Joined: May 2017
THIS IS A MANGA ONLY DISCUSSION POST. DO NOT DISCUSS ANYTHING BEYOND THIS CHAPTER.
OK, what should I say about this one ... frankly it was borderline for me between 3 and 4, but then I had slammed Volume 10 of the main series quite hard so I decided to be nice ... a bit nice, anyway.
The characters: This time we have Megumin, Yunyun, Iris (in disguise), Chris and Cecily, with cameo appearances from Dust and Clare (Iris' guard).
The plot revolves around Megumin getting enamored of Chris and Kazuma's thief group and deciding to make one on her own with the closest things she has to friends. A childish thought that reminds one of Megumin's younger side and quite charming. They never quite get around to their first theft, though.
What's good? Well, Megumin learns a bit about being a leader, Yunyun finally gets a friend that isn't trying to steal her lunch or her manatite (even if said friend is hiding something from her) and Iris learns a bit about society. If you like those characters, just seeing them have these developments is rather heartwarming.
The bad: The execution is less than great (a problem shared with Volume 10). There's nothing really very innovative to see here other than Dust's background, and some scenes are clearly repeated from previous books with a character swap. The author is clearly suffering something of a brain block in terms of making new variations of things which had been something that kept Konosuba interesting and may also be feeling the strain of having to write two books nearly simultaneously, with an attendant drop in that subtle thing called Quality.
Further, while this is called part of the Explosions series and is from Megumin's viewpoint, in terms of feel it is more like the main series. Maybe it is too many characters while Explosions focuses a lot on Megumin watching Yunyun. Frankly, Explosions somewhat weightier, more heartwarming feel is a welcome change and I'm sorry they didn't do it here.
Also, possibly because of the drop in Quality, the scenes where Megumin uses Yunyun or pokes at her or makes her cry are just jarring in how mean they make Megumin look. Megumin-Yunyun interaction actually requires more care than Megumin-Kazuma interaction. Megumin and Kazuma are optimized for each other and when they are trading insults or other interactions, even if they may not always be brilliant at least one of them probably won't start to look horrible because they are matched.
Megumin and Yunyun is about the Bully and the Sweet Hapless and it actually takes a sense of balance to not overplay Megumin's bullying or Yunyun's victim status. Making it work involves giving some worth to Megumin to balance out the unworthiness of her actions. Methods that have worked (for me at least) involve making her cheat imaginative, or win by being willing to put more on the table than Yunyun. Or just having Megumin look out for Yunyun in other places. An alternate method is to create a tiny amount of unworth in Yunyun's actions, to give Megumin just a bit of provocation.
Unfortunately, this book did not take a lot of care to do this and as a result Megumin just looks horrible in places. Three examples are
I might be a Yunyun pusher, but I like Megumin too, at least the one that can mix some caring with her bullying. I don't like the author's lack of care here.
But perhaps the biggest flaw in this book is not in its individual merit, but in how the author failed to exploit it to improve the overall quality of the series. Because one of the biggest things spinoffs can do is fill in plotholes in the main series ... such as, of course, Iris.
I think the author does know that Iris' Volume 10 strength is really going to cause some problems. Indeed, I've gone to check Amazon Japan's critical reviews, and the universal "specific complaint" (as opposed to the general complaint that the writing is weak, which is also true) is always about Iris. In other words, if we make Iris look more reasonable, Volume 10 might still not look great, but it'll look much better.
If I were the author and have decided I must make Iris very strong by Volume 10, I would have coordinated both books efforts to make this idea really sell.
The easiest, most conventional method would be to start Iris off at a strong but more reasonable level (probably I'll let her have the frogs, maybe even the bear, but stop her with the Beginner Killer). From that point, instead of lounging in a clubhouse, Megumin and Yunyun can take Iris on a Power-Leveling trip, joined by Cecily and maybe even Chris (who can detect traps for them or something). With all three of them working together over a period of weeks or months, they'll be able to slay some very strong monsters, so Iris should be able to level up fast (without resorting to that cheap "food" rationalization). Instead of just blubbering the sacred weapons and the new spells are Royal specials, it'll have been more endearing if Iris had picked them up during her adventures. Sacred Lightning Blare can be her preferred magic to use the points from her level up, and then they can find / steal Calibur and it actually accepts Iris as a owner.
If we saw this all happening, then when we see the Volume 10 scenes where Iris goes through her opposition like butter, even if they retain the same weak descriptions since we've already seen Iris work for this strength (rather than told that she was), we'll be much more likely to accept it. We might even naturally conclude that she would not sweat facing a few Elroodian knights. And all three of them would looked so cute working together.
The wasted potential...
Modified by arkhangelsk2017, May 16, 2017 10:02 AM