KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World! Anime Review
Written by: ClayDragon
The whole ‘trapped in fantasy land’ genre has exploded in popularity in recent years, thanks in no small part to the hype surrounding Sword Art Online. Even so, I never particularly cared for these types of stories (again, thanks in no small part to the hype surrounding Sword Art Online). However, I had nothing better to do these past few days, so I decided to test the waters with KonoSuba, a ten-episode long anime about – you guessed it – a boy who gets transported to another world.
|"Go to a fantasy universe, they said. Be a hero, they said. It'll be fun, they said."|
Kazuma Sato, a typical antisocial shut-in, ends up dying before the two-minute mark and wakes up in front of a goddess named Aqua. She explains that he has three options: he can either be reincarnated and start life anew, ascend to heaven, or get sent to a parallel world with his body and memories intact, with the stipulation that he must defeat the Devil King terrorising said world. To sweeten the deal, Aqua lets him take one item or skill with him in order to help. Unfortunately, since she was being such a bitch about it, Kazuma decides to take her with him, partly in order to bring her down a peg, and partly because having a goddess on his side will tip the odds in his favour.
|Because this is clearly the face of someone you want on your side.|
This does not go to plan. Kazuma and Aqua are pretty much dumped in this fantasy universe without money, weapons, armour, or any other useful equipment, and are forced to start from scratch. Kazuma’s poor stats and Aqua’s personality flaws ensure that the two have zero hope when it comes to defeating the Devil King, so they attempt to recruit a number of strong allies and form their own adventuring party.
This does not go to plan. The only two people interested in joining their party are Darkness – a female masochistic knight who has high defence but terrible accuracy – and Megumin, a mage who only knows the incredibly powerful Explosion spell, but doesn’t have the magical capacity to be able to fire off more than one spell before she collapses. Never has the term ‘ragtag bunch of misfits’ been more appropriate.
|Too late to back out now, Aqua.|
Even though KonoSuba falls squarely within the ‘trapped in fantasy land’ setting, it’s very definitely a parody. In fact, at some points I began to wonder if the creator had an alcohol-fuelled D&D campaign before writing the story, because this show seems determined to subvert almost every expectation about the genre. Kazuma isn’t an all-powerful Chosen One – his stats are average across the board – and whilst the team all have fairly standard classes (with Aqua being the healer and Kazuma being a jack-of-all-trades), their quirks and personality traits hamper their effectiveness greatly, and they only get out of some situations through sheer dumb luck.
|Where do I sign up?|
Despite being, for all intents and purposes, the hero of this story, Kazuma is actually kind of an jerk, and constantly toes the line between being likable in spite of his personality, and just being a perverted asshole. Granted, he’s fine most of the time, and he always gets his comeuppance when he goes too far, but it’s hard to root for him on the occasions when he’s being a selfish prick. Aqua is even worse in this regard, as she’s almost constantly being mean, arrogant and bratty. She’s obviously meant to come across as actually being decent underneath, but she doesn’t get enough moments that show this. On the other hand, Darkness is fun to watch, but her character doesn’t evolve beyond her initial depiction, and her masochistic tendencies got a bit tired after a while.
|Not in front of the children, Darkness.|
That being said, the star of the show is easily Megumin. She’s essentially Rikka Takanashi from Love, Chuunibyou & Other Delusions in an actual fantasy setting, and it’s just as glorious as it sounds. Her enthusiasm for explosion magic, combined with her excitable personality and pitch-perfect comic timing made her a joy to watch. The other main characters are never annoying enough that I considered stopping this series, but Megumin was the one character who was consistently amusing and likable.
The secondary cast are okay, with only one or two memorable characters, but KonoSuba has a nasty habit of introducing characters that the main cast know, but the audience don’t. Kazuma then has an inner monologue explaining how they met said character, with maybe a couple of frames showing the events in question, but we never properly see the actual meeting. Unless the same thing is done in the source material, there’s really no reason to do things this way. After all, the anime only has 10 episodes, so giving it a full 12 or 13 episodes would have meant that such characters could have been introduced more naturally (this is especially bad in the case of Yunyun – Megumin’s self-proclaimed rival – who is shown in the opening, but not introduced until the OVA – which aired three months after the season ended).
Whether or not a parody is successful ultimately comes down to question of how funny it is, and KonoSuba passes with flying colours. The main characters and their interactions with each other are mined for as much humour as possible, and even some supporting characters elicited a chuckle from me. There are a number of anti-climaxes which occur at times, but KonoSuba’s comic timing and understanding of fantasy universe tropes made such moments hilarious. There’s a little too much reliance on fanservice gags and innuendos, especially towards the latter half of the series, but overall the humour’s pretty solid.
|Maybe they should just get a little cart and push her home when this happens.|
For the most part, the animation is fairly average. The main character models are all unique and instantly recognisable, with a couple of neat little touches (I particularly liked the fact that Aqua’s hair decoration resembles a water molecule). There are a couple of funny faces and amusing expressions, but this is balanced out by the occasional off-model shot. In saying that, the action scenes and special effects are very impressive, with special mention going to Megumin’s explosion magic. The background music is forgettable for the most part, and the opening and ending are catchy, but nothing special. However, the voice acting is impressive, especially for Kazuma, Aqua and Megumin. Kazuma’s voice actor in particular did some ad-libbing at times, which results in a number of funny moments.
I didn’t expect much from KonoSuba, but I was pleasantly surprised by what I got – an entertaining parody of its genre that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s not without its issues, but the dysfunctional cast, well-animated action scenes and general hilarity were more than enough to satisfy me. As of this writing, a second season for KonoSuba has been announced, but has not yet aired (in fact, the first season hasn’t even been licensed by anyone). Hopefully this next season will fix the issues present in the first season (Aqua’s horrible personality, Kazuma’s perverted jackassery and Darkness’s lack of development), but even if they don’t it should still be fun to watch, since it looks like Kazuma and his team are nowhere close to defeating the Devil King.
|If the second season has more Megumin, I'm sold.|
Good Things: Subverts and parodies a number of genre clichés.
Action scenes are colourful and well-animated.
The dynamics between the dysfunctional cast members are entertaining.
It’s pretty damn funny.
Bad Things: Kazuma and Aqua can be huge jerks at times, and Darkness gets sidelined.
Overreliance on fanservice and innuendo occasionally.
Only ten episodes.
Do you have a suggestion for an anime I should review? Let me know in the comments, or submit it to ask.fm/ClayDragon!
|You just moved a pawn halfway across the board, so I'm fairly certain that move is considered illegal in tournament play, Megumin.|
ClayDragon has finished studying Physics at university, and understands about as much as he did when he started. The main method of contacting him is his Gmail account at email@example.com. He has an ask.fm account at ask.fm/ClayDragon. When not playing games or reading, he can be found with his head in his hands whilst trying in vain to figure out what to do with his life. He has an iPhone now! He feels dirty.