Yes I’m Kazuma
What’s the Story?
Kazuma really is the unlucky sort. He’s a shut-in video game nerd who finally goes outside the house to buy a new game, which leads to the most pathetic death in the history of…well anything really. Things start to look on the up when the Goddess Aqua offers Kazuma the chance to be reborn in a world where he will be an adventurer out to defeat an evil demon king. Kazuma’s luck can’t hold out that long though as he finds out that the fantasy life ain’t all it’s cracked up to be, and maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to drag Aqua along with him.
They say the key to good comedy is timing, and this is true, but there are other important factors, such as surprise. The way a lot of jokes are structured is that the initial lead-in sets up an expectation then the punchline jumps you from round a corner and proves that expectation to be wrong. Laughter then ensues (hopefully). Now this isn’t a hard rule, humour is different for everyone after all, but it happens enough to be a pattern. KonoSuba is a surprise is what I’m getting at; well it was for me anyway.
I wasn’t expecting much going into this anime; it’s a story about a Japanese boy being transported to a fantasy world with a harem of girls behind him on the poster (because no one’s ever told that story before), but I gave it a shot (mostly because I wanted another show to fill out my first impressions post for the blog) and I’m really glad I saw this. I don’t think I’ve seen an anime this funny in a while, every episode had me laughing for the majority of it and I’m now endlessly sad that it’s over (when’s season 2 getting here!).
The comedy spends a lot of time poking fun at fantasy tropes and showing how they’d work in a more realistic sense. Guild work turns out to be a lot of menial labour, our heroes spend most of the season sleeping in a barn, they’re in debt up to their eyeballs and things generally go wrong in some way or another for the group. The main lesson to take from this anime is that when you remove the plot armour a fantasy would actually be really hard work to live in, and KonoSuba loves nothing more than proving this again and again, taking popular tropes and turning them on their head.
The heart of this anime, and the reason I fell in love with it, lies somewhere else though, and that’s with the characters. I really like the main cast in this show, but not in the normal way. These aren’t richly textured, deep and interesting characters, heck I wouldn’t even really call them likeable. The characters of KonoSuba are, frankly, idiots. They are morons of the highest order. Aqua is a whiny, self-obsessed diva. Megumin is the Michael Bay of witchcraft as she refuses to use any magic except for explosion magic, which is so draining that she can only use it once a day. Then we come to my two favourite characters.
First there’s our lead, Kazuma, like so many great comic characters he’s kind of an ass. A lot of animes would have Kazuma be the straight man to the craziness of the girls, but here he’s just as self-centred and as big a loser as everyone else, the only real difference being that he recognises how insane the people around him are. Kazuma is constantly struggling to get the life of adventure and comfort he envisioned when he signed up for this deal. Yet something also gets in the way and knocks him back two steps for every one he takes, which he admittedly deserves. Some of his funniest moments are when he’s on the verge of thinking how this life isn’t so bad, he has his friends after all, then a second later says ‘Nah, this world sucks I need stuff for me!”. Luckily he’s never unredeemable, he’s just enough of a good guy that you can root for him while enjoying his constant failures.
Then we come to the best character in the show, Darkness. Darkness is the paladin, the holy knight who is supposed to be virtuous and pure and stuff like that, what she actually is is a secret masochist. She runs headlong into danger, everyone commenting on how brave she is, when in actual fact she’s just hoping she’ll get hit and possibly publically shamed. She is weird, insane and I love her. She never stops being funny.
That brings me to probably the weakest element of the show, the animation. Crude is probably the best way to describe it, and I don’t mean that as a slam. The animation works for the show, but there are a lot of off model bits and some wonky movements. It has a sense of cheapness to it, and while I can’t say it’s good to look at, it gives the anime a feeling like the little show that could, and it does. It’s not big shiny and polished, but it does what its best and, unlike our characters, that’s enough to be a success.
The last thing I want to talk about is this film’s obsession with boobs. The slightest turn will have the women jiggling like jelly fresh out of the mould. It’s almost as comical as the jokes. The opening sequence is even full of them. I really don’t get the point of it. Why do you need so many boobs flopping about the place? Wait, what am I talking about, this is anime what other reason do they need?
I realise that comedy is subjective and I don’t doubt that there are people out there that will never laugh at this show, and that’s ok, but I greatly enjoyed it and I think everyone should give this show a try. The animation is a bit choppy, but there are some fun twists on common tropes and hilarious characters to get to know. This really is a wonderful world.
Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.