Kono Suba is the amalgamation of a concept so tiresome and overdone that viewers groan at the mere mention, while retaining an impressive level of effective comedy. At its core, people have regarded this show as a parody on the typical video game world trope. However, to undersell this incredible gag comedy in such a way is treason. With its lovable characters, beautiful visuals and effortless presentation of humour, this show goes the extra mile to bring something fresh to the new year.
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In regards to Anime and media as a whole, comedy has always been one of my favourite genres, and continues to be one of my favourite topics to talk about. With shows like Kitakubu Katsudou Kiroku and Yuru Yuri sitting very highly in my personal most enjoyable shows, Kono Suba‘s fresh style of comedy is just what this season needed. I feel that the characters were wacky enough for the jokes to land but still acted like “normal” human beings for the most part – excluding a few questionable scenes here and there.
In terms of a central plot line, this show isn’t going to provide you with a gripping story akin to shows like Boku Machi or Code Geass, but it never sets out to do this in the first place. To be quite honest, I didn’t know much about this show. I saw it as another “trapped in a game world” concept and brushed it aside with a bitter taste in my mouth. Boy was I wrong.
I’m aware that I rate Kono Suba in higher regard than most other reviews I’ve read but I feel like the “we’ve seen the video game world thing a million times” excuse doesn’t fully warrant a 1/10 score. I don’t think this show is anything particularly special but when I compare this to the other shows in the season, I still looked forward to each episode with more anticipation than about 80% of the other airing shows.
All in all, I really enjoyed this show’s writing and animation. I thought the small features like the lighting and atmosphere of the fantasy world did what was required to create a bright and enjoyable viewing experience. It’s nothing ground breaking, and I understand when people call it bland or overdone. But to me, it’s a fun show and that’s really all that matters for a gag show. If you enjoy light hearted comedy shows with characters that effortlessly make the audience laugh, I would recommend this show to you.
I personally think that this show is a little slow starting in terms of how much I enjoyed the show. For me, I enjoyed the last few episodes much more than when I first started watching, which seems strange for a gag show given that the formula hadn’t drastically changed from episode 1 to episode 10.
Kono Suba also does well in pacing its jokes out and ensuring that the same gag isn’t repeated an irritating number of times in a short space of time. Take the frog episode for example. The show follows the general rule of comedy that the same joke can work up to three times. The gag where Aqua is being eaten after she boasts about her power abides by the rule so that each scenario felt familiar but not repetitive. I feel like this carries through the whole show to create an effective combination of “recycling jokes” without the danger of losing the audience’s interest.
I’d also like to compliment the decision on focusing the whole season on what is essentially the tutorial village of this giant game world. I personally felt connected to the town and once again demonstrates that the creators of this show knew that they weren’t going to convey an epic battle anime despite setting up the narrative with such a dramatic villain. Speaking of which, we never even come close to seeing the demon king that the team should be desperately working towards.
To finalise, I’m going to point out how essential it is that Kazuma – our lead protagonist – is what could be described as an asshole. I’ve heard from multiple people that they hated Kazuma so much that they dropped the show altogether, which in my opinion is a waste. The character of Kyouya (introduced in episode 5) exists to put this into perspective. Kyouya is your stereotypical hero. He wields a what is essentially a final fantasy sword, bulky armour and is clearly a hit with the ladies. The dynamic between these two characters portrays how broken this fantasy world is, because he wished for an over powered weapon, he lives a life of luxury.
The writers knew that giving their protagonist a positive outlook on the world wouldn’t work well given the already peppy female cast. By contrasting the protagonist so heavily to the majority of the world, it shows how out of place he still feels and effectively sets up various gags between himself and his party members. For a gag show, it seems kind of important that the characters can easily set up jokes with each other, right?