When someone mentions the words “comedy anime”, this is often one of the first recently airing shows that will be brought to the table when tossing out names for recommended lists or “must watches”. Not quite an MMO anime of the years past, and not quite an isekai anime of the current years, KonoSuba manages to both cater to the fans of those types of shows, while also simultaneously poking fun at all the ridiculous concepts behind said shows. It may even be tempting to call this type of show a “parody” or a “subversion” of the genres its mimicking. Honestly though, I don’t think either of those terms really fit what this show is.
If it makes it a bit easier to follow what exactly KonoSuba is, it may be easier to describe it as a show that falls into the trappings of its own genre while poking fun at those composition elements, yet manages to also steer its audience towards having that last laugh at the end of a scene, a gimmick that other comedic anime tend to have. KonoSuba can be framed as this sort of anime that’s made to get laughs out of the audience, at no matter what cost to the show, its plot, and its parody-esque elements that the show sells itself on.
This isn’t exactly a critique on the quality of those jokes themselves though. As with most comedy anime, sometimes they work well, sometimes they don’t. That’s just the nature of the beast.
As far as comedy elements go in KonoSuba though, it’s not exactly the jokes themselves that are the pinnacle of the show, but how they’re used in context with those elements of the genre of media that they’re poking fun at. That’s not to say that KonoSuba doesn’t have its own original jokes and commentary on the MMO-isekai genre, but going into this show with the mindset that every joke and character is a carefully woven hilarious critique on the genre in a masterful way would be overselling the show for what it is.
The show is more focused on the concept of comedic character acting and its delivery of the jokes rather than the jokes themselves, which definitely as more ups than downs when it comes to quality. The character animation and voice acting work (both sub and dub) are truly where this series shines the most, despite what the popular talking points are around the show may be.
I think it’s also worth mentioning that KonoSuba doesn’t exactly have the knack that some other comedy shows do when it comes to treating topics with respect and cleverness, and instead brute-forces its way into those topics, hoping that these characteristics of execution will carry the joke far enough past the point of offensiveness and into the territory of “that’s messed up, but it’s funny”. This will likely vary on the individual watching on what jokes take the matter too far, but as for me, this became one of the more insufferable parts of the show over time, despite how well the joke was delivered.
There’s a way of looking at this show that could justify this writing behavior though, as all the characters in the show are terrible people and treat each other horribly as a direct consequence, but I still feel that the characters themselves were treated too much like walking jokes more so than actual characters. It’s the equivalent of walking into the main hub of an online game with random people fighting in the middle of the square spouting nonsense between each other, where we end up laughing at the situation itself but have no investment in these people beyond the conversation, which I suppose is a fitting metaphor in its own way.
While I do think that the show is sold on the wrong values and also has a level of crudeness to get past, I do feel that there is a lot of value in talking about this work strictly in a setting context. Plenty of the elements of MMO-isekai fantasy worlds are present within this show, but the show does have the advantage to not have to take any of these elements seriously, thus breathing a new life into what we might think now as overly used aspects. The usage of these elements are what drove my interest into continuing the show further, despite some of the comedic pitfalls that made themselves more apparent as the show continued on.
The show is far from perfect and I don’t think that it’s necessarily revitalizing the MMO-isekai genre for what it’s doing, but it has plenty of enjoyable moments and some excellent audiovisual elements that keep the show’s quality at a high point. Despite the crass levels of comedy at times and the lack of any tangible character development, the premise and setting of the show manages to keep its characters interestingly interacting with the world on a level that makes it both enjoyable to watch and also keeps your attention on the moving parts that make this show enjoyable for what it is.
Final Verdict: KonoSuba and its brand of humor may not be for everyone, but for those that do enjoy “stupid characters doing stupid things”, this show may be the next one you want to give a chance next time you’re looking for a good laugh.