If you were curious my three choices for Anime Secret Santa this year were both seasons of KonoSuba, both new parts of FLCL (FLCL Progressive and FLCL Alternative), or both seasons Blood Blockade Battlefront. For some reason, my Secret Santa seemed hellbent on me watching two seasons of whatever I picked.
I passed over FLCL mostly because while I was interested in watching the series I heard it was extremely disappointing. It was not horrible, or even worse, it just was a pale shadow of the original. It felt like something that would produce a rather limp review. Blood Blockade Battlefront seemed the safest choice. At worst I might find the show dull but it would have to go some really bad places to be hard to watch. KonoSuba seemed to be the show most in the spirit of the Secret Santa Project. It was a show I avoided because it seemed like more of the same isekai nonsense that has been flooding the market. But along with Re:Zero it is one of the few transported to another world series that I actually saw good reviews for. It seemed like a title I might have wrongly prejudged as another wannabe part of the Sword Art Online wave.
To be perfectly honest I also had I plan that if KonoSuba was Texhnolyze bad I could just hit the eject button and review the far safer Blood Blockade Battlefront. I’m not going to suffer THAT much for this project. Once was enough. I’m not that much of a masochist.
Clearly, since this is my Secret Santa review KonoSuba was not total unwatchable trash like The Master of Ragnarok & Blesser of Einherjar but that does not mean it was good. Does KonoSuba rise like cream to the top of the isekai barrel? The short answer is: It’s complicated.
I always wonder how much those stickers that say “From the artist who brought you Title X” help sales. Did “From the Author of Fruits Basket” help Yen Press with the sales of Twinkle Stars? Fruits Basket was one of most popular manga back in the day whereas I never hear anyone talking about Twinkle Stars. Now you can’t make a statement like mentioning a previous title will boost the sales of a new title by a fixed 46% because there are too many factors. Did the artist have one title with mass appeal that caught on but their other works are too esoteric? Will their initial audience go along with an artist if they go with a radically different direction? Are the readers burnt out on the formula of the artist’s last title? Was the initial success just a product of right time right place? Most of the time you would be foolish not to remind people of some earlier successes if you have the chance. It is a low effort way to possibly greatly increase your sales. The real question is how much is that boost with any particular title.
I mostly bring this up because I have at last one example of it working. When I went to the library I was a manga I had not heard of before. When I looked to see what it is about I saw a sticker that said, “story and art by Mitsurou Kubo the co-creator of Yuri!!! on ICE.” Now Sayo Yamamoto clearly shaped a good deal of what that anime would be but any anime is a collaborative work. The thing is Mitsurou Kubo has credits for her work on the original concept, the character designs, character names, insert song lyrics, and screenplay of all 12 episodes. She pretty much worked on everything that people liked about that show other than the animation. The sticker might as well have said, “may contain everything you liked from that ice skating show.”
So I had to see what this series is about. We go from the world of professional ice skating to time traveling oendan. You can’t say that the woman just has one story to tell with slight variations.