There’s something inherently beautiful about being transported to a magical world full of unbelievable creatures, awe-inspiring powers, and unforgettable allies. It’s an evergreen fantasy. There are countless anime stories that tap into this energy to varying degrees of success, but the reason that it’s such a staple is there’s something universally appealing about escape. The fantastical empire that’s visited within KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World isn’t anything wildly original but it thoroughly understands the enticements of the genre. It’s a movie that colors inside of the lines, but it does so with such love that the results are works of art.
Legend of Crimson is basically a 90-minute version of the KonSuba – God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World! anime series. That’s great for viewers who are completely blind to the source material, but for fans who are hungry for new adventures from Kazuma and company, Legend of Crimson is likely to disappoint. Nonetheless the characters remain enjoyable enough that the film amounts to a strong summation of the series.
It also isn’t interested in backstory. This film doesn’t try to fill in the blanks, explain the premise of the series, or cover how Kazuma would up in the KonoSuba world in the first place. This lack of context means that the film can jump right into the action, but it may be jarring for those who have no previous knowledge of the anime. It will take some time for the uninitiated to orient themselves with what exactly is going on. Accordingly, KonoSuba: Legend of Crimson avoids getting lost in the details and tries to trade in fan service as much as possible.
The KonoSuba series is a part of the fantasy genre that’s set within a magical world that’s full of exciting powers. But in spite of everyone wileding magical powers, this is light fare; a story that wants to be silly and have fun with its characters more than it wants to engage in grueling battle. War and conflict do happen, but this is material that will make you laugh or blush more than it will make you cry. Unfortunately, Legend of Crimson does not have a dub, but the original cast has such chemistry together that this really feels like a bunch of friends on a bizarre quest.
Kazuma and company’s big adventure commences after he receives a letter from Yunyun that demands their attention in the Crimson Demon Clan’s village. The majority of Legend of Crimson is preoccupied with the group’s trip to to the village, their hunt for a powerful weapon, and the complications that they face when an invading chimera general gets in their way. In spite of how danger brings the team over to Megumin’s hometown, there’s a very casual atmosphere that takes up the first half of the film. Hence the heroes spend plenty of time sightseeing and enjoying the creature comforts before any real sense of urgency sets in. Since the Crimson Demon Clan Village is Megumin’s former stomping grounds, she also oddly becomes the film’s guiding force instead of Kazuma.
The movie covers a solid stretch of the anime and it’s fair to say that if you were a fan of the show then you’ll be a fan of this movie adaptation. However, if you actively dislike this lighter fantastical genre of anime, KonoSuba: Legend of Crimson likely won’t be the film to turn you around on the matter. KonoSuba is good at what it does, but there are plenty of series that do the same thing. It also lacks that certain gravitas that’s necessary in a film, resulting in even a strange reliance on insert bumpers throughout the movie to help transition to new scenes.
It does, however, throws an interesting villain into the mix with Sylvia, a female general for the Devil King. The film still focuses on Kazuma and company, but Sylvia makes for a fun addition that is actually intimidating.
One of KonoSuba’s greatest assets though remains its sense of humor, and Legend of Crimson is definitely a funny movie. It is also particularly self-aware of its gags, with Kazuma often breaking the fourth wall to comment upon the madness at hand and the illogical nature of “harem anime” in general. His internal monologues that are full of self-doubt are a frequent neurotic delight.
KonoSuba is at its best when it’s just allowed to poke fun at the conventions of the fantasy genre and quest-based role-playing games. These characters bickering over the ridiculousness of their world is always entertaining. While the film mimics a repeated inflation if its own sense of ego to make this story seem more epic, it then inevitably pulls the rug out from under everyone, including the audience.
When it comes to the film’s look, J.C. Staff has a modest reputation as an animation studio, but they don’t set a new standard with Legend of Crimson. There’s strong use of color throughout the film and some of the more action-heavy sequences have greater attention put into them. The sequences that involve magical abilities and special powers are without a doubt the most attractive moments in the film. However, there are still plenty of shortcuts and concessions made in the backgrounds of many scenes (characters’ faces really suffer at times). This never gets to the point where it’s actively distracting, but if you’re looking for an anime feature that will blow you away in the animation department, this is not it.
Nonetheless, KonoSuba: Legend of Crimson remains a fun return to this universe and these characters, as well as a fitting introduction to newcomers. It’s a satisfying taste of an outlandish anime that holds a lot of potential. It’s nice that Fathom Events and Crunchyroll could release this film and find an audience for it within North America, even if it isn’t appointment anime. If this film makes enough of an impact, perhaps a third season of the original series will follow. Kazuma is now in his so-called “popular phase,” so let’s hope the same is true for KonoSuba as a whole.
KonoSuba: Legend of Crimson is playing in select theaters on Nov. 12 and 14, courtesy of Fathom Events and Crunchyroll.
Daniel Kurland is a published writer, comedian, and critic whose work can be read on Den of Geek, Vulture, and Bloody Disgusting. Daniel knows that the owls are not what they seem, that Psycho II is better than the original, and that Hannibal is the greatest love story ever told. His perma-neurotic thought process can be followed at @DanielKurlansky.