First Impressions – Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku o!

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The cover isn’t much, but the book ain’t bad.

This is another of those series that wasn’t initially on my radar, but found its way there based on favorable buzz from around the webosphere.  I certainly wouldn’t have said anime needed another adaptation of a LN series with a ridiculously long title about an otaku being sent to an alternate universe that looks like a MMORPG, but looks can be deceiving.

That KonoSuba is as watchable as it is goes down to the power of execution, really.  No, this is not an elite-caliber production even by DEEN standards (which, let’s be honest, aren’t the highest in the industry) but in terms of stuff like sight gags and comic timing, this is a pretty snappy effort.  And there’s just enough spark of originality in the premise to keep the show from feeling totally derivative.

The director here is Kanasaki Taomi (Kore wa Zombie and the underrated Macademia Wasshoi) and the writer Uezu Makoto, and their comic sensibility and experience shows through.  The first threshold a series like KonoSuba has to meet is to by God not take itself seriously, and it certainly meets it – but parody of the trope has become a trope itself in this genre, so that’s just the training wheel phase.  There has to be a point (the pointier the better) to the humor and an actual comic identity.  While I can’t speak to whether the LNs have that, in the hands of this creative team the anime seems to.

I liked the way the story spun the initial dynamic between Satou Kazuma (Fukushima Jun) and Aqua (Amamiya Sora).  Satou looked for a while like he was going to be the classic punching bag MC – having died a pathetic and pointless death and been subjected to Aqua’s taunts – but his clever notion to choose her as the one item to take with him on his afterlife journey to a world not even dead people want to move to turned the tables.  It’s still the kind of abusive humor these shows thrive on, but at least it looks a little different than usual.

There were some very funny moments here, especially the montages, and it’s abundantly clear everyone involved knows that the less self-importance KonoSuba has, the better.  I also like Fukushima (who was so great in Majimoji Rurumo and Kotoura-san) and Sora (who’s already shown a fair bit of range in her short career) in the lead roles.  I can’t say how much staying power this series will have, but it does seem to know how to be funny and seems disinclined to pull its punches – the characters all seem pretty twisted in their way – so it might just be able to keep the magic going for a cour.

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