The KonoSuba franchise returns for the Spring 2023 anime season, this time focusing on the young magical girl Megumin. This prequel spin-off anime delves deeper into Megumin's character, including her surprisingly complex emotional state and her personal beginnings as the land's most enthusiastic explosion witch.
So far, KonoSuba: An Explosion on This Wonderful World! is a delightful and humorous adventure — a refreshing isekai anime told from the perspective of a native. This means that the Explosion anime will go into great detail about Megumin's character, including the origins and benefits of her distinct chunibyo personality.
How Megumin Became a Chunibyo
The chunibyo archetype describes any 8th grader or anyone around that age who acts dramatic and important because they allegedly have special abilities that no one else can perceive or understand. Chunibyos may supplement this with an eyepatch or other visual flair, but they are expected to outgrow all of this fairly quickly. There are many examples in anime, such as Nakanaka Omoharu in Komi Can't Communicate and Megumin in KonoSuba, who has an eyepatch, a flair for the dramatic, unique powers, and a juvenile attitude. In the main KonoSuba anime, she was known for this, but as Explosion demonstrates, Megumin got this idea from her native culture, not her imagination.
KonoSuba: An Explosion on This Wonderful World! explores Megumin's hometown in great detail -- the land of the crimson demon clan -- including its wacky culture and way of life. There, being a chunibyo is a part of mainstream culture, and not just for young teens. Everyone acts that way, including the adults, who actively encourage chunibyo behavior in their students. Megumin's teachers at the magical school show their students how to make dramatic declarations, strike impressive poses and generally create their own brands as stylish chunibyos with actual magic to back it up. Megumin, who's already a strong-willed and proud magic user, quickly absorbed these lessons and embraced her culture's chunibyo's ways without hesitation.
Notably, Megumin doesn't completely lose herself in the chunibyo archetype, even if it's a part of mainstream culture that speaks to her. Unlike some of her wackier classmates, Megumin can be surprisingly practical and has some discretion, rejecting her school's more foolish lessons while figuring out her identity as a chunibyo. Megumin strives to balance her outward chunibyo persona with her more authentic inner self, including her loyalty to her family and her grounded, practical mindset as someone who knows what she wants and why she wants it. Megumin loves the chunibyo lifestyle, but it's already clear that she won't just be a tool for her teachers or villagers. She's after something more personally meaningful, chunibyo eyepatches or not.
The New KonoSuba Anime Is Isekai Without the Isekai, Including Chunibyos
It's important to note that the chunibyo character archetype has nothing directly to do with isekai, which plays into this anime's narrative themes. KonoSuba: An Explosion on This Wonderful World! is an isekai without the isekai, taking place in the same isekai fantasy land Kazuma Sato visited but without the otherwordly themes. Megumin is a native, so she takes everything here for granted, and she doesn't view things in video game terms or compare this world to modern-day Japan. Because of this, the Explosion anime only lightly touches on isekai themes, if at all, exploring its world and characters through a more conventional lens instead.
The Explosion anime is a character study centered on Megumin and her origins, so it is only an isekai anime in name. If the isekai subgenre isn't openly parodied or criticized in this story, it will draw on other sources for humor, drama, and action. In this case, the chunibyo archetype is a great way to make Megumin and her fellow villagers goofy and colorful, while also subtly satirizing isekai anime's use of magic in everyday life.
Chunibyos don't even have to be literally magical; they can appear in slice-of-life anime set in modern Japan or even in everyday life, emphasizing that, while magical chunibyos like Megumin are entertaining, they're hardly a commentary on isekai itself. Anyone who is tired of isekai but still wants to have some fun can watch the Explosion anime, complete with eyepatch girls.