KonoSuba 2 – 02

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The expressions on the faces of Kazuma on Aqua kinda match up with my feelings about this episode, which was, in a word, listless. They still have the mansion (for now), but all their other earthly goods are gone. Megumin brings in a cat, so now the party has a mascot. The three worry about what might be happening to Darkness.

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Then Sena observes as the party strikes out into the snow to do what it does best: nothing right. Granted, this is a show all about the ineptitude of the party, so it’s not like I expect competence. It’s just that the slimy giant toads were already done last season, and despite casting Megumin’s rival Yunyun and Sena into the slimy fray, it all comes off as a bit stale.

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In other news, Kazuma and Megumin’s stubborn pride leads them to share a bath together, when neither wants to lose face by backing down from threats of…bathing together. To be fair, it’s a huge bath, so I don’t really see the problem as long as they’re covering up, which is the case here. Nevertheless, this is another retread from last season, with Megumin instead of Darkness.

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I’m not sure what would have improved this episode, but less (or no) Yunyun might’ve done the trick. The projections of her and Megumin’s most embarrassing moments were good for a chuckle, but otherwise she was half-baked and didn’t bring enough new out of Megumin to make her worth having around. This episode just felt like it lacked energy, and wasn’t up to the standard KonoSuba programmed me to expect through its much better efforts.

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KonoSuba 2 – 01

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I have wrested control of KonoSuba reviewing duties from Zane, but we both watched this first episode of its much-anticipated sequel, and it does not disappoint, picking up right where it left off. KonoSuba 2 continues its predecessor’s generosity – you get a lot of bang for your buck. This episode featured five distinct scenarios, all the source of a great many laughs.

People initially come to Kazuma’s defense, first by talking about other bad stuff he’s done, but quickly wilt into the background when Sena, the prosecutor charged with arresting him, makes it clear she has no qualms about putting others in jail for the same charges as Kazuma. Here, Kazuma learns the true value of his “friends” at the tavern.

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However, his core friends don’t give up, as Megumin causes an explosive diversion, allowing Aqua to sneak to the prison where Kazuma is held and give him a pin with which to pick the cell lock. Of course, it’s not that kind of lock. When she returns with a hacksaw, she tosses it to him, even though he can’t reach the window bars, as it never occurred to her to saw the bars herself. The failed attempts re-establish the party’s general incompetence in all things, but especially seemingly simple things.

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That being said, Kazuma exhibits in a hilarious interrogation scene with Sena that he can more than make up for his lack of stupidity with an abundance of embarrassing details about his life, which he has no choice but to elaborate on in front of Sena, a lie-detecting bell, and an enthusiastic stenographer.

In what’s my favorite part of the episode, Kazuma starts out under the stern Sena’s heel, but once the bell seems to prove his innocence, the tables turn completely, and Sena is suddenly docile and contrite. Fukushima Jun and Nabatame Hitomi put on a voice-acting clinic playing the swiftly evolving moods of Kazuma and Sena.

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Naturally, Kazuma gets too full of himself and says something the bell identifies as a lie (b/c he knows Wiz) which is enough for Sena to send him to trial – an open-air trial with the gallows hanging courtroom adjacent. Sena starts breaking down Kazuma’s character with the unflattering testimony of witnesses.

Here the show flexes its memory, using that testimony as a means of refreshing us on what Kazuma has done (not all of it is stuff to be proud of, after all), and Aqua and Megumin fail to provide a robust defense. Kazuma only goes free when he tells the bell he’s not involved with the Devil King, and even then after Darkness has to reveal her Dustiness heritage to override the local Lord leaning on the judge to convict.

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But with each victory comes another defeat, something that one both expects and doesn’t expect on KonoSuba, so engrained is my fantasy anime way of thinking. A brutal and unjust middle ages-style legal system actually worked out for Kazuma in the end…but only because he knew someone important.

That’s his luck in play, but there’s never enough to, say, avoid having his, Megumin’s, and Aqua’s assets snatched up in order to pay his debt to the Lord Aldarp, who emerges as perhaps the next big bad.

And so the party now has to somehow make back enough money to get rid of that debt with nothing but the clothes on their back and their wits, all without incurring more debt or breaking more laws that will get them executed. It’s a hard knock life in this beautiful world.

Any promising opportunities are to be looked upon with suspicion, but even that vigilance will prevent be from being surprised or even shocked by what fresh indignities KonoSuba has cooked up for Kazuma & Co.

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Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai – 09

Sena invites Kodaka and Kobato to her house so he can meet her father, who was good friends with his father. He turns out to be very formal and serious most of the time, but is also a lightweight when it comes to drink. Sena terrories Kobato in the bath to the point she runs away, and Kodaka sees Sena naked, but the next morning, pretends he was drunk and didn’t remember. Sena’s father give him his blessing vis-a-vis his daughter.

Ah, meeting the father of the girl you like. Always a potentially awkward situation; and it’s very much that here as well, but Kodaka has a few advantages. First, beause Sena’s dad knows Kodaka’s parents, looking at him reminds him of them, which comforts him. Of course, that make us wonder why Kodaka never met Sena in the past. I guess Sena was the potential childhood friend he never had because his dad was usually pretty distant. Though we like how Kodaka won’t let his dad be called “trash”. “Idiot” is acceptable.

Kodaka’s only real friend ever, it would seem, was lil’ Yozora, whom he thought was a boy. As Kodaka doesn’t see either as a serious love interest as of yet, or indeed even as friends, and he manages to reassure both of them in the end, we’re still pretty much clueless who if anybody he’ll choose. But out of the whole Neighbor’s club harem, Yozora and Sena are the only seriosu and viable contenders. Now he needs to meet Yozora’s dad.


Rating: 3

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai – 07

Frustrated by not knowing who’s going to show up for club when during the summer, Kodaka suggests they set up a system for that purpose. However, Sena and Yozora refuse to use the internet, and they can’t join an SNS without an invitation, so they determine cell phones to be the best tool for the job. Sena doesn’t have one though, and ends up buying one just like Kodaka’s the next day.

I understand that people without friends can quickly fall behind on technology, and the moment where Yozora and Kodaka rejoice upon successfully exchanging addresses was worth a chuckle, but otherwise this episode just kind of lagged, dragging the cell phone troubleshooting bit along for way too long.

Kobato’s stupid “ku-ku-ku” is long past played-out, as is the pattern of Yozora directing barbs at Sena followed by Sena running out in tears. Yozora and Sena’s petty, silent rivalry over a clueless Kodaka certainly has a precident in real high school life, but it’s starting to get boring here. And the solution for an engaging, entertaining comedy isn’t more fanservice.


Rating: 2

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai – 06

Yozora arranges for the club to go to a karaoke box, however she and Sena purchase separate booths to “game the system”, while Kadoka gets one for Kobato, Rika, Yukimura and himself. When everyone has sung themselves hoarse they leave, but Yozora promises there’ll be more club activities throughout summer vacation, like any other club. She bristles when she learns Kadoka is going to visit Sena’s house to meet her father.

Yozora may have founded this “Neighbor Club”, but let’s call it what it is, shall we?…a harem. He’s now got four girls (not counting his sister or the nun) following him around. Not that extra guys would be better – they’d probably just put him in a choke hold and muss his hair. But while Rika is all about…progressing their relationship and Yukimura wants nothing else but to be his slave, Sena and Yozora are the ones constantly twirling their hair (a lot) in hesitation. We have to admit, their childish bickering may have reached a new low (‘You’re stupid!’ ‘No, you’re stupid!’)

Naturally Kodaka is trying to keep this all nice and professional, so as not to choose favorites, but not telling Yozora that his dad simply knows Sena’s dad is a pretty dense move. Of course, we don’t see why Yozora doesn’t just come out and tell him she was his childhood friend whom he moved away from without saying goodbye. Of course, she’s the one who never showed…perhaps reuniting herself with Kodaka but not revealing who she is is…penance, of some kind? We wouldn’t put it past her; she’s quite odd.


Rating: 2.5

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai – 04

When she returns to what was her “naptime room”, ten-year-old nun Maria is manipulated by Yozora into signing off as the official moderator of the Neighbor Club. Kodaka is weary of a potential stalker, who turns out to be first-year named Yukimura, who looks like a girl from any angle, but is actually a guy. With Yozora’s approval, he joins the club and serves as Kodaka’s underling, and Kodaka is charged with making him more manly. When Kodaka hears an explosion in the “science room”, he runs in and carries an unconscious girl to the infirmary. When she recovers, this girl, Rika, thanks him profusely and joins the club as well, revealing her extremely dirty mind as she “seeks his DNA”

Had this episode been all about Maria’s introduction, or Yukimura’s, or Rika’s, it might have worn a little thin by the end. But by introducing all three in one episode in a steady progression, the comedy stays fresh and interesting. Now the whole cast from the sneak peek in episode 00 has been unveiled. Back then we unavoidably formed opinions on these three characters. Assuming Kobato was a classmate, when she’s actually Kadoka’s sister. Assuming Yukimura’s a girl, when he’s actually a very girly man in drag. This episode rewrote those characters in our heads, and they’re better for it. Having met and gotten to know the three mains of Kodaka, Yozora and Sena,, these three are the side dishes to the ‘Neighbor Club bento’, adding spice and variety.

While Maria’s youth and naivete and Yukimura’s submissiveness make for somewhat passive characters occupying the background, I like Rika the most so far. Yes, her filty mind and lewd commentary is a little overdone, but one has to admire her stubborn honesty and forwardness in contrast to the pussy-footing of Yozora and Sena vis-a-vis Kodaka. She’s on screen for only a few minutes and is already able to do what they never could – outwardly express their feelings. Her ‘mecha-as-ecchi’ bit was also pretty spot-on. Meanwhile, as most of the school still fears him and takes every word he says out of context, Kodaka may be correct that the club is actually making his reputation even more infamous. But he cannot deny that the club has netted him new friends he lacked previously, which is the point of the club. Sure, they’re all weird, but a club full of ordinary kids would be painfully boring.


Rating: 3.5

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai – 03

(UPDATE: We’ve decided to upgrade this episode’s rating from 3 to 3.5.) Sena gets immersed in an eroge, much to the disdain of Kodaka and Yozoro. Sena then asks Kodaka to teach her to swim, and they have a de facto date at a swim park. He protects her from a group of boys, using his air of delinquency. He then dreams about his best friend from twelve years ago, and remembers something he said to him about quality being more important than quantity with friends. Unbeknownst to him, that he was actually a she…

The club remains only three this week, but we learn more about Kodaka’s past and meet his anime-obsesed sister. I’m glad she’s just cosplaying and not some kind of supernatural being, and his sister and not another harem member. She seems to be extremely dependent on him, so it doesn’t bode well for her that he’s spending more and more time with the club. (Perhaps she’ll start hanging around there?) After a first act in which Yozoro chastizes Sena and makes her read the eroge dialogue aloud, the two girls were basically seperate this week, which was refreshing.

While I find Sena’s request to Kodaka to teach her how to swim was a bit contrived, their day together itself wasn’t that bad. Lots of service, sure, but also lots of characterization and bonding. And even though he’s not the delinquent most of his school makes him out to be, he’s no weakling either, something his childhood friend from the past instilled in him. As to that: Yozoro was that best friend of his, and she’s remembered him all along. Which begs the question: will Kodaka ever figure this out? Considering he thought his friend was a boy and Yozoro is a girl…doubtful. Which is a shame.


Rating: 3.5

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai – 02

Yozoro declares the best way for the Neighbors Club to start making friends is with games, namely, PSP games that require cooperation and teamwork. The three members enter the world of the RPG-like game, and Yozoro and Sena spending most of the time killing each other. They move on to girlges, and Sena becomes obsessed with the love interests therein. Alas, after countless hours of gameplay, they club is stuck on three members.

This episode, with an air of The World God Only Knows, decided to literally immerse the characters into the worlds of the games they were playing. It got them out of the boring clubroom and out of their ordinary uniforms, but their personalities stayed the same. Even stranger – and played totally straight – was a scene where Sena is dressed as the male protagonist, and Kodaka – in drag, with a hairpin – counsels her.

It’s funny moments like that, along with the frequent (but not annoyingly so), spirited verbal jousting, that let this seemingly wrote harem comedy rise above itself. While this episode wasn’t quite as impressive as the first, it was still surprisingly good. You’d never think a show with such an unbelievably bad opening sequence would settle down into something that’s actually decent, but it does. We also liked how the series didn’t introduce anyone new yet…giving the core trio time to gel.


Rating: 3

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai – 00

The preview episode begins with a hallucination, as Kadoka dreams of an ideal world with ideal versions of his friends having fun together, with a recurring image of a hot pot always simmering nearby said fun activities. He wakes up in the midst of a dark hot pot, in which two of the girls he’d been dreaming about – Yozura and Sena – are trying to see who can outlast t’other in an eating duel. They both end up vomiting and passing out with the others. It’s established that Kodaka, Yozura, Sena, and four others are members of a school “Neighbor Club” dedicated to building relationships.

This is another case of a lull in the output of fall 2011 series we’ll be reviewing (Last Exile won’t air till Friday), so in the meantime we take a look at this 11-minute preview of a series we won’t will be reviewing, the title of wihch translates to “I don’t have many friends”. If “I” is Kodaka, it would seem he has many friends, and they’re all have distinguishing marks making them easy to distinguish: Rika has the glasses; Yozura, Black hair; Sena, the busty blonde; Maria, the nun; Yukimura, the redhead; and Kodaka, who is odd-eyed. It would appear on the surface to be a harem of Index rejects.

We’ll admit, we actually started the first episode of Kimi to Boku, but scrubbing through it we realized there were five main characters, and not one of them was a girl. On the other side of the spectrum we have this series, with six girls, but at least one member of the opposite sex, and it doesn’t seem like everyone’s in love with the one guy. And while that was a rather slow-paced school slice-of-life, this was far quicker-paced, and threw a lot of curveballs vis-a-vis reality vs. fiction; showing us an idealized version of Kadoka’s friends before the real thing.


Rating: 2.5

Oreimo 15 (Fin)

With this final web extra, Oreimo finally comes to a close on a happy note. Disturbed by a cryptic text from Kirino, Kyou totally brushes off a confession from Kuroneko (bastard) and dashes off to L.A. It’s a bit of a shame they don’t spend any time in America at all; he just takes a cab to her dorm, they play an eroge (her first since she arrived) and with a tearful confession of his own, convinces her to come back to Japan.

Kyou must’ve sensed the same thing his father did from those texts: she wasn’t doing to hot, and was going to proceed to keep working hard, perhaps too hard, to reach her goal of becoming a track star. Basically, it wasn’t working out. She swore she wouldn’t contact anyone back home until she beat another runner: three months later and no texts, save the ones instructing Kyou and her dad to toss her collection and trophies, respectively.

While Kyou kinda had to go and snap her out of her stubbornness, it’s still a bit disconcerting he so casually shot down Ruri, especially after her unprecedented spilling of her honest feelings. He made her happy caring for her. But this is a show where the imouto is the star, unfortunately for Ruri. So rather than be happy with an Ayase or Saori or Tamura or Ruri as his girlfriend, Kyou continues to live his life in service of others. He derives his happiness from making others happy. Pfft…what a weirdo! Rating: 3.5