The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life converge

KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World! Season One Review and Reflection

“People of Axel, the time has come to rejoice and renounce your paltry goddess! Your salvation is at hand!” –Ronan The Accuser, Guardians of the Galaxy

After shut-in Kazuma Satō unexpectedly dies of shock after attempting to save a classmate, he is given a second chance to respawn as an adventurer in another world, equipped with any power or gear of his choosing and tasked with destroying a Dæmon King. However, when Aqua, the deity overseeing this transition, begins mocking his death, he decides to take her with him, coming to quickly regret his decision as Aqua is lazy, incompetent and ineffectual. Aqua is unable to return to her original duties and is forced to accompany Kazuma; upon arriving at the beginner’s town, Axel, they form a party and are soon joined by Megumin, who exclusively wields explosive magic, and the perverted crusader, Darkness. Kazuma grows exasperated at his party’s stunning propensity for misadventure, which brings them face to face with several of the Dæmon King’s best lieutenants even as Kazuma attempts to live a more ordinary life in a world that is anything but ordinary. Despite his best efforts to maintain a normal life, circumstances press his party into assignments far exceeding their ability, and oftentimes, with unexpected consequences: when Kazuma leads the entire town of Axel in stopping the Destroyer, a mobile fortress, he is arrested in the aftermath for having authorised the teleportation of the Destroyer’s main power source to an aristocrat’s home. Originally airing in 2016, Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku o! (KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World! or KonoSuba for brevity) became quickly renowned for its humour and setup: being a light-hearted comedy of the isekai genre, KonoSuba provides its viewers with plenty of reasons to smile despite its short length of ten episodes a season.

While KonoSuba might be a comedy whose main purpose is to entertain viewers, the series’ depth becomes apparent with Kazuma’s interactions with his crudely-assembled and seemingly ill-conceived party. Initially, Kaazuma wonders how he’ll ever defeat the Dæmon King and comes to resent his life in this new world, which seems nothing more than trouble for him. Aqua’s lack of sense means she’s constantly in the red for money, Megumin’s obsession with explosive magic limits her combat utility, and Darkness, besides a questionable personality, is unable to hit anything. Kazuma is the only individual of his party with any competence, and finds himself exasperated. However, in spite of the eccentricities of his party, Kazuma’s desire to live life out in this world means that he offers his support and knowledge, however reluctantly, to the others, and over the course of KonoSuba‘s first season, Kazuma does come to slowly appreciate what Aqua, Megumin and Darkness brings their party. This is most apparent when Kazuma is killed a second time: when offered the chance to respawn back in Japan, he turns this down, having found friendship in genuine, if eccentric, individuals. Kazuma’s increasing familiarity with his party’s skills also allow him to successfully lead a counterattack on the Destroyer, and irrespective of the ironic (and unfair) outcome in the aftermath, KonoSuba shows that Kazuma’s party does have what it takes to square off against the Dæmon King one day: for now, it’s a matter of tolerating Aqua, Megumin and Darkness’ antics and getting to a point where such an adventure is possible.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Kazuma’s decision to take Aqua with him sets the stage for KonoSuba, an anime that is probably best described as isekai built entirely around a comedy of errors. In the unlikely scenario where there is a world where one could respawn into and bring anyone item with them, I would probably ask for the Infinity Gauntlet with all six Infinity Stones along with the power to wield them, with bringing Aqua along being a close second for a reason that a screenshot can convey more effectively than words. Of course, Aqua does end up proving herself to be a paltry goddess, and her first act after Kazuma’s request is granted, is to cry her eyes out.

  • After arriving, Kazuma and Aqua get their stats inspected. Kazuma is average across the board but has high luck and intelligence, while Aqua has maxed out stats except in intelligence. In spite of his natural calling being a merchant, he elects to play as an adventurer anyways, while Aqua takes on the role of an Arch Priest, specialising in healing and holy magic. In any given party, the healers might not be the most exciting to play, but for being able to top of health and mana, as well as revive, buff and remove negative status effects, they are of great importance.

  • Kazuma and Aqua initially take up various jobs around town to make ends meet and settle into a mundane life, but Kazuma grows bored and attempts to complete some quests around town for coin. Their first assignment in killing giant frogs is successful, but ironically, Aqua proves useless, being nearly eaten on several occasions and coming out of each mess in tears. Voiced by Sora Amamiya (Moeka China from Hai-FuriHibike! Euphonium‘s Kanade Hisaishi and Dumbell wa nan kilo moterru?‘s Akemi Sōryūin), Aqua’s leading trait that contributed greatly to KonoSuba‘s hilarity is the fact that Amamiya does a fantastic job of capturing Aqua’s crying and whining, which are better known as “Aqua noises”.

  • Megumin is a wizard specialising in explosive magic and the second to join Kazuma’s party. Her power is great, as her spells deal as much damage as a fuel-air explosive, but this comes at an extreme trade-off: after casting one spell, she’s depowered to the point of being unable to walk, and her magic regenerates very slowly, so she can only cast one spell per day. Megumin is voiced by Rie Takahashi, whom I best know as Yuru Camp△‘s Ena Saito. As Megumin, Takahashi brings out this wizard’s fantasies with conviction – Megumin speaks the same way chūnibyō do, and her eyepatch accentuates this, having no impact on her performance.

  • Unlike the chūnibyō of anime set in the real world, Megumin’s dialogue and claims actually do have a basis in this world. Despite wielding great magic, Megumin’s many limitations and initial lack of self-restraint is why parties are reluctant to have her on board. In many ways, Megumin handles like The Division 2‘s Demolitionist specialisation in that in both cases, high explosive damage is the name of the game, but both have obvious limitations. The Demolitionist specialisation in The Division 2 grants the M32A1 that deals massive damage but is limited to closer-range engagements, and the higher rate of fire means one runs out of specialised ammo more quickly.

  • Kazuma is shocked when a beautiful crusader, Darkness, expresses interest in joining his party; his heart skips a beat, and he’s tempted to say yes, at least until Darkness reveals her perversions. Because of her inability to hit anything, most parties aren’t keen on having her around despite her durability. However, Kazuma eventually does accept Darkness’ request to join his party, and despite his reservations, Kazuma’s party now has a healer, tank and DPS, giving him the bare minimum of skills to at least begin considering an adventure.

  • As an adventurer archetype, Kazuma excels at nothing in particular and is versatile enough to learn almost any skill. Initially, Chris, one of Darkness’ friends, offers to teach him the thieves’ ability to steal. When coupled with his high luck, Kazuma is able to use this seemingly trivial ability to great effect, although he starts off by screwing with Chris and Megumin when asked to test this ability out. Kazuma’s questionable mind notwithstanding, his generalised build means that even if he’s not aware of it yet, he can grow into the adventurer role quite readily.

  • The town of Axel has its share of eccentricities; every so often, the town’s adventurers are called out for some ridiculous quests. Shortly after assembling his party, Kazuma’s first experience of a “raid” is when cabbages attack, prompting everyone to go cabbage harvesting. Kazuma is initially flabbergasted, but soon decides to participate, since each cabbage harvested yields coin. It is here that the extent of Darkness’ love for being beaten up comes to bear: she sustains hits from multiple cabbages and appears to be enjoying every second of it.

  • When one thinks about it, Megumin is actually a pretty normal-sounding name: Megumin is typically the diminutive form of Megumi, a Japanese name that means “Blessing”, and in addition to being a pun on KonoSuba‘s title adds further hilarity to Kazuma’s situation in that his party is composed entirely of eccentric people. In this way, KonoSuba is actually not too dissimilar to Futurama in that Planet Express shares a similar makeup of unique individuals whose tendencies might be baffling and where members do not always get along, but during times of extraordinary need, will go to great lengths to defend one another.

  • As the Guild’s receptionist, Luna is seen frequently giving out assignments, providing quest rewards and updating the quest board. She’s often the bearer of bad news for Kazuma and his party, such as when Aqua wonders why her cut of the rewards from the cabbage hunt was reduced, and it turns out that she’d also harvested the lower-value lettuce in the process. Throughout the course of KonoSuba, Aqua’s tantrums are hilarious, and alone, would carry any other anime.

  • It therefore speaks volumes to the strengths of KonoSuba that Aqua is just one of the many reasons this anime is so compelling to watch: I completed KonoSuba within a very short period of time, and normally, I’m much slower about a given series. Striking a balance between world-building, character growth and humour, there are few anime quite like KonoSuba, and while I am aware that the isekai genre is oft-maligned owing to market saturation, KonoSuba is one of those series that defies expectations: I imagine that all but the most devout isekai haters would fail to enjoy KonoSuba: this series excels because it never takes itself too seriously, which seems to be a limitation in other isekai series.

  • If and when I’m asked, Darkness is my favourite character of KonoSuba: not for any physical attributes that she may possess, but because her personality is so over-the-top. Each of Aqua, Megumin and Darkness have a very distinct personality, a far cry from the archetypes I’ve come to become very familiar with as a result of my preference for easy-going, slice-of-life series: such exaggerated characters and standout personalities helped to make KonoSuba a first-class comedy that is especially memorable.

  • While the quest starts off slowly enough, the giant alligators soon arrive and begin attacking Aqua, who, in a panic, begins using more of her magic in a desperate bid to clean up the lake faster. The alligators begin attempting to bite their way through the cage, causing Aqua to tumble: the cage manages to hold, and Aqua completes her task, but at a great personal cost. It is not lost on me that I could probably have a post dedicated to Aqua’s funny faces, and that post alone could be the length of any ordinary post, given the frequency of Aqua’s tantrums and misfortunes.

  • KonoSuba‘s visuals are of an excellent standard: clean character designs, detailed environments and generally smooth animation makes the anime a treat to watch. When Aqua finishes purifying the once-scummy lake, viewers are treated to the differences before and after: following Aqua’s work, the lake looks beautiful, with crystal-clear waters stretching out as far as the eye can see. The solid artwork and animation in KonoSuba helps with its immersion factor by bringing Kazuma’s new world to life; despite his greviences with it, life here doesn’t seem that bad.

  • When returning back to town, Aqua encounters Kyoya Mitsurugi, another fellow who had respawned in this world and imagined Aqua to be some high-level deity rather than the paltry goddess that she is. Unlike Kazuma, Kyoya requested a cursed sword with which to fight the Dæmon King, and acts the stereotypical hero, but because he also has an inflated opinion of himself, he grates on Kazuma, who ends up taking possession of Kyouya’s sword, beats him in a one-on-one and then sells the sword.

  • Kyouya appears to be a rival for Kazuma, and in any ordinary isekai, Kazuma would be the antagonist or anti-hero at best. However, KonoSuba has Kazuma as the hero, so it is Kyouya that possesses antagonistic traits. While Kyouya has nothing but respect for Aqua, the real Aqua, being selfish and petty, lays down a beating after realising that she’s short cash from the damaged cage from their previous assignment.

  • Verdia is one of the Dæmon King’s generals. Formerly a knight that fell into Darkness, rather similarly to how the Great Kings of Men became the Nazgûl, and now serves the Dæmon King. When Megumin hammers his castle with explosions day after day, his patience runs out, and he heads to Axel, promising to slay the one responsible. While as powerful as the Nazgûl, Verdia does not have the element of fear on his side: the Nazgûl’s chiefest weapon was fear, so against fearless opponents, Nazgûl would be forced to resort to physical weapons. Verdia is eventually defeated after Kazuma reasons as an undead, he would be weak against water.

  • One aspect of KonoSuba that I am fond of, and not many people appear to have mentioned, is the depiction of mealtimes. From fried frog legs to cabbage chop suey, watching Kazuma, Aqua, Megumin and Darkness eating in the downtime away from their adventures both serve to show the cuisine of this parallel world, as well as give a sense of normalcy in a reality most unlike our own. Les Stroud of Survivorman said that being able to do things with normalcy in a survival situation can help one take stock of their situation by returning a sense of control, which goes a long way in bolstering morale. While Kazuma might still be in over his head in this world, being able to sit down to a good meal consistently gives him a chance to unwind and regroup.

  • Misunderstandings between Kazuma and Aqua happen virtually every episode, although as winter sets in, and Kazuma’s party takes up a quest to hunt down snow sprites, they find themselves on the receiving end of the Winter Shogun’s wrath. Kazuma is killed in the combat, and finds himself face-to-face with Eris, another Goddess. Unlike Aqua, Eris is more understanding and capable; it is here that Kazuma is offered a choice to respawn in Japan, although he comes to realise he’s begun valuing his time with Aqua, Megumin and Darkness. Before he can make a firm decision, however, Aqua revives him, and in the moments after, Aqua, Megumin and Darkness express their genuine concern for his well-being.

  • Aqua and Kazuma visit a shop run by Wiz, one of the Dæmon King’s generals. Aqua takes an immediate disliking to her, but Kazuma expresses a desire to learn some Lich skills. Despite Aqua’s protests, Kazuma soon picks up Drain Touch, which allows him to transfer mana between two individuals. While Wiz might be aligned with evil, her gentle and friendly personality suggests otherwise. Wiz is more than happy to help out Kazuma and the others for her part, being neutral to the conflict between the Dæmon King’s army and other residents of the world provided that said army is operating against civilians.

  • Having lodged in a stable all this time, Kazuma’s fortunes shift when the owner of a large mansion asks Wiz for advice on dealing with restless spirits. Becuase this is Aqua’s speciality, Kazuma’s party accepts the job; the owner has agreed to allow Kazuma and his merry band to live here provided they succeed in the exorcism, and while things initially seem easily managed, Kazuma and Megumin soon learn that this haunted mansion is very haunted.

  • While trying to find the bathroom and address nature’s call, Kazuma and Megumin encounter the supernatural forces in the mansion first-hand, which manifest as dolls. This was one of the most hilarious moments of KonoSuba thus far, and giving Kazuma and Megumin a chance to bounce off one another. In the end, Aqua ends up pacifying the spirits, and Kazuma learns that the reason why the mansion had become haunted to begin with was because Aqua had exorcised spirits from a nearby cemetery to mess with Wiz, prompting the spirits to take up residence in the mansion instead.

  • From Keith and Dust, two fellow adventurers, Kazuma learns of a Succubus shop that specialises in spicy dreams to help male adventurers de-stress. My immediate impression was that this felt like a scaled-back version of Ishuzoku Reviewers, a series so reviled that even Japanese television stations pulled the show from airing. I’ve not actually seen Ishuzoku Reviewers for myself, and therefore, what I do know of it is from word-of-mouth. This may be a part of my Terrible Anime Challenge series some day, but for now, in KonoSuba, viewers get to laugh at Kazuma’s response to the very existence of such a shop.

  • As congratulations for their new home, Darkness’ family sends her crab and expensive alcohols. That crab is counted as a luxury food in this world is a subtle but pleasant indicator that for the presence of magic, kings and castles, Kazuma’s new world definitely shares commonalities with our world. For me, Dungeness Crab is the more common crab I see in cooking: it tastes excellent when steamed with ginger and green onion. However, my favourite crab would be snow crab: with a sweeter and brinier flavour, it is excellent on its own. Recalling the succubus shop’s suggestion to not overdo things or risk not recalling their dreams, Kazuma struggles to maintain self-control during dinner.

  • In the end, Kazuma ends up falling asleep in the baths and mistakes Darkness as a dream rather than reality. When faced with Kazuma’s own perversions, Darkness reverts to a shy and embarrassed manner, a far cry from her usual self, further compelling Kazuma to believe that this is a dream. However, it turns out that Kazuma is actually still awake, and moreover, Aqua and Megumin have captured the succubus who had arrived to deliver his dream. They prepare to annihilate the succubus, and Kazuma gets beaten up in trying to clear up the misunderstanding. The next morning, he and Darkness agree to forget the events of last night.

  • When the mobile fortress, Destroyer, appears, Axel deploys every available adventurer to help stop its rampage: this ancient mobile weapon was designed by a scientist for his nation and their desire for a superweapon, but the weapon backfired and destroyed that nation instead. Beyond its sheer size, the Destroyer is protected by a shield of sorts. Here, I make the distinction that the Destroyer of KonoSuba is not the same Destroyer from Thor: the latter is an Asguardian suit of armour armed with a powerful energy beam, and was destroyed by Thor in the movie.

  • The arrival of a foe like the Destroyer gives Kazuma a chance to see his party members as they are: Darkness, despite her usual mannerisms, is devoted to stopping it and protecting the people, while Megumin is a hair from crapping bricks. Meanwhile, Aqua is concerned for those who will be fighting. This bit of character development indicates that Darkness can get things done when her motivation is present, Megumin needs more support from those around her when the chips are down, and Aqua can fulfill the role of support despite her appearances. Thus, when the Destroyer finally arrives, Kazuma’s party, along with Wiz, manage to immobilise this mobile fortress.

  • Subsequently, Axel’s other adventurers enter the mobile fortress in search of its power source. They locate it, discover the sad, yet comical history behind its designer, and Kazuma lends his power to give her enough mana to run a teleportation spell. With the core gone, the immediate threat appears to have been neutralised, but the ruined Destroyer has one final surprise for the adventurers. KonoSuba places these obstacles to the ending as a mode of comedy, but anyone with familiarity with bosses in video games will know that final bosses always have a few tricks up their sleeves.

  • The Destroyer prepares to go critical anyways, but fortunately, Aqua’s vast mana pool means that Megumin can immediately be re-powered after her initial shot. She summons her best explosion spell of the season, creating a blast that vapourises the Destroyer and saving Axel from total annihilation. KonoSuba‘s final fight is as serious as the series gets thus far, but even then, there’s plenty of humour interspersed throughout the battle so viewers never gain the impression that the fight is hopeless.

  • With this, my talk on KonoSuba‘s first season draws to a close, and I will be moving onto to the OVA and second season on very short order. KonoSuba‘s season is an A+ (4.0 of 4.0, and 9.5 of 10): striking a balance between character growth, comedy and world-building, KonoSuba exemplifies what isekai can do with a brand-new world, and my conclusion is that isekai, however saturated the genre might be, is enjoyable because of nuances that the different stories tell. With KonoSuba, I’ve found that the comedy-driven isekai definitely has its merits, and note that the only thing stopping KonoSuba from being a full-on masterpiece is that the series didn’t make me cry or change my world-view. If the second season can make me cry tears of laughter, I will have no qualms with hitting this wonderful series with a perfect ten!

There are very few anime out there that manage to consistently maintain a smile on my face, and KonoSuba succeeds here every minute of every episode. From Aqua’s over-the-top reactions to misfortune and her ability to swiftly go from being a pompous goddess to a puddle of tears, to Megumi’s delusions and love for explosive magic, and Darkness’ perversions, each of Kazuma’s party members seems to know just how to provoke an amusing response from Kazuma. Watching Kazuma bouncing off everyone drives much of the humour in KonoSuba, and all of it is well done: none of Aqua, Megumin or Darkness are made to suffer needlessly, with the comedy coming from the unfairness of the overall situation, whether it be being hauled in for treason after accidentally teleporting the Destroyer’s power source over an aristocrat’s home, or relinquishing a major reward to pay for damages caused after defeating one of the Dæmon King’s generals. The frequent humour continuously reminds viewers that the alternate world in KonoSuba is one to take in jest, rather than seriously, and this in turn creates a limitless potential for adventures and chaos: a parallel universe that doesn’t take itself seriously is unencumbered by rules, limitations and whatnot, leaving all of the focus on the characters and their (mis)adventures. This is where KonoSuba excels, and with its first season in the books, I advance onto the first OVA and second season with a very keen interest.

4 responses to “KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World! Season One Review and Reflection

  1. Yon Nyan April 4, 2020 at 20:42

    It definitely seems like a show that doesn’t take itself too seriously, which can be a lot of fun sometimes. Excellent review!


  2. jsyschan April 12, 2020 at 16:03

    At times, it feels that most of Kazuma’s troubles are all on him. Fun show to watch.


    • infinitezenith April 19, 2020 at 09:29

      Kazuma’s dynamic with his zany party, whether in misfortune by his own hand or circumstance, makes KonoSuba a bloody riot. It’s been a while since I’ve had this much fun watching anything!


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