After season one of anime comedy Konosuba, I’ve just been left craving more.
Konosuba is one of the best things to happen to comedy anime in years. It has a firm grasp on its premise, style, and delivery, and executes each of these consistently and with as much force as possible. But how did a light novel adaptation by Studio Deen, one of the most infamous studios in the anime industry, about yet another loser trapped in a fantasy world, pull off the huge comedic feat that it did?
Konosuba’s characters are exceptional, and make the anime stand out.
The first and most obvious point is that its characters are unbelievably hilarious – but not in a typical fashion. In many sub-par comedy anime, characters have specific gimmicks that make them stand out. Despite my love for Love, Chuunibyou, & Other Delusions, I can still point out that some of its comedy elements didn’t work quite as well as I had hoped because certain main characters, like Kumin, were defined more by their quirks (napping a lot), instead of their personalities (laid back?).
In contrast, Konosuba’s is built from the ground up to work around the characters’ basic personalities, rather than finding contrived situations for their quirks to activate in. And those personalities are kept as simple as possible for the sake of versatility.
Kazuma is a cynical jerk who is generally skeptical of most situations he’s put in, and so he becomes the main straight man of the group. Aqua is a self-centered brat that puts more focus on herself than others, and often gets everyone into trouble because of this, and receives the full brunt of the punishment herself due to karma. Darkness is just a straight-up weirdo with her masochistic personality driving any comedic line forward with unstoppable force, dipping into taboo as much as possible. And finally, Megumin is the prideful failure, going out of her way to look cool and stay on top but constantly failing at it.
These simplistic yet flexible personalities lend themselves to practically every situation you can think of – the same way that the characters of iconic American comedies like Seinfeld do.
The most important thing, however, is that these character do not act exactly like this 100% of the time. They are human, just like us, and so their moods change depending on the day and situation. But they do fall back on these personalities in the end to maintain consistent character writing.
The result is that instead of watching stock characters on a screen that feel plastic and imaginary, they feel like real people who have formed real friendships with each other. And that makes them exponentially more fun to watch.
What makes Konosuba’s comedy so good?
To me, Konosuba has just as much in common with Let’s Plays and podcasts on YouTube as it does with comedy anime. Yes, it’s much more scripted and planned out than a Let’s Play, but the comedy works on the same principles: Watching a person you enjoy interact with their friends in hilarious ways.
Konosuba’s mastery of smug anime faces and other forms of visual comedy also adds a great deal to the situation. The way Kazuma and Megumin stare at Aqua with ridicule and a hint of contempt is the same way my friends stare at me when I say something outlandishly stupid or bizarre or self-centered.
It feels comfortable watching Konosuba, and as I make my way through its second season, I very much hope it continues playing to its strengths.
Konosuba is available for legal streaming over on Crunchyroll.