventually returns to the Great Orcus Labyrinth and defends his classmates from a powerful demon. Immensely relieved and now aware of her feelings for Hajime, Kaori decides to join his team in their quest to find a way home.
Meanwhile, the god Eiht takes steps to eliminate a particularly vexing problem…
Hajime Nagumo (南雲 ハジメ, Nagumo Hajime), a 17-year old Synergist and a former high school student. Betrayed by a classmate and forced to survive alone in a labyrinth filled with hostile monsters, the once-gentle teenager is now cynical, pragmatic, stubborn and unsympathetic. Hajime has no mercy for those who get in the way of his goals, especially his wish to return to Japan, and will happily destroy anything that gets in his way. Despite this, he cares deeply for those who have earned his trust and is willing to do whatever he can for them within reason.
As a result of devouring many monsters in the Great Orcus Labyrinth, Hajime has gained many Skills and is now far stronger and faster than any human at the cost of being no longer human. A gifted engineer and inventor, he has used Creation Ancient Magic to craft an artificial left arm, modern-day vehicles and many weapons such as various firearms, grenades, Shea’s warhammer and a katana for one of his classmates. An expert fighter and marksman, Hajime prefers to dual wield two revolvers, Donner and Schlag, in battle, but he can use different firearms or even fight unarmed if the situation calls for it.
Yue, a vampire Divine Priestess and a one-time Queen of the Avatari Kingdom. Childish, graceful, quiet and somewhat sadistic, she is utterly loyal to and in love with Hajime. Yue is actually a name given to her by Hajime, but she has accepted it in order to put her old identity behind her. A powerful magician, Yue can use a wide variety of combat magic such as fire, ice and lightning spells.
Shea Haulia, a rabbit girl Diviner and the daughter of the Haulia Tribe’s chieftain. Courageous, friendly, optimistic and somewhat selfish, she has grown in confidence and strength since joining Hajime’s team. Shea is in love with Hajime and aggressively pursues him. After training with Hajime and Yue, Shea is now a skilled fighter, particularly when using her custom-made warhammer, Drucken. As a Diviner, she can foresee vague moments in the future.
Tio Klarus, a 563-year old dragonborn Guardian and princess. Determined, honest, kind and wise, she has become hopelessly masochistic and perverted as a result of Hajime defeating her in battle by roughly shoving a metal rod up her anus! While Tio is generally upstanding, her newly discovered fetishes often overtake her. Like all members of her race, she can transform into a winged dragon. Like Yue, Tio is a powerful, experienced magician.
Kaori Shirasaki (白崎 香織, Shirasaki Kaori), a 17-year old Priestess and a former high school student. Caring, gentle, kind and responsible, she was, and still is, the most popular girl of her class. Kaori has held a crush on Hajime since middle school, but only realized this when she saw him fall seemingly to his death. Since then, she resolved to be more assertive and determined, even after learning about Hajime’s new ruthless attitude and joining his team. As a Priestess, Kaori can use powerful healing magic and spells that enhance the abilities of others.
Broken by horrific betrayal and the desperate need to survive on his own, Hajime is a determined, pragmatic antihero. In fact, he reminds me of Wolverine from Marvel Comics’ X-Men and the Man with No Name portrayed by Clint Eastwood! Despite this, Hajime becomes a beloved, all-powerful hero in his story and eventually gains a harem of beautiful women. His worldliness, his iron determination and his awareness of others are what make him a hero. Even with his cynical attitude, Hajime doesn’t act on his resentments or force anyone to share his beliefs.
By contrast, a few of Hajime’s classmates have become deluded, entitled and self-centered during their time on Tortus. Hoping to gain the power to achieve their selfish desires, these teenagers made dark pacts with demons in exchange for power, betraying their friends and becoming unrepentant criminals themselves. Another classmate, Kouki Amanogawa, means well and does his best to be a hero, but he is proud and self-righteous to the point that he tries to impose his moral standards on everyone and he shows mercy to malicious people who don’t deserve it. An ace student who excelled at everything in school, the naïve Kouki is flabbergasted when his black-and-white beliefs don’t work in the real world and when he sees Hajime, someone he looked down on, succeed where he failed.
This story is a fantasy example of youths suddenly thrust into a harsh reality in which they have to learn how to survive. The rules we learn in the relatively sheltered environment of our schools and homes must be tempered in a world where people are more likely to take advantage of us. While it is possible for us to adapt and even prosper, it is also possible for us to become corrupt and ruthless. It’s especially dangerous to believe that life is a game in which we are the heroes while no one else matters.
Life isn’t a game in which only you matter. Be considerate of others.