Hey guys, sorry about that 3-week delay! I’m actually going to be undergoing oral surgery in the next couple weeks, so that’s been my weekends for a bit. But believe me, once I have the surgery, I’m pretty sure blog writing is gonna be something I’ll be doing for a while.
Anyway, today’s topic is an interesting one, since it’s on an anime that a lot of people know about, and that’s KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World. Despite it’s popularity, after originally trying to start watching it, I never initially made it past the first episode. I thought the humor was a bit too mean-spirited and I wasn’t able to enjoy it as a result. A year passed, and KonoSuba ended up getting a second season this winter, with pretty much the same praise as last time. So I decided to force myself through the first episode and give the series another chance. And I’m so glad I did, because not only is KonoSuba downright hilarious, but it manages to get me laughing even before the 2 minute mark. But the interesting part is that I think the series works for different reasons than what other people think, and that’s the topic of today’s article.
KonoSuba’s story starts off familiar with main character and shut-in Kazuma. On his way back to his house, he sees a girl about to be struck by a car. He dives in the way, and is killed in the process. He wakes up, greeted by the beautiful goddess Aqua, greeting him and giving him the choice of being born into a fantasy world as a great hero with one perk of his choice. Which is fitting, because Aqua quite gleefully describes how he died. The car was actually a slow-moving tractor, the girl was never in any danger, and Kazuma ended up dying of shock itself. After ridiculing him for a few minutes, Kazuma snaps and says that he wants to bring Aqua herself to the next world. It fills the requirements, much to the dismay of Aqua, and they are transported to the fantasy world below to prepare for their journey to defeat the Devil King. Which…doesn’t quite go as planned, as it’s more about Kazuma and Aqua trying to scrape enough money by to just live. This is where their many adventures of penny-pinching and debt-resolving begin.
Right off the bat, there’s a clear narrative established, which is a through-and-through parody of the nerd-kid-transported-to-different-world trope. There’s hardly any actual plot development and the characters are utterly useless in combat. From time to time there are very clear jokes they are making about the story concept, and even one-dimensional protagonists themselves. The only times that the characters experience actual victory is when they get money and not get swindled out of it. This is the reason that most people go with when they describe why KonoSuba is as drop-dead hilarious as it is. However, I would actually like to disagree.
The reason being is that, as an actual parody, KonoSuba is pretty weak. What I mean by that is when it comes to actually parodying the subject matter, KonoSuba tends to repeat the same jokes. Aqua, the all-powerful goddess, is damn near useless in most combat, Megumin, the explosion wizard, is down for the count after one attack, and Darkness, the crusader, can’t hit a thing and instead really likes being hit. Most of the jokes can be widdled down to these central ideas. Part of the problem is that this anime is trying to parody a very niche corner of the story-telling medium, and that really works for those who know, but falls flat for those who don’t. It’s the same as the beginning of Re:Zero, which tries to be a parody, but ends up working much better as its own drama. But alas, at the end of each KonoSuba episode, I find myself covered in tears and food I just blew out my nose from laughing. So why is that?
There’s a couple different reasons, but the main one I believe is the characters themselves. The chemistry between these people could not be more perfect. The reason being is that at their hearts, they’re all assholes. This ends up making the over-used jokes a thousand times funnier, because of how much they show they detest each other. This is mainly shown between Kazuma and Aqua, who both hate each other with a passion. They always threaten to ditch the other one in a dungeon and constantly use each other as bait for monsters. But since they’ve both wronged each other, it’s downright hilarious to see either one in a precarious situation they’ve put themselves in. It also helps that the timing of each joke is perfect. Darkness being cheered on by villagers as she takes on hoards of enemies while Kazuma silently realizes her more ulterior motives is funny every single time. There are a lot of humorous moments that would’ve been sub-par had the timing been slightly off, but luckily it pulls through. A lot of that has to do with the protagonist Kazuma himself. He has no shortage of insults and troubles for his useless party members, and even in moments of amazing heroism, he ends up getting shafted in the end. This creates a perfect symbiosis for comedy, since most comedy comes at the expense of others. Even emotional moments that seem like will build into a somewhat serious arc are thrown out the window for a gag that immediately rectifies their troubles. It’s an unconventional type of humor, where plot progression is completely nixed and every character is being screwed over by the world at every possible instance. Also, whoever designs their faces needs a promotion, because Kazuma’s shit-eating grin is the best thing I’ve ever seen.
Maybe I just like seeing pieces of shit get their comeuppance, but that’s honestly why I find KonoSuba so entertaining. Sure, it parodies the annoying type of fantasy anime, but it shines in how little the world cares about its main cast. There isn’t a whole lot of actual parody to the genre, but I think it doesn’t need it. In fact, when it DOES begin to parody the genre, it starts to weaken a bit. But when Kazuma takes an all-powerful sword from Not-Kirito in a competition, only to sell it for a chunk of change, that’s where the real laughs come from. It doesn’t necessarily win in the parody department, but much like its counterpart Re:Zero, it starts to get really great in places you wouldn’t expect.