Konosuba – Review
Konosuba was awarded as a Runner-Up for Best of Winter 2016 in our Anime Awards.
Konosuba – God’s Blessings Upon This Wonderful World!:
Original Air Dates: Jan 13th, 2016 – March 16th, 2016
Synopsis: Kazuma Sato, after staying up for three days straight to secure a limited edition release of an upcoming, highly anticipated RPG, gives his life o save one of his classmates from being run over by a bus. Kazuma, now deceased, finds himself at the gateway to the afterlife, with a beautiful Goddess before him. It’s here he learns his death was in complete and total vain! Because in Kazuma’s sleepy daze he’d mistaken a slow moving tractor for a bus, and in his frantic rush to save a girl, who actually didn’t need saving, shocked himself to death at the mere thought of being run over. But the Goddess is willing to cut him a break and give a new chance at life: in a fantasy world overrun by the demon king.
Kazuma, reeling from the Goddess’ mockery of his death, chooses to take her along as his one bonus to resurrect with. The Goddess, Aqua, is completely caught off guard when it turns out that request is totally within the rules! Now, trapped in a fantasy world where the demon king slowly conquers the land, Aqua and Kazuma must work together to defeat the Demon King and make something of themselves, otherwise Aqua never gets to be a goddess again.
Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Konosuba has the curse of sounding a lot like one of the most common plots in anime. The whole “loser guy meets magical girl/goddess, and starts to kick ass.” Especially if you have only been reading teaser descriptions. I call it a curse because it’ll disappoint viewers expecting another serving of the previously described story, while driving away those who are not fond of that particular plot line. For better or worse, Konosuba is an extremely fresh take on world swapping. It will surprise viewers unfamiliar with its source material. It’s a comedy through and through with every episode jam packed with gags. Konosuba uses subversion of expectations, as well as predictable cliches in a refreshing manner and excels as a show for those tired of Mary Sues and Gary Stus.
Tom: Konosuba’s comedy never once lets up, rarely straying from the humor that sets it apart from so many other generic Gary Stu meets Goddess offerings. It stays true to its nature as a Video Game, Fantasy RPG world parody. Not once does Konosuba take itself seriously, save for one mid-season episode that could easily be labeled as the weakest of Konosuba’s short ten-episode run. Some might find this detrimental, as the comedy is relentless and the show strays from any truly heartwarming developments. But if you’ve come into Konosuba just looking for a good, hard laugh, Konosuba has you more than covered, easily claiming the top spot as best comedy for this Winter’s season.
Linny: The humour in Konosuba rises from putting a little twist or efficiently utilizing beloved and familiar stereotypes and turning them into comedy gold. A lot of the humour and story is focused on its main protagonists, with little to no time spent with other characters. While this helps the viewers bond with the main cast, it might frustrate those who enjoy a bigger cast, or make others feel like they’re missing out on the whole story.
Tom: Konosuba’s tight main cast is easily its strongest point however. Kazuma, our lead reborn into this fantasy world, is a fun, full of himself, down on his luck MC. Aqua is an arrogant Goddess with a lot of promise, but no brains to back it up. Megumin, the mage of the group, is a glass cannon, that basically breaks every time she uses her magic, and Darkness, well, she’s easily the character that’ll make or break the show for you. Darkness can get a bit sexual, as she’s a Masochist that takes great pleasure in casual humiliation as a Knight facing the forces of evil. If that sounds cool with you, Konosuba’s definitely going to be a good time killer. It’s these characters that make the show as strong as it is, assuming their absurd quirks are concepts you find interesting, and not forced or inane.
Linny: As Tom stressed, the characters and their quirks make or break the show. Aqua and Darkness seem the most likely to turn viewers off; either due to their ditsy arrogance or sexual behaviour, respectively. However, Kazuma should be a welcome sight for those who crave a contrast to the army of generic fantasy adventure leads. He struggles to survive in this fantasy world, comically stumbling and fumbling as a broke manual labourer and the lowest ranked adventurer, rather than immediately hailed as the saviour of the land. Another weak point is that it comes across as a promotional vehicle for the light novel series, with its condensed and episodic story pacing. Only 10 episodes long, Konosuba struggles to match the depth of longer running series. Character and story development start to take giant leaps in the second half of the season, making things feel rushed and lacking in substance.
Tom: Despite criticisms of potentially being a vehicle for promotion, something common among Light Novel adapted anime, it still has a lot of defining moments that stand out memorably, rather than fading into a mush of mediocre content I can no longer recall as some anime do every season. Moments like the battle against an army of sentient Cabbage, or Kazuma’s surprise talent at stealing panties (by accident) or even the major plot line that flows through Episodes four to six that culminates in one of the most well-crafted mid-season finales, where every plot thread and development comes together perfectly are incredible. Sadly, Konosuba stumbles towards the finish, with Episode seven, as mentioned previously, the weakest of the bunch, follow by another two episodes that feel more like OVA content, before ending with a great finale, that sadly isn’t quite as strong as the mid-season conclusion. It should also be noted that, despite avoiding much of the fan service other Light Novels cling to so strongly, Konosuba was just saving its load up for one big release (pun very much intended) in Episode Nine. If sexual humor is something you find uncomfortable than Episode Nine might be the episode to skip right over. (But if you’re okay with it, damn is it a strong episode, maybe the best of the series.)
Linny: The animation in the show is another possible source of discontent as it fluctuates and even dips as the show progresses. There is an extremely noticeable change in the visuals around episode 9, and it becomes clear that animation quality and style will never be the show’s strong point. Overall, it has the look of a lower end budget series but Konosuba manages to make it work by entertaining its viewers with its story, characters and comedy. The voice actors also deserve a shout out as their performances really helped to bring the characters to life, giving each personality that extra touch of conviction and a charm all of their own, perfectly tailored to their individual quirks.
Tom: Konosuba’s animation is indeed inconsistent, and as Linny mentioned Episode nine is at the height of that with every character looking quite a bit off, but never actually bad, just off. The animation for Konosuba never gets truly awful, just distracting, and its quality remains a damn sight better than the likes of Garo – The Crimson Moon (oh that’ll be a fun review.) but Konosuba’s animation is definitely not a plus when viewed alongside shows like Myriad Colors Phantom World, perhaps one of the most visually impressive shows this season, and only rivaled by One Punch Man in the last year. Coupled with this, Konosuba’s art design is at times generic, with characters like Darkness wearing garb that bares a remarkable resemblance to Erza’s armor from Fairy Tail. Then again, perhaps that’s the point.
Linny: Konosuba is a show that I would personally bug my friends to check out, but like most things in life, it has conditions and caveats attached. First off: Konosuba has a character, Darkness, with strong sexual undertones so beware if you dislike sexualized characters. It also never manages to shrug off the curse of its short run, disjointed storytelling and low end animation quality. However, if you’re in the mood for a comedy and are a fan of fantasy, Konosuba is definitely a worthy choice.
Tom: Konosuba is ultimately an adaptation of an existing Light Novel series, and while we thankfully have it confirmed that there will indeed be a second season, Konosuba has already skipped at least one plot line in the novels, so for anyone who’s a purest with source material Konosuba isn’t afraid to cut some things to cram as much as it can within its short run. Ultimately Konosuba has become one of my favorite anime from this Winter Season, and if you don’t have a problem with Darkness’ sexual undertones, Episode Nine’s near Ecchi genre shift, and enjoy Video Game nods, as well as Fantasy based humor, Konosuba is perfect for you. And even if it isn’t quite your cup of tea, it’ll probably still provide enough humor so as not to waste your time.
Konosuba is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com