This post will discuss stuff (for a loose definition of the word discuss) up to and including KonoSuba OVA episode 11, so if you haven’t watched the show up to then, I recommend doing so!
I will admit that at least part of what brought this post about was the reactions I saw recently with respect to episode 11. There was lots of Kazume hate being thrown around and I figured that once I’d watch the episode, I’d write a post debunking bad opinions. Having seen the controversial episode, I, uh, feel a bit differently now, but let’s see what we can do.
Like usual, essay writing escapes me, so I am going to jot down a few headings and hope something comes out of it. I wanna start by mentioning a few things about Konosuba in general. It ended back in March, but beyond a quick mention here, and another more preliminary mention here, I never did talk about it!
KonoSuba is just good fun
There is something really rather remarkable about most of the humour in KonoSuba. It is actually rather funny. KonoSuba is very good at its comedic timing, but more importantly, the cast as a whole is so charming and each of them have their own little running gag.
KonoSuba is really one of those shows where the characters were defined, then writers thought, “hey, what’s a common fantasy scenario we can throw these goofs into” and the goofs were thrown in and laughs were had. Like all comedies, not all the jokes were good and even the good ones were not to everyone’s taste, but still. All in all, most watchers of the show found their dosage of humor in at least a few scenes.
One of the very nice things about KonoSuba is how well the characters interplay with one another. Like in the Dullahan fight (episode 6), Aqua surprises everyone by causing the poor fallen Knight pain, before being chased after by a horde of undead, at which point Megumin spectacularly blows them up. Then Darkness takes over fighting him and her masochistic delusions cause the poor fallen Knight much grief through her delusions. Then Kazuma (with his actual knowledge of such situations) figures out the Knight’s weakness (water) and gets Aqua (who is an idiot and didn’t realize anything on her own) to flood him.
A big part of what makes this show fun is that it dunks on its own cast. I am not fond of shows that are cruel to its characters, but for the most part, Konosuba is very endearing about it. (For the most part, episode 09 and the OVA are exceptions to that rule). I love seeing Aqua fail when her big-headedness catches up to her. I love seeing the ALL POWERFUL Megumim collapse every time she tries something cool. I even liked seeing the weird mix of joy and pain, Darkness always goes through. Even the dunking Kazuma gets for being an asshole is pretty great.
I loved seeing him squirm when he realized he’d taken out the hero everyone needed and he did get his just deserts at the end of the OVA as well. Heck, the greatest dunk of all was Kazume getting mad at Aqua when he first died and subsequently suffering upon resurrection. He could have lead a great adventurers life had he invested in a skill or weapon, but nope. He let his displeasure get the better of him and suffered for the rest of the show.
The look of the anime caught a fair few people off guard with its very off-model character designs. This was almost certainly intentional though and not “budget problems” as the anime used the look to good effect and some of the action animation was actually very good. Megumin’s explosion attach from episode 06 was especially fantastic.
It is not part of the anime itself, but I am really fond of the tilt-shift focus look the ending song had going on. It is also a fantastic song in general (the opening was good too, but the ending was great).
Darkness is sweet and nice. I actually really like her though I never laughed as much at her gags as I did the others. Still, Darkness is a nice person and I initially sort of shipped her with Kazuma (though then Kazuma went and sunk the ship along with all other Kazuma ships towards the end).
If anything my biggest gripe here is how the show treats Darkness with the constant “YOU DAMN PERVERT”. Don’t Kinkshame Darkness!
Ah, Megumim. The internet favourite and for good reason. She had faces. Her chuuni attitude was rather fun and the EXPLOSION gag never got old. The whole “Megumin was blowing up the Demon’s Castle everyday” gag was possibly my favourite arc in the show. I laughed a lot.
Aqua had a lot of great faces and a lot of funny moments. I loved watching her get dunked on, either by the show, by Kazuma or just by herself. The gist of it is that Aqua bullying was good and in general her presence was a big part of the show’s charm.
I do have a few misgivings about Aqua that actually really did upset me. Part of Aqua’s character is that as a Godess, she feels like she is always right. That’s fine. It makes for some great gags and it is hilarious to see her break down and admit she was being an idiot, but one or two times she did take it way too far.
When they meet Liz in episode 08, Aqua’s treatment of Wiz is the worst. Wiz almost gets killed all because Aqua is ridiculously stubborn about purifying things. Wiz did nothing wrong. Wiz bullying is wrong!
Actually, scratch that. Bullying is the wrong word, that was a straight up attempted murder. I don’t care if your creed tells you Lich are bad, you don’t kill sweet, innocent shopkeepers. Grumble grumble. Every time I saw Aqua after that episode, I got a little angry. Her treatment of the succubus at the end of episode 09 was also uncool.
I have been rather fascinated by the polar opposite reactions to Kazuma. A large number (though not all) of my twitter friends absolutely despised him and thought he had no right to be the protagonist of an otherwise great show. People on other parts of the net (namely r/anime) were enamoured with Kazuma and loved his “give no fuck” attitude to life.
I saw a few of my twitter peers mock the Kazuma fans and I dunno, I don’t think that’s a good idea. Folk approach and relate to their media in different ways. While I can understand the temptation to do so (and have done so several times myself), it’s probably best if we don’t use /anime opinions/ (even seemingly ridiculous ones) as a judge of someone’s character. (Unless that opinion leaves the 2D realm and leads to nonsense like VA stalking or hate mail to the creators, then that person is bad and should feel bad.)
Anyway back to Kazuma.
So, prior to the OVA, I actually liked Kazuma a fair bit. Kazuma got a lot of flack for episode 09 (I think he did anyway) and that is understandable, but I was kind of willing to overlook it. I think episode 09 (the dream bathhouse thing) was a mistake of an episode and I struggled to make it through (though the ending payoff was surprisingly good). You know, Darkness didn’t really deserve that humiliation (and no, I don’t think she enjoyed it).
But, I don’t really hold it against Kazuma because he thought it was a paid for wet dream and well, fantasies are fantasies. I was actually rather impressed that he was willing to stand up for the succubus at the end at personal cost because a part of him wanted to take responsibility (okay I am sure part of it was just defending a cute girl, but I’d much rather him defend someone than let her get punished for having done nothing wrong).
I actually thought the panty theft thing was a bigger strike against Kazuma. The first time he uses his ‘thief’ skill, he unwillingly steals some poor side character’s panties and that’s a ‘ha ha’ kind of moment, but then he does it again, and this time intentionally! I thought that was a bit of a dick thing to do and probably telling of the character that sort of came to light in the OVA.
Ah, the OVA. It was uhh, a bit silly. I felt the lap thing was a bit over the top, but whatever, I was willing to forgive it. Making Darkness do pushups, so he could ogle her was bleh and the naked Megumin fight was terrible. I kinda want to forget it all and pretend the episode never existed.
In the episode’s defence though, it didn’t really claim he was in the right because he got dunked on pretty hard at the end. (I actually sort of enjoyed his confession scene as well. It made me laugh.) Still, I think a “do whatever I want” episode could have been done differently. Maybe treat all of them the way he treated Aqua (though I guess the joke was that Aqua was treated differently because he just dislikes her that much).
It is a bit of a shame. One of the things I really liked about Kazuma was that at least at first, he seemed almost immune to the typical MC tropes. Sharing a staple with Aqua did not give him “OH GOD, IT IS A GIRL” anxiety and he never seemed to stumble into them bathing (except episode 09). I guess to be more exact, he was sort of immune to those tropes happening on their, but wanted to live through them on his own terms. A bit unusual.
I guess that brings us to the other sort of chief criticism I see Kazuma get and that’s his status as “genre savvy lead”. Tongue in cheek protagonists who know the story they are in, or wish to be in, can get annoying. And Kazuma does have a few boring lines with him occasionally rambling on about how this game is badly designed, how the difficulty is too high (see episode 07 for his rant with that other goddess).
Still though, I think for the most part, Kazuma needed that and no, I don’t think this anime would have been better if Kazume didn’t exist. Almost every joke in this show relied on him playing a straight man. The “Yes, I am Kazume” line cracked me up every time.
So, uhh, to cut to the chase because I wanna publish this before 12PM, I mostly liked Kazume, but his more leery nature not so much. Still, I give the show props on dunking on him every time he acted up. It was good. There is also a sort of strange love Kazuma has for his rag tag friends. I really liked how at the end of episode 07, he sort of expressed his love for them (and kind of did again at the end of the OVA). It is a shame we didn’t see that side of him more often.
All in all Konosuba was a fun show and I look forward to Season 2!