The Winter 2017 Anime Preview Guide KONOSUBA -God's blessing on this wonderful world! 2
How would you rate episode 1 of
KONOSUBA - God's blessing on this wonderful world! 2 ?
What is this?
It's the Return of KONOSUBA: The Kingdom Strikes Back. When we last saw Kazuma, the Japanese teenager who died in the silliest way possible and got reincarnated into a parallel world, he had just saved the town from certain doom – and was arrested. Now in prison, Kazuma's erstwhile party members, Megumin, Aqua, and Darkness, are ready to break him out of jail, but they're spectacularly bad at it. Fortunately, it looks as if Kazuma's going to pass his magical lie detector test, until a poorly phrased question about his association with Lich Wiz lands him between a judge and the gallows. His not-so-crack defense team doesn't look like they'll be able to get Kazuma off, so the real big question is whether or not executed criminals get a second (or rather third) shot at reincarnation. Will Kazuma's have to save himself despite his friends' attempts at “help”? KONOSUBA -God's blessing on this wonderful world! 2 is the second season of the KONOSUBA light novel adaptation and can be found streaming on Crunchyroll, Wednesdays at 1:35 PM EST.
How was the first episode?
Konosuba has returned! The show's first season ended up being a surprisingly sharp and gleefully mean-spirited comedy, and it looks like the second one won't be making any big changes. Kazuma is still a jerk, Aqua is still an idiot, and all four members of our main cast remain as disloyal, petty, and greed-driven as ever. It's good to have these jerks back.
The overt plot of this premiere directly follows the end of season one, as Kazuma is put on trial for destroying a lord's house. Basically every stage of this process offers very solid gags, from his initial abandonment by his friends, to Aqua's less than stellar attempts to break him free, to the trial itself. There's some occasional reference humor here and there (a Star Wars text crawl, a variety of videogame references), but most of this episode's comedy succeeds in the way the show always has: by presenting a charmingly incompetent set of heroes and letting them all trip over their own feet. Watching these characters wail and pout and generally make fools of themselves remains as entertaining as ever.
Konosuba's distinctive style of animation significantly bolsters its humor. Konosuba makes no illusions of trying to stick to consistent, clearly defined character designs. Instead, both Konosuba's heroes and side characters shift and melt at will, their faces continuously contorting or simplifying for the sake of rapid gags. Konosuba's style is intentionally and effectively rough - its loose approach to character art allows for both great expression work and legitimately accomplished character acting, as Kazuma, Aqua, and the others contort themselves into all manner of wonderful shapes. And when that visual style is married to strong direction and comic pacing (like in this episode's standout interrogation sequence), magic happens.
If there's anything I disliked about this episode, it's probably that Kazuma wasn't actually executed at the end. The show certainly couldn't go on without him, but his fundamentally (and intentionally) abhorrent personality can still occasionally make scenes feel like a trial to get through. But Kazuma is an indispensable component of Konosuba, and Konosuba remains a confident and oddly endearing comedy with a great visual style. If you enjoyed the first season, Konosuba 2 should make for a satisfying return.
KONOSUBA's second season has just rewritten how you do a recap episode. After the obligatory “game over or continue” joke, which is still pretty damn funny with the reincarnation code, and a tribute to Star Wars in its epic scrolling text, the fantasy parody launches into Kazuma's arrest at the end of season one. But rather than just make this an over-and-done plot device, it uses the trial and questioning leading up to it as a way to remind all of us what's happened since the last time we got to see Kazuma and his creatively incompetent party wreak havoc on the countryside. Through the use of a magical lie detector we're reminded of the disconnect between Kazuma's expectations and reality before the trial lets the townspeople weigh in on all of the supposed crimes Kazuma and Co. have committed. It brings it all back in a convenient and funny way, still feeling fresh while reminding us of where we are in the story.
Of course, being KONOSUBA, it can't just have a regular old trial. That part of the episode is an Ace Attorney joke, complete with signature phrases and highly suspect legal practices while a judge just sort of sits there looking old and tired. The key parts of this are Kazuma's facial expressions; the animation may look worse than season one (Darkness in particular suffers), but the quick change of his face as everything he thinks and feels goes across it. Aqua, on the other hand, goes between stupidly confident and blubbering like a toddler. It makes a good contrast to Kazuma, as well as reminding us just how useless she really is.
On the subject of Aqua, one very important question (or at least important to my sister) is answered in this episode: Aqua does not, in fact, wear underpants. There are two shots of her very naked ass, and her skirt seems to have shrunk in general. Will this become important to the plot going forward? Since Kazuma stealing underwear came up twice during the trial, you have to wonder…in the meantime, the jiggle factor feels like it's increased a little, but the only other noticeable visual change is that everything looks just a bit worse than season one. While that was hardly exquisite animation, this definitely feels a little slapdash.
Of course, that could all be part of the joke. As Kazuma finally gets to ask the right question at his trial (see, kids, semantics are important!) before his home is raided by minions of the clownish Lord Aldorp, as Megumin and Darkness attempt to conceal their identities with terrible masks, and as townspeople throw Kazuma under the tractor, the main concern of this series is to make you laugh with its absurdity and sly references to other pop culture properties. I'd say that thus far it's doing a very good job on that front.
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