Fantasy series that involved, in one way or another, a protagonist from our world who struggles in a, well, fantasy universe tends to signal a warning light in my head. Even more so when said fantasy universe was deeply inspired by MMO mechanic. Stories of such nature, while not only has been prevalent in the industry in this post-SAO world, is something that I don’t associate with good-storytelling. There has been some exceptions, like last year decent-but-not-too-remarkable Danmachi and this season slice-of-life focused MMO anime Grimgar. But on the whole, I remained skeptical in a story with this sort-of premise.
Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!, or Konosuba, however, thankfully rebuked my earlier expectation that it’s going to be another bland entry to the fantasy-mmo genre. And while it’s comedic-centric conceit is a fresh of breath air, unfortunately, I can’t say that it’s a particularly noteworthy entry either.
So the story goes that our main protagonist, Kazuma, passed away when he tried to save a girl from incoming vehicle, which was revealed by the goddess he met in the afterlife, Aqua, to be a small slow-moving tractor who was just about to stop when the driver saw the girl. A literal pointless death. Once revealed that he could choose to be reborn in an alternate fantasy universe with special perk of his choosing, he decided to go to said universe and bring along Aqua as a comeback for mocking his dying moment. Adventuring in a fantasy world however, turned out be different than what he had hope to be. Now joined by two party member, a crusader Darkness and an arch wizard Megumin, the series chronicle the ups and downs (mostly downs) of Kazuma’s party life as they try get through this absurd fantasy world, one ludicrous quest at a time.
The series main strength is arguably it’s enjoyable cast of characters. From the first scene in which two of our protagonist, Kazuma and Aqua, met, the series manage to illustrate and establish an entertaining dynamic between the two. Aqua is a proud, self-important, arrogant cock who relish her status as a goddess, something that made her often the butt off much of the series joke because her status almost didn’t help her surviving in the fantasy world, who pretty much run in contrast with snarky, face-palming Kazuma. Joining the two are Megumin who act much like our world chuunibyo, which made it funny because she’s an actual demon who can do actual magic (which she also can only use once a day), and, my least favorite, Darkness. A crusader who’s useless when it comes to the offense and took pleasure in running into abusive circumstances. Even if the series humor doesn’t always hit the mark (and it frequently does for me, something that I’ll get into later on), it still manage to provide a constant light-hearted, comfy atmosphere because the main cast of Konosuba are the sort of people you’d enjoy spending times with and you emotionally invested in, even if the two of the leads are technically an ass.
What I also somewhat appreciate is the fact that the series prevented itself from being just a string of ludicrous situation after another by giving a steady narrative progression, although unfortunately it’s not on the character side of things since, apart from some few background info regarding each of the leads, their personality and dynamic largely remain the same throughout the season. Kazuma steadily gain fortune and new skills, he and his party eventually managed to move out from a horse stable, and even beat a dark general later on.
But even with entertaining leads, it’s a shame that the much of the series humor fell flat. Humor is often reliant of setting up a scenario in order to create a sort of expectation from the audience, only to deliver a punchline by subverting those expectation, either through unexpected, but still plausible, character reaction or another unknown variable. The joke in Konosuba became predictable all to quickly because it often follow more or less the same pattern. Darkness will act perverted in dangerous situation, Aqua’s arrogance will backfire against her, Megumin will be all to eager to unleash her magic which pretty much cause her to collapse, and Kazuma will comment about how stupid it all was. Combine that with some tasteless ecchi jokes (about half of them are courtesy of Darkness), the experience of watching Konosuba is often a pleasant one, rather than actually funny or hilarious.
Konosuba does try to balance this by continuously setting up absurd and inventive scenario that based on quest you’d often see in an MMO game. And while several of these scenario is funny in concept, like the battle against the Dullahan which is a nice mix of tension and humor, and the ghost mansion episode which alternate between two “scary” scenario, one is the ghost themselves and the fact that Kazuma and Megumin really needs to go to the bathroom, the characters still more or less reacted the same way as I’ve stated above.
On aesthetic side of things, I’m not sure there’s much too say apart from the fact that it’s generally serviceable, with some few derpy expressions. The character design are appealing, but not particularly distinctive. The series does have a few quirky animation that elevate the series joke.
So on the whole, while it failed to live up the comedic potential set up in the introduction episodes, Konosuba is a enjoyable experience that I don’t regret watching. Like I said, it’s comedic focus is somewhat fresh in the fantasy-mmo crowd. I wouldn’t mind watching the second season when it comes out.
- EPISODE 9 NEVER HAPPENED
- WILL SOMEONE PLEAAAAAAAASSSSSE MAKE AN ANIME OUT OF ITS ED
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