The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life converge

Tag Archives: KonoSuba 2

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.

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

“Eris pads her chest.” –Book of Truth, Aqua Mod.

After the government official, Sena, arrests Kazuma, he is interrogated, imprisoned and put on trial for alleged crimes against the state, but during the trial Darkness reveals herself as a member of the well-heeded Dustiness family, sparing Kazuma from execution. The trial is suspended, and Kazuma finds his possessions being seized to pay for his debts. He is subsequently sent to neutralise giant toads, and receives assistance from Yunyun. Megumin and Yunyun continue their contests at Wiz’s shop, where the backgrounds to both are shown in detail. Kazuma later accepts an assignment to investigate a dungeon and encounters Keele, an archwizard who had been seeking a priest to help him move onto the next world. Aqua and Kazuma succeed in their assignment and are rewarded. Darkness later returns and asks for help in getting out of an arranged marriage with Lord Alderp’s son, which had been one of the conditions of releasing Kazuma. While Lord Alderp’s son, Walther, is a devoted knight and kind individual, he actually has no interest in Darkness. Sena appears and pushes Kazuma’s party to investigate explosive dolls coming out of Keele’s old dungeon. Here, Kazuma and Darkness find Vanir, one of the Dæmon King’s commanders. He possesses Darkness, forcing the party to kill her with the hope of taking Vanir out. They are successful, and after Darkness is revived, Kazuma is given a full pardon. However, Vanir manages to survive, having an extra mask housing his spirit, and he takes up a position at Wiz’s shop. He proposes a partnership with Kazuma to sell products from Kazuma’s old life, and later, Kazuma dies again at the hands of lizard runners from his party’s incompetence. While mulling over Vanir’s proposal, Megumin suggests visiting the hot springs town of Arcanretia. Their journey is fraught with danger, but they finally make it to Arcanretia, which turns out to be the headquarters of the Axis devotees. After evading the town’s fanatical population, Kazuma manages to make it to the hot springs. Meanwhile, Aqua runs afoul of the town while investigating the degradation of the hot springs, but they believe her to be a sorceress in the employ of the Dæmon King. Upon reaching the source of the hot springs, Kazuma’s party encounters Hans the Deadly Poison Slime, another one of the Dæmon King’s commander. With conventional attacks being ineffectual, Kazuma allows himself to be eaten, which creates the space for his party to defeat Hans. Despite their success, Aqua’s magic renders all of the mineral water into ordinary water, leading Kazuma’s party to be kicked out. They return home to Axel, and find Yunyun awaiting Megumin’s challenge. Thus, KonoSuba‘s second season draws to a close, and with this, I am one step closing to reaching the movie.

Continuing on in the same vein as its predecessor, KonoSuba‘s second season impresses with its humour. The second season also capitalises on its runtime to develop its characters further: Darkness and Megumin had previously been a masochistic crusader and hyper-specialised arch-wizard, respectively, who would come to enjoy being in Kazuma’s party despite his shortcomings. With the time in the second season, Darkness’ identity as Lalatina Dustiness-Ford and her noble background becomes covered; despite being of an aristocratic background, she prefers the excitement of adventuring over the more monotonous nature of nobility, much to her father’s chagrin. Similarly, Megumin is revealed to have been a highly talented Crimson Dæmon from an impoverished background, and Yunyun’s desire to challenge Megumin is her way of remaining in touch; her background is the opposite of Megumin’s, but she found herself incredibly lonely. Building out the backgrounds for Megumin and Darkness thus serves to help viewers appreciate who’s in Kazuma’s party and that despite their eccentricities, they are ultimately good people to have in his corner during a bind. Ultimately, this enhances the connection that Kazuma shares with his party, reinforcing the idea that irrespective of what misadventures may await Kazuma, and whatever laughs that viewers may enjoy as a result, Kazuma and his group will find some way to pull through, ensuring that KonoSuba remains within the realm of comedy at all times. Comedy is KonoSuba‘s greatest strength, and the second season manages to find new ways to ensuring that its humour remains fresh; additional character exposition helps to create new contexts and situations that keeps the series enjoyable, while simultaneously building out Kazuma’s world out further that leaves viewers excited to see what happens next.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • KonoSuba‘s second season opens right where the first one left off: the second season picked up ten months after the finale for the first season ended. Some viewers would’ve been able to read ahead in the light novels to gain an idea of what Kazuma’s fate was, but for anime-only folks, the wait must’ve been excruciating. Because I come to the party much later, I did not have that wait, and therefore, went from the first to second season without the delay. Kazuma’s trial showcases the archaic judicial system in his new world: the due process is little more than a show trial, and ultimately, it takes Darkness revealing herself as a member of the Dustiness family to save him. Before delving deeper into this post, I note that there were a great deal of moments in KonoSuba worth writing about, and not all of them made it into this post; the series is something that would’ve been possible to write in an episodic fashion for.

  • In the days subsequently, Kazuma takes up quests at the government’s behest to begin paying back the debts he’d incurred for destroying the nobleman’s palace. Supervised by his interrogator and government official, Sena, Kazuma falls back on the old standby of hunting giant toads. As always, Aqua is immediately eaten, Megumin manages to slay a few but is eaten herself after being immobilised, and even Sena falls prey. Ultimately, it takes Yunyun’s arrival to sort things out: Yunyun had been introduced as a secondary character during the OVA, but for folks who’d missed the OVA, KonoSuba‘s second season does a solid job of introducing Yunyun and establishing her as Megumin’s self-proclaimed rival.

  • Megumin and Kazuma’s fight for the bath leads them to both get in at the same time. Kazuma appears to be fond of messing around with things like gender equality and the like when it helps him to get ahead, and I’m actually a little curious to learn what contemporary reviews of KonoSuba‘s second season, especially at places like Anime News Network, were like. This topic is a bit of a minefield to venture into, and I note that it is one I am not fond of dealing with because of how heated discussions can get.

  • Kazuma accepts a quest from Luna to take a look at unknown activity in a dungeon that was supposedly cleared of all monsters and inhabitants long ago. Kazuma decides to take up the quest, knowing he won’t get a night’s worth of sleep until his debt’s been repaid in full. Kazuma asks Megumin to stay behind: her explosive magic is useless in close quarters. However, even with just Kazuma and Aqua, and despite Kazuma’s new skill set in stealth and detection, Aqua’s holy presence attracts the undead to her, making the journey a perilous one.

  • Upon reaching the end, Kazuma and Aqua find that the named elite at the end is Keele, a former Arch Wizard who once served the country but then was enamoured with a royal lady. He eventually ran away with her and turned to the dark side to save her. However, despite being a Lich, Keele is unexpectedly friendly: despite the intimidating introduction, he is actually polite and receptive towards the two, asking Aqua to purify him and send him onto the afterlife to reunite with his wife. I absolutely loved this scene: it exemplifies KonoSuba‘s ability to make light of dark situations, and this is one of the motifs in the series, that not everything necessarily needs to be taken seriously all the time.

  • With Keele’s last request filled, he peacefully accepts Aqua’s purification, leaving Kazuma and Aqua to take possession of his treasure. To the Guild, While Kazuma initially intends to turn the entire sum in to help address the debt, Aqua manages to convince Kazuma to ease up a little and he ends up joining Aqua in indulging. Unlike most series, KonoSuba shows the outcomes of partying too hard, and Kazuma is left regretting the decision in spite of himself. By KonoSuba‘s second season, food and drink are given reduced emphasis: now that Kazuma’s acclimatised to this world more, the focus can remain on the more exciting aspects of his adventure.

  • I’ve noticed that, of all places online, Tango-Victor-Tango is the only place to insistently call KonoSuba “Gifting this Wonderful World”, when the official English title is God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World and the literal translation of the title is “A blessing to this wonderful world”. Originally, a few sites also called it “Gifting this Wonderful World”, but Tango-Victor-Tango is the only place remaining to continue to refer to the series as such. I’m not too sure how this translation of the title came about: looking at the Japanese, the kanji 祝福 (Hepburn shufuku and jyutping zuk1 fuk1) translates directly to blessing, the giving of good wishes. Unless one felt themselves above the laws of language, there’s no way to interpret this as a gifting of good wishes. I’ve made a few efforts to change this back when I was a member of that particular community, but was met with heavy resistance, so I feel like I’m missing something fundamental here.

  • On a cold winter’s day, Darkness reappears, seeking help from her party: it turns out the terms of Kazuma’s stay of trial was in exchange for her marriage to Lord Anderp’s son, Walther. Kazuma privately decides to see this one through; despite her durability, Darkness lacks effective offensive capabilities, and Kazuma sees her as a liability more than anything. Outwardly, he convinces Darkness that at the very least, she should meet Walther.

  • One of Kazuma’s talents, for better or worse, is being able to play his party’s members and convince them to undertake tasks that they might normally object to. In particular, Kazuma is able to keep Megumin in check by giving her the chance to use her explosive magic. When Sena appears with a task for Kazuma, he suggests that Megumin is suited for this assignment and would be able to further her explosion magic, as well as her reputation, further. By the second season, my favourite character has shifted over to Megumin for her personality traits and how she deals with Kazuma.

  • Because Ignis Dustiness-Ford is a noble of high status, Kazuma has no intention of messing around when Ignis promises him an award of sorts if things go well. He immediately agrees to keep Darkness in check during her meeting with Walther. However, Darkness has her own plans, and does her utmost to put her perversions on full display for Walther to check out. This ironically backfires; Walther appreciates Darkness’ being forward and open about herself, compared to other nobles who put on airs and maintain a facade.

  • Ultimately, things devolve into Kazuma duelling Darkness for no apparent reason other than to show Walther the sort of person that Darkness expects to have in her life. While an inferior swordsman and far weaker than Darkness, Kazuma’s unusual array of tricks allows him to hold his own against Darkness. He eventually manages to best her by suggesting that he’d humiliate her in the worst way possible, causing her to lose focus. Kazuma’s Drain Touch finally deals appreciable damage to her stamina pool, and she collapses as her imagination goes into overdrive.

  • In the end, seeing the dynamic between Kazuma and Darkness leads Walther to calls things off: he’d been interested after seeing the real Darkness, but realised he probably wouldn’t be able to make her happy. To further compound things, Darkness lies that she’s carrying Kazuma’s child, and in an unsurprising twist, Ignis is pleased beyond words. Before anything else can go down, Sena appears yet again with grim news: Keele’s dungeon does not appear to have been completely cleared, and strange exploding dolls are now coming out of it, posing a clear and present danger to Axel.

  • Because Aqua has a tendency to attract the undead, Kazuma takes Darkness with him to investigate the source of these dolls. The cleared dungeon presents no threat, but shortly after, Kazuma and Darkness come face to face with their enemy: Vanir, one of the Dæmon King’s generals. Darkness and Kazuma waste no time engaging him in combat, but after Vanir is seemingly defeated, his mask latches onto Darkness and he takes over her body. While Vanir is powerful enough to see into the thoughts of all weaker minds, Kazuma’s devious nature makes him harder to read, and Darkness puts up a considerable resistance when he possesses her.

  • Darkness is simultaneously repulsed and turned on by fighting such a formidable foe, but despite the best effort of Kazuma’s party, nothing seems to have an impact on Vanir, who now also has access to Darkness’ physical prowess. Ultimately, Kazuma decides that it will be necessary to use Megumin’s explosive magic to take him out, and Vanir is finally destroyed. Darkness sustains a great deal of damage in the fight, but she’s quickly returned to health, and with this, one more of the Dæmon King’s commanders is now down for the count.

  • Seeing Kazuma lead his party to victory over Vanir convinces the kingdom that he and his allies are most certainly not enemies, and besides a complete exoneration, his debt is also cleared. This marks the first time we’ve seen Sena with a genuine smile on her face, and I found that this moment exemplifies the sort of thing that makese KonoSuba worth watching – characters all have a depth to them that makes them pleasantly life-like. As it turns out, Sena is utterly devoted to her job and does her best to ensure justice is dealt, but outside of her duties, she has a penchant for yaoi and is said to be a patron of the Succubus’ dream services, indulging herself in fanciful dreams in exchange for not revealing the presence of this (likely illegal) service to those she serves.

  • It is here that Kazuma brings out his ultimate humiliation on Darkness: while she normally enjoys being subject to public humiliation from strange sources, the seemingly ordinary act of calling her by her real name, Lalatina, brings her genuine shame. This scene also highlights the quality of the artwork in KonoSuba: the anime does a phenomenal job in its scenes, and large crowds are given the same attention and detail as the eye-catching combat sequences. Between the artwork and the hilarious atmosphere, KonoSuba is exceptionally captivating.

  • As it turns out, Vanir had an extra Horcrux housing his spirit, and when his first was destroyed, he fell back onto the second one. Seeing what could be, Vanir decides to stand down from his old role and begins working at Wiz’s shop. From here on out, Vanir becomes a brilliant addition to the cast: unlike Wiz, he has business sense, and his sharp mind makes him a perfect foil to Aqua.

  • Kazuma’s felt the time was right to upgrade his loadout, but his new gear set is too heavy to move in, and the katana he’s ordered is unwieldy. He eventually turns down the armour, gets his sword cut down to a wakizashi size that better suits his combat style, and finally, struggles to come up with a name for it. Megumin intervenes and decides to call it “chunchunmaru” (literally “Blade of the Birdsong”): it’s an unexpectedly endearing name stemming from the Japanese onomatopoeia of chirping birds, and Rie Takahashi’s delivery of the name is adorable.

  • On his next quest with his new weapon, however, general incompetence from his party (and Aqua in particular) results in Kazuma dying yet again. Kazuma is resurrected, has his body desecrated by Megumin, and then later, considers a proposal with Vanir that may save him the trouble of having to die again in a quest. Ultimately, Megumin convinces everyone to go to Arcanretia to rest up and take on the sights of a new town. Since fast travel is not a feature of Kazuma’s current world, and technological limitations preclude swifter means, the best way to travel is by covered wagon. Owing to limited space, however, the party must fight for a seat, settling things via rock-paper-scissors.

  • Aqua gets defeated in each match, reducing her to a squeaking puddle; throughout KonoSuba, Aqua’s tantrums are hilarious to behold, but this one takes the cake. Irritated, Kazuma begins pulling on her face to shut her up, and Aqua’s whining becomes incoherent, sounding like Mandarin. Up until KonoSuba, Sora Amamiya, Aqua’s voice actress, was counted as being quite monotonous in her voice work, but all critics found themselves eating their words after her performance as Aqua. While one might feel sorry for Aqua, she typically causes her own misfortune as a result of her own overconfidence and incompetence, and so, viewers can laugh at her suffering guilt-free.

  • The journey to Arcanretia is a straightforwards one until Darkness’ armour, composed of a special metal, draws the attention of Running Kite Hawks, forcing Kazuma to take responsibility and fight them off using uncommon tactics. The other passengers of the wagon train are impressed, but Kazuma turns down their reward, feeling it to be his fault an otherwise uneventful trip was made troublesome. He repairs Darkness’ armour after dinner, but during the night, undead begin assaulting the camp. Aqua clears them away with her usual magic, and the wagon train is similarly impressed, but Kazuma again notes its his fault. For his perversions and laziness, Kazuma retains some honour about him, and this is what makes his character an interesting one.

  • The town of Arcanretia is a beautiful one, and represents a wonderful change of scenery from Axel (which is itself a pleasant-looking place). Set in a valley between the cliffs, and surrounded by waterfalls carrying water from mountain springs, Arcanretia gives off a Rivendell vibe. However, the town, like everything else in KonoSuba that looks pleasant, is deceiving: it is home to the fanatical Axis cult. These worshippers of Aqua are devoted to the point where they will relentlessly hassle anyone to join them.

  • When Kazuma helps a local retrieve her fallen apples, Darkness begins to express jealousy that Kazuma is looking at someone else, at least until the local attempts to convert Kazuma. He is only spared in the last moment when Darkness reveals herself as a member of the Eris cult, which sends the local off in a huff. It turns out that the Eria and Axis factions are at odds with one another, although curiously enough, despite the townspeople’s response to Darkness signifying just how wide the gap is, Aqua herself gets along with Darkness without any issue. Meanwhile, Megumin finds herself trampled by the townspeople’s overbearing desire to convert her and is reluctant to go out the next day.

  • Kazuma finds Aqua at the church, acting as a priest and giving strange advice to the townspeople who’ve come to confess their sins. He later steps into the mixed baths at the hot springs to unwind, finds another fellow who’s fed up with the insane citizens, and eavesdrops on Darkness and Megumin before getting his rear handed to him when caught. Wiz had accompanied Kazuma’s party on this journey after finding herself in need of some rest and relaxation and had earlier entered the baths: like Kazuma, viewers are doubtlessly left wishing that he’d been there sooner. The water of the baths is of a very high quality and feels like the water seen in a Miyazaki or Makoto Shinkai film.

  • Later that evening, it turns out Aqua’s presence is most unwelcome, and the town is up in arms with her actions. Her purification magic renders the hot springs’ water into ordinary water, which defeats Arcanretia’s main source of income. This was foreshadowed when she inadvertently turns Kazuma’s tea into water, and does the same thing to Darkness’ grape juice at breakfast. Angered about Aqua’s actions and accusing her of impersonating Aqua, Arcanretia’s citizens make to destroy Aqua and her party in a witch hunt. The finale to KonoSuba‘s second season thus looks to be a bit more anti-climatic than the first, which featured the Destroyer.

  • Aqua manages to escape and make for the hot springs; despite the Arcanretia’s poor treatment of her, she’s still intent on doing good, feeling it to be her duty. Since the only thing I can do with this screenshot is laugh at Aqua’s plight, I’ll explain the page quote: it is one of the most famous lines from KonoSuba and refers to the Goddess Eris, who uses additional means to augment her bust owing to her being jealous of Aqua. While seemingly a throwaway line, it can be interpreted as being quite deep, being a catch-all phrase for referring to those who try to make themselves more impressive than they are. I’ll remark that Eris padding her chest is not so different than stat padding, an action that makes an individual look better without contributing to the game: unlike Eris, who pads her chest, I don’t pad my stats.

  • Once Kazuma’s party arrives at the top of the mountain and passes the guards, they find the same fellow Kazuma had encountered in the baths earlier. This fellow inexplicably brings to mind Lucky Star‘s Minoru Shiraishi, a hapless fellow on the show’s Lucky Channel segment, and it turns out he’s the source of the poison afflicting the hot springs in Arcanretia. Upon revealing his identity as Hans, one of the Dæmon King’s generals. Hans brags about having consumed the hot springs’ caretaker, immediately angering Wiz, who begins to attack him. Hans is voiced by Kenjiro Tsuda (Hibike! Euphonium‘s Takuya Gotō and Damian Baldur Flügel of Violet Evergarden).

  • Despite Wiz’s power, she’s ultimately unable to stop Hans after he reverts to his true form, an amorphous monstrosity impervious to all physical attack and possessing high magical resistance. Rather than taking Hans on with brute force, Kazuma uses another one of his ploys, drawing Hans’ attention off his party while they attack him. In the process, Kazuma is killed again and reduced to a skeleton, but Megumin casts an explosion that knocks out Hans long enough for Wiz to destroy his main body.

  • Aqua then finishes off the weakened form of Hans with support from the townspeople, ending his threat once and for all. This battle with yet another one of the Dæmon King’s generals came completely out of the blue, was thrilling to watch and also demonstrates that even without any preparedness, Kazuma can effectively manage his party to victory. The battle with Hans exemplifies KonoSuba‘s ability to conceal extraordinary moments without giving them away, and added to the thrills of the second season.

  • In the end, after a mixed-bag of a trip, Kazuma and his party return home to Axel, where they relish in the town’s more ordinary citizens and the familiar scenery. It turns out that Yunyun had been visiting their residence daily with the hope of meeting up with Megumin and hanging out under the pretext of a challenge. With KonoSuba‘s second season in the books, the only thing standing between me and the movie is the second OVA. I will be wrapping this one up on very short order, and there’s a few more posts upcoming before April draws to a close: I’ve been working on a longer post that’s required a bit more effort, and while this one’s still in progress, the heavy lifting is done, allowing me to continue with more conventional posts.

World-building is something that KonoSuba‘s second season excels at: the first season had been focused on the town of Axel and Kazuma’s attempts to acclimatise to life here, but by the time of the second season, Kazuma’s presented with opportunities to explore a little more. Arcanretia marks the first town outside of Axel Kazuma visits, and the journey there creates a new dynamic amongst Kazuma’s party; that KonoSuba has held the viewers’ attention this effectively despite being largely confined to Axel for two consecutive seasons, but can convincingly construct a living, detailed world, shows that the possibility for adventure and exploration (and the attendant hilarity that Kazuma’s party excels at) are limitless. One must ask the question of what sort of (mis)adventures await Kazuma, Aqua, Megumin and Darkness before they can square off against the Dæmon King, but one thing is certain: whatever path lies ahead, it will be superbly enjoyable to watch. As the curtain falls on KonoSuba‘s second season, viewers are given the assurance that Kazuma will be afforded some downtime before his next adventure; unlike the first season, which ended on a cliffhanger, the second season closes with Kazuma reclining on a chair before stepping out to help out around the house. For viewers of the time, this would’ve been a much more satisfactory close to the season, and therefore, when the movie was announced, I can imagine that it would’ve been to general excitement. I’m almost at that point now, and will be venturing into the realm of the movie as soon as I wrap up the second season’s OVA.