Review

by Theron Martin,

KONOSUBA movie

Legend of Crimson

Synopsis:
KONOSUBA movie - Legend of Crimson
Alarming news and a prophecy from the home village of Megumin and Yunyun has prompted the latter to seek to have a child with Kazuma. The prophecy is soon shown to be fake but Megumin can't ignore the threatening Demon Lord attack, so Kazuma and company all get themselves teleported near the Crimson Demon village. After a misadventure with breeding-starved orc women, the group makes its way to the village to discover that the village isn't in that much trouble after all, as it is stocked with powerful (if extremely eccentric) magic-users. But things always get messy when Kazuma and crew are involved, and this time is no different. Whether it's Megumin's mother trying to marry her daughter off to Kazuma, the fourth general of the Demon Lord, or an ultimate anti-mage weapon accidentally getting released, the visit doesn't remain peaceful for long.
Review:

After a run in Japanese theaters late in the summer, the third animated installment in the KONOSUBA franchise is now making its way into American theaters as a special event screening. Although this franchise is a personal favorite (I would collectively rank the two TV series as being among the best anime comedies of the 2010s), I was a bit dubious about how well it would work in a movie format. After seeing the movie, I am still a bit dubious, though not because it fails to entertain; it most certainly is a fun ride from beginning to end.

To be sure, the 90 minute running time offers a lot of strong points. The funky animation style of the TV series commonly featured fluidity in characters designs and occasionally deliberately rough animation as part of its overall aesthetic; a lot more can apparently be done with funny expressions that way. That sensibility has not changed, and if anything has been enhanced by the more robust animation budget and prep time that the movie format allows. It takes the gleefully dramatic poses, the flashy explosions, and the movement and perspective gimmicks that the TV series were known for and raises them all to the next level. The higher budget also allows for a lot more to be going on in the backgrounds and a much greater display of jiggling bosoms, especially for Yunyun. The visuals also more fully capture the sense of kinetic energy that the TV series always aimed for but were rarely able to achieve so well.

The humor that the TV series were known for is also fully intact, both for better and worse. The humor can be unapologetically crass and mean-spirited, but even at its worst the movie mostly gets away with it by couching it in “be careful what you wish for” sentiment. This shows most strongly in the scenes involving Kazuma getting chased down by a horde of female orcs. The scenario is practically the reverse of the one Goblin Slayer uses: all the male orcs have been killed off, so female orcs have to resort to kidnapping males of other species to procreate, and they're every bit as aggressive about it as those goblins were. A much lighter tone makes a big difference here, but so does Kazuma's speculation throughout the movie that his time to be popular with the ladies may have come. He was right, just not at all in the way he expected.

While some other sequences in the series stray towards bad taste, much of the humor is simply funny. That Megumin is merely a product of the environment that she was raised in, rather than an exception in her chunibyou behavior, is a running joke that never gets old, and Megumin's mother is a woman to be wary of when she sets her mind to a purpose. Darkness and Aqua get far less attention, but Kazuma shines in all his comedic glory (so to speak), including jokes like an all-time-classic cheat code being the password for a door lock. Wiz and the masked guy also make appearances and significant contributions.

The movie is also not entirely an action and joke fest. Though a relatively minor part of the overall presentation, the shenanigans do pause long enough to consider the sacrifice that Yunyun made in the past to help Megumin's sister when Megumin was herself paralyzed by the conflict between protecting her little sister and pursuing her dream. That sacrifice allowed Megumin to achieve her Explosion spell, but it's not one that Yunyun has ever brought up. That and a few scenes where Megumin contemplates whether or not she should change her ways in light of what she owes to others add an unexpected dose of meat to the story and development. But let's not kid ourselves here. This is more a bonus than a focal point or even expected element.

The one concern I still had at the end of the film – and really, throughout all of it – is about whether or not a movie-length format actually works for the franchise. Thanks in part to splitting things up with the regular use of title screens, the TV series often gave the impression of being gag strip adaptations, and the movie doesn't vary from that approach. That can be a problem when the content is probably best-appreciated in smaller, more episode-length doses. If watching it at home on a streaming service of hard copy, use of the Pause button can allow navigation around that, but in a theater setting 90 minutes of uninterrupted content can be a little trying. Mileage will definitely vary on this issue, however and it's a minor flaw overall.

On the whole, the movie does its job quite well at providing more fun for fans of the TV series and/or novels to revel in, while also pushing just a little on advancing the Kazuma/Megumin relationship. It also escapes the feel of being just a one-off side story that isn't part of the main storyline, as many movies associated with TV series are. Sadly, the version I reviewed only had the subtitled option, but at least that allows for more of Jun Fukushima's incredible voice work as Kazuma; this is easily one of the best Japanese language comedic performances in many years. If you have seen and enjoyed both seasons of the TV series, checking this movie out is a must, especially as a tide-me-over to the cast's next appearance in Isekai Quartet 2.

Grade:
Overall (sub) : B+
Story : B+
Animation : B+
Art : B
Music : B

+ Plenty of humor and crazy action, some unexpected depth, Fukushima's vocal performance
Not enough of Darkness or Aqua

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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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