Konosuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!: Crimson Magic Clan, Let’s & Go!!

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 new KonoSuba novel, another obscure yet nerdy subtitle for the volume. This one never even got licensed in North America at all, it’s for the kids’ series Bakusō Kyōdai Let’s & Go!!, which is about mini-car racing. Fortunately, the novel itself has no actual car racing, but it does introduce us to the rest of Megumin’s Crimson Magic Clan, as we head to her hometown after there is news of an attack that will destroy the village. As it turns out, Yunyun and Megumin are the staid, sensible ones in this group, which consists entirely of overdramatic nerds living out their grand magic fantasies – only they actually have magic power to back themselves up. Even Megumin’s parents don’t escape this, though they’re more concerned with her relationship with Kazuma. And, as it turns out, it’s a good thin they came, as there really *is* a demon invasion happening, though at first it seems like the Clan has it under control.

Despite Yunyun being on the cover and jumpstarting the plot, this is not really her book, it’s Megumin’s. And Kazuma’s, of course. I’ve talked before about how his group feels more like a close-knit (if dysfunctional) family than anything else. That’s definitely changing here, as Megumin explicitly says that she’s fallen in love with him, something that Kazuma somehow manages not to quite understand. it’s a bit difficult for Megumin to admit it anyway, mostly as Kazuma is still several shades of terrible at times, though usually every time he tries to do something stupidly selfish it comes back to hit him in the ass. But Kazuma is Kazuma, so you also see exactly why it is that she fell for him anyway. Darkness is likely in the same boat, though this isn’t her book, so we don’t get much of that and instead get more of her being totally useless at anything except defense. As for Aqua, I’m relieved to say that there is no sexual tension there whatsoever. Let’s keep it that way.

This is the first book that hasn’t (yet) been adapted into an anime, but the adaptation, when it comes, should go very smoothly – there’s going to be a lot of fun set pieces here. Leisure Girl was particularly amusing, and the female orcs wanting to ravish Kazuma is a nice reversal of the standard fantasy “orcs want to rape the women all the time” trope. There’s also a few nice fights, particularly the one at the end, even though it consists of the whole Clan essentially dodging the demon lord while Kazuma tries to figure out what can stop them. The best scene, however, is right at the end. I will try not to spoil it, but it involves Megumin recognizing her own shortcomings and trusting Kazuma to help her get past them… and Kazuma realizing that Megumin’s happiness is more important. It’s really sweet.

Next time, to Darkness’ horror, we will be meeting the princess of this land, and I have no doubt fresh new disasters will ensue. Till then, KonoSuba remains a funny, light read, and anyone who likes to see the standard fantasy light novel tweaked on the nose will want to pick it up.

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.