KonoSuba: An Explosion on This Wonderful World! attempts to present the origin story of everyone’s favorite chuuni mage but also makes the same mistakes as most prequels.
The Rise of Everyone’s Favorite Chuuni Mage
Like so many fans, I’ve been waiting for Season 3 of KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!. While news of its 2024 premiere was welcoming, it’s still going to be a long wait. Thankfully for all of us, An Explosion on This Wonderful World! will give us something to enjoy while we wait. It’s not what fans would expect but it will do for now
Based on the light novel of the same name, KonoSuba: An Explosion on This Wonderful World! follows the journey of Megumin. At first glance, one might think such a story might bring some nuance to one of the most beloved characters of the series. However, it fails to add much context to what we already know. At the same time, it makes so of the mistakes other prequels make.
It should be noted that I’m anime only regarding the series. Hence this review will not be comparing An Explosion on This Wonderful World! with the light novel or the manga. Instead, my critique will be based on the anime adaptations’ own merit.
From Student to Arch Wizard
An Explosion on This Wonderful World! is an origin story that traces the journey of Megumin from her days as a student to the moment she encounters Kazuma Sato and Aqua. After witnessing the might of explosion magic, a young Megumin becomes captivated by the desire to master this extraordinary power. Throughout the season, the narrative unfolds across two distinct arcs, offering viewers an understanding of her character and her path toward becoming the adventurer we know.
The first half of the season delves into Megumin’s experiences at the Red Prison Magic Academy, where she gradually emerges as a prominent figure within her class. It explores the origins of her “rivalry” with Yunyun and provides insight into her initial encounter with Chomusuke. The second half of the season shifts its focus towards Megumin’s departure from the Crimson Demon Village and her subsequent journey to Axel City. As she arrives in the city, she grapples with the challenge of finding a party that is willing to accept her. Simultaneously, several demons have attempted to kidnap Chomusuke.
Guardians of the Crimson Demon Village
The initial episodes of the season really shine as we learn a lot about Megumin. Here we get a glimpse into her time at the Red Prison Magic Academy, her home life, and her relationship with those around her. While these moments were briefly touched upon in the movie, the series delves deeper, offering a more comprehensive context about her upbringing and academic pursuits. These episodes add to our understanding of her character and enrich her overall narrative.
In the absence of Kazuma, Aqua, and Darkness, the series takes a different approach to humor. It refrains from simply replacing the core characters with cheap stand-ins. Instead, it focuses on Megumin’s dynamic with Yunyun and the situations that arise from her pursuit of explosion magic. This shift in focus allows for a fresh and unique sense of humor, showcasing the consequences of her single-minded dedication. The resulting comedic hijinks and memorable moments add a delightful charm to the series.
Of course, it’s not a real KonoSuba story without the core characters. Even though the series is focused on Megumin, the others do have a minor cameo. While regulated to the back end of the story, their presence is made obvious during the last few episodes.
To its credit, An Explosion on This Wonderful World! attempts to stand out from the main series. However, the series also fails to live up to what one would expect from KonoSuba. Most of it comes down to being too much of a good thing and a weak second act.
The biggest shortcoming is that it is the classic blunder of taking a popular character and giving them their own prequel/spin-off. In theory, it sounds good as we get to learn more about the character. In practice, it usually falls short due to the lack of personal dynamics while some questions did not really need to be answered. Megumin is a great character but she works great when with the other party members (not so much alone). Overall, we are given too much of a good thing without anything else to really balance it out.
This becomes obvious during the second half of the season. The story in Arcanletia was not that interesting while most of the humor starts revolving around a few gags. Those gags are explosion magic, the relationship with Yunyun, and what to do with Chomusuke. In between these events, questions that nobody asked are answered. The best part of the second half was only when she finally meets Kazuma and Aqua (meaning no stupid cliffhanger).
World of Explosions
Megumin may be the fan favorite but having too much of what you love may not work out in the end. The series successfully expands on her upbringing in the Crimson Demon Village. Unfortunately, the journey into the world all the way to meeting her party felt dragged out and dependent on the same few jokes. While not the series fans may want, at least it will keep us busy until Season 3.
KonoSuba: An Explosion on This Wonderful World! attempts to present the origin story of everyone’s favorite chuuni mage but also makes the same mistakes as most prequels. It has its moments but the series falls flat by the second act with a dull story and the same few jokes.
Disclaimer: I watched it on Crunchyroll, which I pay for myself.
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