The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life converge

God’s Blessings on This Wonderful Choker: Review and Reflection on KonoSuba’s First OVA

“Have you acquired creepy, specific old stuff from an antique or thrift store that gives you powers but fucks with you in unforeseeable ways? Bring it to Curse Purge Plus! I use science to un-curse the items for cash, and you get to keep the powers! Don’t pay for cool stuff with your soul. Pay for it with money. You know, like how every other store in the world works?” –Rick Sanchez, Rick and Morty

Kazuma visits Wiz’s shop with the entire party in tow. Here, Megumin runs into Yunyun, her so-called self-proclaimed rival, and the two get into an altercation. Amidst the chaos, Kazuma notices an innocent-looking choker described as being able to fulfil wishes. Wondering if it’ll boost his luck stats, he tries it on, only to learn from Wiz that the choke actually will kill anyone who fails to recall their original wish within four days. Kazuma attempts to recall it and has each of Wiz, Darkness, Megumin and Yunyun do questionable things, feeling his wish might’ve been connected to humiliating them in some way. However, after four days, Kazuma still has not remembered what his wish was. He prepares to die, and admits that having done all that to the others, he feels a sense of serenity. It turns out this was his wish, to have some peace every now and then, and the choker relinquishes its grip on Kazuma. Embarrassed beyond measure, Wiz, Darkness, Megumin, Yunyun and Aqua beat the living daylights out of Kazuma, who finds himself in the respawn point in front of Eris once again. Released three months after the original run ended, KonoSuba‘s first OVA continued in the vein of its predecessor with its humour, and this time, with no imminent adventure or threat to the town of Axel, follows Kazuma’s own misadventures in exploring a side of his personality that was only seen once during the first season proper: Kazuma’s less-than-clean thoughts had not been a point of contention, and his actions towards Darkness in season one’s penultimate episode stemmed from a misunderstanding. However, in KonoSuba‘s OVA, Kazuma’s perversions come out in full force as the OVA’s driver.

In spite of such a crass and callous storyline, KonoSuba makes Kazuma’s mistreatment of Wiz, Darkness, Megumin and Yunyun amusing to watch, while at the same time, foreshadowing the precise relationship between Kazuma and Aqua. After realising his doom is inevitable, Kazuma asks Wiz to act as a lap pillow for him and eventually starts grouping her. Darkness, he has go through punishing exercises, and with Megumin and Yunyun, he decides their challenge will be strip rock-paper-scissors. Aqua, on the other hand, is asked to fetch lunch. While Aqua is convinced that Kazuma will do something questionable to her, she invariably is spared each and every time. In the end, Kazuma apologises to everyone for possessing thoughts of perversion towards them, but for Aqua, he apologises for seeing her as strictly a friend. Thus, what was probably a crude OVA suddenly takes new meaning in providing a bit more insight into how Kazuma sees Aqua: despite their frequent noisy quarrels, Kazuma does hold Aqua in a higher regard than he lets in on. In addition, the OVA also introduces Yunyun to viewers; for now, the most that we’ve seen of Yunyun is that she’s another Crimson Dæmon of the same order as Megumin, that she’s envious of Megumin in some way, and that the animosity is mutual because Megumin is jealous of Yunyun’s figure. These are the OVA’s contribution to KonoSuba: aside from its humour, the OVA also drives character development that would subsequently become more important as viewers enter season two, exploring new facets of the characters to augment their dimensionality.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Because OVAs typically deal with events that are outside the scope of a given story, they offer a unique opportunity for character interactions that the main story otherwise won’t have the time to cover, creating a unique experience for viewers. This is why I tend to cover OVAs separately, and so, I’ll be doing the same for KonoSuba, whose first season proved superb and left me wondering why I didn’t watch this series sooner.

  • Immediately after arriving in Wiz’s shop, Megumin does her best to ignore one Yunyun, a fellow Crimson Dæmon who openly challenges Megumin to a duel of sorts. All Crimson Dæmons possess similar physical characteristics, with dark hair, red eyes and an affinity for magic. It’s been a while since I’ve played any fantasy games, but I still have fond memories of my Ragnarok Online and World of Warcraft days in high school on a friend’s private server. I was particularly keen on playing the casting classes and loved offensive magic. Although a busy university schedule would mean this would come to an end, I ended up buying Skyrim and played a hybrid character with offensive magic and archery skills.

  • While Megumin might be prone to delusions of grandeur and have a fixation on explosive magic, it turns out that she’s also bothered by more mundane things, like the fact that Yunyun’s bust is far larger than hers – in a fit of jealousy, she begins beating up Yunyun, who had earlier been looking at a choker after Wiz reveals Yunyun, upon hearing that Wiz was acquainted with Kazuma’s party, had been visiting daily in the hopes of running into Megumin. Feeling bad, Yunyun decided to buy the choker, which runs for a hundred thousand Eris. Apparently, one Eris is equivalent to one Yen, so the chocker would cost about 1280 CAD.

  • Kazuma wonders if the choker would be a good idea, since granting wishes is similar to increasing luck, and puts it on to try it. However, it turns out it’s a cursed choker, of the same sort of item that Mr. Needful would’ve sold in his shop during Rick and Morty‘s first season, Something Ricked This Way Comes: every item had some sort of mysterious power that came with an incredibly high cost, (e.g. a typewriter that churns out best selling murder mysteries but then actually made the murders happen). Summer takes a job at this shop, but to spite Mr. Needful, Rick ends up creating a contraption that removes the curses, leaving the item with only its powers, and then opens Curse Purge Plus to put Mr. Needful out of business.

  • For a reasonable amount of Eris, Rick’s Curse Purge Plus would’ve certainly been able to remove the killing curse on the choker, leaving Kazuma with a wish-granting choker. However, Rick has always shown a distain for fantasy and magic. To introduce his character into KonoSuba would ruin the universe outright – Rick would solo the Dæmon King in seconds with science, and then there’d be no series. Hence, without Curse Purge Plus to save his fate, Kazuma must determine what his immediate wish when he put the choker on was; recalling the original wish dissipates the curse.

  • I believe Rick and Morty‘s fourth season will resume somewhere in May: the first two seasons were excellent, and season three was enjoyable enough, even though I found it a little less inspired than the first two. Season four’s first half has been fun so far, and I especially liked the fourth episode, which showed the extent of Rick’s insecurity and how his desire to control everything in his life comes from the idea that despite his incredibly vast knowledge, there are things that even he cannot control, and that he saw in himself a weak man for fixating over something that others have been able to better manage. Of course, this isn’t a Rick and Morty talk, so I’ll return the party back to Kazuma, who now seems doomed to die.

  • Whereas Kazuma has been shown to have a tendency towards perversions in the first season, circumstance would prevent him from becoming out of control. When there are no threats on the horizon, and with the girls feeling sympathetic for the plight Kazuma finds himself in, Kazuma uses this situation to have everyone do questionable things. He sets about asking Wiz to act as a lap pillow and has Darkness do a hundred pushups. Since this is an OVA talk, the results are something I have no qualms about showing here.

  • Incidentally, with the distancing measures now in place to slow the spread of COVID-19, and the ensuing lack of access to a gym and my usual weights, I’ve been exercising in a reduced capacity with sets of techniques that don’t involve dumbbells or plates. Push-ups are a highly effective upper-body exercise, and I will do spiderman push-ups on my palms or go on my knuckles depending on what I need to train for that day. The benefit of knuckle pushups are that they increase resistance and build up toughness of the knuckles, but also increase the risk of injury if not done correctly.

  • As the day wears on, Kazuma becomes bolder in his perversions, and he now lies face-down on Wiz’s bare thighs. He decides to move things outside with Megumin and Yunyun’s contest, after sending Aqua off on a bread run and leaving Darkness inside to finish the hundred push-ups on her own. While Kazuma’s been asking the others to engage in questionable acts, the worst he has for Aqua is quite unremarkable, foreshadowing what Kazuma’s real thoughts on her are.

  • The end result of sending Aqua to grab food of any sort has hilarious results: she brazenly denies having taken half of Kazuma’s sandwich despite having puffed-up cheeks and crumbs on her face. Of everyone in KonoSuba, Aqua’s reactions are the most hilarious to behold: the first episode of the first season established this within minutes of introducing her, and since then, KonoSuba continues to find ways of putting a smile on viewers’ faces by having Aqua suffer at the hands of (minor) misfortune as a result of her own actions.

  • Megumin and Yunyun are made to play strip rock-paper-scissors, a variant of a simple game in which the loser has to gradually remove one article of clothing. A few years back, I read a paper on an algorithm that could raise one’s win rate to around seventy percent: shortly after GochiUsa‘s second season came out and people wondered if they could consistently beat Chino, Megu and Maya in the rock-paper-scissors game. Most were unsuccessful because of the randomness of the game, but with the algorithm, I ended up winning a majority of the game. Such an algorithm would probably help one to stave off total humiliation in this situation.

  • In order to stave off Kazuma’s perversions, Megumin and Yunyun agree to a truce and attempt to draw as many times in a row as possible, but Kazuma shifts things up, and Megumin deceives Yunyun into drawing yet again, but then wins, causing Yunyun to go ballistic. As it turns out, Yunyun is voiced by Aki Toyosaki (K-On!‘s Yui Hirasawa and Yuru Camp△‘s Aoi “Inuko” Inuyama), which is a hilarious addition: Toyosaki may not be everyone’s favourite voice actress, but in some of her roles, she plays characters with a very serene and relaxing voice. As Aoi Inuyama, there’s a very calming sense one gets when listening to her speak, but Yunyun feels more generic as a character.

  • Towards the end of the day, everyone is floored from Kazuma’s requests: Darkness is spent from the exercises that Kazuma’s set her, and both Megumin and Yunyun are burnt out from their fighting, lying face down still clutching at one another’s clothing. Aqua is sitting in the middle of a pile of trash crying her eyes out; it’s a sight of destruction that evokes a simultaneous sense of pity and comedy.

  • Aside from the mess, Aqua herself is defaced – someone’s drawn on her face with a marker, leaving her in tears. Ordinarily, because Aqua is the architect of her own demise, such moments are funny, but the OVA’s setup means that this is one of those moments where viewers would sympathise with Aqua. The choice to show the aftermath means that viewers are left to wonder horrors Aqua and the others will endure as Kazuma’s time runs out in the days upcoming.

  • Day two kicks off with Kazuma using Wiz’s chest as a pillow while watching Darkness do squats, and Megumin and Yunyun in various outfits. While the community seems to be in universal agreement that Wiz is probably the hottest of everyone in KonoSuba, I’ve also been reading that folks count Darkness and Wiz as being tall; this is probably a relative measure, since Kazuma is short by most standards.

  • Even if this is an OVA and I’m a little more relaxed about what I can and can’t show in a post, I’ve opted not to show the bath scene, since there are some boundaries that I can’t really cross. the gist of it is that on the third day, Kazuma attempts to embarrass Megumin after setting Aqua the task of creating an onsen, and this backfires when Aqua succeeds in creating a single jet of water that hits him in the wrong place, resulting in a reaction that this blog won’t play host to.

  • As death nears for Kazuma, even he begins running out of ideas for what he could have everyone do. With this in mind, a classic conversation topic for people is exactly thus: if one were to be limited to four days of life, what would they do in the time remaining to them? For me, I’d probably spend that time reading a good book, cook steaks and lobster, and go for a walk in the nearby hill that overlooks half the city in good company. These exercises give insight into what matters to people, and for me, the things in life I value most are good people, food and books.

  • After considering using a spell (diffindo!) to sever the choker (Megumin had even considered Sectumsempra! followed by Aqua’s powered-up Rennervate! to bring Kazuma back to life), the girls decide to let things run its course and give Kazuma one more day to figure out his original wish. Under a star-filled sky, Yunyun and Megumin’s rivalry appears lost amidst Kazuma’s situation – Megumin explains to Yunyun that the reason why everyone’s gone along with Kazuma’s wishes was precisely because beyond his perversions, he offered everyone a place to party where previously, they had been rejected. Thus, it meant something to them that Kazuma’s accepted her into the party.

  • Having done a variety of perverted things to Wiz, Darkness, Megumin and Yunyun, Kazuma prepares to die and admits he’s at peace now. He freely states that he ogles everyone in the party, and that for Aqua, he counts her as a friend above all else. However, Kazuma’s wish for peace was his original wish, and the choker falls off in an anti-climatic fashion. The girls’ sympathy and understanding for Kazuma’s situation suddenly gives way to the realisation they’ve been had.

  • Because anime tends to use specific visual styles, I’m tempted to say that Darkness, Megumi, Yunyun and Wiz take their revenge on Kazuma for abusing them, while Aqua is probably angered because Kazuma doesn’t see her that way. The ensuing physical beating is probably severe, matching what the Doom Slayer regularly does to monsters in DOOM, and it’s probably safe to assume that even the kind-hearted and gentle Wiz took part. With this post in the books, I’m turning my sights towards the first Violet Evergarden movie, and I do have a minor update: since Oregairu‘s third season was announced to be delayed, I will not be writing about that in the foreseeable future.

Because guessing when an OVA is set relative to the main series has become something of a frivolous pursuit I’ve taken to doing for OVAs, if I had to guess, I would say that KonoSuba‘s first OVA is set between the eighth and ninth episodes of the first season, after Kazuma finds Wiz’s shop and moves into the mansion, but before Kazuma and his party destroy the Destroyer and Kazuma lands in trouble for being the leader of the party that destroyed an aristocrat’s property. Typically, OVAs set between the events of two episodes, during the course of a series, serve to provide a glimpse at the characters’ daily comings-and-goings outside of the adventures that form a key part of the story. In the case of Kazuma, the first OVA shows him as being a less favourable character than one would like, and the misfortune that befalls him is oftentimes, a consequence of his own actions. However, while it is hard to feel sympathetic for what happens to Kazuma after he spends an entire episode abusing Wiz, Darkness, Megumin and Yunyun, what is known is that since Kazuma and Aqua are central to KonoSuba, I will need to wrap this talk on KonoSuba‘s first OVA pronto and get on watching the second season, which begins where the first season left off.

5 responses to “God’s Blessings on This Wonderful Choker: Review and Reflection on KonoSuba’s First OVA

  1. Dewbond April 11, 2020 at 00:17

    Megumin slapping Yunyun’s boobs always gets a laugh out of me, no matter how many times I see it.

    Like

  2. Pingback: Blogger Recognition Award – Voyager

  3. jsyschan April 12, 2020 at 22:26

    This OVA feels like Schrodinger’s Cat, in that I both want it to happen and not happen at the same time. In some deep way, Kazuma cares for them, but this OVA really shows some moments that really lend evidence to the contrary. It was still hilariously entertaining, and boy did he get his just deserts.

    Like

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