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Broken Blade: A Review and Reflection

“The enemy? His sense of duty was no less than yours, I deem. You wonder what his name is, where he comes from, and if he really was evil at heart. What lies or threats led him on this long march from home, or he would not rather have stayed there…in peace? War will make corpses of us all.” –Faramir, Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers

In a world where humans are born with the innate ability to manipulate quartz, Rygart Arrow is an un-sorcerer incapable of this power. He works on the family farm until the threat of warfare prompts King Hodr and Sigyn to invite Rygart to Binoten, Krishna’s capital. Here, Rygart learns that the neighbouring Kingdom of Athens intends to invade Krishna for their quartz reserves and intend to execute the royal family, including Sigyn. Their former friend, Zess, is part of an advance force to scout of Binoten’s defenses. Hodr also shows Rygart a mysterious Golem from an ancient era, and when Rygart demonstrates the ability to operate it, he becomes the Golem’s acting pilot. The horrors of warfare prompt him to leave, but General Baldr convinces Rygart to take responsibility for his actions. Rygart decides to stay, and continues piloting the Delphine into combat despite his lack of experience. The Delphine’s performance prompts Athens to send General Borcuse out: Borcuse is a talented strategist known for his brutality, and despite being under house arrest, Athens believes his methods will the most suitable for swiftly ending the war. As the outlook worsens for Krishna, they assign Girge (Baldr’s son) to Rygart’s squad, and Rygart continues training to familiarise himself with the Delphine. Meanwhile, General Borcuse has reached the Krishna border and single-handedly destroys much of the Krishna forces there, including General True. Baldr manages to rally his forces, and with Rygart’s help, forces Borcuse to retreat. Rygart later returns to his village against orders and finds that General Borcuse had slaughtered the inhabitants slaughtered. He engages Borcuse and is defeated: Borcuse believes that the Delphine’s exceptional engineering is behind its combat record, and orders it taken back to Athens, but is forced to retreat again when Krishna’s forces arrive. Borcuse’s subordinates, Io and Nike decide to strike, but Girge intervenes. He manages to defeat Bike, and sacrifices himself to save Rygart. His pride wounded, Borcuse decides to press an attack on Binoten, and although his forces manage to overwhelm the capital’s defenses, Borcuse himself is killed in a final confrontation with Rygart, whose Delphine is equipped with a crude but effective weapon. In the aftermath, Athens begins to withdraw, and Rygart learns that his younger brother is alive. Originally a manga that began running in 2006, Broken Blade was adapted into a six-part film in 2010-2011: the movies are is considered to be a faithful adaptation of the manga with the exception of the finale, which was re-written in a way as to offer more closure, whereas the manga is ongoing.

Broken Blade resembles Gundam Unicorn greatly: both series feature a reluctant pilot who gradually comes to take responsibility for entering the cockpit of an uncommonly powerful mecha. In Break Blade, Rygart finds himself pushed into war when Krishna, outmatched by the Golems Athens fields, is forced to fight for its survival. With its superior engineering and unique OS, the Delphine is a piece of hardware from an earlier time that far surpasses contemporary mecha, only responding to Rygart because he is an un-sorcerer. Because of this, Rygart’s inability to manipulate quartz suddenly renders him in a position to make a meaningful contribution towards saving Krishna and Sigyn. In spite of the horrors of war, such as witnessing an enemy pilot commit suicide rather than be captured and learning that General Baldr’s own son cracked under train and killed blue forces during an exercise, Rygart’s conviction is shaken. However, seeing first-hand the lives that stand to be saved and hearing Baldr’s wisdom ultimately convinces Rygart to rise to the occasion, and while Rygart never improves substantially as a pilot, his unorthodox methods result in the death of Borcuse, a key player in Athens’ military. The anime movies show that by choosing the more difficult route, which entails personal sacrifice, witnessing atrocity and and the loss of innocence, Rygart was able to spare Krishna of a bloodier war and the death of the royal family. Broken Blade thus shows that sacrifices made in the present are not always in vain; when Rygart accepts responsibility for his role in the conflict and steps into battle, he sees first-hand the horror and desolation of war, driving him to act in a way so as to reduce future bloodshed. Further to this, Rygart lacks any real understandings surrounding the complexities of warfare; his motivations for fighting stem from simply protecting his friends from the conflict. As such, while Rygart comes across as immature and inexperienced, his insights demonstrates how a naïve mind can underline the futility and pointlessness behind why wars are fought. Gundam Unicorn‘s themes, while considerably more broad and expansive, covered similar territory: Banagher similarly chooses to act as the Unicorn’s pilot and play his part in stopping Full Frontal from potentially creating a worse status quo for the Universal Century even if it means getting blood on his hands from the conflict.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • While Broken Blade is also known as Break Blade, I think that going with the official title would be more appropriate. I open this post with Rygart Arrow (Sōichirō Hoshi, from Gundam SEED‘s Kira Yamato and Higurashi‘s Keiichi Maebara) getting his first look at Binoten, capital of Krishna. The composition of this moment set the precedence for the sort of aesthetics that would define Broken Blade: the arid deserts, deep blue sky and vastness of constructs all serve to indicate to viewers that Broken Blade would be going big in its artistic style. The first movie caught my attention the same way Sora no Woto did with its landscapes – the two things that both series share in common are their incredibly detailed settings.

  • Upon reuniting, Sigyn, the current queen of Krisha and wife of King Hodr, holds Rygart at gunpoint. This is, of course, just Sigyn’s way of expressing herself. Sigyn, Holdr, Rygart and Zess had once been classmates, but went their separate ways after. Sigyn had feelings for Rygart, who reciprocated but felt that he would never be able to accommodate for Sigyn’s love of mechanical engineering and books with his background. Broken Blade‘s story deals both with the Athens invasion, Rygart’s attempts to stop the war and save Zess, and also deal with his own feelings pertaining Sigyn (Chiawa Saitō, Gundam 00‘s Louise Halevy and Francesca Luccini of Strike Witches).

  • Because this post is more of a reminiscence post, as opposed to a standard discussion, I’ll be using some of the figure captions to reflect on corresponding moments from when I’d first watched Broken Blade: the anime began its life as a movie adaptation of the manga that ran from 2010 to 2011. I’m actually not too sure how I came across the series: the first installment released in May 2010, a time when I was taking theory-based lessons for my operator’s license. Having spent most of the summer on a theory-driven course and practical lessons, I ended up delaying until the next year to take the road test itself.

  • I ended up practising most of May, and then in June, I took the road test. Aside from messing up parallel parking once and making a poor judgement call at a yield sign, the exam was very smooth. Watching Rygart learn the ropes behind the Delphine’s operation brought to mind my initial days with operating a vehicle: while I became sufficiently skilled just in time for the exam, I wouldn’t feel comfortable driving until a year later, when I’d driven out to the mountains for a much-needed vacation after the MCAT ended.

  • While viewers are natually inclined to root for Rygart because the story is seen from his viewpoint, it turns out the commander of the Artemis Squadron is Zess (Hiroshi Kamiya, Gundam 00‘s Tieria Erde); Zess had been friends with Rygart since his time at the academy, meeting after driving off some bullies. A top student, Zess also became acquainted with Hodr and Sigyn. In the present, he commands the Artemis squadron and desires to bring the two countries back from the brink of war swiftly to spare his old friends from the brunt of the fighting.

  • Despite being a decade old, Broken Blade looks amazing: the artwork and animation both impress. Landscapes look photorealistic at times, and capturing the aridity of the region surrounding Krishna to really immerse viewers in this distinct fantasy universe. The Golems themselves were animated to a very high standard: from scratches and chips on armour, to cracking and shattering of quartz components, every fight is visceral and brutal.

  • One unexpected piece about Broken Blade was the inclusion of moments that accentuate just how shapely Sigyn (and later, Cleo) is. The ending of the first film indicates that neither Hodr or Sigyn are truly in love with one another, which allows the story to explore Sigyn’s relationship with Rygart more openly without introducing unnecessary conflict. Indeed, the bulk of the conflict in Broken Blade, outside of clashing national interests, lies with Rygart and his reluctance to participate in warfare.

  • Because neither Zess or Rygart desire war, Zess’ initial inclination is to try and talk it out with Rygart: neither are fully aware of the situation that politicians have created. However, when the brash General True arrives and begins firing on Zess, Zess immediately retreats, and Rygart duels with Lee instead. In the chaos, Lee’s Golem is damaged, but while Rygart attempts to talk the pilot from killing Lee outright, Lee instead kills him, Rygart disables her Golem, but she commits suicide, fearing that the Krishna will subject her to torture.

  • Rygart starts his journey as a highly unskilled pilot whose exploits are only made possible by his incredibly advanced Golem. Broken Blade‘s animation was sufficiently impressive such that one of my friends, a Gundam fan whose knowledge of the franchise is only rivaled by fans from Japan and the writers themselves, commented that Broken Blade was comparable to Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans in premise and technology, but ultimately, has better fight choreography and less teen drama.

  • For both my friend and myself, the Golem combat was probably the most enjoyable aspect of Broken Blade, since it represented such a departure from the high-speed combat of Gundam. Instead, strictly ground-based combat results in battles that, per my friend’s wording, resemble medieval sieges, with robots in place of armoured knights. My friend was particularly impressed with how detailed the Golems themselves were, and enjoyed watching the engagements, feeling the pressure guns to resemble crossbows and the way swords are mounted on each Golem.

  • Being a veteran of many wars, General Baldr imparts his wisdom upon Rygart: after witnessing the horrors of warfare for the first time, first-hand, Rygart decides to stand down, feeling it too much to handle. Earlier, Baldr warns Rygart that taking an opponent alive is far more difficult than striking them down, and here, he implores Rygart to stay and take responsibility for what he’s started. Rygart initially refuses, but upon seeing Hodr resigned to his fate and accepting Rygart’s decision anyways, Rygart decides to stick around and formally becomes the pilot of the Delphine.

  • While Rygart trains to become familiar with the Delphine’s unusual systems, I am reminded of first learning to drive. As every pilot experiences, no amount of theory and simulation can quite match the exhilaration and fear of getting behind the wheel for the first time: even at 40 kilometres per hour, the world moves by very quickly, and one feels like they aren’t always in control of their vehicle. Experience and learning the techniques will soon curb this uncertainty: for me, I drilled endlessly in an open parking lot to get the hang of a vehicle’s acceleration and braking, as well as its turn radius.

  • The trickiest thing about driving initially is being confident that the vehicle will stop and go precisely at one’s command. The general rule is to always look in the direction one intends to head towards, and in situations of doubt, cover the brake. Stopping safely is achieved by slowly and steadily applying force to the brakes. Once a good grasp of the vehicle mechanics is learnt, I would suggest learning the basics of parking: angle parking, hill parking and parallel parking all demand a strong understanding of where one’s vehicle is and its intended direction. Here, Rygart leaps into the air after disengaging the heavy armour Sigyn had equipped the Delphine with: Broken Blade is so-named after the fact that the Delphine has a single horn similar to that of the RX-0 Unicorn Gundam, albeit a broken one.

  • The Delphine’s abilities allow Rygart to kill one of the Artemis-class Golems and disable Zess swiftly. However, against Cleo, whose heart is filled with determination to defeat the Delphine, Rygart is outmatched. She knocks him down and squres off against Baldr’s Golems, defeating a handful before Baldr fights Cleo to a draw, prompting her squad-mates to order her retreat. Narvi manages to snipe her mid-retreat, blowing off a leg and leading to Cleo’s capture. The page quote was sourced from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – the first three movies had a much more complex nuance about warfare, but once Borcuse is introduced, right and wrong become much more black and white in nature.

  • Necessity forces Athens to redact its charges against the brutal General Borcuse, whose war crimes in a previous war led to his arrest. With its world-building, characters and inclusion of a powerful mecha surpassing its peers, Broken Blade resembles Gundam Unicorn in many areas. At the time I watched Broken Blade, only three of the Gundam Unicorn movies had been released, whereas all of the Broken Blade films were available. If memory serves, I finished the series off in May 2011, a time when I had been starting summer research. At that point, I’d fallen out of practise with hill parking and parallel parking, so I ended up taking some supplementary lessons prior to taking the road test.

  • My first road test would have been ten years ago, and I remember being quite nervous despite having spent the morning going through the exam route. In the end, I lost points for taking an extra attempt at parallel parking and for waiting too long at a yield sign, but other than that, I ended up doing okay. I thus surrendered my old Class VII, received an interim license and was told I’d get my physical license two weeks later. Broken Blade reminds me of this experience, since Rygart’s initial ineptitude with the Delphine paralleled my own difficulty in getting a vehicle to go precisely where I wanted it to go.

  • Sigyn believes that Cleo would be more open about the Artemis’ mechanics if she were treated as a guest rather than a prisoner of war: rather than send her to the brig, Sigyn arranges for Cleo to lodge with her, but this initially turns out to be a bad decision. Cleo overpowers Sigyn and takes her sidearm, with the aim of shooting Rygart in the head and escaping, but when it turns out Sigyn, like Captain Keyes, doesn’t keep it loaded, Cleo is swiftly recaptured and returned to Sigyn’s quarters without incident.

  • The pistols in Broken Blade are scaled-down versions of the pressure guns that Golems use in combat: they use a quartz-powered mechanism to accelerate projectiles at a great velocity, and different types of pressure guns are shown to exist. Rygart’s inability to manipulate quartz means that he is unable to fire a pressure gun of any calibre, and while operating the Delphine, his primary loadout will consist of standard melee weapons, as well as heavier gear that Sigyn custom-designs for the Delphine. My friend remarks that the Delphine’s advanced technology is such that a Gundam-like beam rifle would not seem out of place, although I note that giving the Delphine something like a beam rifle would shift the balance so dramatically that Rygart could’ve engaged and defeated the entire Athens army on his own.

  • Baldr’s son, Girge is introduced as the situation in Krishna deteriorates: while a brilliant Golem pilot, Girge is considered unstable after an incident where he unexpectedly killed a friendly pilot and then proceeded to disable every Golem in the exercise without harming their pilots. Girge was subsequently incarcerated, but is brought back out to help Krishna out. His unusual personality stems from a lifetime of attempting to meet the expectations of those around him, and in practise, he’s very reserved, although he speaks poorly of those he deems weaker than himself.

  • When Borcuse’s unit is introduced, they decimate General True (who dies at Nike’s hands when she crushes his Golem, splitting it in two). Later, Baldr encounters Borcuse’s forces and approves for a strike force to engage Borcuse’s units, but when they are slaughtered, Baldr is forced to reconsider. He manages to rally his men’s spirits from fear to anger: Borcuse notes that Baldr is very by-the-book, and as a pilot, Baldr is highly skilled: despite piloting a Golem inferior in performance to anything Athens possesses, he manages to hold his own against the speedier Artemis, as seen when he engages Cleo in a one-on-one.

  • It becomes apparent that Krishna’s Fefnir-class Golem, despite being the latest model, is completely outmatched by Athens’ top Golems. Against the Artemis-class and their superior firepower, most Fefnirs can be destroyed in two shots: the Artemis lacks armour, but can move fast enough to avoid being hit. Borcuse’s elite Golem squad can similarly demolish Fefnir-class Golems trivially, although against standard Athens units, the Fefnir fares a little better. However, when operated by skilled pilots, the lumbering Fefnir are able to keep up even against superior opponents.

  • Narvi is one of the best pilots available in the Krishna forces: besides sporting a great deal of respect for General True and being a brash pilot, she’s also confident and bold on the battlefield, preferring to be in the middle of the combat as a result of her desire to prove her mettle. Marina Inoue voices Narvi: after Broken Blade, Inoue would also voice Infinite Stratos‘ Laura Bodewig and Sakura Kagamihara of Yuru Camp△.

  • Over time, Cleo begins to realise that Krishna’s people are no different than those of Athens’, and develops a friendship with Sigyn. One of the themes in Broken Blade is that warfare amongst humanity often results in combatants forgetting their opponent is human, and as a result, creates atrocities of unimaginable scale. This is a recurring element in Gundam, especially in the Universal Century and Cosmic Era: the cycle of revenge and hatred requires an extraordinary occurrence to break, and even then, lingering feelings of resentment often trigger new conflict.

  • Borcuse’s Hykelion is one of the most powerful Golems in the whole of Broken Blade: this highly customised unit’s greatest weapon are a pair of scorpion tail-like jointed weapons that can be used as arms to seize weapons or pierce an enemy’s armour. Borcuse conceals his Golem in a vast cloak luring his enemies into closing the distance before unleashing the scorpion tails to devastate them. Against Rygart, Borcuse is more curious than antagonistic, intending to test out the Delphine’s and Rygart’s capabilities.

  • Having slaughtered an entire village just to goad Rygart into attacking (and therefore showing off what the Delphine’s capabilities are), Borcuse fights Rygart under a blood-red sunset. It soon becomes clear to Borcuse that the Delphine’s performance was a result of its exceptional hardware: Rygart is still inexperienced and brash, charging towards his opponents and counting on the Delphine’s durability to carry the day. Broken Blade excels at showing that a superior machine has its limits when going up against a superior pilot; bored of Rygart’s lack of skill, Borcuse disables the Delphine and orders it returned to Athens.

  • Some four years after I received by probationary operator’s license, I would go and obtain my full operator’s license: this license is required for obtaining commercial licenses and also lifts restrictions imposed on the probationary license. Most of my friends were not particularly keen on the full license because it involved parallel parking: during the early summer, I took the vehicle out to the same open lots in a nearby industrial park to practise parallel parking, and a few weeks later, I took the exam. This time around, I was completely at ease with operating a range of vehicles and completed every section of the driving test without difficulty: the examiner remarked it was a perfect exam.

  • Before Borcuse’s men can cut the cockpit hatch away, Rygart manages to regain consciousness and escapes with cover fire from allied forces. However, Borcuse’s squad gives chase and takes them out of the fight. Girge arrives and briefly duels Rygart, but switches his attention to Borcuse’s squad: he destroys Nike’s Golem and kicks Rygart away into a canyon, saving him at the last second from the advancing Athens forces at the cost of his own life. Owing to the pacing in Broken Blade, Girge remained one of those characters who would’ve benefited greatly from additional screen time to build his background and motivation out further.

  • Surprised at having been outwitted, Borcuse ignores orders from Athens to await the remainder of the invasion force and heads straight for Binoten with the aim of capturing it single-handedly. In the aftermath of the battle, Rygart comes to terms with Girge’s death, and having seen so much death at Borcuse’s hands, the final battle becomes personal for Rygart. When he returns to Binoten, he arrives just ahead of Borcuse, whose forces begin an onslaught on the capital. Even without the main force, Borcuse begins overwhelming the city’s defenses. Sigyn and Cleo say goodbye here.

  • In their final showdown, Rygart is driven purely by hatred and anger: as the two exchange blows, Borcuse finds himself completely perplexed at Rygart’s choice of actions during the fighting and deduces that he’s one of the un-sorcerers. Having never trained for such an eventuality, Rygart’s lack of experience in conventional warfare is what allows him to surprise Borcuse and deal damage to the Hykelion where no other pilot had previously succeeded. When Sigyn arrives with a massive shuriken, Borcuse laughs it off as a barbaric weapon and manages to evade most of the attacks, but ends up sustaining a hit that disables the shuriken. Rygart ultimately kills Borcuse, and with his death, the remaining Athens forces begin to withdraw.

  • Rygart, meanwhile, reunites with his younger brother, bringing the anime movie to an end. The manga is still ongoing, and the anime needed to fudge a few things in order to wrap things up neatly. With this being said, I still find the ending quite satisfactory, and overall, Broken Blade is a series I can recommend to people, earning an A- (3.7 of 4, or 8.5 of 10) in my books. With a compelling story and animation that stands up even a decade later, plus strong world building, Broken Blade is a fun series to watch. In ten years, the series has aged very gracefully, and my praises for Broken Blade do not appear to have been impacted by nostalgia: this is a solid option for fans of mecha series looking for something a little different, and the only knock I have against the series is that it could’ve done with one more episode, the same way Gundam Unicorn did, to flesh out character development further.

While thematically similar to Gundam Unicorn, Broken Blade differentiates itself in its unique setting. The world-building in Broken Blade is excellent, from the application of quartz in everyday life to military application, and its significance as an industrial resource to the point where nations are willing to spill blood to secure it. Quartz is so integrated into life that from things as simple as a coffee machine, right up to military hardware, all utilise quartz in some way. The Golems themselves are thoughtfully presented in Broken Blade: owing to their engineering and construction, they are incapable of sustained flight, and this prompts Golem combat to play out in a completely different manner than in something like Gundam Unicorn. The quartz-based technology leads to chaotic and bloody combat sequences between Golems, where engagements are fought with pressure guns at range and melee combat at close quarters. The physical nature of each engagement sees bullets chip away armour, blades cracking from use and entire Golems crumbling into scraps when defeated. Coupled with the stand-out portrayal of the rocky, arid terrain surrounding Binoten and vivid skies, the world that Rygart lives in is a tough one, but also one where the inhabitants have found a way to survive. Broken Blade excels in presenting these smaller details along with Rygart’s journey as a pilot and his determination in saving Sigyn, Hodr and Zess from a complex war that none want to be a part of. Altogether, Despite its age, Broken Blade is something that I can recommend to viewers who are fans of mecha series with a fantasy piece to it: Broken Blade represents an engaging journey that I certainly enjoyed, being a series with engaging world-building and characters, exceptional visuals and riveting combat sequences.

The Otafest Question: Insights Into Anime Culture From An Older Era Through Lucky☆Star

“The TV show ended by saying how young people are becoming increasingly illiterate, but doesn’t browsing the Internet and blogging actually improve your literacy?” – Konata Izumi

Konata Izumi is a high school otaku who lives in Kasukabe, Saitama. A devout fan of anime and games, Konata prefers to indulge in her hobbies rather than pursue her studies, but in spite of this, always manages to get by. With her friends, twin sisters Kagami and Tsukasa Hiiragi, and the gentle but wealthy Miyuki Takara, the girls live out their high school days peacefully, from exams and sports events, to culture festivals and summer break. As the girls move into their final year of high school, the first years, Yutaka Kobayakawa, Minami Iwasaki, Hiyori Tamura and Patricia Martin, join the girls’ ranks. This is Lucky☆Star; originally a four-panel manga serialised to Comptiq from 2003, an anime adaptation was produced and ran from April to September of 2007. Author Kagami Yoshimizu originally conceived of the series as being a portrayal of ordinary high school life with a focus on the anime subculture and its members, otaku: when it was brought to life by Kyoto Animation, Lucky☆Star immediately became a smash hit despite lacking a central narrative and theme. The series presents the unique humour present in the lives of otaku, who immediately related to the circumstances that Konata experiences. Even for fans of the slice-of-life genre, Lucky☆Star comes across as being a very niche series, designed to appeal to those with familiarity surrounding the otaku subculture: there are numerous references to older series like G Gundam, as well as popular contemporary series like The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, and so, viewers begin to appreciate Kagami, Tsukasa and Miyuki’s presence, as they serve to help put Konata’s non sequitur thought processes in a more relatable manner. Unconventional by all regards, Lucky☆Star became a surprising success during its run. Thirteen years later, Lucky☆Star has aged gracefully, retaining its entertainment value, but the anime now also provides a glimpse into the anime community of a time immediately before Apple revolutionised the face of communications with its first iPhone.

Lucky☆Star portrays the otaku subculture as it was during the mid-2000s. This was when the internet began moving towards the level of ubiquity and robustness that we currently see but had not quite reached that point. Online discussions were becoming more commonplace, but networks had not quite reached the point where watching anime was as simple as streaming from an online service. In this time of transition, Konata swings by a local bookstore to buy manga volumes, watches her anime from television channels and, but utilises the internet for discussing the latest episode of a series, as well as learn of upcoming anime-related events and specials. Kagami, a more moderate fan, often accompanies Konata to the bookstore to check out manga and light novels available, too. It’s is a time where anime, manga and games were consumed in a different fashion, certainly one that was much slower-paced, and consequently, the different extents one could be involved with the anime subculture were more distinct. On one hand, Konata embodies the dedicated fan, an otaku who embraces the internet to keep up to date with everything related to her interests. By comparison, Kagami, while still partaking in anime, games light novels and manga of her choice, does not participate in online discussions or keep a close eye on anime-and-manga-related events. Despite the disparity in their level of engagement with fandom, and despite not always seeing eye-to-eye, Konata and Kagami are able to have real-world conversations together and participate in events together. This tangible interaction helps them to understand the other better. Kagami is able to keep up with Konata in discussions, and the two do genuinely care for one another, going to great lengths to do favours and look out for one another. Lucky☆Star suggests that the real-life dynamics between otaku who interact face-to-face have a nontrivial, positive impact on one another: this is a bit of a nostalgic trip that indicates that in spite of varied opinions about their hobby, anime fans ultimately share more similarities than differences, and that the face-to-face component is a very strong piece of fostering this sense of camaraderie.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Lucky☆Star‘s episodes features four main characters: from left to right, we’ve got Konata Izumi (Aya Hirano), Tsukasa Hiiragi (Kaori Fukuhara), Kagami Hiiragi (Erimi Katō) and Miyuki Takara (Aya Endō). Most episodes deal with their everyday lives and as such, portray mundane conversations in vivid detail: the topic of these conversations are small scale remarks about life, ranging from favourite foods to minor inconveniences, and their associated humour. Because these moments are mundane, I can’t remember what each and every conversation is about, so the figure captions in this post will deal with a separate set of topics I’d like to go over, most of which are tangentially related to Lucky☆Star.

  • Of everyone, Kagami and Konata have the most screen-time. Despite the dramatic difference in their personality, which is reflected in the fact they’re prodding fun at the other half the time, the two are more similar than they’d care to admit. Konata might be lazy and unmotivated unless anime, manga and games are brought up, but she holds out well enough in school. Kagami is motivated and determined, performing well in school, but in her downtime, she has the same hobbies as Konata.

  • The flat, simplistic style of Lucky☆Star means that, curiously enough, the anime has aged remarkably well: Kyoto Animation produced Lucky☆Star in 2007, and the manga itself began running in 2003. Portraying the sensibilities and styles of a much older world, Lucky☆Star‘s unique aesthetic, and Kyoto Animation’s technical skill in capturing this style, means that even today, the anime doesn’t look particularly dated. While Lucky☆Star might not be Kyoto Animation’s most impressive production from a visual standpoint, they did an excellent job of bringing the manga to life.

  • Lucky☆Star is quite unlike any series that I’ve previously watched in the sense that, over its run, there is no long-term goal, and the characters do not develop in a more traditional sense: Konata remains lazy, Miyuki is consistently moé, Tsukasa stays air-headed, and Kagami’s tsundere mannerisms persist throughout the series’ entire run. This is a deliberate choice, as static, flat characters provide reliable and consistent comedy. While the characters themselves do not change, Lucky☆Star does take some time to present everyone in different contexts to show that everyone does have more to them than their mannerisms when everyone is together.

  • Because Lucky☆Star is “an anime about nothing”, the longstanding assertion, that “Lucky☆Star is anime Seinfeld“, has endured over the years. This holds water prima facie: both series have mundane conversations, superficial conflict and cast of characters with unique dispositions. However, this is where the similarities end: whereas Lucky☆Star and Seinfeld share in common the goal of conveying humour, both series go about doing so in a completely different manner. Seinfeld‘s characters are unlikable by design, and so, the comedy surrounding them stems from the situational irony of what they do and experience on-screen.

  • By comparison, Lucky☆Star uses non-sequitur humour, gags and a parody of the otaku subculture to drive its humour. The characters of Lucky☆Star are more likeable, so the viewer’s source of humour comes from laughing with the characters. Seinfeld‘s characters are created such that viewers laugh at them whenever something comedic happens. This fundamental difference means that the claim, “Lucky☆Star is anime Seinfeld“, does not hold. To further build on this point, Seinfeld is not about nothing, and episodes there have a self-contained plot: Lucky☆Star, on the other hand, simply shows various, everyday experiences that Konata, Kagami, Tsukasa and Miyuki go through.

  • I believe that this comparison has its origins at Victor-Tango-Victor, where there appeared to be enough commonalities such that some folks figured they could create a new meme from it, and this was something that gained enough momentum to be applied to Azumanga Daioh. The exact origin of who precisely began this meme is lost to time, but the notion that any slice-of-life anime is a Japanese version of Seinfeld with high school girls erroneously endures to this day. In fact, the meme has inappropriately set the expectation that all slice-of-life anime necessarily must be funny in order to be worth watching.

  • Whether or not a slice-of-life anime should be judged for its comedic value depends largely on the author’s intention. Granted, many four-panel series utilise their format to set up a punchline and tell quick stories, but what some folks have missed is that over time, some four-panel manga (and their anime adaptations) do wrap up. Azumanga Daioh was humourous because the premise of an elementary student being bumped up to high school creates unique scenarios, but it also dealt with the ending of high school, and in retrospect, all of the experiences leading up to graduation suddenly become more than just comedy. As it stands, humour is only one part of how good a slice-of-life series is, and looking at nothing more than whether or not a series is laugh-out-loud funny is to approach slice-of-life with a very closed mind.

  • On the other hand, because Lucky☆Star is built around gags, non-sequiturs and other forms of humour, whether or not the series succeeded in its delivery is dependent on whether or not the viewer finds it funny. This is why Lucky☆Star‘s reception is so varied: folks unfamiliar with otaku or the style of humour in the series will not enjoy things as much as those who do enjoy the series’ style and/or have background in the anime subculture. There isn’t a right or wrong way of watching Lucky☆Star, and one’s own enjoyment of the series will largely depend on the individual and the extent they relate to otaku subculture.

  • My favourite moment in Lucky☆Star involves a door and static electricity: after Kagami, Tsukasa and Miyuki get shocked, Kagami shouts out “no!” when Kanata reaches for the door, only for Kanata to reply “yes” and then open the door without getting shocked. The joke flows well, incorporates a bit of English into the scene for additional laughs, and also sets up a conversation that follows into a moment that takes the joke further with Konata’s father. With static electricity, I find that susceptibility might be related to how one walks, rather than though one’s hobby as Kagamin suggests; a certain gait makes it more likely to pick up an accumulation of negative charge.

  • In 2007, otaku culture was something that still remained relatively unknown: the word otaku (おたく) is a word that the Japanese use to refer to an individual with a very distinct set of interests (equivalent to “geek” in North American English). Originally derived from the word for referring to someone’s house (お宅), columnist Ansaku Shibahara ended up popularising its colloquial usage, after seeing the original usage of otaku amongst those with a predisposition towards social awkwardness. Thus, Shibahara chose the phrase to light-heartedly refer to unpleasant fans, and almost immediately, otaku had a negative association from murders in the late 1980s.

  • English usage of the term otaku came with the 1988 release of Gunbuster (parodied as “Bun Guster” in Lucky☆Star), and while it bears some negativity, modern usage of the term refers to the general community of anime fans, and more broadly, anyone with an interest in Japanese popular culture. As it stands, Lucky☆Star‘s various anime references and the like present otaku as simply dedicated fans of anime and manga with eccentricities; over time, negativity surrounding the term has lessened somewhat, and more people in Japan now count themselves as an otaku of something.

  • Konata embodies the stereotypical traits of an otaku: utterly obsessed with anime, manga, games, merchandise and special events like Comiket, Konata goes to incredible lengths to enjoy her hobby. Her mind is so focused that she makes otaku references in everyday conversation, much to Kagami’s annoyance. However, as a person, Konata is on the whole, easygoing and likeable: otaku have previously been counted as being unsociable, but in Konata’s case, she will hang out with her friends and those around her when the moment calls for it, even if she would otherwise rather spend her time watching anime, reading manga or going through some visual novel.

  • I count myself as being closer to Kagami in how deep into the anime and games fandom I am, and there are some dedicated otaku out there whose devotion to their hobby blow my mind. With this being said, the anime communities that I am aware of, or actively participate in, are among the most inviting and friendly: beyond the community of anime bloggers and the group I follow on Twitter, courtesy Jon Spencer Reviews, Dewbond, Moyatorium, Crow’s Anime World and countless others, I also am a semi-active participant in the local anime community, having both attended and volunteered at the area’s premiere anime convention, Otafest.

  • Curiously enough, were it not for Lucky☆Star, it is actually unlikely I would still be an anime fan, and therefore, would not have visited the local anime convention. The story is that after Gundam 00 ended, I became busy with acclimatising to life as a university student, and in order to keep up with coursework, I didn’t watch anime at all. However, I ran into an interesting fellow in my discrete math class and ended up befriending him. It turned out that he was a fan of Kyoto Animation’s works, and an avid gamer himself, but unlike me and my lack of creativity, he also made YouTube mashups of his favourite series (Team Fortress 2, K-On!, The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi and Lucky☆Star).

  • Ten years ago would’ve marked the first time he’d visited Otafest: Otafest 2010 was unique in that it was the first time voice actress Michelle Ruff (Yuki Nagato of The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi) was a special guest, and my friend was very excited about being able to get her autograph. However, on the day of the Q & A panel, he’d forgotten to bring his camera, and therefore did not have a chance to film it. Back then, Otafest was held on university grounds, and in the months subsequent, he returned to campus to film re-enactments of the Q & A panel. During this time of year, with classes over, the university is much quieter, allowing for this to be a relatively easy task.

  • I came across his videos during the mid-summer, when I had been a ways into my summer research, and my interest in both the anime depicted, and Otafest itself, was piqued. That summer, I picked up Real Drive, which rekindled my interest in anime beyond Gundam 00. After Awakening of the Trailblazer came out in December, I decided to give the two series that had featured prominently in my friend’s mashups a go: Lucky☆Star and The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi. Lucky☆Star felt like it had a lower barrier of entry, and so I began watching that first. In retrospect, this was the better decision, since that winter semester turned out to be the toughest that I’d faced yet. In the end, I ended up finishing Lucky☆Star and transitioned over to K-On!, which, in conjunction with studying with my friends, helped me to survive that term.

  • The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi is frequently referenced in Lucky☆Star: aside from the fact that Konata and Haruhi are both voiced by Aya Hirano, Lucky☆Star is also produced by Kyoto Animation. This entry into Kyoto Animation’s works would eventually result in my checking out CLANNAD and Kanon, which respectively accompanied me through the MCAT and early stages of my undergraduate thesis. While my friend probably doesn’t know this, his Otafest vlogs ended up having a notable impact on my trajectory: after going through both Lucky☆Star and The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi a year after discovering his videos, I realised that easygoing slice-of-life series and Kyoto Animation’s works were my party, perfectly suited for reducing stress.

  • My friend would later bring a camera to subsequent events and present the more interesting moments of Otafest in vlogs; these ended up leading me to consider checking things out, and a few years later, I ended up inviting a few friends to Otafest. The first year was a bit of a gong-show, but a year later, superior coordination and knowledge allowed me to line everything up, and I coordinated a group of eight to visit the premiere attractions that year: Yū Asakawa was in attendance, and enough of my friends were excited to be interested in going. In order to make it worthwhile for everyone, I also decided to make reservations for the immensely popular Maid Café, best known for its combination of providing tea in conjunction with a live performance. That Otafest ended up being a superb event, and all of my friends left with an overwhelmingly positive experience, plus Asakawa’s autograph.

  • As Lucky☆Star wears on, additional characters join the main cast: Minami, Yutaka, Patricia and Hiyori are first year students that join later in the series, and like the interactions with Konata’s party, Yutaka’s group is similarly varied and eccentric. Because Lucky☆Star‘s setup as a four-panel manga is timeless, the series has aged very gracefully overall: the manga is ongoing, and the latest chapters are relatable, current. The anime’s place in the sun thus becomes unique: because it wrapped up in 2007, it is, in effect, a snapshot into the anime community of the early-to-mid 2000s.

  • To be an otaku in Japan, during the early 2000s, then, was to enjoy things at a much slower rate than we currently know it. Konata and Kagami browse through manga and light novels at the bookstore, catch anime on TV, and go to specialty shops to purchase games and merchandise. Before high-quality streaming services and internet delivery had not been prevalent, fans could take the time to really stop and appreciate a work: in the present day, ubiquitous internet makes it possible to keep up with a near-infinite pool of anime and order things in the comfort of one’s home.

  • Lucky☆Star thus evokes a sense of nostalgia for the older anime community and its means when watched. While the world of visiting a store for merchandise and watching an anime on TV is far removed from how overseas fans partake in the hobby, there is, in fact, one way to experience the anime subculture with a very high degree of immersion and authenticity, as Konata and Kagami know it. This is by attending an anime convention like Otafest, where physically being around folks with similar interests, anime panels and screenings, cosplayers and merchants really forces one to slow down and take it all in.

  • In a manner of speaking, then, one could simultaneously say that Lucky☆Star allows one to enjoy a scaled-back anime convention atmosphere, and that to experience the anime subculture to the same extent as Konata and Kagami, as Lucky☆Star portrays it, one only needs to attend their local anime convention. This year, Otafest (and undoubtedly, many other anime conventions) was cancelled owing to the world health crisis, and while members of the community were disappointed, people also understand the importance of the measures taken to ensure everyone’s safety. The remark, that there’s a little bit of anime convention in all fans, holds true: people continued to channel the positive energy associated with Otafest, expressing a promise to attend in 2021.

  • While most of Lucky☆Star is set in Saitama, one memorable episode has Konata and her friends on a class trip to the Kyoto area, where they visit locations like Nara Park and Ginkakuji before their final day allows everyone to explore freely. During my visit to Kyoto three years ago, Kinkakuji was the prime attraction of the morning, and despite it being a rainy day, the temple itself looked amazing anyways. I ended up enjoying a macha ice cream while strolling the park and got a few photographs of the Kinkakuji from precisely the spot where Yui, Mio, Ritsu and Mugi took their group photo in K-On!! despite the crowds. After having shabu-shabu for lunch at Torihasa near Maruyama Park, it was off to Nara Park and Osaka.

  • It turns out that the deer at Nara Park are as forward as shown in Lucky☆Star: I saw a deer snatch and eat a pamphlet from another visitor who had been feeding the deer but ran out of the deer crackers. During the course of the trip, Kagami receives what appears to be a love letter from a male classmate and becomes contemplative, wondering what’s happening. She’s so lost in thought that Konata’s usual antics do not elicit a response, but it turns out the boy had been looking to ask Kagami for a favour, and in the aftermath, Kagami is embarrassed beyond words.

  • Konata uses their free day to visit Kyoto Animation’s offices around the Kyoto area, including their head office and second studio in Uji. Having meticulously planned out their excursion, Konata is able to take everyone to these seemingly-ordinary locations without any trouble, and remarks that to avoid disturbing the staff, they’ll just remain outside. Kyoto Animation is known for being a top-tier animation studio, with salaried employees who are encouraged to focus on quality of their key frames, and as such, developed a reputation as a prestigious studio to work for. However, Kyoto Animation has seen their share of In July 2009, an arsonist doused himself in gasoline and lit the first studio on fire. This tragedy killed 36 and injured an additional 34: while the suspect was arrested, no criminal charges have been formally pressed, and Kyoto Animation has since set their efforts to rebuilding, aided by help from a dedicated and caring community as well as the Japanese government.

  • Lucky☆Star‘s soundtrack was never released in album format, and was instead, bundled with the DVD volumes: this is often the method taken for series that are geared towards the more dedicated of fans. The music itself in Lucky☆Star is remarkably varied: from parodies of action series and games, to tunes evocative of humour, and everyday slice-of-life pieces, music in Lucky☆Star is of a reasonably high quality. My favourite pieces are the slice-of-life pieces such as “Minami’s Theme” and “Ran Ran Da Yo”. One of the best uses of the soundtrack in Lucky☆Star to convey humour occurs when the music goes out of tune in response to an action on-screen.

  • One aspect of Lucky☆Star that I deliberately have not covered is the Lucky☆Channel segment that wraps up every episode. While driven by humour, I’ve never found it to be too enjoyable. From a personal standpoint, I found Akira Kogami a lot less likable than the main cast; she sports a friendly and energetic façade that quickly gives way to antipathy about most everything. Before this post wraps up, I should also justify the choice of page quote: it is chosen for the fact that there is truth in Konata’s claim, and that personally, my entry into anime blogging correlated with my improved confidence in writing. At least, this mostly holds true: while bloggers are among the best company I’ve kept, those who browse the internet will find that one-liners and memes have displaced proper discussion in some places.

  • As Lucky☆Star neared the end of its run, Patricia feels it appropriate for everyone to do a cheerleading routine during the school’s cultural festival on top of their class’ activities. It’s a tall order and initially starts off roughly, but things materialise once Konata is bribed and manages to convince the reluctant Kagami to participate. This moment allows all of the core characters of Lucky☆Star to be shown on screen at once: from left to right, z-ordering independent, we have Hiyori, Kagami, Konata, Tsukasa, Patricia, Misao, Yutaka, Ayano, Minami and Miyuki.

  • Lucky☆Channel notwithstanding, Lucky☆Star is an entertaining anime, and while its jokes might not be for everyone, there is a certain charm to the series for being able to bring out nostalgia for a different time, for when things were slower-paced and simpler in some ways. With this post in the books, my next talk is going to be for Halo 2‘s campaign: I ended up beating the campaign in record time on account of both knowing the missions well and a desire to get to playing the multiplayer. This Halo 2 post will mark the final post of May; as it is a rather lengthy one that will take a bit of time to wrap up, I wish to give it proper attention. Further to this, owing to the global health crisis, the city-wide science fair I was originally set to volunteer as a judge at moved to an online format, and at the time of writing, I’ve just wrapped up assessing all of the health projects. Most of them are impressive, and I will aim to take a look at the remaining technology projects before finalising my submission.

Through Lucky☆Star, one gains a modicum of insight into the world of anime culture prior to the propagation of broadband internet and smartphones: the anime community would’ve been a bit more tightly-knit, and this closeness would have extended into the real world. While this closeness is diminishing, as more anime fans move their interests into virtual space, there are some events and venues that still channel the atmosphere surrounding the anime subculture as seen in Lucky☆Star: the anime convention is one such event, bringing fans together to celebrate their hobby. From browsing through the manga, anime and merchandise in the vendors hall, to seeing cosplayers and the immense amount of effort they put into their costumes, as well as the more dedicated panels that showcase how to paint plastic models and specialty features like a Maid Café, the sort of world that Konata and Kagami experienced in Lucky☆Star are, for a few days of the year, brought to life by the efforts of dedicated and committed convention staff. Specialty shops that sell anime and manga along with Japanese merchandise, also create this feeling at a smaller scale, and for the intrepid, a visit to Akihabara will show that the anime subculture, as Lucky☆Star presents it, is still very much alive. Of course, anime conventions don’t happen every day, and trips to Japan can be prohibitively costly, so it is unsurprising that, despite lacking a cohesive narrative and central theme, Lucky☆Star has endured after all this time: its charms come from illustrating the anime community from an older time, and the nostalgia surrounding this period is something that viewers may find worthwhile in revisiting.

Defense and Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning in Bofuri: A Whole-series Review and Recommendation

“Yeah. It takes us a while to get any traction, I’ll give you that one. But let’s do a head count, here: an invincible shield maiden, a lightning-fast swashbuckler, an elegant samurai, some dude who’d died and came back a thousand times, a master crafter, a genius mage with stunning puzzle solving skills, and two hammer-wielding brawlers. And you, big fella, you’ve managed to piss off every single one of them.”

“That was the plan.”

“Not a great plan. When they come, and they will, they’ll come for you.”

“I have an army.”

“We have a Maple.”

–Tony Stark and Loki, The Avengers

Kaede Honjō is a high school student who is introduced to New World Online (NWO), a VRMMORPG, on a recommendation from her best friend, Risa Shiramine. While an absolute novice in games, Kaede spins up her character, Maple, and begins exploring the world. Because she fears sustaining damage, Maple invests all of her skill points into vitality, and while her build initially appears ill-suited for NWO, she begins exploring uncommon ways of making things work. After Risa passes her exams, she joins Maple as Sally and decides to specialise in a swashbuckler class that maximises agility. During the course of exploring NWO, Maple and Sally participate in several events that bolster their infamy, and they create Maple Tree, a guild of a similarly eclectic members that Maple and Sally had met in their adventures, each with their own unique skill sets and roles. Word of Maple’s guild results in a highly spirited guild-based event, and in the aftermath, celebrate a time well-spent with their new-found friends from rival guilds. The game’s administrators, having long been concerned with Maple’s ascent, decide to leave her be, since she’s become a powerful advertising tool for the game, encouraging players to pick NWO up to either team up with her and explore, or otherwise power-level with the hope of besting her in PvP one day. This is Bofuri: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense (Japanese title Itai no wa Iya nano de gyoryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu, Bofuri for brevity), an anime from the Winter 2020 season that has its origins as a series of stories posted to Shōsetsuka ni Narō in 2016 and published as a proper light novel in September 2017. Bofuri‘s success comes from its unorthodox execution; the very things that makes Maple successful as a player makes the anime successful as a series, and much as how Maple combines common techniques in curious ways to form her playstyle, Bofuri draws inspiration from Sword Art Online (VR elements), KonoSuba (humour resulting from in-game elements) and even Manga Time Kirara works (an adorable protagonist with a naive but well-intentioned view of the world) to create something that is uniquely enjoyable.

Maple’s experiences in Bofuri with optimising for defense at the expense of every other statistic was naively motivated by a very simple desire: to not die during gameplay while exploring NWO. Because she’s going in completely unaware of optimal builds, Maple tends to play things by the ear and use the skills she acquires to fill deficiencies in her build. In this way, Maple’s experiences can be considered a form of multi-agent reinforcement learning, where agents (Maple and the other players) act in a way to maximise some sort of reward (in-game currency, gear items, event rewards) and act against some sort of loss function (for Maple, “I don’t want to get hurt”). In practise, any sort of machine learning has the potential of yielding unusual results: during one study, in which a system was assigned to build a navy for engaging an enemy navy using a finite pool of resources, the two most successful results came from extremities. One solution involved deploying a vast fleet of suicide vessels to overwhelm the enemy fleet, while the other solution resulted in the creation of a single large, unsinkable ship that then proceeded to trivially eliminate other vessels from the enemy navy without fear of being sunk. While such cases usually only arise in highly abstracted systems (the parameters never specified whether the ships needed to survive, so the algorithm simply cared about achieving a victory state as quickly as possible), they also demonstrate that edge cases in a model shouldn’t be taken lightly. In Bofuri, NWO’s developers quickly realise this: despite being counter-intuitive to other players (Sally remarks that most players spec out a range of attributes, rather than just vitality), Maple’s play-style and with NWO’s unusual progression system, creates an emergent result where Maple becomes a living god in the game world from a consequence of making choices and decisions that more seasoned players would not make. Consequently, Bofuri becomes a wonderful and engaging (if highly simplified) representation of how unintuitive decisions can still provide optimal solutions in some systems. Of course, Bofuri is more than just a glorified introduction to the unusual outcomes resulting from multi-agent reinforcement learning, and the series’ theme is forward enough: there are many ways to have fun, and creativity can result in some unexpected, but entertaining results.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I was originally recommended Bofuri from a fellow reader and anime blogger back when the year started. It was a cold day, and at the time, I was busy going through Halo: Reach, so I remarked that I’d give it a go as time allowed. Fast forwards to early May, and I finally had an opening to do so. Right from the start, I found myself hooked: Bofuri does everything right, and in the beginning, Kaede (Maple from here on out) is introduced to a game, and finds herself initially drawn in by a rich world to explore.

  • Between KonoSuba and Bofuri, I suddenly have the inclination to return to Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and continue on in my journey: as a hybrid offensive caster and archer, I excelled at longer-range engagements. I still remember the feeling of starting my journey for the first time, and going to Whiterun was my first quest. On the way, I died to giants, but made it without other troubles. In Bofuri, Maple is able to talk to a few other players and get her journey started: she spends time messing with the mobs and then falls asleep, accruing a mad amount of skills in the process through passive means.

  • Maple inadvertently acquires a range of unusual skills as a result of her explorations: on her first adventure, she realises she has no offensive skills, and decides to eat her opponent over a seven hour period. No game I’ve played allows its players to so dramatically break things: it’d be akin to biting my opponents in a shooter after running of bullets, dulling my blades and losing my fists. However, Bofuri‘s NWO, being a VRMMORPG, lacks these constraints, and Maple finds herself with an excellent gear set, the Black Rose, which makes her a master of poison, and can consume what it touches, converting it into magical energy.

  • On her first event, Maple manages to place third: her gear set makes her uncommonly powerful, and together with her defense, she’s practically invulnerable to most forms of damage. A major part of an RPG is the constant replacement of gear, and NWO seems to eliminate this element entirely despite having levels: the rules are not specified, but it appears that gear one finds scales in accordance to player level. From an in-universe perspective, this allows players to explore a VR world more readily, rather than forcing them to grind out levels, as well as focus on in-game events. Since conventional games need a means of keeping players engaged, non-scaling gear forces players to continuously return and acquire new gear.

  • By the time Risa passes her exams and is allowed to game again, Kaede’s already gained a bit of a reputation. Risa decides to play as Sally, a swashbuckler blessed with high agility: while she reasons that a mage or caster would be great, she takes Maple’s approach and dumps everything into agility. Despite a later start, Risa is highly proficient with games, having won competitions previously, and she catches up to Maple very quickly, defeating a boss on her own as Maple did to acquire a solid gear set of her own.

  • The starting point in NWO is beautiful, with its gentle wooden town, verdant vegetation and floating fountains. For this reason, I’ve decided to focus the screenshots on moments that highlight how detailed and intricate the artwork of Bofuri is. The anime adaptation was produced by Silver Link (Non Non BiyoriBrave WitchesYurikuma Arashi, Miss Caretaker of Sunohara-sou and Stella no Mahou); despite a bit of controversy early in their career surrounding the production of Kokoro Connect, the studio has thankfully, overcome these challenges to produce many excellent series in the years after Kokoro Connect.

  • Maple and Sally visit several of the more picturesque spots in NWO, and I’ll take a few moments here to explain this unusually-written post, which goes over multi-agent reinforcement learning in the context of Bofuri at a very abstract level: I won’t be going into more technical aspects of what the implementation and implications are, and the definitions I use will be very general. An “agent” is composed of entities that can be represented by a tuple describing the object’s state, a set of actions it can perform, and a set of functions that determines what actions are carried out in response to its state. Then, a multi-agent system (MAS) describes a system with multiple agents and their environment. In Bofuri, players like Maple and Sally are the agents, and NWO is the MAS.

  • Reinforcement learning in an agent, then, is composed of a policy (set of actions the agent can carry out), reward function (goals the agent aims to achieve), value function (predicts what an agent gains by following a function in the policy) and a model that defines how the agent acts in the future. In Bofuri, the policy is all of the actions Maple can carry out. The reward function is new gear and skills, the value function is how Maple reasons she’ll finish a task, and then her model is how previous experiences impact what actions Maple takes in the future, whether it be going with what works or exploring new routes that may potentially yield better or worse results.

  • The end result of this is that Bofuri provides a surprisingly faithful, if highly-abstracted, presentation of reinforcement learning in MAS: the outcome of the anime indicates that reinforcement learning can yield some interesting, unexpected results. With this being said, this post is about Bofuri and not about multi-agent reinforcement learning, so there are many details I’ve elected not to formalise or cover. Because Bofuri‘s theme can be summed up to “being open to new experiences has dramatic but pleasant consequences”, and because many reviewers and viewers comment on very similar aspects of Bofuri, I’ve elected to go with a different approach and look at Maple’s performance as a more visual example of how unexpected certain decisions can be in things like machine learning.

  • While Bofuri is something I found to be a neat visual of a machine learning concept, it should be clear that one’s enjoyment of Bofuri is most certainly not contingent on having prior experience with multi-agent reinforcement learning; those looking for the fun in this anime will find it. After a gruelling fight against a named elite, it turns out that the developers had not intended for said named elite to be beaten in battle. Their choice of words suggest it was supposed to be invulnerable, so the fact that Sally and Maple manage to win anyways is the first sign to viewers that, like Miho Nishizumi and Donnie Yen’s Ip Man, their victory is assured.

  • After defeating the so-called unbeatable named elite, Sally and Maple unlock pets. Maple ends up picking a turtle that is faster than she is that she names Syrup, and Sally gains a fox that she dubs Oboro. I’ve never really been particularly good with pets in games, but when done properly, they can be excellent companions to have; NWO’s pets can also learn skills, making them useful as support for combat. In my World of Warcraft days, I had a companion of sorts as a warlock, who had minions that could fight on behalf of a player. I believe I got as far as unlocking the Succubus, but generally preferred the Voidwalker for its increased durability.

  • Bofuri‘s character dynamics become a bit more varied once Maple and Sally befriend Kasumi, a swordsman who resembles Strike Witches‘ Mio Sakamoto in manner and appearance. While she had intended to ambush Maple and seize their medals during the series’ first event, the group fall into a hidden dungeon and must work together to escape. In the process, they combine their skills together to reach an exit that individual, neither Sally nor Kasumi could reach, and in the aftermath, befriend one another.

  • To those familiar with games, Bofuri‘s NWO online is something that offers far more freedom than would be good for game balance. From a design standpoint, the ability to take on a class archetype, direct points towards character attributes and simultaneously acquire skills from usage, without a hard cap on attributes limit depending on level, creates a system where players with enough creativity can act in ways contrary to expectations. In games like Ragnarok Online, players can choose their own specs and optimise those for a class, while World of Warcraft had different races with attributes more suited for some classes than others. In both games, there are a set of skills unique to the class, and limits capped what players could do until they reached a certain level.

  • By comparison, Skyrim was much more open: players were classless, and could learn any skill in the game, but this took time, and attributes also had their limits. For a game, NWO would be considered broken, and the in-game meta would favour players who specialised a small number of attributes. However, for an anime, the design of NWO permits a very unusual story to be presented; Bofuri is an excellent example of a situation where certain design choices are made to accommodate the story at the expense of realism, and while some folks swear by realism in their stories, the fact is that realism is regarded or disregarded depending on what the author’s intents are.

  • As Bofuri continues, Maple begins to build a guild of sorts in order to enjoy the benefits of having a guild (most notably, their own in-game residence) and also to participate in guild events. Besides Kasumi and Kanade, both of whom Maple had met during earlier events, crafter Iz and great shielder Kuromu also joins their guild: Maple had met Iz and Kuromu early in her travels, asking the two for assistance and eventually purchasing custom-made gear from Iz. However, when it turns out the next event is a larger one, Maple sets off recruiting.

  • Back in the starting area, Maple finds Yui and Mai: the two lack confidence in their abilities and mention to Maple that they’ve spent all of their points towards strength simply because they wanted to see what it was like. Maple promises to help the two power-level, and in no time at all, Yui and Mai are now an integral part of Maple Tree, Maple’s guild: they take on an offensive role with their unparalleled brute strength, surprising enemies with their power despite a small stature.

  • Sally’s character is an amalgamation of Yama no Susume‘s Hinata and Yūki Yūna is a Hero‘s Gin Minowa: confident, energetic and always looking for a good challenge, Sally continues to push her skills further in NWO. While ostensibly not as powerful as Maple, Sally’s profound knowledge of games, coupled with her athletic ability in the real world, allows her to pull off impressive manoeuvres that confer an incredible edge during PvP. Coupled with a deep understanding of NWO’s mechanics, Sally becomes a one-girl wrecking ball capable of tearing apart entire teams on her own. Her one weakness is a crippling fear of ghosts, and this has prevented her from completing quests set in haunted areas: it was only with Maple’s support that she pulls through.

  • Once Yui and Mai gain enough experience, Maple Tree is looking like a proper guild: Maple and Kuromu take on defensive roles, while Sally, Kasumi, Mai and Yui are offense-oriented. Rounding out the group is crafter Iz and caster Kanade, who fulfill a support role with their abilities. Despite their small size, Maple Tree has a collection of some of the most interesting players of NWO, and it is with this diverse bunch that she goes into the final event, a competition between guilds that brings to mind Ragnarok Online‘s “War of Emperium” event. One of my friends used to host WoE events on his private server, and I remember that setting up would take upwards of two hours, and to offset the fact that we had a smaller player count, our characters were buffed to ridiculous levels so attackers stood a chance of destroying the Emperium crystal to claim the castle.

  • The actual outcome was sheer, unmediated chaos – I remember single-handedly defending a choke point with Storm Gust and Meteor Strike as a High Wizard for a quarter hour until I ran out of mana points, after which my defending team was overrun. I’m guessing on a proper server with normal characters and larger guilds, WoE would be immensely fun in its own right. In Bofuri, Maple acquires the Loving Sacrifice classified gear set, which allows anyone within a certain radius to take on her defensive capabilities. In practise, this renders everyone invincible, and Maple Tree is befuddled – everyone agrees that it’s only okay because Maple is on their side.

  • After Maple Tree participates in their third event, Maple acquires the “wooly” skill, and the team visits the third level, Bofuri gears up for an event between guilds. We are now into the halfway point of May, and it’s the Victoria Day long weekend, a statuary holiday on the last Monday preceding May 25 in Canada.This morning, I would have been gearing up to go volunteer at Otafest, the local anime convention: I had submitted my volunteering application back in December, and April would’ve seen a volunteer orientation session. In light of the ongoing global health situation, there will not be the excitement and energy surrounding an anime convention that is typical for this time of year.

  • This is admittedly a bit of a disappointment; last year marked the first time I’d volunteered, and it was a superbly enjoyable experience that I would’ve like to partake in again. During the last convention, I ended up learning that the positions I was slated to volunteer in were actually a little more dull than expected, but owing to a shortage of volunteers, I found myself helping at the Maid Café and Bakery. This was a fun experience, since it was a busier one. I will note that in the close-quarters frenzy of trying to keep the stalls stocked, classic anime clichés that I normally count improbable did wind up occurring: while I often comment on probability of various anime tropes as being “unlikely”, like chemistry, close quarters dramatically changes things the odds, and I now understand how the “cute clumsy girl” and “flustered when around senpai” archetypes do, however ludicrous it may sound, have some basis in reality.

  • Lingering still in my memory is a fellow volunteer who’d I had worked with during a gruelling six-hour shift; her shy but dazzling smile helped me to get through two consecutive shifts. As a result of my experiences, for my application this year, I marked that I was more open to volunteering for the exhibition hall and Maid Café, which is where the convention is more festive (compared to the remote panel rooms). Overall, volunteering for anime conventions was a pleasant experience, and one does encounter interesting people in the process, which is what makes it fun. Back in Bofuri, while on a break from power-levelling, Maple and Sally enjoy the waters of NWO, giving the girls a moment to rest and the series to show off Sally’s lithe figure. It appears that NWO manages to import the players’ real-world physical traits for character appearances, so everyone in the game would appear similarly as they would in reality.

  • While Maple is adorable, bearing traits from lead characters of slice-of-life series I’ve come to greatly enjoy, Sally herself is also immensely likeable. Were Sally to be the star of the show in place of Maple, Bofuri would probably still be able to tell the same story of an overpowered character making grown men weep. When their break is interrupted by Frederica, a member of the Holy Sword Guild (home of NWO’s very own Thanos), Sally heads off to duel her to exchange information. During this fight, Sally fakes several skills with her own innate power, giving Frederica the impression that Sally has two evasive skills with a long cool-down, and Sally learns of the Flame Emperor guild’s setup in return.

  • On the day of the event, Maple Tree gears up to go out and play attack-and-defend with the other guilds. I note that of the combat sequences in Bofuri, they are quite amusing to watch, and screenshots alone do not do them justice, so I’ve elected to show off more ordinary moments in this post and will encourage readers to check Bofuri out if they’ve not already done so. Maple’s themed-naming is endearing in its own right: she originally chose a tree as her guild headquarters, and her turtle is deliberately named Syrup so together, she and the turtle become Maple Syrup (the national food of Canada). Simple but iconic, Syrup is best known as Maple’s preferred ride, and most guilds shit bricks upon seeing a flying turtle, which comes to foreshadow total devastation.

  • Maple Tree holds out fairly well in the event’s early stages, and Maple decides to take the fight to Flame Emperors to try and secure more orbs that need to be held for scoring. The page quote I’ve chosen here reflects on Maple’s ridiculous power, taken from an iconic moment in The Avengers: Tony Stark was utterly unimpressed with Loki’s efforts at conquering Earth, and his remark, “We have a Hulk”, is meant to show that Loki was doomed to failure regardless of his army because of the sheer power the Avengers had. By the time of Infinity War, Loki echoes this line to indicate that he’s become a hero, someone who cares for something beyond himself. While Maple Tree may not have a Hulk, they do have a Maple – in Bofuri, Maple appears as powerful as Captain Marvel.

  • There are moments where Maple’s facial expressions resembles those of Yama no Susume‘s Aoi: adorable in her mannerisms, Maple’s appearance belies an absolutely brutal and efficient combat style. Maple is voiced by Kaede Hondo, whom I know best as Kon of Urara Meirocho, Comic Girls‘ Koyume Koizukam, Iroduku: The World in Color‘s very own Kohaku Tsukishiro and even Magical Senpai‘s senpai. Hondo has a number of impressive works in her resume now, and I am going through Magical Senpai now before switching the party over to Nekopara. I do have plans to write about both series eventually.

  • After exploring brings her face-to-face with a cursed robot, Maple bests it in combat to unlock another gear set: the Machine God allows Maple to become a miniaturised GP-03 Dendrobium, capable of using directed energy weapons and powered flight. During the fight against Flame Emperior’s Mii during the guild war, Maple is forced to use this configuration, and she manages to push Mii into a stalemate with her power. Although lacking the aesthetics of Tony Stark’s Iron Man suits, the Machine God appears at least as powerful as any iteration prior to the Mark XLVII – as the Machine God, Maple can use Full-Burst mode the same way the Strike Freedom and Freedom Gundams could, giving her the ability to trivially clear away entire areas without difficulty. When ousted by Maple, the charismatic and cool Mii reverts to a childish personality, whining about how she thought defeat to be impossible. It’s an adorable touch that shows the characters are well-aware they’re in a game.

  • Because of how over-the-top the final few episodes are, and how outrageous the fight with the top-seeded Holy Sword guild’s best fighters was, I’ve chosen not to include the moments are: it takes place in the dark cave housing Maple Tree’s base and involves thrilling close-quarters combat. When it looks like Maple Tree are about to be overrun by Holy Sword’s best, Maple uses her “Atrocity” mode, which transforms her into an unstoppable monster that buffs her attack power and durability at the expense of mobility: “Atrocity” is similar to the Hulk in this sense, although Maple retains full cognitive function and is constrained by only being able to use this once per day of in-game time. Once Holy Sword is on the back foot, Maple decides to support Flame Emperors and blasts away the other guilds, prompting the GMs to end the event early, since there were no more guilds remaining.

  • To celebrate the outcome of their latest event, Maple throws a wild party at guild headquarters while the GMs decide to leave Maple as-is, noting her exploits have rendered NWO immensely popular. While I’m not familiar with what is and isn’t possible in NWO, and having not touched a fantasy-themed RPG for a while, the closest analogue I can think of is The Division 2, which is an RPG with a more modern setting. The Gunner Specialisation, in conjunction with the riot shield skill and gear pieces that confer armour regeneration bonuses, additional armour and health buffs, would probably the closest players can get to a Maple-like build. I recently found a gear talent that confers bonus armour on kills, and I note that against such players, the Sharpshooter specialisation is probably the best counter.

  • I find that for its unique approach in combining elements from the VRMMORPG, isekai and four-panel genres, Bofuri is deserving of a solid A- (3.7 of 4.0, or 8.5 of 10). There’s a second season in the works, and this will be fun to check out. Having said this, the exact date of release isn’t known yet, but it is simply nice to know there will be a continuation. With Bofuri in the books, I now turn my full attention to Magical Senpai and Nekopara: I do have plans to write about both series at some point. Finally, in the absence Otafest this year, it’s an ordinary, quiet and sunny weekend with an extra day of rest, and I’ll take advantage of the time to partake in more Halo 2‘s campaign such that I may join the Halo 2 Anniversary multiplayer as swiftly as possible.

Besides bringing back memories of my old multi-agent systems and biological computation courses, Bofuri held my interests because of its successful melding of multiple aspects from a range of different series to create a vivid world for Maple and her friends to explore. Much as how Maple uses her skills to augment her offensive capabilities and mobility, Bofuri combines traits for a range of genres to create a highly unusual, but engaging result. Maple herself resembles Yama no Susume‘s Aoi, GochiUsa‘s Cocoa and Kiniro Mosaic‘s Shinobu in manner, with a fondness for all things adorable. This conceals her fearsome capabilities in a game that takes the sophistication of the different titles seen in Sword Art Online; NWO is as advanced as the worlds that Kirito and his friends must navigate, although without the threat of death hanging over their heads, Maple’s time in NWO is much more laid-back in manner, and Bofuri makes it clear that while PvE and PvP engagements can become very heated, at the end of the day, NWO is still just a game. Because NWO is about fun, first and foremost, this allows Bofuri to capitalise on Maple’s outrageous capers as a source of humour. The comedy in Bofuri, not as outlandish or perverse as something like KonoSuba, nonetheless has a similar effect of creating a light-hearted atmosphere that reassures viewers. Finally, with her absurd durability, fights involving Maple inevitably resemble those of Girls und Panzer in that, while it is a foregone conclusion that Maple and her friends will find ways to succeed, the path towards this victory becomes the most exciting piece to watch (rather similarly to how Miho’s victories are almost always assured, and the fun comes from the journey rather than the outcome). Altogether, Bofuri acts as a very meta presentation of how unusual combinations can succeed, and in conjunction with Silver Link’s excellent adaptation (fluidly-animated fight scenes, a vividly-presented world that feels life-like, strong voice acting and a good soundtrack), Bofuri is something that proved unexpectedly enjoyable: this is a series suited for folks who are looking for a series about VR gaming without the gravity of something like Sword Art Online, or else are in the market for a series with some isekai elements without being set in a parallel world or a moody story. Finally, news has reached my ears of a second season for Bofuri, and I would be interested to see where things go from here on out: I would not have any objections to viewing and writing about Bofuri‘s second season once it becomes available.

KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World! Legend of Crimson Movie Review and Reflection

“You never know; you hope for the best and make do with what you get.” –Nick Fury, The Avengers: Age of Ultron

After botching a quest thanks to Megumin’s explosive magic, Kazuma and the others return to town to commiserate. Yunyun arrives and begs Kazuma to bear her children, having received a letter from the other Crimson Dæmons, but it turns out that this was a story written by one of their former classmates. She prepares to head off, and the next day, after negotiating with Vanir on how he’d like to sell his patents, is teleported to the Crimson Dæmon’s village to visit. Yunyun saves the group from being accosted by some female orcs, and after arriving at Megumin’s house, Kazuma meets her parents. They immediately take a liking to him after learning of his financial situation, and Megumin’s mother, Yuiyui, locks Kazuma and Megumin together in the same room with the hopes of making something happen, although the two only reflect on their appreciation for what they’ve done for one another. In the morning, Megumin takes Aqua and Kazuma into town, where she shows them around and picks up new robes. Darkness, meanwhile, has headed off to explore on her own, and when they find her, she’s locked in combat with monsters under Sylvia, who is one of the Dæmon King’s generals. Kazuma manages to persuade her to flee, but she returns later in the night, seduces Kazuma, and gains access to the Mage Killer, an ancient weapon the Crimson Dæmons had sealed away generations earlier. While the Crimson Dæmons attempt to fight back, Sylvia, now fused with the Mage Killer, strips them of their magic. Kazuma retrieves a particle rifle from town, which had been used as a clothesline, and manages to defeat Sylvia, but she resurrects herself, hauling Beldia and Hans back from the dead to fight with her. Wiz and Vanir arrive in town with the hopes of finding a craftsman for Kazuma’s products, but find Sylvia rampaging. Desperate to stop Sylvia, Kazuma decides to accept her feelings, buying Wiz enough time to transfer magical power from the Crimson Dæmons to Megumin and Yunyun. They use this power to target Sylvia, who realises at the last moment that Kazuma deceived her before being destroyed. In the aftermath, Kazuma is revived and heads back to Axel with his party. On a quiet day, the party goes for a picnic in the fields surrounding Axel. Megumin wonders if she should invest her skill points in other forms of magic, but Kazuma decides against this and has her cast an explosion, which appears far more powerful than before and forms a heart-shaped cloud that Kazuma is pleased with.

KonoSuba‘s movie, Legend of Crimson, originally premièred in August of 2019, adapting the fifth volume of the light novel series and acting as a sequel to the second season. Like its predecessors, Legend of Crimson strikes a balance between comedy and world-building, focusing here on the Crimson Dæmons, their origins and animosity with the Dæmon King’s forces. In typical KonoSuba manner, a miscommunication prompts Kazuma and his party to visit the home of Megumin and her people. In the process, Kazuma and Megumin become closer as a result of their actions: despite her revulsion towards Kazuma’s antics, she also respects his more admirable traits in accepting people for who they are and creative means of getting something done. As a film, Legend of Crimson further fleshes out the world Kazuma is in, reminding viewers of both how far Kazuma has come in adjusting to life here, and also begins to suggest that the dynamic between Kazuma and his party is shifting somewhat, especially with respect to Megumin. However, Legend of Crimsont also shows how much more Kazuma’s party has discover and master before they can consider defeating the Dæmon King once and for all. While comedy and world-building continues to keep KonoSuba engaging in Legend of Crimson, the inevitable question of whether or not KonoSuba will be afflicted by franchise fatigue must also be considered: Legend of Crimson covers no new direction with its themes, and follows a conventional approach in its narrative. Because it is an adaptation of the light novel’s fifth volume, and the fact there are seventeen volumes altogether, there is a risk that Kazuma’s misadventures may grow derivative by the time he and his party actually reach the Dæmon King.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I believe on this day three years ago, I had spent the day walking Magome-juku and Nagoya’s Atsuta Shrine, before having ramen at a place in Gifu: the staff were a little surprised to hear a Cantonese-speaker ordering in Japanese, and as I remember, their pork ramen was excellent. Before starting Legend of Crimson, I asked readers as to whether they wished for me to do a longer or shorter post. The results of this question were definitive, and as a result, this post will have thirty screenshots per the results of that poll. I am not displeased with this outcome: from a thematic standpoint, Legend of Crimson did not have much I could remark on, and the film can be seen as taking the events of a standard season and fitting them into the movie format. This isn’t to say Legend of Crimson is bad in any way, but rather, there’s less to discuss.

  • After Megumin destroys the fish the party was supposed to be catching and a part of the quest area along with it, Kazuma’s party ends up with nothing to show for their efforts, and moreover, the townspeople begin talking behind his back. For someone who has led a party into taking down three of the Dæmon King’s commanders so far, Kazuma’s not particularly well-regarded because his actions when off-duty are dubious at best. While Kazuma and the others wonder what their next move is, Yunyun appears, and this time, she has a strange request.

  • When Megumin and Darkness express opposition to Yunyun’s wish, Kazuma immediately concludes that Megumin and Darkness must have some feelings for him. This statement is not without basis, however, and foreshadows the events of the light novels. For the present, though, it turns out Yunyun had read a letter, assumed it to be the reality and then figured she needed a solution to save her people, but the letter was in fact, a work of fiction. Receiving this letter sets Kazuma and his party on a journey to the Crimson Dæmon’s village.

  • In order to reach their destination more swiftly, Kazuma asks Wiz to help teleport everyone to the village. Before then, Kazuma also lets Vanir know he’s reached a decision about which offer to accept, and after damaging some merchandise, Aqua and Vanir spar. While Vanir cannot peer into the minds of beings more powerful than himself, he actually is able to hold his own against Aqua in a verbal match simply on the basis that Aqua lacks a sharp tongue, and consequently, watching the two have a go at one another is always hilarious.

  • After Wiz teleports them into an open field near the Crimson Dæmon’s village, Kazuma immediately runs into trouble with some female orcs, and the moment is something that a screenshot cannot describe, so readers will simply have to watch that moment for themselves to see the sort of suffering that Kazuma experiences at their hands, and it isn’t until Yunyun shows up with the other villagers that Kazuma is spared from a terrifying fate.

  • Moments like these prompt me to wish that KonoSuba would take Kazuma and his party to more of the world: the Crimson Dæmon’s village is beautifully rendered, and outwardly, has a very peaceful appearance. The artwork and animation quality in Legend of Crimson varies – in moments that demand it, this degrades to the point of hilarity, but otherwise, the visuals in Legend of Crimson are roughly of a similar level to those of KonoSuba‘s second season.

  • The Crimson Dæmons themselves are an amicable people: beyond their grandiose introductions and pride, they’re not bad at all. Kazuma impresses them with an introduction worthy of a Crimson Dæmon, and they are taken into town to meet the leader, Yunyun’s father: he’s a free-spirited individual and explains that his letter to Yunyun was done purely for dramatic effect. However, it is the case that there is a Dæmon King commander around the area, explaining the incursions from hostile forces, and halfway through their meeting, some goblins appear.

  • As it turns out, Crimson Dæmons aren’t just above-average magic-wielders, they’re terrifyingly competent casters who make the spells of Harry Potter look drab by comparison, and appear more akin to Maiar in their abilities. It turns out that the Crimson Dæmons are also a result of the researcher who had once conceived the Destroyer: he had wanted to create a group of people with enhanced magical ability, but ended up selecting for volunteers who had the traits that would come to shape the Crimson Dæmons. In this way, the researcher ends up being similar to the Celestials of Star Wars and the Forerunners of Halo, leaving behind legacies well beyond his time.

  • Upon arriving at Megumin’s house, Kazuma meets her parents, Hyoizaburoo and Yuiyui, and Komekko, who regard him coldly until learning Kazuma is actually well-off, and then immediately begin making it clear that having Megumin marry him might not be such a bad idea. Yuiyui knocks out Darkness with a spell and then creates a situation that forces Kazuma into a situation with Megumin: owing to Darkness’ vehement opposition, this foreshadows her own thoughts towards Kazuma.

  • Despite his attitude, Kazuma is someone who will not end up doing something dishonourable when the chips are down. Even when locked in a room with Megumin, Kazuma ends up furiously debating what to do before his chance passes, and in a later volume, Kazuma does his best to fend off a crazed Darkness, having decided that his heart lies with Megumin. Events of the future KonoSuba volumes have me curious to see if a third season could become a reality, although I cannot comment on what the future of KonoSuba brings: OreGairu is only getting a third season now, and even the runaway hit, The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, only ended up adapting four of its eleven volumes.

  • If I had to guess, I’d say that anime adaptations are likely considered more as a means of promoting a light novel series: the third season of The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi sits up there with Half-Life 3 as one of the most anticipated and unknown continuations of all time, but since The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi had far surpassed expectations, it was likely decided that continuing it as an anime was unnecessary, and that fans would give the light novels a look were they interested in continuing. As such, it is possible that KonoSuba might be headed down this route, as well. Back in Legend of Crimson, Kazuma and Megumin visit a clothing shop that makes robes in the style Megumin prefers. Kazuma sees a rifle barrel being used as a clothesline here.

  • Megumin and Yunyun both decide to return to their old school in their old uniforms. After visiting the mage’s academy, Megumin and Yunyun’s alma mater, Kazuma swings by a building housing something that is supposed to hold an artifact of terrifying power. While looking back through the events of KonoSuba, it appears that Kazuma and his party’s approach to anything is to wing it: to do as Nick Fury suggests, working towards the best outcome with what’s available at a given moment.

  • It turns out that, being frustrated with a lack of male orcs that could bring the pain, Darkness had set off in search of trouble and found herself face-to-face with Sylvia, plus an army of her underlings. It speaks to Darkness’ durability that she’s able to hold out for this long without trouble, although her inability to deal damage means that acting as a wall is about all she can do. When Kazuma arrives with Crimson Dæmon mages in tow, he gloats to Sylvia that she might as well sod off for the fact that he’s been responsible for disposing of three of the Dæmon King’s generals previously.

  • Sylvia later returns that evening, and seduces Kazuma. Feeling under-appreciated, Kazuma decides to accompany her, at least until Sylvia reveals that she’s in fact, male. She takes Kazuma to the building housing the ancient artefact and asks Kazuma to unlock it. Kazuma’s understanding of Japanese means he has no trouble figuring out the vault can be unlocked with the Konami Code and inadvertently voices this – most of the misadventures Kazuma finds himself entangled in are a result of his own carelessness. His heroics, then, stem from a result of him trying to pick up after himself.

  • While Kazuma lacks heroic traits in general, that he is willing to go to extraordinary lengths and clean up his own messes properly illustrates his real character. Thanks to Kazuma sealing Sylvia into the same vault as the artefact, the Mage Killer, Sylvia merges with it and takes on the properties of a Fire Drake. She immediately takes a leaf from Smaug’s playbook and torches the Crimson Dæmon’s town the same way Smaug blasted Laketown into a tinder. Most of the townspeople are able to escape and prepare to launch a counterattack, but Sylvia uses the Mage Killer’s power to immediately drain out their mana pools, rendering them ineffectual.

  • Until now, the Dæmon King’s generals typically fought alone: Beldia, Hans and Vanir had no armies, but Sylvia is shown as commanding goblins that are fiercely loyal to her. Unlike most antagonists, Sylvia is shown to treat her subordinates fairly, praising them for their actions and doing her best to look after them. The world of KonoSuba is one that continues to defy expectations, which is why the series has been so enjoyable to watch. Rather than being grim-dark or employing deconstruction, many excellent series excel precisely because they are continually unexpected.

  • Without the Crimson Dæmon’s magic, Kazuma and Megumin head off to find an alternative solution: a particle beam cannon that the head researcher had built along with the Mage Killer. The extent of the head researcher’s impact on this world is something that seems to be a rabbit hole: KonoSuba has only touched upon a few of his actions, and the more it feels like this head researcher, with his power to create anything, feels like a Celestial or Forerunner, leaving behind artefacts of vast power that continue to trouble the world after his passing. After recovering this rifle, Kazuma prepares to use it on Sylvia, but when he pulls the trigger, the weapon does nothing.

  • Megumin decides to fall back on her explosive magic, since the other Crimson Dæmons are unable to fight, but the weapon suddenly absorbs her spell, and becomes fully charged in the process. Kazuma decides to give a monologue to Sylvia before firing, with the result that Komekko manages to kill-steal from Kazuma. I’m not sure how the rules in KonoSuba works, but since it was Kazuma’s hand on the trigger, I feel that he should have gotten the credit for the kill. The resulting blast puts a hole in Sylvia, but this is not enough to stop her. This is one of the deviations in Legend of Crimson and the light novels: the original text has the particle beam weapon as what permanently defeats Sylvia.

  • However, in Legend of Crimson, Sylvia refuses to die and manages to resurrect Hans and Beldia with her, creating a monstrosity of poison wreathed in armour. With Beldia’s durability and Hans’ toxicity, Sylvia prepares to take revenge on Kazuma and his party for having caused her so much trouble. Between Hans’s resilience to magic and Beldia’s defense against physical attacks, Kazuma’s group has absolutely nothing effective against this new leviathan; Sylvia spews a torrent of poison at Kazuma’s party, who can do little more than run away.

  • KonoSuba‘s funny faces appear at several points in Legend of Crimson, and I could hypothetically have an entire post with nothing but exaggerated facial expressions. In the interest of not dragging things out, I’ve opted to feature only one such element for this talk on Legend of Crimson, as Kazuma and the others attempt to escape certain death. Wiz’s timely arrival and use of a freezing spell manages to spare Kazuma, Aqua, Megumin and Darkness from complete annihilation.

  • I’ve become very fond of Vanir’s character: after his defeat and transfer to Wiz’s shop, he’s added yet another level of humour into KonoSuba. In Legend of Crimson, he and Wiz appear at the Crimson Dæmon’s village to speak with a crafter, but find them amidst a battle. The two immediately recognise Sylvia and attempt to strike up a conversation for old times’ sake, but Sylvia counts the two as traitors and begins engaging them in combat.

  • Vanir merges with Darkness to create enough space for Kazuma to work out something, a callback to the second season that I welcomed. Ultimately, Kazuma realises that there is one way to buy enough time to stop Sylvia: he decides to accept her feelings as a diversion, allowing Wiz to collect all of the Crimson Dæmon’s magical power and transfer it into Megumin and Yunyun. As it turns out, Sylvia had been longing for something more than just conquest and destruction: she sought to experience love, as well.

  • While Megumin and Yunyun are ostensibly rivals, the reality is that Yunyun had wanted nothing more than someone to hang out with, and so, it is unsurprising that Yunyun and Megumin can definitely work together as the moment calls for it. It turns out that when they were students, Yunyun had used her skill points to learn advanced magic and save Komekko from a pinch, allowing Megumin to devote herself wholly to explosive magic. Megumin is grateful for this, even if she does not always express it, and here, the two show that their rivalry is really just for show.

  • Taking upon the combined magic of the villagers, Megumin readies her explosion magic, while Yunyun casts light of sabre. Legend of Crimson‘s approach to the ending creates a more impressive, bombastic visual spectacle compared to the light novel, and this is one of those cases where deviating from the source material results in a product more suitable for the silver screen. The final, combined magic is finally what kills Sylvia: Kazuma reveals that he’d been messing with Sylvia, and her barriers, which had provided some resistance even against the combined might of the girls’ spells, drop on this revelation.

  • Kazuma ultimately takes the full brunt of the spell and is vapourised along with Sylvia, but before her defeat, Sylvia remarks that the feelings she experienced, even from this sham, was something worthwhile. Legend of Crimson has Kazuma experiencing the full force of the combined spell’s effects, and it turns out that those who die fully recall the extent of the pain, similarly to Angel Beats!. However, thanks to Aqua using her blessing spells to boost his luck, Kazuma’s spirit endures, and he is able to be resurrected once more. Legend of Crimson marks the first time where Aqua does not see unnecessary misfortune, and despite this (or perhaps because of it), the movie shows that humour in KonoSuba can be carried even if Aqua is not made to suffer.

  • When Kazuma is sent to Eris to respawn, whatever is left of him is not shown to the viewer, and Eris, who does see the remains, vomits. Other than Aqua’s remarks that Eris pads her chest, I’ve found Eris to be a more suitable individual for helping those transition between worlds: kind and gentle, she’s been able to offer Kazuma advice and guidance to a much greater than extent than Aqua did whenever he’s been killed off, and Kazuma has considered taking up her offers of respawning him back in his original universe.

  • In the aftermath of Legend of Crimson‘s whacky adventure, Kazuma and his party now have a total of four confirmed kills under their belt. After the events of the Crimson Dæmon village, Megumin considers using some of her points towards other kinds of magic, and I had personally hoped she would have at least dumped some points towards regeneration, which would let her cast explosive spells more frequently. At least, this would be normally expected in a series that adheres to standard notions of character growth, and ultimately, Kazuma decides that Megumin is fine the way she is.

  • With the movie, and its corresponding post, now in the books, it is not lost on me that discussions elsewhere on Legend of Crimson is quite limited, as well – this movie is one of those times where something can be enjoyable, but not offer much in the way of conversation. Overall, the movie earns an A- grade (3.7 of 4.0, or 8.5 of ten) for me: while the novelty has certainly not endured, the film shows that Kazuma’s current world is still full of surprises that can manifest in interesting ways.

  • Megumin’s last explosion of KonoSuba (for the foreseeable future) hints that she does care for Kazuma and is beginning to see him as more than just a party member who can reliably get her out of trouble. It’s a fitting ending to the film, and now that I’m fully caught up with KonoSuba, there is the question of where I will go next with the isekai genre. There is no definitive answer, since for my part, I only really watch series based on how much I think I’ll enjoy them; with this being said, if there are recommendations, I’ll be happy to give them some thought. In the meantime, I’ll be looking to wrap up Bofuri before dropping into Halo 2 now that we’re a mere two days away from its release for Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

The light novels mitigated fatigue by continuing to introduce new characters and build out the world for Kazuma, as well as adding new depth to existing characters and introducing disruptions to the status quo that allow for new relationships to be explored. Legend of Crimson hints at this with Megumin’s last explosion creating a heart-shaped cloud that Kazuma praises, and while a continuation of KonoSuba‘s animated adaptations could result in some of the Kazuma’s more exciting stories being given new life, there is always the risk that further seasons of KonoSuba could come across as being repetitive in nature if not properly structured (i.e. after some wild adventure that involves a massive fight against a seemingly intimidating and unbeatable foe, Kazuma is victorious, becomes closer to his party and learns something new about them). This is a challenge that the studio will need to address – while KonoSuba is undoubtedly successful in its adaptation of the light novels so far, that we’ve not even reached adapting half of them indicates that there’s still a ways to go, and with this distance, plenty of opportunity for fatigue to be introduced. With this in mind, considering how well the Marvel Cinematic Universe similarly struck a balance between comedy, world-building, and character growth over a massive franchise spanning more than a decade, the fact that we’ve barely scratched the surface in the animated adaptation of KonoSuba means that the series could also do an exceptional job similar to the MCU by making the most of the still-unexplored facets of Kazuma’s world as the light novels have done. In this scenario, KonoSuba could stand to excite viewers should continuations of the series become a reality: knowing the writing that went into KonoSuba‘s existing adaptations, any continuations would likely find novel ways to keeping things fresh for viewers while at once, keeping the series faithful to what made it enjoyable to begin with.

God’s Blessings on This Wonderful Work Of Art: Review and Reflection on KonoSuba’s Second OVA

“The essence of lying is in deception, not in words.” –John Ruskin

While attempting to maintain the air of a seasoned adventurer at the Guild, Kazuma is approached by Ran, a freshman adventurer who seems taken in by his stories and experiences. Luna has a new quest for Kazuma and his legendary party, and Kazuma finds himself unable to turn this down – he gathers Aqua, Megumin and Darkness, taking them to a derelict ruin rumoured to be housing golems, and after successfully destroying it, returns to the Guild with yet another story to tell. With the golem threat removed, Luna sets Kazuma on an assignment to see if there’s anything noteworthy in the ruins. With his party, Kazuma discovers that the ruins was once the home of a Japanese adventurer who asked for the power to engineer everything, but over time, became disillusioned with his task to destroy the Dæmon King and lapsed into creating robots for his own amusement. This individual turns out to be the same researcher who built the Destroyer: Kazuma despairs at reading his journal, but also resolves to unlock whatever the individual had built. When he opens the vault, he finds an android inside that subsequently begins beating up the party, forcing Megumin to use her explosion magic, which destroys the ruins completely. Kazuma later learns that his “fan” was actually on Luna’s employ, falsely praising Kazuma so they could motivate him to deal with quests that other parties would not take. Frustrated, Kazuma employs his “steal” skill on Luna and Ran in revenge. This is KonoSuba‘s second OVA, which is set a ways after the second season and deals with yet another misadventure of Kazuma’s: this time, the tables turn, and it is Kazuma on the receiving end of humiliation.

By portraying the life of the head researcher who had built the Destroyer, KonoSuba‘s second OVA gives insight into the level of detail that went into Kazuma’s new world. The first season had simply shown this individual as an exceptionally talented, if absent-minded engineer who inadvertently destroyed an entire civilisation upon finishing the autonomous fortress, but in the OVA, it turns out that he had similar origins to Kazuma – both were antisocial individuals who hail from Japan, and while the head researcher had started out with motivation and an honest intention, seeing the futility of his quest and what he could accomplish alone eventually led him to lapse back into his old ways, although his powers to create advanced constructs indicate that at least his drive to build never left him. The contrast between Kazuma and this adventurer serves to show the importance of companionship, and in particular, how having a party with him has led Kazuma to, often against his wishes, undertake quests that serve a tangible purpose for his current world. In the absence of his party, and specifically, had Kazuma requested anything other than for Aqua to accompany him, it is conceivable that he may have lost his motivation to undertake quests and do things for those around him. As a result, while Kazuma’s decision to take Aqua with him, motivated by a petty desire to humiliate her in revenge for laughing at his death, seemingly appears to be a poor choice, it has also resulted in the constant need for Kazuma to fight for those around him, keeping him on the path of being an adventurer and bringing him a considerable ways in getting closer to the Dæmon King.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • It is nice to go back to my usual programming: I don’t particularly enjoy shredding negative reviews, even if it is to make the point that sesquipedalian criticisms are usually uninformed, and so, I’m going to enjoy this talk on KonoSuba‘s second OVA. It turns out that, thanks to his antisocial tendencies in his past life, Kazuma is ill-informed on common food items and even in a fantasy world, is unprepared to order manly food items. He’s unexpectedly interrupted by Ran, who appears to be a new adventurer and wants to hear more about his stories. Luna then coincidentally appears, and Kazuma feels duty-bound to accept the quest even though he’d wanted nothing more than to do nothing.

  • Whereas Megumin is always game if there’s a chance to use explosion magic, and Darkness is likely to accept any quest where she might sustain damage, it takes a bit more effort to get Aqua going. Their latest quest is a seemingly run-of-the-mill one – investigate some ruins and deal with any golems there. Golems originate from Jewish folklore, being animated beings created from inanimate matter, but beyond this, has been subject to different interpretations.

  • Because of Aqua’s reluctance to take the quest, Kazuma steals her staff, which forces her to accompany the party out. One random bit of trivial about Aqua is that her hair ornament resembles a water molecule, mirroring her namesake and powers: I’ve not cared to see whether or not the ornament gets right the 104.45° angle between the oxygen and hydrogen atoms, which come from the electrostatic repulsion of the lone pairs, but the fact that the smaller beads on her hair ornament are bent is satisfactory in conveying the shape of a water molecule.

  • Throughout KonoSuba, Aqua and Kazuma’s fights are always funny to watch: the second OVA is no different, and I certainly enjoyed watching the two bounce off one another. The second OVA was released four months after the second season ended, in the July of 2017. A glance at my site archives show that this was an interesting month for the blog: I had just written one of the biggest posts of all time for Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name, which I consider to be one of my best posts of all time, and had a few other interesting pieces out, including for New Game!! and Washio Sumi is a Hero‘s final act.

  • When the golem of the ruins appears, it is in the form of a mecha with a Japanese influence, and after intercepting one of its punches, Darkness notices it’s much lighter than it appears: it’s clearly not a golem of traditional lore, having a hollow interior rather than being entirely solid as one would expect. In spite of this, the mecha would be quite strong, and the fact that Darkness can stand up to it speaks to her own physical strength – had Kazuma continued fighting her during the second season, he certainly would’ve been annihilated.

  • Taken aback at its design, Megumin refuses to blast the mecha, desiring to tame it and have it become her pet. Kazuma immediately objects, but one could make a case that since Megumin had been looking after the cat, Chomusuke, since the second season’s second episode, she’s got at least some experience in looking after pets and therefore, unlike most childrens’ series that use pet care to convey messages of responsibility, Megumin would be able to do a decent enough job.

  • During the course of her tussle with the robot, Darkness’ chest piece gets knocked off, and the robot begins to screw with her mammaries. For Darkness, it’s just another adventure – she enjoys the experience in her own way, and the OVA does something that the TV series certainly wouldn’t in its animation. That the robot does this suggests that it has limited sentience, and while it’s no BT-7472, it does hint at its creator’s mindset.

  • In the end, Kazuma has to work hard to convince Megumin that destroying the golem is a necessary evil, and she relents, using her explosion magic to knock it down. While her explosion spell is presented as visually having the same yield as a very small suitcase tactical nuclear device, that it leaves its opponents intact after one shot suggests that the spell is more bark than bite: even a low-yield device would inflict severe burns and blast damage at close range.

  • Megumin is so utterly devoted to explosion magic that, despite having enough skill points to spend in other areas, she refuses to do so out of pride, and so, even two seasons in, she’s forced to have someone carry her rather than pick up spells for increased mana regen. This leads one to wonder if there’s a hard cap on how much one can buff certain spells: in most games, there’s a limit to how far one can invest skill points. For instance, in The Division 2, those running the Demolitionist specialisation can only push their signature weapon damage up to a maximum of 125 percent and further increase explosive damage up to a maximum of 25 percent, after which they’ve reached the cap and must spend any accrued specialisation points on something else.

  • Kyoya Mitsurugi makes another appearance, and Kazuma wastes no time in humiliating him. In any ordinary isekai, Kyoya would be the protagonist, going on adventures to prepare himself for facing the Dæmon King and coming to terms with whatever unresolved tensions he had remaining from his old life. KonoSuba completely discards these expectations, and it is for this reason the series is so successful – a good series isn’t about being as grimdark or philosophical as possible, but rather, for doing the unexpected. This is why Madoka Magica is an excellent series: not because of its “realistic” portrayal of suffering, and certainly not for the imagery that gave the impression philosophy was a requirement into appreciating the series themes, Madoka Magica took a familiar concept and went in a new direction with it.

  • Isekai series are often criticised for saturating the market, and this complaint invariably comes from the fact a fair number of them take the adventure very seriously. When many isekai create this atmosphere, the repetition can make it difficult to tell one series from another. However, KonoSuba never has a dull moment and remains very memorable. It seems that when Kazuma’s party is not on an assignment, they remain quite able to find things to do, such as building a paper mâché mecha from spare milk cartons. Of course, having now seen the very best of what isekai can do, I am curious to learn more about more conventional series.

  • I’ve heard that of late, Goblin Slayer and The Rising of the Shield Hero are two isekai series to keep an eye on; the former is about an adventurer who exists to kill goblins, and the latter is about an adventurer whose signature gear item is a shield, and how he works his way towards saving the world and coming to terms with himself. Both series does feel like they have a more grim and serious feel to them: here, I note that I watched Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash some three years ago, but never got much from that series because of how melancholy it felt, and how cold that alternate world was. Because of this, I never ended up writing about it after I finished.

  • After being convinced to return to the ruins and see if there’s anything worth salvaging, Kazuma takes his party back into the depths to explore. Aqua is immediately attacked by undead dolls and is forced to exorcise them. However, even for their troubles, it seems like there’s nothing of value in most of the rooms. The frustrations of a cleared-out area is one I’m familiar with: while I’ve not touched an MMORPG for over a decade, I recall that in The Division, one of the biggest gripes I had about the Dark Zone were landmarks that were already cleaned out, but towards the endgame, I became powerful enough to clear landmarks on my own, and this led other four-man teams to reconsider fighting me. I think that the last time I played a proper fantasy RPG was Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. I remember enjoying that game, but for reasons I’ve forgotten, I’ve never actually finished the main story mission.

  • KonoSuba‘s superb animation quality and artwork means that, when the moment calls for it, Studio Deen can fall upon deliberately worsening the animation to create a point. Aqua usually falls victim to this, and while she’s just delegating the combat strategy here so she wouldn’t have to do anything, in the second season, after absolutely botching her duties when their party was tasked with hunting Lizard Runners, she throws a a tantrum so hard that her art style devolves into something that resembles the abominations created by an individual with a streak of infamy the size of Arizona. That KonoSuba does this suggests they are poking fun at that particular style, and in the interest of not having the individual find this blog via Google’s indexing and proceeding to spam my comments with various all-caps threats, I’ll refrain from naming them.

  • Like Megumin, the summoning circles and sequences whenever Aqua uses her magic are a wonderful sight to behold, rich with vivid colours and visual effects. It looks like being a mage, warlock or equivalent in the world of KonoSaba would be a fun thing provided one specs themselves out properly, although in a classless game like Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, I’ve actually opted to go with a range of specialisations. My character is a combination of archer and mage, specialising in offensive magic and sharpshooting. Of course, this renders me ineffectual at close quarters combat, but one of the nice things about Skyrim is that over time, one could hypothetically level up different attributes well enough so that they are a jack of all trades. Now that I think about it, it could be fun to go back into Skyrim and actually beat the main storyline.

  • Upon reaching one final room, a private chambers of sorts, Kazuma discovers a safe with a keyed lock, and sets about looking for anything that might unlock this safe. The party finds a journal of sorts, which follows the annals of the fellow who came to this world, asked for the ability to create anything through sheer force of will, and sought to stop the Dæmon King, but slowly lost his motivation over time. He was eventually hired by another nation and asked to build the Destroyer, but failed to implement any failsafes. On the surface, KonoSuba‘s second OVA provides a bit of world-building by shining more light on the Destroyer’s creator, but the OVA also accomplishes something much more.

  • With due respect, this is something I was not expecting; both Kazuma and the older adventurer share similar backgrounds, but the distinction of having a devoted, if eccentric, party in his corner means that Kazuma is always pushed into adventure whether he likes it or not, and he finds that in spite of himself, he wears the role of leadership surprisingly well at times. This screenshot was chosen in the spirit of showing off Aqua, and returning to the flow of things, reading the old adventurer’s journal does provide the access code into the locked room.

  • It turns out that the adventurer had in fact created one robot up to his specifications, although when Kazuma activates it, it immediately begins beating up everyone in the room. Darkness seems to be enjoying herself thoroughly, but Aqua, Megumin and Kazuma are terrified. In the end, Megumin destroys the facility, which fails the quest outright. The older adventurer’s ability was a well-chosen one, and as I’ve noted previously, I would’ve likely asked for the Infinity Gauntlet with all six Stones, plus the power to wield it. With the quest butchered, Kazuma and his party return to town.

  • After having spent some time reflecting on Kazuma’s world, KonoSuba‘s second OVA returns to comedy with yet another surprising twist: Ran is actually doing a quest herself by approaching Kazuma and asking to hear about his stories, and she’s dissatisfied with how dull Kazuma is, negotiating for a boosted quest reward for her troubles. Kazuma had followed, feeling that he should step in to help out, but the contents of Luna and Ran’s conversation leaves him humiliated beyond all measure when it turns out it was a clever ploy. The page quote was chosen for this aspect of the OVA.

  • Darkness, Aqua and Megumin had felt bad for Ran earlier and resolved to comfort Kazuma when the truth got out, but the reality is even more amusing, and for once, viewers get to see Aqua enjoy things. Her squeaky laugh is adorable, and upon seeing this, Darkness immediately decides that they’ll have to be kinder to him once things blow over. After the events of the last OVA, KonoSuba‘s second OVA shows that humour is indiscriminate in this world, and so, no one character ever suffers disproportionately for their troubles. Instead, everyone can suffer in an unprejudiced, unbiased and fair manner. This is how KonoSuba keeps things engaging, and with this post, my last of April, in the books, it’s time to go ahead and enjoy the movie.

Despite its masterful use of comedy, KonoSuba manages to weave numerous other themes into its story that greatly enhance the series’ enjoyability, and when given the space to do so, KonoSuba demonstrates that it can strike a balance between world-building, character growth and comedy – the second KonoSuba OVA is superior to the first in this manner, using a quest to give Kazuma’s party more insight into the man behind the Destroyer, and also to remind viewers that despite his gripes, Kazuma’s party is far more valuable to him than he would care to admit. Insofar, Kazuma and his party have contributed to the destruction of two of the Dæmon King’s commanders (Verdia and Hans), and further, have removed at least one more (Vanir). With three kills under his party’s belt over two seasons, KonoSuba shows that in spite of their ineptitude and shortcomings, the unique synergy that comes together in Kazuma’s party, thanks in no small part to Kazuma’s cunning and ability to lead, gives him a fighting chance against the Dæmon King where others have previously been unsuccessful. While KonoSuba might be known for Aqua’s tantrums, Megumin’s explosions and Darkness’ perversion, as well as the ensuing humour, the series also demonstrates that it is set in a world rich with stories, and moreover, that the series isn’t going to squander the opportunity to entertain its viewers in more ways than just one.