By Natsume Akatsuki and Kurone Mishima. Released in Japan as “Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku o!” by Kadokawa Sneaker Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Kevin Steinbach.
I recently reviewed the third volume of Combatants Will Be Dispatched!, by the same author, and noted the difference between that series and KonoSuba is that KonoSuba has heart. Which is true, as the latter half of this book shows. But to get there we have to get through the first half of this book. And it’s a good reminder that, while the cast of KonoSuba are nice and sweet compared to the sociopaths of Combatants Will Be Dispatched!, they are still quite horrible people overall. No one exemplifies this more than Kazuma, who after the last volume is spending his days lazing around the castle being waited on by servants and corrupting the princess (no, not like that, fortunately – she’s just talking casually now). After finally being thrown out, he then has to get back into his own mansion, as he’s been locked out by a thoroughly pissed-off Aqua. It’s only when Megumin’s sister Komekko shows up that the cast remember that they’re badass and also not terrible.
In a nod to the overall plot, Komekko is brought to Axel because Megumin’s village is under attack by the Demon Lord’s forces, which has led to their home being destroyed. so “those two girls” (in a nod to the trope, Megumin can’t remember their names, and to be honest neither can I) drop Komekko off to be looked after by Megumin while the Crimson Magic Clan strikes back and also cleans up. Komekko’s quite happy with this, as everyone and their brother is feeding her. She’s also happy because Megumin has been writing her letters about how AWESOME she and everyone else in Axel is, and she wants to find out about this first-hand. Given that, for once, Kazuma and company are reasonably well-liked by the town, the other adventurers are willing to go along with Megumin’s exaggerated letters. In fact, the guild decides to take advantage of this. A lot.
Everyone here gets their moments to shine and also their moments to be humiliated, in the best KonoSuba way. The exception is Komekko, who plays everyone like a fiddle and will likely be far more powerful than Megumin when she grows up. Darkness comes off worst, as she’s still hamstrung by having to be the sensible one, with her perverse moments kept to a minimum. As for Megumin, much to the surprise of Kazuma (and the reader), she is not going to let him forget her confession from the end of the 9th book – she repeats it, and then says she’d like to be “more than friends but less than lovers”. It’s a great scene, and Kazuma responds to it (for him) relatively seriously. Of course, it’s then undercut immediately, because no one does that better than KonoSuba – Komekko heard this confession and tells everybody, leading to a hilarious final scene.
As this point Kazuma/Megumin seems to be set in stone… though the cliffhanger may bring fresh chaos. Darkness has a kid? Is she a child from the future? (Probably not). In any case, this was an enjoyable book, once I got past the obligatory “sixty or so pages of Kazuma being a scumbag” parts.