TL;DR: Konosuba is a great shot at making a satirical anime about the "trapped in a fantasy world" premise. It has a really strong start, but as the anime goes on: its plot goes nowhere, its characters showcase a stale repertoire of personality traits, and stops awkwardly where I think the show actually started to get interesting. Konosuba did not crash and burn from start to finish. It definitely did lose some of its luster and shine. (5.6/10)
With the advent release of Sword Art Online there has been a noticeable rise of "trapped in a fantasy world" anime. This isn't to say there hasn't been many other before (.Hack/Sign). However, Konosuba is definitely one that has been on many people's radars from its new season coming a few days, and from its overt satirical take on the idea as a whole. I am not the biggest fan of anime series like this. But, friends around me have been signing the praises of this show. Do I believe that it is worthy of its "new savior of anime" title? No. Definitely not. There are various aspects of this show that I did find enjoyable. But, those definitely do not outweigh/set aside the various negatives I encountered throughout this 10 episode series.
To start out, the story of Konosuba starts off extremely hilariously with our main protagonist, the macho-man of this series, dying from shock. The story after that has various things where he picks up a new partner to help save the world from the tyranny of a devil-like figure who rules over their land. The premise of this show is definitely not striking new ground, especially with its otaku being set to save the world plot. This premise, while not new, feels fresh because of the comedic aspects that breaks a lot of the stereotypes that we may assume with its premise. Kazuma is essentially useless who travels with another useless, but extremely powerful new partner Aqua, much to her displeasure. This essentially useless duo makes for a good contrast to what we have seen in many anime series like Overlord, Sword Art Online, and Re:Zero.
From the anime overtly stating that its characters are not going to accomplish much for a very long time, it makes sense that its main focus shifts on the characters very early on. I think this was a smart move to make considering its a satire.
As for the characters, Kazuma is the "regular, otaku, guy" stereotype. He does not possess any outstanding characteristics, besides the "above average intelligence" that he possess from playing lots of video games. The supporting cast of characters are Aqua, Megumi, and Lalatina. I won't spoil their quirks in this review because they are best experience on your own first impressions. However, I found these three girls to be extremely grating towards the series. Aqua was annoying at the beginning of the series, and I could justify her discontent because of what happens to her. I also found this grating edge of hers to be quite a unique contrast to Kazuma. Except, her personality just gets more annoying from the raise in the sharpness of her voice, and her mannerisms that just irritate me. I find it hard to explain the niggling aspects of her behavior, but trust me its bad. Megumi and Lalatina are bit more likable because they are "calmer" in their actions. I would not say that either of them are show-stealers though. They do create endearing scenes, and interactions between other characters that I found really funny at several points in the series. When I wasn't laughing, I found them to be pretty generic characters beyond their single quirk that is supposed to make them "unique". Unfortunately, I hate to break it to those who read this review, a single quirk does not make someone unique. It is the actions, emotions, interaction, reactions, ideas, perceptions, outward appearance, etc. that stands out apart from the rest of the cast leads to interesting, unique characters. Konosuba does not have enough interesting differences between Kazuma, Lalatina, Megumi, and Aqua that I found worked during these 10 episodes that made me feel like I was not slogging through 15 minutes of interactions between its bland characters.
Luckily, Konosuba is extremely good looking. The art style of this show really emulates what I hope to find in a fantasy environment. There are bright tri-colored skies with lush green grass. What I also found is that when Kazuma enters the fantasy world, the animators consciously chose a warmer, brighter color palate from what is show in the first few minutes of this series. That subtle change should be commended because I think it made a world of difference since it emphasizes that idea that "our fantasies tend to be brighter than reality."
The rest of the animation quality is great. The particles from each characters spells and the "fighting" sequences look great. The movement from the characters looks smooth with slight dips in the animation quality in the middle of the anime when the plot really slow down. The spells still look great. But, the character models look a bit messier and less colorful.
In conclusion, I thought Konosuba was fine. I know there was a big focus on the negatives on this series, and not enough on the positives. I will try to work on that for the future. But, I feel this show started with something really good and hilarious. It may not have broken any boundaries or produced something that was unique in some aspect. What it did was create a solid foundation for a funny, satirical anime that pokes fun at its premise. As the anime went on, it got worse and worse from every aspect from it, disregarding the art quality. The plot did not move along nor had enough situations that I found to be funny. The characters even more so got worse, and the additions of Megumi and Lalatina did not do much to add to the camaraderie that I expect in a satirical anime set in a fantasy world. When I add all of those negatives together, I find myself having a pretty lack luster anime that does not live up to the hype. Maybe, I'm not the audience for Konosuba. That very well could be the case, and that would explain my distaste for this show. I know many reviewers and friends alike believe this to be a great anime, even worthy of the best anime of 2016. I do not. I think Konosuba was a great start to what I believe another anime will clean up and finalize into a great anime in the future.
Final Score: Konosuba = 5.6