Konosuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!: You Good-for-Nothing Quartet!

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.

KonoSuba returns with its fourth light novel, though unusually there’s plenty of manga in this volume, which adds an extended ‘what you will see in this book’ manga chapter (none of it is seen), as well as a two-page spread in the middle. This is perhaps not surprising given that our heroes spend much of their time at a town devoted to hot springs. The subtitle this time around is a parody of the manga Yozakura Quartet, started by Del Rey and finished by Kodansha Comics digitally in North America, from the artist behind DRRR!!. You would think, given Wiz’s presence on the front cover, that she is the fourth member of the group to merit the title, but no, Wiz is sensible (and quite powerful) throughout, except for her horrible shopkeeping skills. No, Kazuma is just as bad as the rest of his crew, and this volume is happy to emphasize that.

We’re on a vacation this time around, ending up, as I indicated, at a city renowned for their hot springs. Sadly, Aqua keeps turning their springs into plain old hot water whenever she uses them, so things aren’t going well. You’d think she’d be happy, given that the town is filled with Axis Church followers – i.e. HER followers – but she’s as whiny and put upon as ever. Darkness, meanwhile, is having a ball – as a follower of Eris, she’s treated like absolute dirt, which makes her incredibly happy (and by happy I mean aroused). She’s a bit less happy with the fact that the group is now perfectly willing to use her family name to get their way, something she’s really rather avoid. As for Megumin, aside from a few stray moments, she’s the sensible one this time around. Kazuma may seem a better candidate, but not only does he die AGAIN, but he also gets everyone in trouble by not realizing that this ISN’T a transported-to-a-game world and that some “easy-level” monsters are in fact not so easy.

No one really reads KonoSuba for the plot, which is good as there isn’t much. Our villain is seen meeting with a busty woman who is never seen again, so I imagine she’ll pop up as an antagonist in future books. No, KonoSuba is read for the humor, and there are many, many wonderful jokes here – the dog food and “Legendary Sword Excalibur” being two of my favorites. (Let’s take a moment to realize that Kazuma, who is on the verge of being allowed to reincarnate into a nice life on Earth, is literally annoyed into returning to the KonoSuba world.) The cast are all terrible, with the exception of Wiz, and possibly Yunyun, who shows up at the end to deliver the ridiculous cliffhanger. We’re now caught up with the anime, meaning Book 5 should be new to most readers. (I’m going to take a wild guess and say the anime did NOT end with Yunyun’s request.) If you like tremendously silly light novels, KonoSuba is exactly what you’re looking for.

Konosuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!: You’re Being Summoned, Darkness

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.

Another day, another KonoSuba novel, and another manga series being parodied in the subtitle. This time it’s You’re Being Summoned, Azazel-san, a long-running seinen comedy manga with two anime series. Last time I said that we might get a bit more plot, and that’s certainly true, though thankfully that does not mean that things get any more serious. Sure, Kazuma is being put to death for crimes against the state, but honestly, he could have gotten out of that about eight different ways simply by not being Kazuma. And as you may have guessed by the cover, Darkness features heavily in this book. We get a lot more detail on her background, and find that her strong sense of self can even duel with a lesser demon. This, again, does not make her any less ridiculous. Summing up KonoSuba remains one of the easiest things in the worst: selfish protagonists do stupid things, and the reader laughs.

I’m actually very impressed that Kazuma falls into this category as well. It would be all too easy to turn him into a Kyon type, merely reacting against the antics of everyone else. But no, he manages to make some head-scratchingly selfish and foolish decisions throughout, especially near the start, simply by running his mouth off. Of course, he does also save the day at the end – sort of, in reality Kazuma mostly saves the day by directing others to do so – but one wonders how far he’d go if he simply reined in his put-upon ego. Megumin has a reunion with a classmate of hers, and Yunyun seems to be more powerful but in reality may be even more pathetic than Megumin, which takes some doing. The name really doesn’t help, and I was highly amused that Kazuma and I had the same reaction to it.

As indicated above, Darkness gets the most to do here. The revelation of her family background is not all that surprising, really, and I was relieved that she doesn’t really switch personalities too much when she’s back in her home. As for the marriage meeting, it’s the highlight of the book, with Kazuma’s scheming and Darkness’ sabotage attempts combining in the best way, culminating in a duel which seems to end in a wet T-shirt contest. I’d mentioned before how shipping was minimal in the series, but it’s picking up – Darkness’ angry description of her ideal man does sound an awful lot like Kazuma, and the bath scene he has with Megumin gets a lot more awkward when he realized that she’ll grow out of being ‘underage’ pretty soon. As for Aqua, her part in all this is to be ridiculous, and she succeeds at this admirably. She and Kazuma make a great baka duo.

This volume takes us halfway through Season 2, meaning we only have one more till we catch up with the anime. Of course, the series is so popular there may be a third anime before December. In any case, fans of KonoSuba will enjoy this a great deal, as it’s still one of the funniest light novels being released.

Konosuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!: Love, Witches & Other Delusions

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.

First of all, I would like to state, for the record, that it was Yen On’s decision not to use an oxford comma in the subtitle. I am merely replicating their choice. And if you think that’s a somewhat silly way to start a review, then you’re clearly not the right audience for KonoSuba, whose second light novel is content to replicate the choices of its first, showing that it is quite happy to have its dysfunctional cast behave badly in hilarious ways. Kazuma whines and moans (and tries to get laid with a succubus, which works about how you’d expect); Aqua is the brattiest goddess you’ll ever see (indeed, the book begins with a much nicer example); Megumin cares about explosions and nothing else, and Darkness’ masochism is in full force. There’s a hint the next book will advance what passes for a plot, but in the meantime, enjoy the antics.

The book starts off on the right foot – indeed, it may be my favorite part – with a story about a foolish young man, seeing Kazuma surrounded by hot girls and not much else, offering to switch parties with him for the day. Kazuma, who is no fool, accepts, and you’d think we’d stick with other guy and watch the fallout. But no, instead we follow Kazuma and see his normal day with a normal party. He uses his adventuring powers wisely, helps save the day, gains the respect of his teammates – it’s peaceful, heartwarming, and would no doubt be incredibly dull it it lasted any longer than it does. We then return and see the aftermath of Dust’s day with Aqua, Megumin, and Darkness… and yup, he’s begging to switch back. Predictable, but still hilarious.

Even when the book takes a turn for the slightly serious, there’s still gags lurking in the background. That’s a good thing, to be honest – this really isn’t a series you want to see depth and feeling in. Taking it too seriously would ruin the point. So when we get the climax with everyone fighting against the giant spider mecha with the bomb inside it, it’s undercut by the creator’s hilariously mopey diary about the building of the thing. There’s even some mild romance in this, though as ever I see the group as more of a family than anything else. When Kazuma requests a “dream visit” from a succubus, he’s clearly expecting Darkness based on his reactions – we’ve heard before that were it not for her masochism, she’s exactly his type – and Darkness’ atypical reactions seem to suggest she’s far more open to this than you’d expect a comedic harem girl to be. Of course, nothing comes of it…

The book ends on a cliffhanger, and the afterword is already announcing side-stories to be released (which have not, as of yet, been licensed here, I add for clarification). Clearly it was a runaway success in Japan. You can see why. It’s mocking a very popular Japanese light novel genre, and doing it well.