Ah, Isekai. The bane of my anime-loving existence. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I hate the genre or anything. It’s just that ever since Sword Art Online blew up, we have had copycats of the same ‘Chosen One’ plotline with a sprinkling of harem fanservice being regurgitated by the industry. So, when KonoSuba stepped on the scene, I was intrigued.
Isekai parodies are now as abundant as Isekai themselves, with a new one coming out every season. I mean, you’ve even had an Isekai where you get transported to fight in some fantastical war, but you become an economical strategist instead. Like that was a genuinely funny role reversal.
But not every comedy is built like that. Often, they promise something new and exciting but end up focusing on one specific gag and repeating it ad nauseum. Like I know it’s a parody, but I still have standards! Even comedy can be done in a way where it’s engaging and fun.
KonoSuba: God’s on This Wonderful World! is exactly what the genre needed: a story that didn’t take itself too seriously while being earnest in its delivery. It has a surprisingly humble origin as a Web Novel, written by Natsume Akatsuki with Kurone Mishima taking charge of the illustrative work. The printed Light Novel went on to do serious numbers, leading to an anime adaptation by Studio Deen.
But does the anime hold up? Let’s find out.
Is The Story Any Good?
I mean, I’d say it is! The premise is formulaic but spins it into something new. Kazuma Satou is a high school NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) who has never done anything incredible in his life. With no meaningful connections, he feels trapped and wants to do something to make this life worth it. And one day he does take a step out, sacrificing himself like a hero to save a girl from being run over. Except the ‘high-speed vehicle’ was just a slow tractor, and he dies from shock.
After this embarrassing death, Kazuma finds himself being judged by Aqua, a gorgeous but obnoxious goddess with two options available: Go to heaven or get reincarnated into a fantasy world – every gamer’s dream! Of course, he chooses the latter and is allowed 1 special aide to help him on his new journey. After being baited and ridiculed by Aqua, he ends up picking her out of spite as his chosen ‘item.’ But that wasn’t the ‘Uno Reverse’ Kazuma thought it would be because that all-powerful goddess? Yeah, she’s useless.
To add insult to injury, this magical land doesn’t work on game logic. You don’t just start with every power and item already at your disposal, oh no. Kazuma and Aqua need to finance themselves before embarking on any adventure. Safe to say, this is not the ‘dream’ Kazuma signed up for.
KonoSuba: The Chosen One Doesn’t Exist
Let’s not kid ourselves, Isekai is wish-fulfillment. We’ve all looked at a JRPG hero before and thought ‘Man, I wish I could be that guy!’. It’s just the nature of Isekai, making you feel that you, too, could be someone special if given the right powers and settings.
Except Kazuma stands in for that kind of self-insert fantasy and makes us realize how absolutely terrible we’d all be at it. No, we wouldn’t be the cool, mysterious sword wielder with a gaggle of hot admirers loving us unconditionally while we save the world. We’d just be bumbling idiots trying to survive in a world way out of our depth.
We’d be starting from the ground up, like any other life. Jobs to do, bills to pay, make friends with weird people that we meet. It’s surprisingly realistic in a setting so fantastical.
The Cast Runs The Show in KonoSuba
When you have a plot so threadbare, how do you make a show that’s worth investing time in? The stellar cast of characters is what makes KonoSuba great. Each character is a wonderful twist on a harem/fantasy stereotype and their interactions are brilliant.
Kazuma is smart but not super OP, mirroring the same doubt that the viewer has in certain situations. His banter with Aqua is hilarious, truly sharing a single brain cell between each other and having to deal with the misfits in their guild.
And that’s what is enjoyable here, the group dynamics between these larger-than-life characters that are fun on their own and not just a product of their respective gag.
So, Is KonoSuba Worth A Watch?
Hell yeah! Heck, I’d say it’s worth a rewatch too. It’s doing something different, subverting the pre-existing tropes in a fun way. This makes for a feel-good watch, every time, without getting tired and boring.
Someone described KonoSuba as Sword Art Online where all the flaws are replaced with great comedy and actually likable characters. And as a certified SAO Hater™, that is high praise I have to agree with.