Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Konosuba - God's Blessing on This Wonderful World!
Novel 8: Axis Church vs. Eris Church
Now that Darkness has been saved from a horrible marriage (or two) and Kazuma's no longer broke, it seems like a good time to sit back and relax and enjoy the upcoming Eris Festival. But Aqua's not pleased that only her junior goddess' church is being honored and she's determined to get her piece of the festival pie. Meanwhile Chris needs to retrieve a Sacred Treasure that may turn out to be more trouble than it's worth, Aqua's “dragon” hatches, and Megumin seems to be making some very interesting overtures to Kazuma—he can't seem to catch a break, but maybe that's not all bad?
Spoiler Warning: This review will contain spoilers for volume seven of the novel series.
“For those of you thrilled that we've finally got some proper harem light-novel developments,” author Natsume Akatsuki writes in his afterword to this volume of the Konosuba novels, “all I'll say is remember what series you're reading and don't get too excited.” That's a pretty timely reminder here, because things have seemed to have been heating up on the Megumin and Darkness fronts in the last couple of books, and this volume appears to add Chris/Eris to the mix as the one girl Kazuma might genuinely like. But this is Konosuba, and we need to take pretty much every development with a grain of salt, if not an entire salt lick, because no matter what, the road taken is always going to be the weirdest one.
We saw that last volume when Kazuma figured out that his thief friend Chris is actually the goddess Eris, Aqua's chief rival, at least in Aqua's own mind. Or maybe that shouldn't have been entirely unexpected – after all, Aqua's not only not great at being a goddess, but she's also not good at doing much else, while both Eris and Chris are highly competent and strangely invested in Kazuma himself. Now that Chris and Kazuma have formed their Silver Hair Thief Brigade, they've also got a team that's far more functional than anything he's got going on with his regular party, so if we hadn't been warned off from the potential for any romance, both Kazuma's and Chris' actions in this volume could indicate that this is the real romantic subplot.
That still may turn out to be the case, but apart from throwing out numerous hints of several potential romantic liaisons, the meat of the volume is the attempts by the Axis Church to disrupt the Eris Church's annual festival. This is an event in Axel Town dedicated to Eris (in theory) and making money for the local merchants (in reality), and needless to say no one is keen on having the troublemaking hedonists who follow Aqua butting in on things. Kazama, naturally, ends up in the middle of everything, and he once again turns his Japanese experience towards making a profitable festival for all: he convinces the town to pit the two churches against each other in hopes of drumming up more business in general. While we readers could guess that this will manage to backfire in some way or another, the bigger issue for some of the female characters is that Kazuma also manages to work scantily-clad women into most aspects of the festival, from swimsuit-wearing booth attendants to a “cosplay parade” where people can come dressed as succubi.
It's clear that this is entirely intended to showcase Kazuma's rottenness and tastes while making fun of some of the more sexist tropes in isekai fantasy, especially when you consider that Darkness typically wears full-body armor rather than a battle bikini and that other warrior women do the same, so Kazuma is basically imposing his own isekai standards on a real fantasy world. This is and has consistently been where Konosuba excels as a series – it zeroes in on the conventions of its genre and manages to point out how they basically exist to pander to the reader/viewer. The female characters get mad at Kazuma and anyone he ropes into whatever he's doing because they're not fantasy characters; in the story, they're real women who happen to live in a fantasy world. That they're all parodies themselves doesn't really detract from this aspect of the novel, instead it keeps things on a basically even satire keel while allowing for different parodic elements.
One of those is Chris' quest to find missing Sacred Treasures, cheat items given to reincarnating Japanese people upon arrival in the fantasy world. Kazuma got stuck with Aqua, but for most of the reincarnated, things like magic rings, special swords, and sentient armor are the norm. That last is what Chris needs Kazuma's help with this time, but Aigis turns out to be basically Kazuma in armor form. (Actually, he's a bit worse than Kazuma, who at least understands boundaries and appropriateness.) This means that finding Aigis only adds to Chris' problems rather than being another check mark on her list; between Aqua butting into her festival and a boob-obsessed suit of armor, nothing is going right for her.
This is where Konosuba has consistently found most of its humor: in the fact that nothing ever goes right for anyone. Even when it seems like it might, like the festival making money hand over fist, something ruins it, even when they saw it coming a mile away and tried to take precautions. Whether it's Aqua insisting that her chicken is a “fuzzy dragon,” Vanir somehow becoming my favorite character, or Darkness attempting to enter a beauty pageant, you know that things are going to go horribly wrong in the funniest way possible. This isn't the strongest entry into the series, but it still manages to be entertaining and absurd, which is what it needs to be.
Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B
+ Continues to be an absurdly fun parody of the isekai genre, Vanir steals all his scenes
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