Konosuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!: Axis Church vs. Eris Church

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

I was expecting more comedy this time around, and I was right. There are lots of very funny moments in this volume, sure to please the fan of KonOSuba. Chris’ secret is now known, but that doesn’t mean that she and Kazuma are not playing Robin Hood on the sly, burgling evil noble estates in order to acquire sentient armor that proves to be far more trouble than it’s worth. Meanwhile, the Eris Festival is upon us, and a jealous Aqua wants to have a festival dedicated to her as well. The result is the subtitle, a parody of Pokemon Red vs. Blue, in which the traditional religious festival gets turned (mostly thanks to Kazuma) into more of a giant blowout, complete with food stalls, beauty contests, and giant killer cicadas. However, just because it’s a full-blown comedy does not mean we can’t have character development.

It feels odd to be talking about character development in a series like KonoSuba, but it’s true. Megumin has come a long way from the start of the series, and despite the occasional explosion has become the most sensible of the group (Kazuma forfeits this title enough that you can’t use it for him anymore). Meanwhile, Darkness, after the events of the last volume, is acting Governor of their town, and is thus drowning in responsibilities (including having to police Kazuma and Aqua). The gag here is that, for a moment, you think the same thing might be happening with Aqua, who spends much of the book actually being sensible and responsible. But of course it can’t last – Megumin and Darkness have room built into their characters for growth, but Aqua’s “useless goddess” properties are much harder to move on from. She’s too funny not to keep it up.

And then there’s the love triangle. It’s clear from this book that both Megumin and Darkness have come to terms with their love for Kazuma and want to take things to the next level. It’s also clear that Kazuma knows this… the question is whether he’s too immature to actually be able to take their feelings seriously, as he brags to Chris about harem ends and the like. Of course, his words are bravado for the most part, and by the end of the book, where the cliffhanger seems to imply Megumin wants to confess properly, he seems almost terrified. I do wonder if a series like KonoSuba can bake an actual relationship into its premise. Can Kazuma answer either Megumin or Darkness properly, or will there be wacky comedy confessions and then back to the status quo? As for “harem” ends, the series thankfully still seems to be avoiding that sort of thing… Chris/Eris’ relationship with Kazuma is not the “bratty siblings” that he and Aqua have, but it doesn’t feel romantic, which is a good thing.

For all the romantic potential, at the end of the day KonoSuba still runs on its comedy, and there’s lots of that here. Fans of the series will get a kick out of this book.

Konosuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!: 110-Million Bride

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

For all that KonoSuba is occasionally called a harem manga, it’s more clearly a love triangle. And having given Megumin her due again in the 5th book, we’re back to focusing on Darkness, who is dealing with the realities of being the daughter of a noble. As the title may imply (it’s a parody of the “My Bride Is a Mermaid” series), she’s getting married off in order to clear a family debt, one that hearkens back to events of the previous books. This is actually very well handled, as it looks more closely at the “we saved the world but there was massive property damage” trope from various fantasy titles. Knowing Darkness’ sense of duty, it’s no surprise that her first thought is to sacrifice herself for the sake of everyone else. Of course there’s no way that Kazuma is going to let her get away with… oh, he’s sulking. OK, he may actually let her get away with it. Fortunately, Megumin and Aqua are on the case. (Fortunately?)

Before the wedding, Darkness is trying other avenues to earn cash, including taking out a hideously dangerous (and thus high bounty) monster, which naturally likes to attack and eat people, leading to Kazuma dying – again. This helps to emphasize something that we saw in the previous book – Kazuma and his partners work better in a large group than they do as a quartet. Unfortunately, this also means the reward is divided among various adventurers, so she has to go through with the wedding. Which is, naturally, to the evil Lord we’ve seen before, who is pretty much the bad guy behind nearly everything in the series. To Kazuma’s credit, he does try to rescue her from this plight, at first, but he simply cannot resist running his mouth off, which leads to a fight, which… well, you know. Kazuma.

This is one of those books that’s all about the climax, though. It’s also very much about Darkness’ specific masochism fetish, which is on display throughout the book. It can be very difficult for both her and Kazuma to draw a line between “you are being mean and embarrassing me and I find it really arousing” and “you are being mean and embarrassing and I am pretty furious”, and after the events of this book, I don’t think either one has really gotten closer to figuring out where that line is. In terms of the reader and KonoSuba’s sense of humor, though, nothing can quite top Kazuma’s declaration that she’s his property now and he plans to use her body to the fullest. This is in the middle of the wedding, and is essentially followed up by Darkness having an orgasm. It’s strangely heartwarming too, in that KonoSuba way. Also heartwarming is the way that everyone in the town arrives to help Darkness.

This series has been very consistent lately, which I’m quite happy with. And the cliffhanger shows that Kazuma has finally figured out who Chris is, which is nice. The next volume seems to feature both Eris and Aqua, so I’m expecting less romantic comedy and more just plain comedy. KonoSuba will make any reader who likes funny stuff happy.

Konosuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!: Princess of the Six Flowers

By Natsume Akatsuki and Kurone Mishima. Released in Japan as “Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku o!: Chūnibyō demo Majo ga Shitai!” by Kadokawa Sneaker Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Kevin Steinbach.

The subtitle of this volume should be very familiar to Yen On fans, as it’s a take on the light novel series Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers. Whereas in the Rokka series you spend each novel wondering who’s going to be accused of being a traitor, in KonoSuba you spend each novel wondering who’s going to be the designated straight man. Here it’s Darkness, who is forced to act the noble lady far more than she’d like, given that most of the book takes place in a royal castle or in the homes of noble lords. That said, Megumin is mostly under control here as well, with a few notable exceptions. Heck, even AQUA, of all people, shows off her skills during a big battle and is revered by the city for keeping casualties to a minimum. Yes, the entire cast are fantastic… with the exception of Kazuma, who as usual needs to descend to his lowest point before he can rise again.

The cover girl is Iris, the young princess of the realm, who Kazuma desperately wants to see as a little sister so he can add to his list of fetishes (no, really, that’s basically what he says, though at least he has no romantic interest in the 12-year-old princess). She is, for the most part, content to go along with this, as her real big brother is away fighting the demon lord and Kazuma treats her like a normal little girl rather than a royal princess. Unfortunately for Kazuma, he rapidly runs out of cool stories to tell her, and the stories he does tell, as we’ve seen, involve him being clever but the others doing the heavy lifting. And then there really IS a demon lord attack, and Kazuma proves why whenever he’s headstrong and impetuous, he is the absolute worst. Given the rest of the squad saved the day, he’s basically ripped a new one by the princess’ bodyguard in a vicious yet 100% accurate takedown.

She has a point. Aqua, Megumin and Darkness, in a group of four, are all eccentric, impossible to handle weirdos. The same group, however, in a pack of 200 adventurers, are able to function far better. But of course, for better or worse, Kazuma *is* part of their group, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. And he does get to show off his actual talent, finally, in the last quarter of the book, where he helps Chris the thief (remember her?) try to steal a dangerous artifact that has made its way to the princess. When he’s in trouble and actually thinks, Kazuma is very impressive. He’s the opposite of a hero like Luffy. There’s also the standard KonoSuba humor here, which most of the audience is expecting, but it’s a sign of good writing that I’m ignoring it in favor of discussing Kazuma’s character and how he can be incredibly frustrating at times.

A cliffhanger makes me think that the next volume will be Darkness-oriented, and I hope she gets to be silly again. Till then, KonoSuba fans will like this even as they yell at Kazuma for being… well, Kazuma.