Konosuba: God's Blessing On This Beautiful World! Vol. 1 Review

After much convincing from my brother to finish reading this light novel he let me borrow about 3-4 months ago, it's time to give it a review.
Image Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kono_Subarashii_Sekai_ni_Shukufuku_o!_light_novel_volume_1_cover.jpg
Image Source: wikipedia.org

KonoSuba: God's Blessing on this Wonderful World, or simply shortened to KonoSuba, is a light novel series written by Natsume Akatsuki that follows Kazuma Sato, a 16 year old hikikomori who dies and is offered the chance to start a new life in a fantasy MMORPG world by said world's resident goddess, Aqua. He's allowed to bring any one item of his choice, such as a powerful weapon or ability, but after Aqua repeatedly mocks him over his death and gets impatient with him taking so long to decide on something, he chooses to bring her in the ultimate 'screw you' move I've ever seen and/or read in fiction.

The two are transported to the town of Axel, the quaint, countryside starting town for the newly reincarnated and start an adventuring party. Aqua in this world becomes an Arch-priest thanks to her godliness. Meanwhile, Kazuma is stuck as an Adventurer, the most basic of in-world classes that isn't as great as it sounds on paper, but he's able to use this to his advantage and become a jack-of-all-trades of sorts. Joining forces with Megumin, a young Arch-wizard who can only cast a single Explosion spell a day before tiring herself out and rendering herself useless, and Darkness, a masochistic crusader who's only good at being a human shield, the two slowly but surely work towards defeating the Demon King... as much as Kazuma doesn't want to given his allies' unfortunate quirks. 

Before I start this review, I want to say that I watched the first season of the anime with my brother before reading the light novel, and after I found Aqua's whining and overall uselessness in the anime just as annoying as Kazuma does, my brother recommended the first light novel in the series as an alternative to get into the franchise. To which I agreed... and then spent several months not reading until I finally decided to put it on my reading list after he kept bothering me to read it. 

Honestly? I wish I finished it sooner.

Image Source: animeler.net
Image Source: animeler.net

As with any introduction to any series, this first volume primarily sets up the basics of the story: main plot, setting, and characters. It wastes no time in setting up everything it needs to, completing it in a timely manner while keeping things moving. There aren't a lot of chapters in the novel (only 4 and an epilogue), but by the end of the second chapter, we know all the main characters' defining quirks, a little bit of how the world works, and what the party's team has to do. 

The light novel covers the events of the beginning of the series through the first six episodes of the anime. Initially, I thought it was boring since it really didn't offer anything new to my experience. It literally played out exactly how it did in the anime's first episode. However, when I decided to start over and give it a second chance, I quickly realized that the anime adaptation followed the light novel very well - almost to a T while adding in some of Kazuma's internal dialogue and thought processes to the mix.

Of course, nothing is perfect, and the novel does have its flaws. Mainly, Chapter 2's panty stealing scene. 

Some context: In this chapter, Kazuma learns the highly useful Steal skill from a Thief named Chris, which allows the user to randomly steal an item from their opponent. The first two times he uses it, he manages to successfully steal... both Chris' and Megumin's panties. (And as a side note, why not just call them underwear like a normal person? Seriously, whoever decided to call girls'/women's underwear panties needs to be fired and the word panties needs to die in the fiery pits of Hell.)

My irrational hatred of the word panties aside, this scene majorly irks me because surprise! I'm a woman and women don't like having their underwear stolen by some guy who may or may not be a pervert! Kazuma, I like you more than the rest of the party, but come on, man. That's not how you get a girl. If anything, that's how you get a girl to hate your guts and get yourself cancelled on Twitter. At least fortunately for you, Twitter most likely doesn't exist in Axel or the rest of this parallel world, but it won't stop the other girls from avoiding you and calling you a pervert for stealing their underwear.

I get it. This scene is meant to be funny or fan-servicey or targeting the teenage and/or adult male demographic, and it's a Japanese light novel, which of course is known for this kind of fanservice to its male audience. But as an adult American woman, it comes off as creepy and repulsive. 

The worst part about it is that Steal ends up being highly useful. In later encounters, it allows Kazuma to steal another reincarnated individual's special magic sword in a fight, which he later sells when he realizes it won't grant him any special abilities. It even lets him steal the head of one of the Demon King's undead generals, effectively winning the party's first major battle in the fight against the Demon King... which could've been avoided entirely if Megumin decided not to keep casting Explosion on his castle. I just wish this skill could've been introduced in a better way. 

Final Grading:

  • Book - to - Anime Adaptation: A+. Like I said, the anime is a very faithful adaptation to the light novel, so if that's something you're looking for when comparing books to their on-screen adaptations, you'll be pleasantly surprised. Although now that I think about it, most anime adaptations are usually pretty faithful to the source material. It also helps I saw the first season of the anime before reading this.
  • My brother's taste in entertainment: A. He never fails to disappoint in getting me invested in something. Of course, I am docking him points for the panty stealing.
  • Kazuma's judgment on things: B-. I agree with him on a lot of things, such as Aqua's whining being grating and unbearable, but again, not on stealing panties.
  • Aqua's whining: C. She's better and more tolerable in the light novel than in the anime, but I can still hear her voice when I read and I'm not sure if that helps or hurt the reading experience. 
  • Morals on panty stealing: D. Yes, Kazuma gets called out on this by a lot of the female characters for this and to my knowledge, the panty stealing only happens within a small part of Chapter 2, but it makes me wonder how Japanese women and teenage girls responded to this when it was first published.

Final Score: B. I'm going to keep reading the series, and I'll officially concede that my brother has successfully converted me to the KonoSuba fan club. Is the fanservice rampant in the series? Of course! That's one of the defining traits in Japanese media! Fortunately, aside from a chapter or two here or there, it doesn't get too fanservice-y and it isn't the main focus of the story. If it was, then I probably would've given up on it. Well, given up on it again.

Image Source: animeindia.in

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