“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.