Who Would Like this Series/Volume?
If you’re jumping right to volume 5, you’ve probably seen season one and two of its anime adaption and want to pick up where the anime left off. As such, I can recommend volume 5 to anyone who liked the anime (why else would you look into the story’s continuation?), since it’s more of the same. For everyone who has no idea what KonoSuba is: It’s comedy, fantasy with RPG-elements, romance (lots of the first, some of the second, and a tiny bit of the third).
Since volume 5 is mainly about the Crimson Demons and they are pretty chuuni/cringey, life can get hard. If they’re not having their self-important monologues, the difficulty is mainly defined by unique speaking patterns and fantasy terms. The sentences are rather short, nothing’s out-goingly complex, and the story’s straight-forward and well-rationed enough to make it a smooth read as long as you’re not a beginner.
There’s an official translation by Yen Press. I’ve yet to try and read it. However, since this volume is focused on the Crimson Demons, I’d suggest trying to read it in Japanese. A lot of their charme lies in how they handle Japanese and in their pet-like names in contrast to their personalities/alter-personas. I don’t see how you could get that across without extensive editing and I don’t see them putting ressources into that. I haven’t read their translation, mind you. It’s just a feeling. I am considering having a go at their volume 6 translation, though.
NOTE: This volumes/series has an anime and/or complete translation somewhere. Hence, the contents section will be reduced to the bare minimum as you can get the experience more or less by yourself.
Before I started reading KonoSuba volume 5, Netgame was still very fresh in my memory: A comedy series whose anime made the comedy far funnier than the original novel could. For Netgame I’d read volume 1 before I’ve seen the anime, for KonoSuba I saw the anime first. The anime was really funny and well-made, I expected the novel to deliver worse. However, since season 3 is still far off (?) and I needed to know what was going to happen next, I gave it a shot while sticking to low expectations.
What a fool I was. KonoSuba volume 5 delivers. It’s well-written, well-paced, and funny as hell.
While the jokes in Netgame seemed kind of flat when written out without the voiceacting the anime provided, KonoSuba manages to deliver the punchlines with a blow. The jokes aren’t far inbetween and the author makes sure to have few “standard” gags and a lot of original laughs you won’t see coming. Every time you think it’s getting a bit serious, something utterly silly is going to happen, and I love it. Albeit it can make things a bit foreseeable. After all, nothing good will ever come from anything in KonoSuba.
It’s not just a gag show. KonoSuba volume 5 has a well-crafted story around the Crimson Demons, explains their origin and works very well with and around their quirks. Focusing on the Crimson Demons as an idea is guaranteed comedy gold already, since they are designed to be silly people. It’s not just the idea behind the story itself or even its contents, though, that make volume 5 such an enjoyable read: The storyline, the chronological order of events creates a very satisfying experience. It has that “Yeah, of course”-effect. You don’t feel lost for a second when reading, you never ask yourself, “Why talk about that now?” And you never feel like the author is just filling pages or putting off the interesting stuff to test your patience, every portion of volume 5 was about something that genuinely interested me from either a world-building or storyline perspective and was hella fun to read on top of that. I can’t think of any exceptions.
Although prominently a comedy, KonoSuba volume 5 has a bit of character development to offer. As you might expect, Megumin has a slight shift in character comparing her self from the start of the novel with her self from the end. She starts behaving a bit more serious romantically towards Kazuma. Although I felt like the other heroines were a bit neglected in every sense in this volume, it’s not extensive enough to be nagging. They’re not in the spotlight, though, that’s for sure. Even Yunyun, although a Crimson Demon herself, didn’t have too much screentime.
Lastly, a small comment on the worldbuilding: It’s pretty good for a comedy series. Kazuma and the gang are travelling towards Crimson Magic Village by foot for the most part which helps you to get a good sense of how the outskirts are and its dangers in the world of KonoSuba. You also get a tour of Crimson Magic Village, albeit a small one. I would’ve liked another monster encounter in the outskirts and a bit more time put into the village itself instead of focusing on Megumin’s home that much. It’s a minor point, though.
All in all, KonoSuba volume 5 was the best comedy novel I’ve read yet. Although ShominSample was more charming romantically and hit slightly harder with its comedy, it lacked behind in all other aspects for the most part and as such KonoSuba took rank 1 for me. There are two minor points about volume 5 that prevent it to get a full score from me: The world-building is great but not excellent, and the story developments can be very foreseeable and slightly disappointing. Everything that can go wrong will go wrong, and every time when there’s a great atmosphere between Megumin and Kazuma and it all goes to sh*t because that’s just how things go, then the rom-com fan inside me dies a little. I want to stress that those are minor points of critique though which by no means should dissuade anyone from reading KonoSuba 5. It is superb and I love everything about it.
Oh, a small addition post scriptum: The illustrations are insanely good. Good filter work, great art style, very sharp, very detailed. You even get a small manga strip as a punchline. The illustrations make the novel even better!