Produced by Drive
Directed by Yuujirou Abe
Streaming on Crunchyroll
I will preface this review by declaring myself an unabashed Megumin simp, as I believe it’s important you understand an author’s bias when trying to appraise their opinions. Now, seeing as I main Hu Tao in Genshin Impact and I’m an Emilia diehard, so this might be a Rie Takahashi fixation, but seeing as she had to tell her fans to bathe before coming to her concert, that’s an association I’d rather avoid.
But Konosuba is back, albeit as a spin-off, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s been a long four years, and An Explosion on This Wonderful World is just the thing to tide you over if waiting another day for season three sounds like too much to bear.
But not all is well in Konosuba. The new series marks the third studio switch after Deen passed the torch to JC Staff, and now an unproven team headed by a director with a scant few credits to his name have been given the keys to the series. As certain as it seems that this will be the explosion that we’ve all been waiting for, it’s never a given.
So, does An Explosion on This Wonderful World live up to the hype of its long-absent main series? Only one way to find out.
You may know Megumin as the fearsome archwizard of Kazuma’s adventuring party, able to wield explosion magic, the deadliest spell of them all…at the cost of her usefulness for the rest of the day. Yeah, so the thing about jumping the gun and learning the nuke spell before you’re old enough to attend high school is that you don’t have the magic battery to shoot one off and get home on your own two feet.
But before that, she was a fledgling mage at the renowned magic academy of her hometown, where students with a chuunibyou flair can learn to become practitioners of the arcane arts…still with a chuuni flair. Sorry, the Crimson Demons were founded by an otaku who got isekai’d and founded an entire society of people who think that posing dramatically as you cast fire down from the sky is just the coolest thing, and to be clear, it is.
Along with Yunyun, Komekko, and a handful of familiar faces if you managed to catch the Konosuba movie, Megumin’s journey to become the wizard we see in the main series starts here…even if that journey is like, a year or two, tops.
Yeah, it’s a little weird proposing a spin-off on the origins of a 14-year-old character, especially as we know her entire deal, from her family to the one spell she dedicated her life to learning, but hey, she’s a fan favorite, so you may as well. An Aqua spin-off would just be 12 episodes of the most useless goddess drinking herself stupid, and a Darkness spin-off wouldn’t be fit to air on broadcast television, so Megumin is what we got.
So…the story is a little lacking. It’s not that Konosuba ever needed much of a story, but you do have to ask yourself “why does this exist?” and if the answer is “to make a ton of money,” then you can excuse my skepticism.
From the opening episodes, I will say that there’s no clear reason for Explosion’s purpose other than the monetary incentive to cash in on the popularity of Konosuba’s most popular character. There is no secret to uncover, nothing left to the imagination that couldn’t be easily inferred from the main series, and so, all that’s left is Konosuba’s trademark character comedy.
And admittedly, Explosion is just as funny as the flagship, and seeing returning characters bounce off one another is just the shot in the arm that Konosuba needed, with season three still off in the distance. The snag is that Megumin is one of an iconic quartet, and it’s all too easy to run afoul of either trying to replace her party, or carry on without someone filling those roles.
I like Yunyun and Megumin’s family, and I think the Crimson Demon clan has a lot of comedic potential. Unfortunately, a lot of that potential was utilized well in the movie, and didn’t have to bear the burden of comprising the majority of the main cast, as well as the entirety of the supporting.
Is it bad? No, far from it, but An Explosion on This Wonderful World is an appetizer, and I suspect one that will be forgotten as soon as the entree comes out.
That being said, there’s more to this review than just seeing Megumin’s side story and finding it wanting. Producing studio Drive and director Yuujirou Abe are newcomers after the departure of Takaomi Kanasaki, and that rightfully warrants some unease. Studio mix-ups and old hands on the creative team leaving have heralded the downfall of many anime before, so Explosion is worth a watch even if you don’t need that quick hit of Konosuba to get you by.
Thankfully, Abe and Drive have more than earned our trust. With some stellar production values, and a clean presentation that arguably surpasses the seasons that came before it, Explosion is one of the best-looking anime this spring.
It doesn’t hurt to have familiar faces returning, such as script writer Makoto Euzu (Scum’s Wish, Space Brothers, and…School Days, oddly enough) and sound producer (Ufotable’s Fate, Sword Art Online, and motherfreaking JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure).
Konosuba’s visual comedy has always been one of its strongest points, and thanks to the team’s work on Explosion, it even helps minimize some of my complaints about the story.
Is An Explosion on This Wonderful World necessary? Not strictly speaking, no. Is it more than welcome? Most definitely.
Maybe I get too tangled up in whether or not a story demands to be told. Even soulless cash grabs can have merit for casual views and snobby anime critics alike. The truth is, I missed Konosuba a heck of a lot in the past few years, and I’m glad to see that it’s back in any capacity.
I’ll take the spin-off as a good sign of things to come, give a respectable Neutral Pleasing, and keep tuning in. Speaking of keeping up to date on things, why not follow the Otaku Exhibition so you don’t miss any updates on new reviews? And if you really want to be my best friend in the whole wide world, go ahead and follow me on Twitter @ExhibitionOtaku too, where I talk about anime in smaller, snippier formats. Until next time, thanks for reading.
|Pleasing||An Explosion on This Wonderful World|