Reaper's Reviews: 'KonoSuba'
Original title: Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!
Format: 10 episodes + 1 OVA
Release: January 14, 2016 - March 17, 2016
Source: Light novel
Review Release: June 19th, 2018
KonoSuba has been teasing me for a while now. Originally airing in 2016's winter season, it saw great popularity in the community for being an incredibly hilarious anime that makes fun of our current saturation of Isekai (read: "another world") anime like Sword Art Online and the like.
Personally I didn't hold much hope for it as it was produced by studio DEEN, and my opinion of them is mixed to say the least. And hell, on a pure technical aspect, I was more than right: the series looks average at best.
So imagine my surprise when I finished this series in two sittings and needed an inhaler after the ride I just went through. I knew I'll chuckle at the series, but I wasn't expecting laughing so hard at the misadventures of its idiot yet endearing characters.
But there is so much more to KonoSuba and why it works so well...
Story & Setting
On surface, KonoSuba might sound like yet another “Isekai” series with some RPG elements thrown in: you got your male protagonist Kazuma Satou who gets teleported into a rather generic fantasy setting, trying to adjust to his new life and is surrounded by young, beautiful women.
Pretty standard, no? But then you learn that Kazuma is a hopeless and perverted NEET who died a very embarrassing and pointless death, and gains the choice to take any object or person he wants with him to assist him in his new reality. Enter Aqua, an obnixious goddess who welcomes Kazuma into the afterlife before laughing her lungs out upon hearing the details of Kazuma’s death.
Kazuma drags the very displeased Aqua with him and they both decide to become adventurers and defeat the world’s mysterious “Demon King” to return to their previous lives. Alongside them are a sorceress called Megumin and a paladin by the nickname of Darkness, and so they embark on a journey to conquer this world’s evil. Or rather, they try to.
KonoSuba is a deliciously hilarious parody of Iseki anime, fantasy archetypes and RPG elements that over the course of its very short running time - 10 episodes - manages to make fun of multiple tropes, character roles and cliches we often see and detest in such works.
Instead of an overpowered male protagonist and a beautifully selfless heroine that progressively fall in love we have a sarcastic loser and a spoiled whiny brat that can’t stand each other and bicker almost all the time. The powerful and seemingly reasonable magician girl turns out to be a useless one-trick pony and the gorgeous paladin woman is a masochistic psycho whose unparalleled strength is off put by her terrible accuracy.
As you may have realized by now, the story here is merely an excuse for literal mountains of comedic situations and misunderstandings that the characters get intertwined in, all while puking fun and mocking the very idea of being trapped in another world; dream of being an overpowered badass hero? Too bad, you’re below average in almost every stat and the people around you think you’re a pervert and an idiot.
A beautiful goddess is by your side? Well, she is beautiful, but also needy and overall useless beside some cheap party tricks; you want to embark on an epic quest to defeat the forces of evil? Good luck ever getting out of the beginner town you’ve seen in every RPG game ever; and of course, you want to be surrounded by a harem of gorgeous ladies? Bad luck because they are all problem children that just hinder your progress.
The very premise of fantasy RPG settings is torn apart in the most hilarious ways possible and KonoSuba never shies away from showing how unbelievably ridiculous it can look. More often than not, our heroes’ (if you can call them that) efforts are met with amusing failures and even when they succeed, consequences of their actions lead to funny after-effects.
In a way it somewhat reminds me of a more comedic version of Cowboy Bebop; sure the two shows are very different from one another, but they both feature a group of unlikely heroes who despite their skillset (or in KonoSuba’s case lack thereof) almost constantly fail in their objectives. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is a great vessel for laughable and memorable situations.
While personally the lack of an actual plot doesn’t mind me that much, KonoSuba’s overall structure does leave something to be desired.
I’m not sure if this is due to the criminally short length of the anime or a problem originating the source material, but there are instances where KonoSuba either jumps around in its chronological time with the introduction or usage of several characters and events.
The prime examples being the characters of Wiz and Yunyun, the latter not even appearing in the series proper but in a bonus OVA. They just suddenly appear out of nowhere and the main cast talks as if they’ve known them for ages (well to be fair, Megumin and Yunyun are friends/rivals since early age).
Honestly the first time I saw either of them I actually believed that I missed an episode or two while watching the show and simply scratched my head about that. Sure, random comedy has its merits, but when KonoSuba did so well with introducing its main cast and setting, I feel that the other aspects could - and should - have been handled better.
But back to the good parts, the comedy is very well executed with a lot of love and effort going to keep the series engaging and amusing for extended times, with a variety of jokes and lack of overused punch-lines.
Comedy is subjective and so you may not enjoy some of the spoofs KonoSuba makes nor its often vulgar humor - which it has, a lot. If you’re the kind of person who can’t stand sexual humor or usage of fanservice, you may just hate it. But despite that, KonoSuba manipulates that wisely because it remembers something very important.
It has characters that are more than just templates for thin jokes.
KonoSuba has one of the best main casts to ever grace a comedy anime: a perverted former Japanese NEET, a genuinely idiot goddess, a glass cannon sorceress and a kinky crusader getting turned on by physical and verbal abuse. It really does sound like a joke when you think of it, and yet those four work so well together.
What makes them especially endearing is that they are more than just amusing subversions of the usual Isekai character roles, but they are their own characters with established and distinguished character traits that not only make them stand out, but also allow for strong chemistry and hilarious banters with each other.
Kazuma is our main protagonist, but acts nothing like one; he’s rude, sarcastic beyond measure, unashamed in his pervertness and surprisingly intelligent. The best word to describe him is a jerk, but his actions are often done out of spite rather than true malice, and despite many of his actions and insults, he turns out to be a genuinely good and nice person, it’s just that he’s never blind to his friends’ flaws and stupidity. His witty remarks and self-awareness regarding his role make a unique and entertaining protagonist that few can match.
Next we have Aqua, who is a weird banana; she’s a goddess and the show’s supposed main female lead, but similar to Kazuma, she rarely acts like one, being a whiny and an airheaded brat who causes more trouble than good. Despite that, I would say that along with Kazuma, she’s the show’s most hilarious character, and their chemistry is among the show’s strongest aspect, with them acting like siblings with deep rivalry between them, yet having deep love and respect for one another.
Moving on we have Megumin, the series’ breakout character… For most people. I will just straight up admit that she didn’t do much to me; I prefer both Kazuma and Aqua as characters and sources of humor, but to be fair, her explosion gags are far from boring, and mixed opinions about Kazuma are ridiculous to watch. I just… Never fell in love with her character as much as other people in the community.
Darkness wraps the main cast up, and admittedly, she’s the least interesting to watch. This is mainly due to the show not giving her enough time to show more sides to her character rather than the whole “I’m masochistic” shtick. Sure, she’s attractive and her lewdness leads her to some amusing accidents, but I do wish she’d receive more.
The rest of the cast doesn’t get much development or exposure, but their designs and quirks are memorable enough to make them stand out. I do think some of them get hurt by the bizarre structure the series employs near its conclusion, as was the case with Wiz and Yunyun, but I always enjoyed watching them, regardless.
And really, the supporting cast is damn good, even if usage of them can be sparse or inconsistent, like how the character of Chris simply disappears for extended periods of time without much explanation or even acknowledgement from the rest of the cast. Not even Darkness, who is supposed to be her friend from before the series started!
But even with these issues, I can’t say that I disliked even one character, and I just want to see all of them another time. KonoSuba has attaching characters that become so close to your heart that it’s incredible. They are a lovely bunch that make you think of them as close friends, and I can’t express how much I want to see them again.
Animation & Art
The animation is not really the reason you should watch this series; produced by studio DEEN (of Higurashi fame... and some mediocre garbage), KonoSuba’s visuals can be described as average at best, wonky and clunky at worst. I’d like to say it’s fairly standard, but it struggles to maintain even that level of quality.
Even the few action scenes featured leave much to be desired, and it’s really telling you something when the best animated scene is Kazuma’s hand motions when he threatens to steal a couple girl’s panties. And the special effects used for Megumin’s explosions and other magical abilities are unremarkable as well.
On the other hand, I will say that the show doesn’t disappoint when it comes to character design. Personally I will admit that I prefer the original style used for the light novel illustrations, but the anime’s goofier style is still incredibly memorable with vibrant, lively and diverse appearances for even the more minor cast members that don’t even get named in-series, which is quite expressive.
And the facial expressions KonoSuba utilizes are without doubt one of the biggest factors to the show’s overall charm, with silly and often over the top reactions from characters to the incidents or situations they fall into, such as Aqua’s crying face or how the group looks disappointed with poker faces when they are exposed to an incredibly idiotic moment or behavior.
Audio & Sound
The soundtrack for KonoSuba was composed by Masato Koda, who is probably best known for working more on game soundtracks, in particular games developed and published by Capcom, such as Devil May Cry and Darkstalkers.
And to be honest, his soundtrack here is kinda lacking.
It does its job well and includes all the classic tunes and instruments comedy series needs to have, but that’s about it… There really isn’t much to say about it beyond being serviceable if generic.
On the other hand, the opening song “Fantastic Dreamers” by Machico, fits its name because it’s pretty good and catchy. The ending song “Little Adventurer” is not amazing, but it’s a decent ending theme that is notable for being sang by the voice actresses of the three main female characters.
For whatever petty reason, the show hasn’t been licensed yet by anyone, so the fate of an English dub is very likely... negative.
On the other hand, I can tell you that the Japanese dub is pretty fantastic, with the likes of Jun Fukushima as Kazuma, Sora Amamiya as Aqua, Rei Takahashi as Megumin, and finally, Ai Kayano as Darkness, and their work together is nothing short of fantastic; they share great chemistry together and it’s easy to notice in their voice how much fun they had with their lines and characters.
KonoSuba is short. It's too short; only 10 episodes and OVA were produced for this debut season, and I have no idea who is the executive who dared accepting this insulting number of episodes.
And that's because KonoSuba is one of the most charming anime I've seen in years; it's comedy gold with a plethora of fun, attaching characters that constantly poke fun at fantasy and Isekai tropes and cliches, its timing is almost always spot on and even in its lesser moments it kept me smiling.
A broken plot structure that underuses or mishandles some characters alongside a truly lackluster animation hold it a little back, but KonoSuba's strengths undoubtedly outweigh any wrongs it does and if you love comedy anime, KonoSuba is one of the very best.
Also, Eris is my waifu and don't dare touching her.
- An effective parody of Isekai genre anime that is lots of laughs and sharp jabs at the genre's tropes
- Immensely attaching characters with good chemistry and a fun spin on usual character archetypes
- Awkward structure that skips on some events and character introductions without much of a warning, which also hurts several characters
- General animation is average at best and special effects are lackluster
- Too short
& The Ugly:
- Is Aqua wearing any underpants or not?
As for alternate recommendations it would be rude of me not to mention the medium's undisputed king of humor and parody: GinTama, although I should warn you that it's a pretty long ride.
And for a second recommendation, try No Game No Life, which is a fun albeit short series that puts similar emphasis on fun and is injected with vivid humor.