Review: KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World!

A big isekai series gets the review treatment.

The Lowdown:

Show: KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World! (usually just referred to as Konosuba)

Studio/years aired: Studio DEEN, 2016-2017

AniB’s thoughts:

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! It was probably inevitable that this series would eventually wind up on here in the form of a review. One of the most recognizable shows in the overplayed isekai genre, it’s been the subject of much recent popularity, particularly with recent appearances in the topical spin-off Isekai Quartet and a new limited-release movie that was in theaters.

This irreverent, at times raunchy comedy is far from flawless and certainly has plenty to get on its case about, but it also hides great cleverness in its delivery and seems well-aware of exactly the type of show it is. For as up and down season one is, the second season delivers with more precision and playfully takes jabs at all the things the first act would deserve palpable criticism for, largely in the department of Kazuma’s perverted and lecherous tendencies.

Speaking of our lead: Kazuma’s the quintessential glue guy protagonist. He’s the reason the show exists but at the same time the rest of the cast is infinitely more interesting. A loser shut-in NEET in his previous life, his mix of cynicism and bad tendencies makes him often unlikable, but on the flip side, he can be smart, practical and responsible- all aspects that compete constantly in the series with his more unsavory side. He is in a way the perfect partner for Aqua, the bumbling fallen deity- offering his brains to her brawn, but the two often bicker, between the former pointing out the water goddess’s wanton spending habits, and the latter often taking jabs at the protagonist’s previous life.

The most intriguing and likable character in this wacky series may be the archmage of explosions- Megumin. A member of the Crimson Demon clan, she’s devoted to explosion magic- and only explosion magic, going so far as to forgo all other disciplines or auxillary skills that may have aided her (mana supply anyone?) She has a specific reason for this obsession, but unfortunately this review won’t be talking about the film or heavy series spoilers, for that matter. At any rate, she’s got a top-rate design and a good amount of common sense and decency compared to her immediate contemporaries…though admittedly, that’s a low bar.

Despite being up and down in a very traditional critic’s sense, Konosuba is fairly enjoyable for the most part. It will never be mistaken for a top-class story or an incredible plot, but it is comfortable being the weirdly red-headed stepchild of a saturated genre, preferring to not take it that seriously, or just flip convention upside-down on its head. It’s also fortunate both seasons exist, as the show really starts to find its stride at the end of the first season, and the continuation carries forward relevant story threads and consistent characterization. At the time of this review’s writing, the 2nd season has still not received an official dub- a slightly strange conundrum given the series’ relative popularity and the 2017 release date. If you haven’t watched it yet, you may love or hate this series, but I wouldn’t rec this to the below 16 crowd either. Onward to grading!


Animation: Modern 2-D animation in all its glory. The colors pop, the main character models are easily memorable, and action sequences pop, especially with some more nicely integrated 3-D animation in the mix. All that said, a nice little bit comes off the top for some frankly unfortunate fanservice, which also contributes to some of the series’ more questionable bits of humor.

4/5 points.

 
Characterization: Already talked at length about Kazuma Satou, the main protagonist, in the thoughts section. He’s not anything too special for this genre or as a lead, but he’s fine in the role he serves.

Of greater interest are his traveling companions, including the goddess he wishes for as a companion in his new world- Aqua. While she takes her actual role rather seriously, she’s proven to be a total idiot in matters of common sense and strategy, a fact borne out humorously by correspondingly low scores in IQ and luck on her adventurer card. Officially a deity of water, she actually possesses strong powers and abilities related to both her element and just holy properties in general…which is often borne to jokes. (She’s a magnet for the undead, and her most popular water powers are an oft-repeated party trick.) Inexplicably tied to Kazuma as a result of his wish, her motive is to defeat the Devil King and resume her heavenly duties, but it can be questioned if this really is her goal as time rolls on.

“Darkness”, real name Dustiness Lalatina Ford, is a crusader sworn to a different deity, Eris (who Aqua does know and does not think highly of)…but here hides a masochist beneath the surface of valor and bravery. Darkness became a crusader for a few very specific reasons, and at the top of the list may be her unrivaled passion for questionably abusive acts perpetuated against her. Despite this questionable vocation, she holds other secrets that make her less one-dimensional than first impressions would suggest.

I’ve also discussed Megumin in the thoughts section prior to here.

The supporting cast is stereotypical, although this may have been intentional to drive home an absurdist humor point about tropes in general. I’ll note Wiz- a powerful magic user who hides a great secret, and Yunyun- another Crimson Demon who appears at a certain point.

3.25/5 points.

 
Story: Follows an episodic “plot of the episode” theme with character focus and some pseudo-RPG elements included, but the show is stealthily an overarching narrative: namely, Kazuma’s quest in a new world to defeat the Devil King. Stuck in the stereotypical starting town though, it’s rarely a straightforward journey like a game, as our cast finds out. The plots ranges from being fairly intriguing to being…extremely questionable. You’ve been warned!

3.25/5 points.

 
Themes: Based on everything else said to this point, it could be inferred that Konosuba isn’t a paragon of deep thematic aspects, although the specter of deeper ideas are there: life and death, this show’s rather Eastern concept of reincarnation, deep held motivations that are mostly manifested in surface-level impressions…when you put it that way, it almost seems like the score should be higher, but in the series we’ve been given, it really is an “almost there.”

2.5/5 points.

 
Don’t Insult the Viewer: Most of the knock here is questionably fanservicy moments, shots, Kazuma’s most ignominious moments and to some extent, Darkness’s bouts of masochism. Despite these moments, there’s a flow to this series and a hard to explain pull that builds as time goes on. The seasons don’t have a bad set of OPs and EDs either!

3.5/5 points

 
Total: 16.5/25 (66%): Konosuba, in a nutshell, is one wacky ride, riddled with a rollercoaster of high and low comedy, some impressive action scenes, a few genuinely serious moments, and more than one head-scratching decision. Give it a spin if you’re an isekai fan or are just looking for something a bit different, I’d say- if you haven’t already seen it, that is.


Like what you see? Konosuba fan? Leave a comment!

Real Neat Blog Award!

Hey, another nomination for another blogging award! I’m back to write over the Thanksgiving break, and this was definitely something I was looking forward to answering! A big thanks to Lumi, who writes some thought-provoking anime content and has been a steady reader here as well. Make sure to check his work out if you haven’t! A few rules about this award:

  1. Display the logo (should be above).
  2. Thank the bloggers for the award.
  3. Answer the questions from the one who nominated you.
  4. Nominate 7 to 10 bloggers.
  5. Ask them 7 questions.

So let’s delve into the questions sent my way:

What book has upset you the most?

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Hmm, that’s an interesting question! I haven’t done much pleasure reading in a while as a university student, but rather humorously, I doubt most people have enjoyed physics textbooks, and I’m no exception. Trying to figure material out from it was a chore and a half- so that qualifies as “upsetting” in my eyes.

 

What character in fiction’s story arc left you the saddest?

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-The saddest character arc? Ooooh, there’s a great question. Let’s pick someone who hasn’t appeared in my “What’s in a Character” series then…well, a good candidate might  the tale of Kiritsugu Emiya from Fate/Zero. I’m unsure if it’s the saddest arc I’ve ever seen, but the man’s character is a tragedy of the highest order, and largely a big reason Zero is the closest to a “must-watch” in the franchise, from my perspective.

 

What do you feel about escapism in fiction?

-Perfectly normal. Seriously, fiction by definition is a made-up story, something we’ve all known from an extremely young age, so it’s more an inherent property than not. Now, in a more nuanced way, there’s different levels of escapism, from the fantastical fantasy worlds that exist in many works, to sobering pseudo-realities based on or directly set in real events or places. Truthfully, it depends on what you’re looking for- and I think that’s a really neat aspect about stories in general.

What musical theme immediately starts the waterworks for you?

Screen Shot 2019-11-26 at 8.20.12 PM

-“Memories,” a more contemplative leimotif of Little Witch Academia’s “Chariot’s Theme” might do the trick. Context matters here!

 

Why do some people associate feeling sad as meaning the show is bad?

-Well, this is actually a larger conundrum I’ve been wrestling with for a while in my own review work. So, I’ll do my best to give an answer:

Sadness =/= Bad, but high level execution of a concept, along with being a genuinely watchable product never goes out of style. To make reference to specific instances: Kite’s saga in Hunter x Hunter and how it relates to Gon is “sad” but complex emotionally, and gripping as a major undercurrent of the arc in question. If “sad” = “bad” to some folks, then it probably wasn’t very well executed and is more an indictment of the show itself than the content. One final note: I don’t care for story that emphasize crippling depression, but when it’s not laid on so heavily, it can be an emotionally thought-provoking experience.

Is it necessary to use vulgar language for a mature story?

-Absolutely not! The power of language is such that when the right tone and plot are established, context can make for a very intense story that doesn’t need coarse language necessarily. Besides, I always learned that the less you swear, the more professional you sound- and if it’s very selective, it may also be more impactful.

What makes you happy right now?

-God, family, working hard at school. Seriously! It’s simple, but having an objective and working hard at it is the most fulfilling feeling there is.


So, now for a pick-7 of questions worth asking:

-What’s the most underrated show you think you’ve watched and why?
-Who is your favorite character from animation?
-If you had a choice between attending the Super Bowl or attending a concert of your choice, what would you pick?

-What was the best animated film of the 2010’s in your opinion?
-Grabbing this from Lumi: “What makes you happy right now?”

-It’s the holidays! What is your favorite food from the season?
-If you were given a choice, what’s one thing in animation you’d want to see written about?


Well, that’s it from me! Here’s my 7 nominees:

sgliput

Irina

Mallow

GingerJumble

John Spencer Reviews

negativeprimes

TPAB


Like what you see? Leave a comment!

 

Review: Azumanga Daioh

A classic SOL from the early 2000’s.

Happy November everyone! We’re going back a little bit in time- and for some readers, it may be a burst of nostalgia. Here’s a belated Halloween “treat” for everyone!

The Lowdown:

Series: Azumanga Daioh

Studio/years aired: J.C. Staff, 2002

 

AniB’s thoughts:

Reviews are back! In a twist to begin November, it’s Azumanga Daioh- an early 2000’s show that’s a classic within its genre. Indeed, the focus of this piece hearkens back to a show that can be construed as the progenitor of a “slice of life”/”moe” explosion in the years to come. The genre as a whole has a lot of interesting shows, several of which I’ve discussed before in other reviews.

Recommended to me (like a number of other good shows that have been written about here), there was an excitement of the unexpected. It was true that the show existed in a part of my mind (the title at least) but there wasn’t the slightest clue what it might be about. Azumanga Daioh could be described as a hybrid of Nichijou’s brand of humor, K-On! in the high school progression and adventures of the characters, and Lucky Star in the casual day to day sense, along with a clever reference or three. In saying that, it’s more accurate to pin this show as an inspiration for all those influential SOL’s and the genre at large- because it came first.

Of those shows though, Azumanga Daioh without a doubt, is the spiritual predecessor of Nichijou. Following the lives of the six main girls in their high school careers, it’s an often zany ride between their respective personalities, inconsistently consistent teachers with their own agendas, strange daydreams, and Tomo being Tomo. The surreal humor and superb timing on gags makes it an easy stylistic comparison.

Despite being busy with both many real life tasks and the ubiquity of animation in general, this in particular reminded me again of the value in returning to older titles, be it anime or Western animation. Azumanga Daioh allowed a whole genre to take flight after it- and yet remains a very good show in its own right, and one that has stood the test of time well so far. Indeed, it is an archetype show- and still holds up very well despite nearly two decades passing. It has a good dub (not always a given from the early 2000’s), an easy cast of characters to follow along, humor that works pretty well by and large, and fairly good animation from its era. In a word, it is “fun” and definitely worth a look.

(Also…if you watch, you’ll find out what a “Yukarimobile” is, who Chiyo’s father is, and many other amusing oddities. Have fun!)


Animation: Traditional 2-D animated. The early 2000’s was a transitional time in the methods used, but this series shined due to its visual humor and absurdist gags melding so well into the form. It’s not the shiny gloss of a series in 2019, but it was both representative of its period and genre- and has held up really well. An excellent understanding of the medium here!

4.5/5 points.

 

Characterization: The show revolves around the daily high school lives of six girls and their homeroom teacher- the impulsive and often reckless Yukari- and each of them is easily categorized by some major defining trait.

Chiyo Mihama is a child prodigy- a 10 year old who skipped straight to high school. Bright, polite and absolutely adorable, she’s as close to being the lead character as anyone in this show, and is generally adored by her friends and teachers alike. Her family is surprising wealthy and as a result, the group often meets up at her large house. Chiyo’s also the owner of a large and loyal dog- Mr. Tadekichi.

In contrast, “Osaka”- real name Ayumu Kasuga- is the resident airhead. Despite being the other transfer student along with Chiyo, her generally happy disposition comes with a “pie in the sky” approach to most things. Easygoing as they comes, no one’s quite sure what goes through her mind…except Osaka herself, and it’s always an adventure.

Speaking of mindgames, Sakaki’s a tall, athletic and well-developed girl who is generally percieved to be cool and stoic by many of her peers. In reality, she’s a kind girl with an obsession for cute things, especially animals and cats in particular, which she loves. She gets along especially well with the younger Chiyo, and adores her dog, Mr. Tadekichi.

Her self-proclaimed rival is the sports star Kagura, who starts the series in another class, but by the second year joins the rest of the main cast in Kagari’s homeroom. A swimmer on the school team, she views the former as her main competition, but in an amusing twist, Sakaki is unaware any such rivalry exists.

Alongside these girls are childhood friends Yomi and Tomo. Despite knowing each other a long time, they are almost complete opposite personalities, and in Yomi’s case, she’s often disapproving of the latter. A serious student who secretly harbors concern about her waistline, and a sense of fun beneath a usually sarcastic front, she’s the brighter bulb of the two.

Tomo’s an energetic girl- perhaps too energetic for her own good. Personality wise, she take quite a bit after Yukari, between her self-absorbed pranks and general rudeness towards her friends. Along with Kagura and Osaka, the trio’s academic prowess leaves something to be desired, leading to a certain nickname later in the show…

A concise cast of characters, they cast archetypes for countless SOL’s to come. As the originals, they’ve held up, and perhaps most importantly, remain characters rather than caricatures. The supporting cast compliments the main crew well- and overall, they all help carry the show.
4.25/5 points.

 

Story: The plot of Azumanga Daioh follows the main cast’s journey through high school, though the episode to episode events are much more self-contained in nature. That isn’t to say continuity doesn’t exist, because it does- often culminating in humorous results. Featuring a snappy, humorous episode to episode approach, often with some surreal results, this show is a load of fun to watch.

4/5 points.

 

Themes: Despite its silliness and quirkiness, the show focuses on some realistic theming, from the challenges of high school to the perils of relationships. That said…it’s a very laid back show with a great deal of comedy. What it does, it does fine, and that’s plenty enough for this style.

3.5/5 points.

 

Don’t Insult the Viewer: Generally a clean show, although there’s one fairly creepy teacher whose actions can be offputting, to say the least (although it’s clearly meant as a running gag.) A really unique opening and ending help, as both are rather catchy and visually amusing; the music in the show does a nice job syncing with the comedic timing of gags. Intangibly, the series does well.

4.75/5 points.

 

Overall: 21/25 (84%). Azumanga Daioh is more than a mere archetype show, holding up well years after its release with its quirky, lovable cast and fast-paced sense of humor. It’s a must watch for “slice of life” fans and for anyone in particular who watched and enjoyed Nichijou.


Like what you see? Big fan of Azumanga Daioh? Leave a comment!