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.