Konosuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!: The Arch-Wizard’s Little Sister

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 recently reviewed the third volume of Combatants Will Be Dispatched!, by the same author, and noted the difference between that series and KonoSuba is that KonoSuba has heart. Which is true, as the latter half of this book shows. But to get there we have to get through the first half of this book. And it’s a good reminder that, while the cast of KonoSuba are nice and sweet compared to the sociopaths of Combatants Will Be Dispatched!, they are still quite horrible people overall. No one exemplifies this more than Kazuma, who after the last volume is spending his days lazing around the castle being waited on by servants and corrupting the princess (no, not like that, fortunately – she’s just talking casually now). After finally being thrown out, he then has to get back into his own mansion, as he’s been locked out by a thoroughly pissed-off Aqua. It’s only when Megumin’s sister Komekko shows up that the cast remember that they’re badass and also not terrible.

In a nod to the overall plot, Komekko is brought to Axel because Megumin’s village is under attack by the Demon Lord’s forces, which has led to their home being destroyed. so “those two girls” (in a nod to the trope, Megumin can’t remember their names, and to be honest neither can I) drop Komekko off to be looked after by Megumin while the Crimson Magic Clan strikes back and also cleans up. Komekko’s quite happy with this, as everyone and their brother is feeding her. She’s also happy because Megumin has been writing her letters about how AWESOME she and everyone else in Axel is, and she wants to find out about this first-hand. Given that, for once, Kazuma and company are reasonably well-liked by the town, the other adventurers are willing to go along with Megumin’s exaggerated letters. In fact, the guild decides to take advantage of this. A lot.

Everyone here gets their moments to shine and also their moments to be humiliated, in the best KonoSuba way. The exception is Komekko, who plays everyone like a fiddle and will likely be far more powerful than Megumin when she grows up. Darkness comes off worst, as she’s still hamstrung by having to be the sensible one, with her perverse moments kept to a minimum. As for Megumin, much to the surprise of Kazuma (and the reader), she is not going to let him forget her confession from the end of the 9th book – she repeats it, and then says she’d like to be “more than friends but less than lovers”. It’s a great scene, and Kazuma responds to it (for him) relatively seriously. Of course, it’s then undercut immediately, because no one does that better than KonoSuba – Komekko heard this confession and tells everybody, leading to a hilarious final scene.

As this point Kazuma/Megumin seems to be set in stone… though the cliffhanger may bring fresh chaos. Darkness has a kid? Is she a child from the future? (Probably not). In any case, this was an enjoyable book, once I got past the obligatory “sixty or so pages of Kazuma being a scumbag” parts.

Konosuba: An Explosion on This Wonderful World!: Yunyun’s Turn

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

I have to admit that I was less thrilled with the second volume of Megumin’s spinoff series. This is pretty much because the middle half of the book is filled with Zesta and Cecily, the two Axis Church members that we’ve seen in KonoSuba books 4 and 8. I don’t mind Aqua, mostly as she’s not a creeper, but the same cannot be said for the acolytes of her church. The running gag here is that, because the Axis Church basically has as its creed “do whatever the hell you want”, it tends to attract the wrong sort of people, and we see that here, played, of course, for comic effect. Zesta is infamous for his behavior, to the point that when he’s arrested and falsely accused of being a traitor to the human race, no one wants to bother to defend him. Cecily is also pretty bad, taking opportunities to feel Megumin up in the bath, etc. Fortunately, the first and last parts of the book are much better.

Despite the subtitle of the book, we do not get Yunyun’s narrative POV here, alas. Which makes sense, as the fun of Yunyun is watching her flail, not getting inside her head. That said, she does come off pretty well in this book. Following Megumin to Arcanletia because, well, because life without Megumin terrifies her, Yunyun as always tends to alternate the ‘sensible’ role with Megumin when the situation calls for it. The last quarter of the book shows the two on a carriage to Axel Town with a number of other people, and various monsters keep attacking the carriage. This leads to the funniest part of the book, as Megumin can’t use Explosion without hurting the other travelers, so ends up being pitied and looked down on by everyone else as Yunyun, who can use various magics, takes out all the monsters. Of course, at the end Megumin does end up showing off and regaining people’s respect – it’s her series, after all.

The plot, aside from shifting Megumin to Axel Town (the book ends right as the first in the main series begins – Megumin sees Kazuma and Aqua arrive in this world, though she resolves not to have anything to do with them), involves Chomusuke being sought after by a demon who is convinced (and not without good reasons, as readers of the main series will know) that Chomusuke is Lady Wollbach. Megumin, despite verbally not caring about Chomusuke, ends up defending her against this demon, despite also taking the cash offered to hand her over. (This is how the broke Megumin can finally afford to leave the village.) This, of course, sets up events in Book 9, which had not been released at the time this came out in Japan (this came out between Books 5 and 6). Again, seeing the contrast between Megumin’s seemingly blase attitude towards everyone and everything and her actual feelings deep down is the main reason to get these books.

So yes, I wish there had been less Axis Church, but overall this was still pretty good. Next volume likely will see things end up how they were at the start of the series proper – with Megumin and Yunyun separated, and Megumin meeting Kazuma and Aqua properly.

Konosuba: An Explosion on This Wonderful World!: Megumin’s Turn

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

If you were going to suggest an obvious choice for a side-story spinoff in the Konosuba universe, Megumin immediately comes to mind. She’s the most popular of the cast, and her backstory could use some fleshing out beyond what we got in the 5th novel. Indeed, in Japan, this volume came out before the 5th novel, and the first thing I wanted to do after it was released was to reread that book to see if more of it made sense. It also allows us to get a sense of Megumin’s headspace – through most of this, she’s the narrative voice, and we can see her eccentricities filtered through a coating of relatively sedate and logical thought. Well, logical for the Crimson Magic Clan, of course, whose one truly eccentric member is Yunyun, she who gets embarrassed by the whole thing. If you wanted a book filled with Megumin and Yunyun being funny, good news, this volume delivers, while also fleshing out the overall story.

The book takes place two years before the main series starts, and shows us Megumin and Yunyun in magic school, learning the finer points of saying cool lines and practicing your awesome poses. Both have almost earned enough points to learn Advanced Magic – indeed, Megumin secretly already has the points to do it, but is saving up even more to get enough to learn Explosion, the spell that she’s been obsessed with since she was a little girl. Everyday life for Megumin consists of conning Yunyun out of her lunch every day, looking after her younger sister Komekko, and generally getting into trouble, particularly after picking up an odd cat, nicknamed “Ink” by Yunyun, who Komekko wants to eat but most everyone else wants to snuggle. Unfortunately, more and more monsters are coming to their village, and seem to be after Komekko! Will Megumin be forced to abandon her dream of Explosion to save her sister?

The main reason to get this solid first volume is the relationship between Megumin and Yunyun. Megumin tends to worry about Yunyun as the sort who would get suckered by the first person who called her friend, and she’s not wrong, as we later see two other classmates seemingly conning Yunyun out of money so they can help a sick younger brother, something Megumin regards with more than a little scorn. Despite Megumin’s constant bullying, it’s clear that the two are close – indeed, at least one girl thinks they’re lovers, and when Yunyun is dragged off by her other friends, accuses Megumin of being cuckolded. Despite that, there’s no yuri subtext here, but it is heartwarming to see Megumin look after Yunyun even while she makes her life miserable. The weakest part of the book involved the irritating NEET Bukkororii and his stalker crush on the girl he likes. Megumin and Yunyun think he’s a massive creep, yes, but so does the reader.

Aside from humorous foreshadowing, the other main cast is absent from this book, which is fine. It’s Megumin’s Turn, as the subtitle suggests. The next volume is supposedly Yunyun’s Turn, but I’m not all that optimistic about her achieving much – she’s funnier when suffering. In the meantime, Konosuba fans will definitely enjoy this.