Konosuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!: Fantastic Days

By Hirukama, 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.

Spinoffs can be hard. Spinoffs written by someone other than the original author are harder. And when you get a spinoff written by someone who’s not the original author based on a mobile game that likely was also not written by the original author, well, you’re really starting to get into trouble. Hirukama is best known over here for the Reborn as a Vending Machine light novel that’s currently getting an anime. He also writes the longest running KonoSuba spinoff, Ano Orokamono ni mo Kyakkou wo!, which focuses on Dust, the loser guy who seems to linger around the edges of the main series. We’re unlikely to get that, if only as it doesn’t star Kazuma, Aqua, Megumin and Darkness. This book we are getting does feature three new girls who have the plot built around them, but it has healthy doses of our main cast as well, so fans will not feel cheated. Is it good? Eh.

For those wondering where in the main story this fits in, it’s left deliberately vague, but I’d say around Volume 8, mostly as Megumin and Darkness show no signs that they’re in love with Kazuma at all. While trying to stop a disaster, Megumin blows up a wagon containing a) a monetary tribute to nobility, causing him to go deeply in the red, and b) the supplies to a dance troup/adventuring party. The troup consists of Lia, the theoretically sensible one with the mysterious past; Cielo, a noble whose upbringing caused her to develop an extreme fear of men; and Erika, a girl who tries her hardest to be cute, and is also searching for her birth parents. Kazuma, on seeing them, is reminded of Japanese idol groups, and decides to make them stars!… mostly as making them stars will help pay off his debt. Unfortunately, these idols have fanboys, and they’re also trolls. No, not internet trolls, real trolls.

The three new girls, of course, are deliberately meant to contrast with the three regular stars. Cielo and Darkness are both blonde nobles trying to get away from all that by adventuring. Erika focuses on cute as much as Megumin does on cool. As for Lia… well, OK, she’s not that much like Aqua, except perhaps for her pathological messiness. She is, however, the character whose plot matters the most, as her amnesia turns out to be an important key to defeating Daniel, the troll lord who has decided to stan her. Everyone gets to do their bits. Megumin fires off explosions, Darkness is masochistic, Aqua screws up everything, etc. Unfortunately, it really does feel likely someone trying to write an “original flavor” fanfic with their own OCs, to be honest. By necessity, this cannot grow or develop any character except the new girls… and actually, it ends up just being Lia. That means this rides on how funny it is, and the answer is: not as funny as the main books.

If you really love KonoSuba, you can certainly enjoy this. As a spinoff, though, I’d rather read the Megumin books.

Konosuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!: God’s Blessing on These Wonderful Adventurers!

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.

After a couple of volumes where I felt that perhaps the page count did not justify the limited content within, this final book in the main KonoSuba series seems to be just right. The final battle against the Demon Lord contains just about everything you’d want in a KonoSuba book. Kazuma wins by being kind of scummy and tricky; Aqua wails and whines but is also kinda lovable; Megumin casts explosion so much that the overuse of magic makes her nose bleed (at least I hope it’s due to overuse of magic, as otherwise that’s one weird fetish); and speaking of fetishes, Darkness is Darkness. The only thing missing is Yunyun being toyed with; she’s here, but mostly functions as a real competent person. As for the plot, it’s pretty much what you’d imagine, and the one big surprise I had with the book was not seeing one of the characters killed off, but when it happened.

We pick up where we left off last time, with our heroes getting most of the Demon King’s minions out of the castle by simply having Megumin carpet bomb it to death. And yes, she does this with Yunyun and the other heroes IN the castle. Then they’ve got to go find Aqua, which Kazuma does almost immediately, as he overthinks a trap for dumb people and therefore picks the dumb option. We then get a series of KonoSuba-esque scenes, which involve fighting minions, arguing, and comedy, until everyone reunited and takes on the Demon King and his most powerful supporters. Unfortunately, the Demon King is not named that for nothing; he’s pretty much impossible to kill, unless Kazuma does something that he’d really rather not do, as he was told that if it happens again there’s no turning back…

I’ve spent several reviews discussing the romance, such as it is, in KonoSuba, and it’s therefore amusing how little it actually matters here. Megumin’s still in the lead, yes, but that’s mostly by default, and it’s mentioned that darkness is turning down the many marriage proposals she’s getting for a reason, and that, after the final battle’s legend is passed around, Princess Iris has more of a crush on her “older brother” than ever before. But the romance is irrelevant because it’s secondary to the family. This whole adventure came about not because they actually wanted to kill the Demon King, but because Aqua was depressed. By the end of the book we’ve solved that, although I think Aqua wishes there was a way to do that that involved less of her sobbing desperately. The series ends restoring everything to the status quo, although things will presumably be easier with the lack of a Demon Lord making all monsters stronger than they should be.

There are many other unlicensed spinoffs in this series, featuring Darkness, Dust and Yunyun, Cecily, etc. The author also says he has ideas for sequels – this volume has several final battles, both in Axel and at Iris’ castle, but we don’t actually see any of them, and it’s hinted he may write that as well. That said, aside from the upcoming fanbook, I think Yen On is finished with KonoSuba novels for now. This is a very satisfying conclusion, and all fans should enjoy it.

Konosuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!: Runaway Goddess, Come Home!

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.

Last time I suggested the entire book had been written around one 40-50 page scene. This one’s even worse, as the entire book is entirely setup for one 3-4 page scene. The author even admits in the afterword that they had the ending to this book in mind right from the start of the series. It’s pretty spectacular, frankly, and fans of Megumin will be over the moon. That said, there is also the rest of this book to deal with. Good news, it’s also good, though it does not quite hit the highs that the end gives us. It’s the second to last in the series, so we’re setting up for the final battle here, but we’re also showing off how well everyone has integrated into Axel, and how much Kazuma, Megumin and Darkness have mellowed out and become boon companions. And in some cases more than that, as Kazuma and Megumin try once more to try to lose their virginity. (Take a wild guess how well that goes.)

As we saw at the end of the last volume, Aqua has run away to go defeat the Demon Lord, though it’s pretty clear she wants the rest of her friends to catch up ASAP. Instead she gets Handsome Sword Guy (whose name she forgets, and so do I), Cecily, and Yunyun… which is actually a far more balanced party than her normal one, so she mostly ends up very bored on the journey when she’s not accidentally tempting monsters to eat her. Kazuma is, alas, very reluctant to come after her as he’s back to Level 1 after recent events. That said, his level is back to baseline but he still has his skills… which gives him an idea. An idea involving Vanir, Wiz, and a very difficult dungeon…

If there’s a runner-up in terms of best bit in the book after the Rise and Rise of Megumin, it’s the adventures of Vanir and Wiz in the dungeon, keeping the useless Kazuma safe while also letting him get in the last hit to raise his level again (and then lower it, as he’s cheating as per usual). Vanir is just the same as always, but it’s an absolute delight to see Wiz getting obsessed with clearing the dungeon and just as over the top. They make a very good team. As for others in the book, the award for “worst person in the world” has to go to Zesta, who not only pervs hard on Kazuma, Megumin and Darkness, but is such a lustful pervert that even high-level monsters run away as they are worried he’ll try to screw them. (He will, indeed, try that.) He’s also the one who gets a horrible idea regarding Serena’s powers to return the pain she receives back on the giver, which relies on her being a virgin. KonoSuba is not about to forget its roots of being terrible in the best ways.

So all the main players have finally arrived at the final battle. Will our heroes triumph? Will the demon lord prevail? Will Kazuma die again? And what’s up with the link between this world and Japan? That will wait till the final volume next time. Till then, this was a lot of fun. Also, I find it hilarious that it took till Book 16 for Megumin and Darkness to learn Kazuma is from another world.