Series Review – Konosuba: Season 2

Written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of Studio Deen

Last winter, Studio Deen managed to surprise the anime community with an excellent comedy that seemed to come out of nowhere.  Soon enough, our favorite explosion seeking sorcerer became a mainstay of the anime community as the wait continued for the second season of Konosuba.  Well, the wait was not too long and the second season of Konosuba managed to maintain the same quality that the first season expertly presented.  For those interested in my thoughts on the first season, feel free to check out my review of the first season, but this piece is going to be solely on the second season.  I am Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth anime review.

Image2

Story and Characters

If you were not a fan of the first season, the second season does not drastically change up the formula of the first.  The series still focuses on the ragtag group consisting of Kazuma, Aqua, Darkness and Megumin as they seek to bring down the Devil King.  So in a way, this second season adds very little to what was established in the first season, which is not a bad thing.  It merely continues what made the first season so great.

Once again, the series excels with its comedy.  The first episode alone provides a fine example of the hilarity this show presents.  The end of the last season saw Kazuma getting arrested for his actions.  The second season opens up with a trial that had me dying of laughter.  Witnesses are called up to testify on all the running jokes that were prominent during the first season.  Fans of comedy will not be disappointed here.  The season even ends just as well as the first with a look into a hot springs town filled with residents trying to scam the main party.  The situations are ridiculous, but manage to perfectly play up the comedy.  There isn’t a single weak episode here.

I do have two issues with the story this time though.  These are negligible, but can be an issue for some.  First of all, the season is only ten episodes long.  This is no different from the first season, but it leaves the viewer hungry for more adventures because of the short run time.  Secondly, there is a significant focus on Darkness in this season, which means a lot of scenes showcasing her perverted sadism.  In a statement that is sacrilegious to many fans, Darkness is my favorite girl of the series, but I do think this masochistic aspect was played up too much during the middle section of this season.  I mean, I loved every second of it, but for those that are not big fans of the character; this could be a potential turn off.  However, there really is not anything more to say.  The series is still an excellent comedy that is just as good as the first season.

Image5

Animation and Sound

There is not much more to say about the second season that wasn’t already in my last review.  The animation quality is not going to impress with the exception of the explosion scenes.  However, the goofy quality of the scenes actually manages to enhance the comedy.  Between the character expressions and overall goofy movement, the entire animation just exudes comedy.  Of course, I do have some criticism of the animation though.  The first couple episodes played up this goofy animation quality to an extreme level which was distracting at times and almost bordering a bad categorization.  Thankfully, the series returned to its normal animation quality relatively quickly.

As for the sound design, there really is not difference between this and the first season.  The voice acting is superb in every way.  The performances showcase a mastery of comedic timing with their perfect delivery.  Kazuma is sarcastic, Aqua is a brat, Megumin is basically an explosion pyro and Darkness is a masochist.  The voice actors continue to display the characters with the same care and love of the first season.  Again, the music of the series fits perfectly, my personal favorite track being the catchy new opening.  Overall, the sound design and animation matches the quality of the first season.

Image3

Final Thoughts

The second season of Konosuba was every bit as good as the first season.  There are some problems, but they are relatively minor compared to just how good of a comedy that this show manages to be.  I am absolutely craving for more Konosuba.  At the time of this review, a third season has not been announced, but hopefully we will be graced with some more episodes.  I give the second season of Konosuba my Bananaowns’ Stamp of Approval.  It is one of the best comedic anime that I have had the pleasure to watch.  I’ll be back next week for another review and thanks for checking this one out.

Bananaowns stamp of approval

Series Review – Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

Written by Bananaowns

Images courtesy of Studio Deen

It’s rare for an anime to be a simple adult drama.  This can sound a bit confusing, but let me explain.  There is no fan service here, there’s no doing something for the sake of pleasing the otaku audience.  It’s simply an excellent story told for the sake of creating something.  I think this aspect represents this series phenomenally.  Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu encapsulated the pursuit of an art form.  While I think the cultural differences prevent me from truly appreciating everything about this show, it was still excellent.  I am Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth anime review.

Image1

Story and Characters

A man named Yotaro is released from prison and seeks to become the apprentice of a famous rakugo performer named Yakumo.   Rakugo is a sort of Japanese performance art in which a single storyteller sits on the stage.  The performer then tells a long and comedic story that features the storyteller playing the roles of multiple characters.  As for the plot, the viewer initially thinks this series will be about Yotaro, but then the story takes a surprising turn as it mostly consists of Yakumo telling his life story.  The story only returns to the present in the final episode.

Just to keep things consistent I will continue to use Yakumo even though he goes by the name of Kikuhiko in this flashback.  Yakumo’s story is highly complicated due to his relationship with his fellow apprentice Sukeroku and a geisha named Miyokichi.  As told in the first episode, Sukeroku is involved in an accident that costs him his life.  The entirety of the series builds up to this moment where everything goes wrong.  Before that happens, the series explores Yakumo’s mixed relationship with rakugo.  He initially possesses a lot of jealously towards Sukeroku.  Unlike his fellow apprentice, Yakumo is not great at rakugo from the get go.  As a result, he struggles with pursuing this art form and finding his voice.  I would characterize this as the essence of this series.  It’s about the finding of one’s voice in an art form.  This makes the series highly enjoyable as you see Yakumo begin to realize his dreams.

Of course, this road is filled with tragedy for all the characters involved.  Every character is highly developed to an extreme degree.  There are no villains here.  The audience really feels some sort for sympathy for everyone involved.  Sukeroku is initially shown as being a bit of a vagabond.  However, he is more complicated than that.  He loves everything to do with rakugo.  It’s his ultimate dream to evolve this art form so that it can be prevented from dying out.  This creates a bit of conflict as his methods defy tradition.  On the other spectrum, Miyokichi provides some drama as well.  She heavily desires to build a relationship with Yakumo.  However, Yakumo prioritizes his art over her.  Despite her best efforts she can’t change this aspect of his character.  Ultimately, she begins to resent the art form which creates a lot of conflict.

I can’t emphasis this enough, but the story and the characters of this series are very strong.  The characters all go through very real arcs that can be quite devastating.  The drama isn’t played out and it makes sense that things happen.  There is nothing gratuitous here.  It’s just a story about people pursing an art form and the consequences that it can have.  It is very compelling to the point where I was enthralled even when I could not appreciate the intricacies of the art form in question.

Image3

Animation and Sound

In terms of animation, this series is one of the best with non-action animation.  Most of the drama is through dialogue and the animation masterfully adds on to the effect of the dialogue.  The facial expressions are top notch.  I also enjoy the rather realistic character designs and the beauty of the backgrounds.  The cast also does a great job at bringing these characters to life.  Sukeroku’s brash personality comes off in his cheerful voice acting.  Yakumo sounds like the proper stick in the mud.  Miyokichi comes off as seductive, but troubled.  The music is also great.  There are a large variety of traditional Japanese songs that play up the fact that this is a show about a Japanese art form.  Of course, the main highlight of the animation and sound involves rakugo.

The animation and sound design are more intertwined than a typical anime because of the rakugo performances.  First and foremost, the animation of these sequences is a prime example of how minute details can influence a scene.  The subtle choreography combined with the facial expressions really brings out the performance aspect.  Under a lot of scrutiny, these scenes can show a vast difference in performance.  The way the characters move in these scenes illustrate the difficulty of good rakugo.  The performer has to play multiple characters with subtle moments and voice changes.  Speaking of the voice acting, I strongly believe that this cast deserves whatever the anime equivalent of an Emmy is.  The voice acting shows a lot of range in these performances.  There are a lot of voices involved in rakugo.  It showcases how distinct this art form is.  It’s rather impressive to see the voice actors use a plethora of voices to illustrate a story that is also contingent on timing.  The sound design and animation come together perfectly to form these scenes.  It just shows how great this series was in terms of presentation.

Image5

Final Verdict

While I don’t exactly understand rakugo perfectly, it was interesting to be exposed to this art form.  The story and characters were outstanding.  The animation and sound were of a similarly high quality.  I give Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu my Bananaowns’ stamp of approval.  It’s not an anime for everyone, but I hope everyone gives it a chance.  I’ll be back next week for another review and thanks for checking this one out.

Bananaowns stamp of approval