Konosuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!: Oh My Useless Goddess!

By Natsume Akatsuki and Kurone Mishima. Released in Japan as “Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku o!: Aa, Damegami-sama” by Kadokawa Sneaker Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Kevin Steinbach.

In the current light novel boom that North America has been experiencing, there have been many novels that fall under the broad category of ‘funny’. They either take a relatively serious plot and give it a funny touch (The Devil Is a Part-timer!), expand on a completely ludicrous situation (Psycome), or are an outright parody (I Saved Too Many Girls And Caused the Apocalypse). KonoSuba’s first volume is most like the latter of these options, but I have to say as I was reading it that I can’t think of a single series, even Little Apocalypse, that was as dedicated to wringing as many laughs out of everything as KonoSuba is. Never mind plot complications or depth of characterization. This series is damned funny, and that’s why you should read it.

The archetype being parodied will be most familiar to readers of the manga Mushoku Tensei. A young man who is something of a loser dies performing one noble act, and is given an option to reincarnate in a fantasy world so he can be a hero. Except here, Kazuma’s death turns out to be so pathetic that even the doctors who tried to save him and his own parents laughed when they heard about it, and the young goddess who wants to send him to a fantasy world seems to be doing it so that she can fill her quota more than anything else. She’s so annoying, in fact, that Kazuma, rather than wishing for a fantastic sword or unbeatable magic powers to go along with him into this world, wishes for… the goddess herself. Fans of Oh My Goddess will be especially amused, showing that the subtitle of the first volume isn’t just for show. Kazuma and Aqua could not be more different than Keiichi and Belldandy, though, and when they both arrive in Generic Fantasy world X, he finds this goddess to be a lot less help than he’d hoped.

Everything that follows amps up the comedy, as it should be. Kazuma, because he didn’t pick an insane superweapon but a useless goddess, as average stats and minimal weapons to defeat a giant demon king. He has luck… but that merely seems to allow him to use thief abilities to steal girl’s panties. (Yeah, sorry about that, it’s still written for guys.) We meet Megumin, a teenage overdramatic girl who likes explosions and not much else. We meet Darkness, a knight with elite defensive powers who can’t hit the side of a barn door with her sword, and who seems to get off on just about anything. Together, these four take on giant frogs (which I won’t spoil), supposedly evil lichs (another great scene), and in the end a demon general who is a dullahan (were these always in anime even before Celty, or is their resurgence all Ryohgo Narita’s fault?). And what’s more, they win!

It’s tricky to review this, because I don’t want to give away the best gags. I will note that, while I’m sure this will change, I was pleasantly surprised at the utter lack of romance in this first book. Kazuma and Aqua act like bratty siblings, Megumin is too young for him, and while Darkness is basically what he finds attractive, her masochism creeps him out. That plus his tendency to yell at everyone and everything makes this party dynamic more family than harem, and I appreciated that. But when all is said and done, you read this book because it will make you laugh. Even if you aren’t familiar with the tropes of isekai and reincarnation novels, you’ll still like this.

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