KonoSuba (Season 1)
After meeting an untimely death, Kazuma Saito is given the chance to reincarnate in a fantasy world, where he is tasked with defeating the Demon King. If he is successful, he will get whatever he wants. Unfortunately, this new life isn't all that he hoped for, as Kazuma ends up an average adventurer in a town with nothing but high level quests. Over time, Kazuma forms a party of equally hopeless comrades who, somehow, seem to find success in the oddest of ways.
January 2016 - March 2016
Producer: Rie Ogura
Director: Takaomi Kanasaki
Writers: Makoto Uezu
Starring: Jun Fukushima, Sora Amamiya, Rie Takahashi, Ai Kayano
Distributors: Studio Deen
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy
Kazuma Sato is a 16-year old shut-in who leaves his home late one night for a game release. On his way home, he sees a girl about to be hit by a truck. In a spectacular display of selflessness, Kazuma pushes the girl out of the way, throwing himself in the path of the truck and dying as a result… except the truck was a tractor, and the cause of death was acute stress reaction.
Upon his death, Kazuma is taken to the afterlife, where he meets with the goddess, Aqua, who informs him of the less-than-heroic details of his death, going so far as to tell Kazuma that both the paramedics and his own parents laughed at his pitiful demise. Aqua herself is equally as rude, but she offers Kazuma two options: go to Heaven, or be reborn in an alternate world beset by a Demon King. Kazuma chooses the option to be reborn, and is thus allowed to choose any one godlike item or ability; however, annoyed at Aqua’s behavior, Kazuma retaliates by choosing her as his one item, dragging her along to the parallel world.
Despite his excitement over the prospect of a fantasy adventure, Kazuma quickly learns that things aren’t going to be quite like he dreamed they would be, more-so after he finds himself teamed up with Megumin–the explosion-magic-obsessed mage–and Darkness–a masochistic crusader who can take a beating but can’t land a single blow.
Needless to say, Kazuma’s odds of defeating the Demon King grow slimmer and slimmer by the moment…
Spiritual Content: There are gods and goddesses mentioned, and “heaven” is played off as a boring place where its citizens do nothing but bask in the sun. Reincarnation is also mentioned. Fantasy magic is present, especially in the form of explosion, healing, and resurrection magic. There are no references to any kind of real life occult practices, however. The term “demon” is used in reference to the Demon King, although what type of demon he is supposed to be (fallen angel or fantasy) is never mentioned. The show also contains succubi (see Sexual Content section), a lich, and a dullahan.
Violence: While KonoSuba does contain battle segments, its primary focus is on comedy, so even when it gets violent, it’s rarely serious. Nevertheless, you can expect the type of violence you’d normally expect from a fantasy series: the slaying of monsters, sword fights, magical blasts, and so forth. Slapstick-style comedy is prevalent throughout.
Language: Profanities include 14 uses of “d*mn,” 3 uses of “h*ll, and 1 use each of “b*tch” and “a**.” Minor euphemisms and other note-worthy insults include 5 uses of “j**z” and “heck,” 2 uses of “crap,” and one use each of “whore” and “screw.”
Sexual Content: Many scenes show Aqua from suggestive angles, and a common joke among the fandom is whether or not Aqua actually wears underwear, given the apparent lack of it in these barely-tasteful shots. Bouncing breasts are also a common occurrence. Brief shots of the characters (male and female) in the baths (usually from behind) occur multiple times throughout the show.
Episode 9 is advisably skip-able. Its main focus is on Kazuma visiting what is essentially a brothel run by succubi. The succubi are all dressed in very skimpy outfits that reveal more flesh than they hide, and the whole purpose of their “services” is to let men live out their lewd fantasies in their dreams. On top of that, there are scenes where Kazuma makes advances on one of his nude female companions while in the bath, thinking he is in his succubi-induced dream. While the episode does contain some funny moments, there is just too much fanservice and sexual content to make watching it worthwhile. (The only thing you’ll need to know in skipping it is an announcement that Destroyer is approaching the city.)
Suggestive jokes and comments pepper the series. In one episode, Kazuma gains the “thief” skill and unintentionally steals two women’s underwear. A recurring joke is that Darkness is something of a masochist who enjoys being humiliated in front of people. She also verbalizes fantasies of what her foes may do to her post-beating. The female characters paint Kazuma as a pervert as a form of manipulation.
Alcohol/Drug Use: Characters drink alcohol and get drunk. Aqua is the prime offender (though whether or not she is “underage” is unknown, as she is a goddess). Background characters (all of whom appear to be of age) are also shown drinking.
Other Negative Content: Most of the negative content is concentrated in sexual innuendos and lewd fanservice; there is little else to mention here.
Positive Content: The best thing that can be said about KonoSuba is that it advocates standing by your friends. Though Kazuma is initially set on ditching the less-than-stellar band of heroes he has allied himself with, he ultimately comes to accept them as his teammates. Despite their many shortcomings, he still sticks with them, ultimately allowing his team to accomplish things that others thought impossible or were too afraid to even try.
At first glance, KonoSuba would seem like the ideal show for fans of Sword Art Online and Re: Zero–an average, everyday boy is thrown into a fantasy world full of adventure. In reality, KonoSuba is better described as a parody of these concepts.
KonoSuba focuses much more on comedy and much less on plot, though it does have a loose plot that runs throughout the show. For example, Kazuma accompanies Megumin while she practices her explosion magic on a seemingly-abandoned castle. As it turns out, the castle belongs to one of the Demon King’s generals, who presents himself at the town where Kazuma and company have taken up residence. Several episodes later, the same general returns when Megumin fails to stop her daily practice on his castle. Developments like this certainly warrant watching the show from start to finish; however, KonoSuba also feels like a show that anyone could walk in on and still laugh at, even without knowing the full extent of the story or the characters’ backgrounds. There are plenty of laughs to go around, especially as Kazuma finds himself on the short end of the powers and abilities stick, and even more-so as he realizes that he is surrounded by party members who are inept at best and useless at worst.
Sadly, KonoSuba relies on perversion for a considerable portion of its humor, which is a shame because it more than proves that it is capable of achieving comedy without these elements. One of the most common jokes is Darkness’ masochism and how she gets worked up over the thought of being pulverized by an enemy. These scenes usually include comments of a more obscene nature, as she wonders what her foes will do to her upon defeating her. If there’s any solace to be taken, it’s that her enemies seem to be just as disturbed by these ramblings as the viewer should hopefully be.
Sexual elements such as these tend to overshadow other types of humor in the show, such as Aqua’s near-uselessness, despite the fact that she’s a goddess (although she does prove herself more useful as the show goes on). For example, one episode focuses on Aqua purifying a lake full of monsters. In order to perform the task without being injured, Aqua locks herself in a cage and partially submerges it in the lake so that she can make contact with the water. During the process, the monsters attack the cage, terrifying Aqua and causing her to hermit herself away in the cage. While the explanation probably doesn’t sound funny, the execution certainly is. Unfortunately, the prevalence of more perverse humor tends to outweigh more wholesome laughs. The amount of fanservice, while not nearly enough to make the series ecchi, is still likely to be a deterrent to many viewers.
The characters themselves do deserve praise, though. None of them ever “break character” and do something out of the ordinary. While this means no unpredictable character development occurs, KonoSuba never really presents itself as a show focused on character arcs, either. The characters each fill a certain role or trope and stay true to it–entirely for the purpose of comedy.
KonoSuba is also a well-presented show. The art style may be a bit simpler in some instances compared to other contemporary anime, but it never feels sloppy or cheap. It simply works, and despite the less-than-serious tone that the episodes tend to take, the animators still know how to make an epic scene look epic. Megumin’s explosion magic always appears as grand as it sounds, and the battle with the Destroyer in the final episode is definitely given its due, even if any attempts at a serious tone are continuously undercut by a joke or humorous development.
At the end of the day, KonoSuba is likely not the fantasy anime that you’re looking for. If you want big adventures, heroic quests, and an engaging plot, you will definitely want to look elsewhere. If you want clean humor, you will definitely want to look elsewhere. If you want a show that manages to give you a weird attachment to its characters while making you laugh one moment and cringe the next, then you may want to check out KonoSuba. It’s not a “great” show by any means, and Christian viewers will definitely want to approach it cautiously due to the fanservice and sexual nature of some of its jokes. If you’re able to tolerate its less-than-savory elements, however, I believe you will find enjoyment in the things KonoSuba does get right.
But, seriously, skip episode 9. No one needs to watch that.
+ Genuinely amusing, outside of the dirty jokes
+ Quality art
+ Enjoyable characters
- Dirty jokes
- Mild fanservice
- Episode 9