The references were Overt. The comedy was Hilarious. The cringe was Real. The madness was Unabated. The ecchi was Egregious. The language was Gutter. The crass was Unbridled. And the fun was Nonstop! It’s everything I’d expect of KonoSuba’s raging step-sister! step-brother?

Combatants Will Be Dispatched!, or Sentouin, Hakenshimasu!, shortened just to Sentouin in the world of anime, is a ton of fun! Once I realized this show was from the same author as KonoSuba, I jumped on it right away during the Spring 2021 season. And I was not disappointed! I laughed and laughed at all the craziness and the characters and the wicked dialogue and the mad homages to its aforementioned predecessor! I highly recommend this series!

Certainly a S2 is on its way for this show, so this review could be termed premature. But most reviews run that risk anyway, and rumors of Season 2s are often greatly exaggerated. So here it is in all its glory!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Characters

Rating: 8

Let’s get this out of the way: this is not KonoSuba.

Roku is not Kazuma. Sure he’s outwardly a lecher, a pervert, “hentai!” I said it. But he’s not Kazuma. Sure he’s an underhanded criminal, his life an incessant quest to find the next available titillation, no matter how minimal. But he’s not Kazuma. Sure he’s really a decent guy at heart, despite it all. But he’s not Kazuma. Don’t give me that “he leads a band of mind-numbingly crazy females that’s basically a harem” business. He’s still not Kazuma.

Snow is not Aqua. First of all, nobody is Aqua. Third, Snow is actually (nearly) useless. Fourth, Aqua’s defining feature—and peculiar article of clothing to show it off—is on the other end from Snow’s. Second and lastly, Aqua always runs away from a battle, where usually Snow runs towards it, with minor exceptions in both cases. Eighth, lots of people have blue hair. Fifth, don’t give me that “snow and water are the same thing” business. She’s still not Aqua.

Rose is not Megumin. Let’s try that again. Rose is not Megumin. First, nobody is Megumin. You want me to say it again? I’m not one of those people who has Megumin posters in all the vantage points of their bedroom, but I still agree Megumin is one of a kind. And no amount of crazed loli-ness in a new character is going to change that. So what they both can eat you under the table? Dude, seriously, come out from under the table.

Grimm is not Darkness. First, nobody is Darkness. But if any of these characters comes remotely close to the kind of jaw-dropping ridiculousness that Darkness is well known for, it’s Grimm. While Darkness’ sayings are masochistic, Grimm’s are romantically desperate. Darkness will stop your mind with her sayings, but Grimm will at least have you placing your hand over your mouth, stifling that hideous and uncontrolled hysterical laughter that you can’t do in front of the in-laws. Seriously, I hope this character gets more lines in season two. I always wish Darkness had more lines too. Wait, Grimm is not Darkness….

Nani?

Alice is the one character people can’t correlate with KonoSuba. Some people say she’s a Megumin correlate, but that has even less legs to stand on than Rose’s claim. Of all the interesting parts of these various characters, unique or not, I’m not a big fan of Alice. Even if it’s only partially so, she’s essentially a sexualized loli. I never like that. I get it that she’s a robot and all that, but the joke is intentional, and I never care for it. Apart from that, I get the deadpan tone of voice and the ultra-mature dialogue, but it doesn’t do much for me coming from this character. I get the foiling for Roku, but it only kinda-sorta works for that. And don’t give me that “flat is this-that-or-the-other” business.

The Kisaragi Corporation’s trifecta separates this show a bit more from KonoSuba. Yeah yeah, Eris and Aqua and the in-between world, I get it. It’s sort of that same dynamic with these higher powers reaching down into another world, but it’s not quite the same. Plus, Eris is just one person (not counting Aqua down in the lowly world of humans of course), and there’s three of these people. Don’t give me that “oh they’re named after mythical gods” business. Astaroth, Belial, and Lilith are all named for legendary bad guys (and girls), but like the rest of the cast at Kisaragi Corp., they only exhibit outward signs of evilness. Astaroth’s a cutie. I will not soon forgot her mortified face when Roku asked her to let him be her stay-at-home husband!

Heine! I love Heine! The name is probably intentionally a homonym of the English slang “hiney,” and I needn’t add more to that. But she’s gorgeous. She’s fanservice item number 2 behind Snow, though her fanservice is much more overt—er, in your face. She would make me think of Sylvia from the KonoSuba movie, except Sentouin is not KonoSuba. I love her color scheme and design—maybe I’m a tiny bit enthralled with that body too. She’s strong, she’s powerful, she’s a leader, and I like all that even more! 

Don’t give me that “you forgot Princess Tillis” business. She’s just another side character, running the Grace kingdom and serving as a foil for some highly obscene jokes. She’s just kind of there, funny but only to a purpose. No, I’m not going to talk about Tiger Man and Russell.

That’s all the characters from S1. I love them all. And I’m sure there will be lots more in S2! We still have yet to meet this show’s versions of KonoSuba’s Wiz, Yunyun, Vanir, Hans, etc.! Wait, this is not KonoSuba….

Artwork

Rating: 9

It’s not KonoSuba. It’s not.

But you know, it’s kinda like KonoSuba. It’s bright and fantastical and colorful and varied, just very pleasing and entertaining to take in visually. Oh, and there’s about ten times the amount of fanservice by comparision.

Despite having the same author as KonoSuba, some features are a little different. I could go into the details, but if I had to sum it up, I’d say it’s simply in the details. By that I mean the drawings are a little more detailed in Sentouin than in KonoSuba. A few more strands of hair, a few extra folds or layers in the clothing (or a few more cutaways), more accessories on each character, a little more shadowing, more variety in colors as opposed to broad areas of a single color, stuff like that. KonoSuba looks like adventure anime. Sentouin looks like adventure anime that grew up. In more ways than one.

There’s nothing spectacular about it, but it’s very pleasing. I like to say KonoSuba is a good starter anime (in some senses), and part of that reason is the artwork. It screams anime. And while, of course, Sentouin is not KonoSuba, this artwork does the same kind of thing for me. It’s anime artwork, and I love it!

Stop asking about the fanservice! I know I haven’t mentioned it enough given how much it occurs! But I don’t wanna!

Story

Rating: ??

There actually is kind of a story here, unlike in KonoSuba. Even though this isn’t KonoSuba. Roku is selected as the guy to lead the recon team into a planet that the evil organization Kisaragi wants to invade. He takes the android Alice with him as an assistant (a relative term here). And so the antics begin.

That doesn’t seem like much of a story, but at least the thread runs through the whole. In KonoSuba, you have isekai. I challenge any of you to find more to that overall story than that. Here at least we know the invasion plans are being set, and Roku’s role continues to evolve within that plan. It’s a shred of a main storyline, but it can hardly have no story at all, kinda like, I don’t know, KonoSuba?

Wait, this isn’t KonoSuba. But the situations and the characters are everything, just like in KonoSuba! That sequence with the Mokemoke monster just about put me in the ER. Grimm falling asleep before every battle was hilarious, and it became more hilarious the more predictable it became! Not to mention her ridiculous and desperate quest to find a mate! The Evil Points schtik is dumb as hell, but it brings out the cringe laughter. Even the obscene situations and dialogue are pretty funny most of the time. I’m not a big fan of this low-grade kind of humor (scatological or sexological), but it works really well in this show. Zipperman will not be easy to forget! Nor will the infamous new password for Grace’s ridiculous rain-making device! Poor Tillis-hime won’t even try to use it anymore! And oh lord, that idiotic display in the desert when the team has to walk back home after their car stops working and so they out of food, and Rose and Roku can’t get their terms straight!

Like KonoSuba, Sentouin proves you don’t have to have a story to be a successful anime. Not many shows—not many authors—can pull that off. Anime is a visual art ultimately, but it’s best presented with great characters and a storyline that has either academic/artistic or entertainment appeal. Yet Natsume Akatsuki has managed to pull off a magnificent display with little to no story not once, but twice, with KonoSuba and Sentouin. As easy as it would be to deplore the lack of a story in this series (or KonoSuba), not only does it work perfectly fine without a story, but I think a very good case could be argued that it’s actually ideal without a story! You can’t say that about many anime, and usually not for positive reasons either! Both KonoSuba and Sentouin stand alone in that sense.

How’d we end up talking about KonoSuba again? This isn’t KonoSuba!!

Overall: 8

Nothing can ever be KonoSuba again. Of course not…this isn’t KonoSuba.

Now do this experiment: imagine KonoSuba never existed. Now look at Sentouin. What do you think?  No, don’t give me that “yeah, you’re right, it’s missing something” business! But you know what—you’re right. The two will always be inextricably bound together. Blame the author if you want, but I kind of like this. I love all the overt references Sentouin makes to its revered predecessor! It wants to run the risk of being compared to an all-time great, and it doesn’t give a rat’s ass if you like the similarity or not! Great art dares to be great. And while I wouldn’t categorize Sentouin as “great art” by any stretch, KonoSuba has a kind of greatness, and if you draw on great art as a source of inspiration, your final product will automatically be that much better. So I really enjoy not only the connection between these two shows, but the unabashed overtness of that connection!

But being a copy has its downsides. Actually, for most people, the downsides of copies are more apparent than the upsides. If Sentouin didn’t have it’s own unique qualities and its own individual strength of characters and comedy, I would definitely think this show was just a knock-off of KonoSuba, and I’d think less of it for it. A copy cannot be as good as an original. 

Thankfully, Sentouin is not actually a copy of KonoSuba. Despite having the same author and the overt comparisons it makes to KonoSuba, the similarities are kept in their place. While approaching it humorously above, I still meant it when I said the characters are not copies of those from KonoSuba. They may share myriad similarities, or the dynamics of the main group of characters might be similar, but it would do a disservice to this show, and to the author himself, to say these characters are just version 2.0 of KonoSuba’s characters. Sure it can poke fun at KonoSuba and make the world of anime draw those comparisons. But it’s not KonoSuba. It’s not supposed to be. It’s perfectly fine on its own.

I’m a big fan of this show now. I love so much about it. It’s not KonoSuba, and it won’t ever be, but I don’t want it to be either. It’s Sentouin. And I highly look forward to S2! Almost as much as I look forward to S3 of KonoSuba! Wait, this isn’t about KonoSuba! Kazumaaaaaa!!!!

Featuring an extended gallery today for your extended viewing pleasure!

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