(Warning, the following article contains spoilers for Konosuba. Read at your own responsibility)
One day a hikkikomori who loves fantasy games named Kazuma Satou takes one of his rare trips outside into the world to pick up a limited edition copy of a new game release. Upon heading home he sees a girl from his school about to be hit by a vehicle. Kazuma flings himself into harm’s way and saves the girl’s life at the cost of his own. Except he then wakes up in the afterlife in front of a goddess named Aqua who proceeds to mock Kazuma for his pointless death. You see, it turns out the vehicle that was about to hit the girl was a tractor that was going to stop before hitting her regardless of what Kazuma did, and Kazuma ended up dying from shock as he was under the illusion that a large vehicle ran over him.
After having fun at his expense, Aqua offers to send him to heaven or be reincarnated. She also gives him a third option due to his love of fantasy games; she can send him to an RPG-like fantasy world where the people are living in fear of the Devil King and as a result refuse to be reincarnated there, leading to a declining population. Aqua even offers to let Kazuma bring along one item to help him in his journey to defeat the Devil King. Kazuma accepts, with the condition that the one thing he gets to bring along be Aqua herself. Much to her chagrin, his request is approved by Aqua’s higher ups, and the duo are whisked away to the fantasy world together...and find that looks rather boring and peaceful. You see, they end up getting dropped in a town called Axel, the furthest place away from the influence of the Devil King, so everything is rather mundane outside of the rare low level monster horde outside the city.
After Aqua has an initial freakout, the two of them head to the local adventurer’s guild and apply to become adventurers. It is here that the show begins doing some of the things that gave me the feeling of a nonsensical, laid back game of Dungeons & Dragons. When people apply to become new adventurers, they place their hand over a crystal that reads their starting stats and creates their registration card. Effectively in this hypothetical game of D&D, this would be equivalent to Kazuma and Aqua’s players rolling their characters, and boy did they get some crap rolls.
Kazuma is average across the board, except for his intelligence (which is above average) and his luck (which is extraordinary). As a result he is suggested to take on a job class like merchant, but instead settles on the most basic adventurer class. Aqua on the other hand excels in every stat, except for intelligence and luck (where she is respectively below average and the lowest possible level), meaning she can become almost any class except for mage (due to her intelligence) right from the beginning. Aqua takes on the arch priest class and gets a massive warm welcome from the guild, the kind of welcome Kazuma was expecting for himself. Now with everything in order, Kazuma and Aqua begin their adventure to defeat the Devil King with an epic montage...of the two of them doing manual labor, sleeping in a stable, bathing, and drinking in excess. Did you know goddesses puke rainbows?
The montage ends with Kazuma realizing that the two of them had fallen into a peaceful daily routine in Axel and that they should get back to focusing on being adventurers. The first quest Kazuma and Aqua take on is a kill quest to take out five Giant Toads within three days, but that is a task that proves to be much more difficult than what just the two of them can handle. This leads to them putting up requests for additional party members, but no one answers the ad until an arch wizard named Megumin takes them up on their offer. There’s just...a few problems with Megumin. First of all, she is a delusional chuunibyo:
Secondly, she is obsessed with explosions. Like Michael Bay’s level of obsession with explosions. She is so obsessed with them that she put all of her magic learning focus on explosion magic, and won’t even touch any of the other forms of magic in the detonation family of spells. This comes at a huge, inefficient cost as the only spell she knows has a long incantation that basically requires the target to stand still. In addition, it drains all of her magical power, meaning she can only use it once a day, and after using it, her body is basically paralyzed until her MP is restored over time. It’s endearing to see her be so dedicated to her craft, but that’s kind of like making a mage in D&D and only making them use Magic Missile.
Megumin is not the last person to answer their recruitment ad, however. After completing their kill quest, Kazuma would be approached by one more person looking to join their group, and that person is a beautiful woman named Darkness who belongs to the crusader class. If she was interested in joining this group, you just know there is something wrong with her, and there is! While she has great strength and can tank hits like a champ...she has absolutely zero precision so all of her attacks miss. Oh, and she is an extreme masochist.
So to recap, our intrepid heroes are a hikkikomori with delusions of grandeur about how awesome he would be in a fantasy world winding up being average as all hell aside from having some brains and extreme luck, a rather greedy and petty goddess that is as dumb as bricks and as lucky as the Lancer class in the Fate franchise, a one pump chump chuuni Michael Bay, and a tank with less accuracy than a blind person and who gets sexually aroused with every blow (both physical and emotional). What could go wrong? Seriously though, look over that and tell me that isn’t a group of characters a group of friends made over some d20s and cans of beer.
Even some of the events that happen have a bit of that, “The DM is fucking with them” kind of feeling to it. Such as the quest in episode 3 being to stop a horde of...sentient cabbages (and lettuces as we would later find out). Or how after learning some thief class abilities, every single time Kazuma used the “steal” ability, he ended up stealing someone’s panties. Or how in episode 4 one of the Devil King’s high ranking officers places a painful death curse on Darkness (by the way, putting pain-inflicting curses, death or otherwise, on a masochist of Darkness’s level is a bad, bad idea), only for the quest that this set up to be squashed almost immediately when Aqua decided to remind everyone that she wasn’t actually useless (could have fooled me, since the most useful thing she did prior was use her party tricks spell to give people infinite clean water) and removed the curse.
While the characters themselves are a great source of comedy, the show backs them up with many visual gags. However, none of the visual gags in episodes 2-4 have matched the best one from the first episode, which was a literal pause screen gag in the middle of Aqua’s freakout after they arrived in Axel:
Konosuba is one of the genuine surprises this season, and is a very refreshing comedy fantasy series. Partially for the fact that while it totally has the set up to have a romantic harem like many of its ilk, Kazuma isn’t interested in any of the girls in his party. Instead he takes more of a, “These women are crazy...” kind of stance. Due to the pathetic nature of all of our protagonists, and the charming (but not really mind blowing) visuals, combined with the way the setting works, Konosuba is like some weird hybrid of Sabagebu! and Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?. The show is off to a rather strong start, so let’s hope the show’s creative crew doesn’t roll a critical failure and instead it maintains its entertaining qualities until the very end.
Konosuba can be watched on the Crunchyroll streaming service. Konosuba is based on an ongoing light novel series by Natsume Akatsuki and Kurone Mishima.