by Kim Morrissy,

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku o! Kurenai Densetsu

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku o! Kurenai Densetsu
Kazuma, Aqua, Megumin, and Darkness travel to Megumin's hometown, a villa full of powerful mages, where they discover a threat from the Demon Lord's army. Thanks to some recent romantic escapades, Kazuma thinks he's achieved the fabled "moteki" state of being popular with women, but can his charm and good luck really carry the day this time?

Being a gag series that thrives on anticlimaxes, I wasn't sure how well KONOSUBA would transition to the big screen. I wouldn't have minded if the film had been more of the usual, but Kurenai Densetsu (or Legend of Crimson in English) surprised me with its satisfying blend of action and comedy. It's a great showcase for what made the TV series so endearing, while also nudging the story and characters into new territory. It's even got romance!

Kurenai Densetsu picks up right where the TV anime left off. The first two seasons of the TV anime adapted the first four volumes of the Konosuba light novel series, and Kurenai Densetsu adapts volume 5. The story begins with Yunyun blurting out to Kazuma that she wants his babies, although this is quickly revealed to be a false alarm. This doesn't stop Kazuma from thinking he's achieved his "moteki" period—the one time in a man's life when he's unusually popular with women—and being Kazuma, he's going to push his luck as far as he can. The motley crew of adventurers journeys to Megumin's hometown, where shenanigans ensue, including yet another showdown with a Demon Lord army general. In other words, it's a typical KONOSUBA storyline.

Despite the familiar trappings of the plot, the film succeeds in building on pre-existing character relationships and shedding new light on them. This is a Megumin story through and through, as we get an inside look at her family life and where she went to school (you can definitely see where she got her theatrical tendencies from!), and we also learn more about her friendship/rivalry with Yunyun. It's easy to see from this film why Megumin got a spinoff—the extended cast of quirky side characters from Megumin's hometown could easily support their own series.

However, the film leaves its strongest impression with Kazuma and Megumin's burgeoning relationship. Although I wouldn't call KONOSUBA a "romcom" per se, the series has shown sparks of chemistry between Kazuma and two of the girls in his party—namely Megumin and Darkness. Darkness doesn't get much to do in this film outside of the action scenes, so the spotlight is firmly on Megumin. Her interactions with Kazuma are amusing because the two of them are constantly switching roles when it comes to the "smart one/dumb one" dynamic. Despite Megumin's frequent theatrics, Kazuma acknowledges her to be the most sensible member of the group, and Kazuma loses all common sense often enough that Megumin ends up being the voice of reason. And sometimes, very occasionally, they're sweet and considerate to each other. Megumin was always the most popular character in KONOSUBA, but if this film doesn't win you over to her team, then there's no hope of that ever happening for you.

Besides the romcom elements, the gags in this film is sure to please fans of the TV anime. The film is at its funniest when it's showing off Kazuma's ridiculously horny-ness. One of the things I've always appreciated about this series is that Kazuma doesn't just passively react to everyone else being ridiculous, but he snarks at everyone else just often enough that when he's stripped of all dignity, it's extra vindicating and funny. My only complaint is that Aqua and Darkness feel under-utilized in this film, Aqua especially. There's also a transphobic punchline to a joke that I wasn't a fan of, although mercifully it's not a recurring gag.

The action is another point in the film's favor, being a significant step up from the TV series. Some fans have expressed concerns about J.C. Staff taking over the production of the film from Studio DEEN, but as far as the final product is concerned, there's nothing to worry about. The film retains all of the same core staff, and the pool of animators featured in the film is similar to the TV series, including standout animators like Shū Sugita, Shinya Takahashi, Toshiyuki Satō, and Kazunori Ozawa (aka the explosions animator). There's still some unevenness in the drawings at times, but that's what I've come to expect from KONOSUBA.

The film's climax is especially satisfying, featuring some of the most epic action scenes in the series yet. KONOSUBA always had moments of incredible action animation between its many goofy drawings, and with this film I feel confident in saying that the anime has the potential to shine as an action series. It also helps that the final battle builds on every climax from the series so far, driving the stakes higher than ever before. The goofy tone never goes away, but the epic climax makes the anime satisfying as a feature-length film.

All in all, I really enjoyed Kurenai Densetsu. I expected to laugh, but I got way more than just that. This film should prove that there's more to KONOSUBA than just isekai parody gags. As character relationships evolve and the scale of the series changes, it's easy to see where author Natsume Akatsuki gets the material to keep writing this story for over 16 volumes without losing steam. The KONOSUBA series is starting to shift gears, and I can only hope that it continues to be animated in some form, so that the world can see more of the potential lying beneath its gag-driven surface.

Overall : B+
Story : B+
Animation : B+
Art : B
Music : B

+ Megumin and Kazuma's endearing relationship, action scenes are a noticeable step up in quality
Aqua and Darkness are underused, one pointless transphobic joke

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Production Info:
Director: Takaomi Kanasaki
Script: Makoto Uezu
Music: Masato Kōda
Original creator: Natsume Akatsuki
Original Character Design: Kurone Mishima
Character Design: Koichi Kikuta

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KONOSUBA - God's blessing on this wonderful world! (movie)

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