Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! Review

This is review number three hundred and fifty nine. This anime is part of the Winter 2016 lineup. The anime I’ll be reviewing is called “Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!” or just Konosuba since light novels love complicatedly long titles. It’s a ten episode anime about a guy stuck in a world where he has to work so he can’t live in the horse stables anymore. There’s also a masochist here, so let’s read on.

Story

The anime is about Kazuma Satou who is given a second chance at life. After dying from an accident, a goddess gives him a chance to live in a parallel world to defeat a demon king. He agrees, and he is asked to choose one thing in the room he is in to bring to the parallel world. He chose the goddess, and his adventure starts. He must defeat the evil king and a goddess will now help him with that. Kazuma is about to realize though that the only thing certain about life is its unpredictability.

Taking the Pants Off

I love this anime, because it is just so simple. Comedy shows are pretty straight forward, but they’re also very subjective. The things I find funny may not be funny to others, but Konosuba is different. It managed to bring laughs across the board, and it did that by utilizing all of its wonderful components. It had Ecchi, Adventure, Fantasy and Comedy that sounds convoluted, but the show is able to really create an entertaining story out of it all. It doesn’t even try anything new. The premise is about a guy being transported to another world, and it’s pretty cliché through and through. This anime manages to bring out an incredible amount of funny dialogue and absolutely inspired situational comedies. The characters really made this anime special, and I’m sure anyone will appreciate what this anime is offering. I also realized that this might be a very short review, because there’s really nothing to talk about here. The story is simple and there aren’t any deep themes to dissect here. I’m honestly scared, because I don’t do short reviews. I have a needlessly long style that puts other people off. Look at me now, padding this review with just random thoughts popping out of my head. Anyways, Konosuba is clearly one of the brightest shows to come out of Winter 2016. In ten episodes, the show managed to bring out a lot of great things and utilized all of its elements. I honestly did not see potential here, but the show easily proved me wrong. The comedy is smart, and the execution is flawless. The characters are funny and very memorable, and the way it used adventure fantasy might not seem much but it really elevated this anime. It has clever writing, and it truly shines as each episode delivers solid comedy one after the other.

This anime is about a guy named Kazuma Sato. He died after saving a girl from an oncoming truck, and he was given a choice to either go to heaven or be reborn in a fantasy world where you get to kill an evil demon king. For Kazuma, the choice is pretty easy. He decided to go to the new world and he’ll finally be able to live a more meaningful life. Things aren’t that simple though, and it starts with how he actually died. As it turns out, there is no truck and well, this happened:

I think it’s actually easier to tell this review with GIFs, so let’s f*cking pack this one with a lot of them. Anyways, he died pathetically and the goddess trying to guide him to his new life is kind of a jerk. While choosing a weapon to bring to the new world, he annoyingly decided to choose the goddess instead. The stipulation is that he can bring anything in the room with him, and this applied to the goddess as well. Kazuma is now in this new world with a powerful deity as his partner. It looks like things are on the up and up for him, except he’s going to discover that his new leash in life is actually going to be a lot more than he bargained for.

The GIF above pretty much set the tone for the entire anime. The story follows a rather simple, and clichéd, path and then it’ll throw a curve ball like that to create some comedic moments. When things are established as normally as possible, the anime tries to ruin the whole thing with some smartly executed comedy. It’s actually pretty brilliant, because it doesn’t force its comedy. One of the off putting traits about comedy shows is that it tries to do things to death. Yeah, a joke about a dog in a uniform is fine but it’ll eventually run its course. By the seventh episode, the novelty of the dog in a uniform is no longer funny. Konosuba jumps over this hurdle by actually utilizing the Adventure Fantasy element of the story to its best. In this anime, the characters are basically in an RPG where they level up, learn skills and do quests in exchange for money. Much like any RPG story, the characters worry about money, they start from being dirt poor and the monsters overpower them easily. Like this:

For some odd reason, it is actually the same premise a Grimgar. I just reviewed Grimgar, and it follows six adventurers living in a game. The tone is serious and dramatic. With exactly the same story, Konosuba goes for the comedic approach. As you can see, there is a girl being swallowed whole by a frog. In Grimgar, we would’ve spent three f*cking episodes crying over the girl. In Konosuba, it simply serves as a situational gag because the characters are stupid and they are clearly unprepared for this task. The story follows the RPG theme as well, but it goes a bit stupid from time to time. The logic of this world is a bit too much for Kazuma, and it’s funny seeing him react to a lot of these unusual things. That’s really the appeal of Konosuba. It features the characters in comedic situations, and it works splendidly well because our characters are just insane.

The anime features Kazuma and his party. Kazuma is the typical main character being transported to a new world. He also stands as someone the audience can empathize with, so he basically shares their opinion over the things that happen in the story. Like this:

His companion isn’t that helpful. Even though Aqua is a goddess, she is pretty much useless as a party member. She thinks too highly of herself and she is a bit greedy. The joke is that she isn’t your typical graceful and forgiving goddess. She and Kazuma really play off each other well. They have this wonderful chemistry together, and it’s absolutely adorable seeing them interact. Aqua loves over reacting and Kazuma often just puts on a tired face trying to put up with her. In a way, it feels natural and also adorable at the same time because they clearly like each other to have this good of a relationship. I must say though that their mutual understanding for each other is something the anime doesn’t acknowledge. They look cute as a pair, but the anime never points it out. The audience is tasked to fill in the gaps with their imagination, and it works wonderfully. They might like each other or they might just find each other’s company reassuring. Either way, the show somehow manages to build a completely natural give and take between them. Their interaction is actually bright and entertaining since the first episode, and the anime only has ten episodes to work with. By not acknowledging the obvious, the show can just focus on the important parts, like their comedic pairing.

Things become a lot more interesting when they are joined by two more adventurers. We have a magician that talks with an eight grade syndrome. She goes full chuunibyou on Kazuma, and it’s honestly so dumb that it’s entertaining. It gets even more interesting when this magician only knows how to do explosion magic. She gets off on it, or something. After doing one magic spell though, the girl collapse and she’s unable to move for a while. Basically, she’s a useless party member but she somehow wriggles her way in the group. The magician is no match for, undoubtedly, the best character in the show though. After the magician joins, a crusader tries to join Kazuma’s party. What makes her special? This:

Yup. It’s even funnier in the series, because she would go out of her way just to satisfy her masochistic urges. Her dialogue is probably the best in the entire anime, because she would often spout nonsense about the demon king taking her in as an erotic slave. The way she says it is absolutely insane, and it often catches me off guard. The more scenes she appears in then the more crazy M dialogue she will most likely spew, and it’s really amazing how she just ruins the simple story with her crazy antics.

Comedy anime often has a thin plot, and a good way to bulk it up is by introducing characters in almost every episode. There are some characters that are haphazardly introduced, but I think they did add a lot to the anime. With the bright interaction of the group, anyone can really join in and they can create some wonderful moments with the main cast. There’s one character shoe horned at episode seven, and her introduction really felt like the story just ran out of ideas. As the episode progresses though, she eventually creates a wonderful dialogue with Aqua and Kazuma. Her personality instantly mixes well with the main characters and this really makes the anime very fun to watch. The seemingly easy to construct interactions between the characters balances out the comedy’s lack of a more meaningful plot. Anyone can really just join in on the fun including one off characters like a succubus, a female thief and even just background characters reacting to the comedic situations. The interaction benefits everyone, including the villains. This anime only had one real villain: a headless horseman. This guy didn’t even want to bother fighting the characters because the town they live in is known to have low leveled adventurers. He soon got tangled up in the mess up world of the characters though interacting with Aqua, Kazuma, the magician and the crusader. He eventually got pissed and decided to just kill everyone. This guy is badass and menacing, but the show still managed to loop him into the comedic interactions that made this series special. The anime’s comedic characters can brightly play off anyone and anything.

This anime isn’t just comedy though. The action fantasy still has a prominent role from time to time. There are certain points in the show where the situation can get a bit serious, and the RPG theme would shine. Faced with a boss battle, the characters would change gears and actually fight the enemy. They do it in badass fashion as well summoning their cool magic spells and using their awesome techniques. They still nicely represent the RPG world that they are in. The RPG element still comes off as something engaging and cool to watch even without the comedy. The anime can drop the comedy easily, and the pathetic magician that can only do explosion magic can suddenly become a badass summoning a powerful magic that literally destroys the ground its cast on. The anime achieved the goal of an RPG theme: it immerses the audience in a wonderful game world. After establishing this, the comedy is added without straying from the immersive appeal of the world. This is pretty damn impressive considering SAO fumbled in doing this and it has twenty four episodes. Actually, I was with Kirito until he spent his days with Asuna. I mean, really, what the hell? This brings me to the next best element of the show: motherfudging accidental harem.

A year ago, I swear to gawd, I hated the sight of this LN staple. This is where the main character is surrounded by only female characters. The story needs them to be female, because they want an indirect harem with the main character. It’s an accidental harem because the girls don’t fight over the main character to get his affection. They are just simply there ready to be treated like fan service material for the protagonist or to suddenly worship him after he saves them from a certain peril. A year ago, I honestly wanted to quit as TPAB after watching too gawd damn many light novel anime utilizing this in their story. It honestly defeated me, since the precious LN image of originality that Kino’s Journey and Spice and Wolf gave me is now shattered after realizing the LN industry has turned sh*t. Konosuba has an accidental harem as well, and I seriously wanted to just shut my site down. The interesting thing about Konosuba though is that it nicely presented to me what an accidental harem’s purpose truly is if done absolutely perfectly. Indeed, Kazuma is surrounded by a bunch of female genitals but he also had ample time to be cute with each and every one of them. Going back to the first episode, Aqua and Kazuma instantly clicked with little effort. Aqua’s loud self-gratifying behavior gels nicely with Kazuma’s straight man personality. The anime achieves this by simply letting the characters interact and the relationship just builds with more words exchanged. Soon, every smile and positive feelings exchanged becomes a natural thing. The anime handles the relationships with utter care, and it soon makes the accidental harem aspect very clear now. I now understand why LN uses it as a staple. If every girl the main character interacts with can be as entertaining to watch as Aqua and Kazuma, then you can only imagine how nice it would be reading between the lines and realizing the characters actually has a thing for each other. The LN pages would just race the reader’s mind, and it creates a satisfying payoff for people following the story. Now keeping up with the LN’s base foundation of wish fulfillment, the accidental harem is now the sweet feeling of reading Kazuma and Aqua’s relationship go from mutual understanding to something unspokenly deeper but it’s with five or more girls. There’s also a fan service thing here, but accidental harems basically starts out with the female characters having their own chapters to build a cute relationship with the main character.

Kazuma naturally establishes the same sweet relationships with the two girls. I’ll just cram this space with images, so just see for yourself the unspoken power of the accidental harem.

kono12

This anime scares me, because it’s presented by Studio Deen. Good gawd, this studio once stubbornly stuck to just otome anime and I hated them for that. Hakkenden, Meganebu and Hiiro no Kakera are shows these studio is known for. They love hot guys in their anime. If it’s a dumb otome anime, I’d expect Studio Deen or Brain’s Bade to deliver them. Knowing the studio’s preferred style, it honestly surprises me that they gave us Konosuba. Studio Deen also sucks at storytelling, so I’m really amazed at how technically masterful this anime is. It’s also a surprise knowing that it came from the last studio I expect to handle crap like this. To be fair, I’m two years late now and the last anime I saw from them was Sakura Trick. I think it was the sign that they were actually changing, so I’ll just have to confirm it. If they have grown out of otome shows, then good for them. They seem to be picking up momentum now, because they’re giving us one anime per season. That is scary, but it also honestly excites me if the studio I once considered subpar can deliver a hard hitter of the entire season with only ten episodes. One of the best things about being TPAB is seeing and tracking the growth of a studio, and it makes me happy knowing Studio Deen is up to the task. This anime is written by Makoto Uezu. His style honestly felt familiar until I realized that he also handled D-Frag. He knows how to mix genres, and D-Frag is the absolute best example of that. It’s seamless and natural, and Konosuba shares this trait as well. This guy has spent years doing series composition and writing for shows, so it’s only natural that his talents is beastly now. Seriously, this guy has been writing adaptations for a long time now. He seems to understand how to approach certain shows, and I think his brilliance is displayed greatly when he delivered magic in just ten episodes. The director is no pushover though.  Takaomi Kanazaki spent his time as key animator for various projects, and I bet he brought out the adventure fantasy appeal of the story. The anime is also heavily reliant on visual storytelling including the gags and the relationship of Kazuma and the girls. His talent is clearly amazing if he can convince the audience the characters look cute together without directly acknowledging it. Subtle details in the animation can do wonders in the storytelling, and Takaomi understands this as well.

Sight and Sound

Character design is handled by Kurone Mishima. Like most LN cover artists, she often just creates pleasing eye candy characters suitable of the front cover. Like most artists as well, her design only stands out because of the detail work she puts on her characters. The base design is pretty simple. The characters honestly look like cliché ones you’d expect in a light novel anime. In fact, I kinda knew the show is an LN anime because of the character design. The visuals aren’t bad though. While the characters themselves look plain, the details make them uniquely their own. The outfits they wear to correspond to their job classes are all nicely designed, and they all nicely compliment the character’s personality. There are also a handful of fan service features, no doubt to make them amazing eye candy for the cover. In fact, some designs stand out because of their ecchi features. I still remember those succubuses and their alluring design. Darkness’ breasts are intentionally droopy and flat characters point out their chest on purpose. Of course, Studio Deen isn’t really known for its high quality animation so the designs are often downgraded. The detail work Kurone adds to her characters is often abandoned for cheaper animation. It’s all good, because it doesn’t really affect the anime that much. The story is so good that it doesn’t matter what they look like. I do hope Studio Deen at least captures the color palette Kurone is aiming for, since it’s the one thing really making the characters look eye candy amazing.

Animation is inconsistent. Some cool scenes definitely have better animation than ordinary scenes. That’s alright though, because the director knows where to emphasize animation on the show. He puts them mostly on the action scenes since it demands more movements. The swords meeting each other, the characters dodging them and the magic casters delivering an awesome wave of destruction does need a more detailed animation. Facial expression is another thing that has great animation though, since the unspoken bond of accidental harem is established here and Aqua’s loud personality is displayed here. The quality dips on dialogue heavy scenes though or dark scenes. For some reason, the lighting work is awful and the camera work isn’t that interesting. It balances out with the fight scenes, but it often distracts to certain scenes. The fan service also lacks emphasis, but I’m actually glad it did because it would only add clutter to the show. The CGI animation is nicely utilized though, and I love its employed in different scenes. It’s not just used to make the bosses menacing, but it’s also used for simple things like flames and magic circles. It certainly adds a layer to the adventure fantasy element of the show.

The anime’s OP is “fantastic dreamer” by Machico. The song is about someone inviting another to have fun in the fantastic world that they are in. I think the song is a tie in product for the anime, because the world is distinctly an RPG world. It is a cute song though, and Machico’s voice is really nice. It feels like a standard OP song though, and it doesn’t stand out that much. The OP sequence is absolutely cute as it features the sun rising over the city and throughout the game world the characters are in. Afterwards, the characters and their bright interactions are introduced. The sequence really captured the initial idea of the anime as it focuses on the characters, their adventures as a party and a lot of fan service. It ends with the minor characters flashed for a brief time before giving us a final shot of the loveable main cast.

The anime’s ED is “Chiisana Boukensha” by Aqua (Sora Amamiya), Megumin (Rie Takahashi), Darkness (Ai Kayano). This is sung by the accidental harem, and I just love this ED song. The rhythm is pretty relaxing with its laidback style, and the instrumentals are just fun to listen to. The pace is slow, and the voices of the characters are featured prominently. The lyrics is about forgetting the bad day and looking forward to the new positive one. It’s when problems eventually go away and replaces but a reminder in its place as time passes. It’s an uplifting song, and something I absolutely love to listen to. The ED sequence features a typical day for the town our characters live in. It’s in time lapse, and you see the people just moving about their day. It’s relaxing to look at especially accompanied by the song. The main characters are also in it just having a peaceful time in this town, and it’s a really cool ED which ends with the accidental harem welcoming Kazuma home.

Overall Score

8/10 “The comedy is engaging to watch and the characters really made the experience special.”

This show nicely balances all of its elements. The adventure fantasy is nicely presented even bordering on badass, the comedy is brilliant with the bright dialogue and the situational gags, and the characters are memorable with how they make each scene special in their own weird way. I can’t really think of a negative aspect for this anime, aside from the inconsistent animation. It’s an entertaining anime experience through and through. If you like solid comedy anime then you should try this show. If you like cute interactions between characters then you’ll like this anime as well. If you’re curious, watch Grimgar then watch this show and realize they have the same gawd damn premise. It’s a great show with a great payoff to give. I recommend it.

 

Thoughts~

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