Konosuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!: Crimson Fate

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.

This is another one of those books where the last sixth or so of the novel completely dwarfs everything that comes before it, so let’s use the time before the cover art to talk about the rest of it. Despite wanting to hang around the mansion and do nothing aside from get involved in wacky binding adventures with Darkness, Kazuma is coerced into going to a nearby castle that is beset by another Demon General. This one seems familiar to Kazuma, as he’s seen her before in the hot springs about five books ago. She’s also very familiar to Megumin and Yunyun, for backstory reasons that drive a lot of the plot. The demon general keeps blowing up the castle every day with Explosion. Fortunately, they have Aqua’s extraordinary public works gifts (no, really, not making a joke here) and also the ability to beat her at her own game. But whose Explosions are best? And oh yes, will Megumin find time to confess?

I’ve always been impressed with Konosuba, despite the occasional murmur of other girls, keeping itself to a simple love triangle. Megumin and Darkness both love Kazuma, despite his… well, Kazuma-ness. That said, one of these girls is MUCH MORE POPULAR among fans than the other. And it has to be said, at a base personality level that leaves out eccentricities, Megumin and Kazuma are the most compatible and similar. Here she does confess, and though there’s no kiss there’s a little snuggling. He also says he loves her back, but she accurately points out this is because he doesn’t want to upset her, and his own feelings are somewhat ambiguous. I was very amused by his apologizing to all the other waffling harem protagonists he always yelled at for not jumping the girl’s bones in manga he read. I also liked Megumin and Darkness inviting him to wash their backs at one point knowing he’s never going to actually do it.

ARE they now together? Well, Kazuma is wondering that himself at the end of the book. The author, though, implies that they plan to put romance on the back burner for the next volume, so it might be a while before we see any further development here, and in any case, few people are reading KonoSuba primarily for the sweet romantic bits. This isn’t good news for Darkness, though she does get an extended scene at the start of the book, possibly to apologize for doing almost nothing else the rest of the book. Darkness is Kazuma’s “type” more than Megumin, but her own eccentricities, i.e her masochism, is much more difficult to turn off than Megumin’s chuuni behavior, so a realistic relationship doesn’t seem in the cards. As for Aqua, once again the story emphasizes how they’re like brother and sister and not romantic. Which, honestly, thank God. That said, Aqua’s skills at building walls in this book may be the best part of the volume. Stop being a goddess, become a foreman!

As with the last book, this one ends with a cliffhanger where Princess Iris writes to say that she’s being married off. No way Kazuma lets that happen. In the meantime, enjoy a very good KonoSuba volume, essential for Megumin fans.

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.