Rating: 5 out of 5.

Explosion! Useless! Steal! Purification! Kazumaaaaa!!!!

That can tell this story to pretty much anyone who’s seen any part of this show.

The beloved anime of animes. “KonoSuba” is of course a shortened version of the full Japanese title, which contains the words “kono subarashii sekai” (“this wonderful/amazing world”), and so has come to be known by this simple appellation. And a wonderful world it truly is!

Characters

Rating: 10

This is top-tier as far as character design, execution, and acting go. There’s hardly a moment I can point to and say “Yeah that could’ve been different.” It’s all insanely unique and excellent. Of course the main four clowns are known and loved by anyone who’s seen it, but even the supporting characters are great, whether they’re momentary or repeating.

Kazuma…sigh. The dumbass that dies of shock because he thought he was going to be hit by a truck even though he would’ve been hit by a tractor first (wait, what? tractor?) all when it didn’t matter because the girl he was trying to save would’ve lived anyway…yeah, that guy. But he embraces his role right away, choosing to take the derisive Aqua with him to our wonderful world. Kazuma is the perfect foil to these lunatic characters he’s surrounded by. He’s always the odd one out, and never fails to perform to our expectation in those situations, regardless of what that expectation is! His life has become one giant, rip-roaring, madhouse, idiotic mess of an adventure. And it starts right away with Aqua.

Aqua is everyone’s favorite idiot. Apart from just the dumb things she says sometimes, or the limited nature of her skills despite being a goddess, or the downright stupid looks she’ll wear on her face (think Aho-girl caliber faces), she’s definitely one of the lowest IQ characters you’ll ever meet. And yet she’s gorgeous and immediately adorable (I dispute Kazuma’s tsundere “[she’s only] a little cute”). Fan-service aside, her distinct blue hair and blue eyes (“ocean colored”), her calm palette of colors in her outfit, and that cheeky sprout of hair on the top of her head make her instantly memorable. She’ll drive the viewer crazy with her antics and shortcomings. I remember to this day the brief montage at the end of S1 Ep1 where she and Kazuma are doing dumb laborer jobs and making barely any money, and Kazuma’s sweating it out with his pickaxe, and she’s putting mortar in the wrong places on brick walls, serving water to the other laborers (who far out-brawn poor Kazuma), drinking insane amounts alcohol and vomiting rainbows. That’s one of the funniest parts in any part of the KonoSuba series. She’ll get all the adoration of everyone around, and he gets to be invisibly average. Those two together are fantastic.

Megumin is probably the most widely recognized and majority favorite character from KonoSuba. I’m gonna go right ahead and say she isn’t my favorite of the quartet. That being said notwithstanding, she has amazing design and execution (Rie Takahashi is fantastic as always). She’s definitely (perhaps intentionally) reminiscent of Rikka Takanashi from Chuunibyou, useless eyepatch and all. Her chuunibyou tendencies make you cringe and laugh at the same time. Eventually you kind of get it when her chant for her magic changes every single time. Remember the dullahan just staring at her in utter confusion and silence early in S1? He can’t maintain his character around her, and the result is hilarious. But everyone enters a state of visible confusion around her. When a character can so influence every scene they enter, you know they’re well made. Her mildly sexual relationship with her staff is bizarre and hilarious. And her infamous name for Kazuma’s sword, Chunchunmaru. You feel for Kazuma, even if you don’t know what this crazy-sounding word means (which I don’t, but supposedly it has something to do with the sound of birds or something nonsensical like that). He’s so proud of his weapon, but his team being as it is, this was bound to happen to him. All thanks to Megumin.

Her self-proclaimed rival, Yunyun (what?) is an ancillary supporting character, but without a doubt my favorite among the supporting cast. She hopelessly tries to be anything but what she is, and it’s so sadly funny. But she’s my favorite for more than that. She’s responsible for the saddest scene in KonoSuba. That sad scene only flashes by for a moment, but everyone knows poor Yunyun had at least one birthday party where she was the only one there with her cake, and it’s so sad it pains your heart. The writers did a great job making her memorable with that.

My favorite character in KonoSuba, which you’re probably predicting now by process of elimination, is without a doubt the one and only Darkness. Omg what an idiot. Her masochistic humor will leave you speechless, wanting to die laughing but not being able to because your brain is still trying to process what she just said. I sat through those first two seasons of KonoSuba for the first time, and I tell people to this day, she’d be talking and my mouth would just fall open listening to the utter nonsense she was saying. And so vehemently, my goodness. Some of the things she says…I just shake my head laughing remembering back to some of that even now. I was disappointed when Lalatina (another crazy name) wasn’t featured more in the Legend of Crimson movie. I know, that was aimed at featuring and developing Megumin (and I loved that movie…about fell out of the seat in the theater when Kazuma learned Sylvia wasn’t a girl and during the resulting dialogue there…if you haven’t seen it, do so right now). But I wanted to see her (hear her!) more. Swinging her sword and never hitting anything…it’s so silly but works so well. It’s just another thing that makes KonoSuba great. Apart from that, few can challenge that flowing golden hair and the two pleats framing her face, those glassy teal eyes, and her undying commitment to (suffering for) her friends. And her AMAZING voice courtesy of the great Ai Kayano. If KonoSuba had stopped at three team members for Kazuma and co., and had somehow never created Darkness, it wouldn’t be half of what it is.

Whether supporting characters remain for a long time or disappear quickly, they always have something to add to the story. Mitsurugi and his sword in S1, the thief girl that teaches Kazuma the steal ability, Wiz the lich shopkeeper, they’re all different and unique and make every episode go by fast. Too fast. I always enjoy this show so much when I rewatch it, it’s over before I know it. And this is almost entirely due to the characters and their interactions. Definitely some of the best characters you’ll ever encounter in any anime.

Artwork

Rating: 9

It’s really good. Chiefly, it’s the vibrancy of it. This is usually the case with most isekai anime, but it’s not so childishly colorful like a Fairy Tail or Inuyasha, and not so garishly colorful like No Game No Life. It’s appropriately colorful I’d say. Their faces are quite remarkable in this anime. The expressions are the height of importance here. All good anime make expressive faces on their characters, but this one does any even better job. “Cliches” are something that the author is obviously keenly aware of, and makes fun of it often during the show. I believe that impacted the artwork a little, as you don’t tend to see a lot of the normal kind of anime reaction faces you see in tons of anime. So the reactions and expressions feel original, more so than other anime I think. One interesting example of this, if you look at some of the pictures on this page, notice their mouths. There’s a lot of yelling and screaming going on in KonoSuba. And if there’s one thing anime fans like to poke fun at, it’s the un-reality of how sideviews of characters with their mouth open makes it look like the mouth is slightly on the side of the face. That almost never seems to be the case in KonoSuba. It’s a little thing, but it kind of reflects this uniqueness. I love that kind of attention to detail, and I love the disdain for the ordinary or the “cliched.” Originality makes great art into the sublime, and anytime anyone is able to pull that off (yelling mouths notwithstanding) it greatly increases the artistic quality of a work. More on the cliche aspect later.

Detail in the artwork is limited. I like that. Consider the hair on most characters. Big solid locks of hair, not lots of little strand either at the tips or within the main body. I love that kind of accessibility, for lack of a better word. One doesn’t feel overwhelmed with detail, or discouraged if your fan-art doesn’t turn out similar because the hair is so difficult. Don’t get me wrong. Detail is excellent when it’s present. But KonoSuba, and other artwork like it, prove you don’t have to have that level of detail to create the effect you want.

If there’s anything that really stands out to me about KonoSuba’s artwork however, it’s their eyes. Eyes are everything in anime, as most of you know. KonoSuba’s eyes are particularly colorful and glassy. They add life. And that’s important. Eyes give a level of “animation” to any being, and when anime can capture that in its unique way, that’s a big win. Every character that gets any substantial screen time will make your heart skip a beat every now and then with just how startlingly beautiful their eyes are. Darkness’s eyes do that to me particularly, but I know everybody has their favorites, and this effect will be more enhanced for that character for you. Megumin’s crimson eyes are amazing. Aqua’s “ocean colored” eyes. Even Kazuma, while not having the same effect on me as the ladies (ahem), has magnificent green eyes. And as I mentioned above, Darkness has a teal-green color in her eyes with that tinge of seriousness in them, and it totally pauses my consciousness.

Story

Rating: huh?

There is no story! MC comes to new world, is supposed to fight the Devil King, never actually gets anywhere close in two seasons and a movie! It’s completely episodic in its shameless lack of story. I love it! KONOSUBA!!!

Overall: 10

This is a top 5, and probably top 2, funniest anime I’ve ever seen. I have to put Gintama at the top, for all the reasons you can imagine, but this one is right there. There’s so much laughter and warmth, it makes your heart happy in so many ways.

It’s a little edgy, like many comedy animes are. Its fan-service is limited but totally shameless. Kazuma making his apologies at the end of S1 pretty much sums it up, so I won’t go over it again here. The occasional Aqua-from-behind shot always makes the blood pump a little faster. How does her skirt work anyway?

I mentioned the theme of “cliches” that appears occasionally in the dialogue. I’ve heard people say that KonoSuba is a parody-type comedy, and I can see how they make that argument. There seem to be multiple references to other shows and characters (and one notable Hollywood movie), usually indirectly though appearance or behavior, and not dialogue. I mentioned some of that above. So that might account for the derisiveness toward cliches, as ultimately it is copying parts of other animes, etc.. But beyond that, and I mentioned this briefly above, avoiding cliches usually guarantees originality, and I love that about KonoSuba. You’ll never hear “Nani?” or see a stereotypical tsundere reaction. They make complete fun of Kazuma’s perverse tendencies, making it anything but like the cliched perverted behavior of most similar male characters. And if you ever see something even slightly cliched, the next thing out of Kazuma’s mouth is about the cliche. Art does not have to be original to be great, but when a work values and succeeds at originality, it is that much greater because of that. And this aspect, reflected in this overt disdain for cliches, is just another thing that makes KonoSuba great.

For great it is. I’ve thought a lot about this question: if someone had never seen anime and wanted a good example of it, what anime would I choose for them to watch? For some time now I think that answer is KonoSuba, for so many reasons. The characters and the artwork and the–lack of story–and the acting and all of it, it all works so well together and says so much about the Japanese thing we call anime. Hey, I welcome suggestions as answers to that question by the way, so feel free to offer them. I have several others I could put as well. But for now, I think this series tops it all. I’ve yet to see something as all around good as KonoSuba. There are others that are all-around better I think, but they’re not as accessible, for various reasons (i.e., Tokyo Ghoul S1, heavy, deep, and dark). Everything that makes an anime great is present in KonoSuba, and in my mind it deserves that recommendation.

Lay it on me, I want to hear it all!

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