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by Rebecca Silverman,

Konosuba: God's Blessing on This Wonderful World!

GN 1

Konosuba: God's Blessing on This Wonderful World! GN 1
Shut-in Kazuma Sato dares to venture out of his room one day in order to procure a limited edition of a new game, only to die in the most embarrassing manner possible. Now the newly deceased teen is offered an amazing chance by the goddess Aqua – he can be reborn like most people, or he can choose to go as he is to a parallel world that's suffering population loss as the result of a Devil King's depredations. To sweeten the deal, Kazuma can take any one thing he wants with him. Kazuma turns the tables by requesting to take Aqua herself with him, figuring a goddess will be useful. Too bad that turns out not to be true. Maybe he should have gone with the magic sword after all…

They say that life doesn't always work out the way you planned. Sometimes that can be a good thing, but other times, not so much. Kazuma Sato falls into the latter category courtesy of a fate with a rotten sense of humor. Normally a teenage shut-in, Kazuma dared to venture outside in order to get the newest limited edition game. Unfortunately, that results in his untimely (and totally embarrassing) death when he mistakes a slow-moving tractor for a truck bearing down on a girl. After promptly dying of fright after “saving” her, Kazuma finds himself in a portal to the afterlife, where a goddess named Aqua tells him that he now has a choice: he could be reborn, or he could take advantage of her very generous offer to be fully revived at his present age in a parallel fantasy world. As added incentive, he can take whatever he wants with him. There is a catch, of course – the world is in need of a larger population because a Devil King has been laying waste to it. But just think, a new life as a fantasy hero!

If the offer sounds too good to be true, as Kazuma seems to suspect, it probably is. Of course, he's still reeling from learning about his death, so taking Aqua up on this doesn't seem like as much of a bad deal as it otherwise might have. Presumably, she's counting on this – the way the text is arranged on the page and Aqua's body language suggest that she's the otherworldly equivalent of a sleazy car salesman trying to make a deal. This certainly calls her words (and motives) into suspicion, something Kazuma appears to realize, because when he accepts her deal, he chooses Aqua herself as his boon.

If I were to pick one way to describe the comedy in this series, it would be about the perils of taking things at face value. Aqua turns out to be one of the least brilliant goddesses in any pantheon, with the attention span and will power of a highly caffeinated squirrel. To add insult to injury, most of the people Kazuma encounters aren't much better. When he and Aqua seek to establish themselves as a party of adventurers, the only people willing to join them are equally screwy: Megumin is a wizard with a grand total of one attack and Darkness is a crusader who really wants to get beaten up. Trustworthy allies, they are not.

This first manga volume, an adaptation of the original light novels by Natsume Akatsuki, covers a lot of ground without really doing much with the plot. That's largely not a problem, since Konosuba is much more interested in lampooning sword and sorcery fantasy tropes than in telling a cohesive story. That isn't to say that the book makes no linear sense; there is a clear start to the tale and things do progress in a relatively logical fashion. But if you're hoping for a story where Kazuma dives right into defeating the Devil King, you are not going to find it here anytime soon. Where this book excels is in playing with its genre and the characters who typically appear in it. Kazuma is the most laid-back hero to find himself plopped down in a fantasy setting – he really just wants to have enough money to enjoy himself, especially now that he's found a world he feels more at home in. (It's interesting that Kazuma might not necessarily have been a shut-in because he disliked the world, but rather because he found it uncomfortable.) Aqua, meanwhile, is all about hedonism, finding herself in constant debt as she trades on her supposed skills and status when Kazuma's high luck factor is actually much more useful. Megumin and Darkness are at this point just spoofs of their character types – the cute-but-powerful mage and the sexy swordswoman – but that works just fine, especially when Darkness starts enthusing about toad slime.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this release is the insides of the covers: beginning on the front cover and extending to the back is a short story in prose by Akatsuki. The gang is sitting and debating over who should be their official leader, until evidence of their misadventures makes everyone abruptly withdraw their candidacy. It's a fun little piece, but unless you've seen the anime adaptation, it's better to save it until you're familiar with the characters from reading the book; think of it as an epilogue to the volume.

Konosuba may look like yet another story about a nerd in a new world, but its irreverent take on its source genre allows it to work as a parody instead. It's light on plot, but the jokes land more often than not, and the art is nice to look at, even if it skimps on backgrounds (which are more important in a fantasy setting) and can occasionally have crowded panels. If the world is getting you down and not working as planned, Konosuba's first manga volume might be just the ticket to give you a few laughs.

Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B-

+ Jokes work more often than not, good parody of the usual sword-and-sorcery world as well as the transported-to-a-game genre, short story extra is a nice touch
Art can be crowded and skimps on backgrounds, Aqua and Megumin aren't always used to best effect

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Production Info:
Story: Natsume Akatsuki
Original Work: Natsume Akatsuki
Original Character Design: Kurone Mishima
Art: Masahito Watari
Licensed by:
Yen On
Yen Press

Full encyclopedia details about
Konosuba - God's Blessing on This Wonderful World! (light novel)
Konosuba - God's Blessing on This Wonderful World! (manga)

Release information about
Konosuba: God's Blessing on This Wonderful World! (GN 1)

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