With apologies in advance: this is a brand
new movie, and there isn’t much footage available to edit with right now, so we’ll
be filling in the gaps using footage from the tv show. So what you’re seeing won’t
always perfectly represent what the movie is, but I think it’s close enough, because…
Konosuba the Movie: Legend of Crimson is basically Konosuba, but, y’know, a movie. It’s 90
minutes long, and the animation’s WAY better (mostly), but this JC Staff film is cut from
wholly the same cloth as the hilarious Studio Deen tv anime that first introduced us to
Kazuma and co and the ludicrous fantasy realm they call home. In fact this movie was made
by mostly the same creative team as the show, just working in a different building.
And… Konosuba is one of my favourite anime EVER, so that all sounds like good news to
me. I relish any chance to join these lovable idiots on another misadventure, and I have
been as stoked as a human being can be for this movie ever since it was announced. When
I heard crunchyroll would be bringing it to North America, I… continued to be exactly
that stoked… because I set my baseline level too high…
Subsequently, I was pretty bummed to find out that we’d be in Japan when the movie
hit theatres (not that bummed. Like, we’re still on vaction IN JAPAN! But a little bummed.)
Thankfully though, the fine folks at crunchyroll were kind enough to send me a press screener
so that I could enjoy and review the film before I left.
As a result, I watched this on a smaller screen than most folk will, at least in the near
future, and even with a big copyright notice taking up the top quarter of it, I think that
my viewing experience benefitted from that. I didn’t have to worry about bothering anyone
with my overly loud laughter, which is good news because the movie had me cackling from
beginning to end. But also, it’s VERY obvious that Takaomi Kanasaki is more experienced
with directing for television than he is film. There’s a lot of single-character closeup
reaction shots, that, while they are beautifully animated thanks to that feature budget, are
probably gonna feel a bit overwhelming when they’re blown up on a 50 foot screen. The
way the film is paced and plotted makes it feel more like a 3 episode arc of television
than a feature film. Heck, it even uses the series’ trademark eycatches to punctuate
gags. That said, I do still heartily recommend seeing
this movie in theatres, if you can. The more successful these anime movies are in general,
the better chances are that we’ll see more of them brought over in the future. And there
are some VERY impressively animated action scenes toward the film’s climax that BEG
to be enjoyed at a massive scale with full surround sound. Most importantly though, if
you love Konosuba’s characters, world, and sense of humor, you shouldn’t have to wait
any longer for your fix. In spots, I’d say this movie represents
some of the best of all three. The film begins, as many Konosuba stories
do, with our heroes drinking away their shame after failing an easy quest. This scene allows
newcomers to briefly familiarize themselves with the group’s comedic dynamic and all
the things that make them so terrible as individuals, before Yunyun comes in out of the blue with
a proposition for Kazuma. Uh, sorry, I read that wrong. What I should
have said is that Yunyun propositions Kazuma, insisting that she needs to have his baby.
A letter from her father, the chief of the crimson demon clan, has lead her to believe
that the clan and the world are in danger, and that only her and Kazuma’s prophesied
child can save them. Our hero, as you’d expect, treats this weighty request with all
the respect and careful consideration that it – ah, who am I kidding. His pants are
on the floor before she finishes the sentence. Luckily for Yunyun – not so much for Kazuma
– it turns out there’s been a slight… miscommunication. Yunyun decides to return
to the village to clear things up, and geeling guilty about letting her friendless “rival”
go it alone, Megumin ropes the party into following her, with the magical help of Wiz
and Vanir. After a bit of banter about Vanir’s ongoing
efforts to get rich off of Kazuma’s memories of modern japan, Wiz readies a teleportation
spell, and an instant later our heroes are… Surrounded by a tribe of sex-starved female
orcs, who immediately try to rape Kazuma. And the movie decides that’s just the perfect
setup for a slapstick comedy chase scene. Yeah.
Luckily Yunyun shows up to save him before all of his clothes are ripped off, and once
the danger’s gone, the movie goes back to konosuba’s classic running gag of mocking
Kazuma for being pathetic. Look at this doofus, crawling on the ground with his ass hanging
out, desperately clinging to his saviour, getting snot all over her robe because he
can’t stop crying. You know. Because he was almost raped, like,
five seconds ago. Which is also the reason that his butt is hanging out. But don’t
worry, they acknowledge that the event was traumatic for him. By putting up a “Kazuma’s
trauma” counter on the next eyecatch. Look, I’m all for dunking on Kuzuma when
he deserves it, which is often, but this whole bit left a really bad taste in my mouth.
To be CRYSTAL CLEAR, I don’t think that terrible joke, or the other one that comes
up later “ruins the movie.” As I said at the top of this review, I loved this film,
overall. The animation’s often gorgeous, I adore these characters, this is maybe the
most interesting AND hilarious setting they’ve visited so far, and I was laughing my ass
off consistently from beginning to end. There are even parts of this scene, like Darkness’s
very on-brand reaction to learning that there are no male orcs left, that made me laugh.
But that joke’s overall premise is, at best, tired and unfunny – girls bravo did the
same thing well over a decade ago – and at worst, it serves to reinforce some really
shitty, toxic ideas about male rape victims. I don’t wanna make this whole review about
that, though, so, if you need some help understanding why someone would see it as a problem, there’s
a great video from pop culture detective that covers the subject way better than I ever
could. Link in the dooblydoo. Like I said, there is one other really shitty,
meanspirited gag in this movie. Without spoiling things, at one point it’s revealed that
a certain beautiful woman has a penis, and after Kazuma reacts to that with a completely
unwarranted level of disgust, the movie decides to throw it up on the trauma scorecard. Next
to the attempted gang rape. Which is the ONLY other thing that ever goes on that scorecard.
Implying that the two events were equally horrifying.
I… hope I don’t have to explain why that’s bullshit.
Now, maybe the joke is supposed to be that Kazuma’s a transphobic asshole. But it doesn’t
come off that way. It comes off as lazy, tone deaf, and mean. And I think the movie would
have been better without both of these jokes. You might disagree with that. You might even
think they’re funny. And I don’t expect to change your mind if you do, but…if you’re
feeling an urge to charge into the comments and tell me that you think I’m doing something
wrong by bringing this up as a criticism at all…
Please, consider for a second that lots of different kinds of people watch my videos,
many of whom might be personally hurt by jokes mocking rape victims and trans people. And,
as the purpose of this review is to help people figure out if they want to spend money and
time on this movie, I have a responsibility to inform those members of my audience about
these potentially unpleasant surprises. Even though I would recommend seeing the film
even to people who take issue with them, because it has a lot going for it.
Sorry for going off on a tangent. I read the comments, so I know the vast majority of you
already understand that, but I read the comments, so I still felt it needed to be said.
Those two scenes really did stick in my craw, but I think they only stood out as much as
they did because the rest of the movie is so damn funny.
More or less as soon as the gang of idiots reaches the Crimson Demon Village, we see
that they’re handling the demon king’s army just fine on their own. Uh, to the point
that I actually started to feel pretty bad for the army of evil goblins. The crimson
demons are a bunch of ridiculously OP anime wizards, after all, and most of them know
more than one spell. But they’re also a bunch of melodramatic
chuunibyou losers, and it turns out that the part of her dad’s letter that had Yunyun
most worried, “by the time you read this, I will have already passed on” is just their
version of “I hope this letter finds you well.”
The movie really commits to this concept of performative Chuunibyou delusions as a fully
realized culture with its own history, customs and ettiquette. And every second that it spends
building that world up is just… comic gold. Every townsperson is delightfully quirky in
their own special way, and each one wears a costume more ridiculous than the last. The
town itself is roughly styled after a traditional Japanese village, but where you’d expect
to see shrines or religious iconograpy, we instead find finely-carved wooden bishoujo
figurines. And the film’s eventual explanation for how this culture came to be is… equally
hysterical. Konosuba really has a knack for making the
ridiculous feel real, and this movie really puts that strength to use.
Learning more about the crimson demons in turn helps us better understand both Megumin
and Yunyun. The latter is the “local weirdo,” which means that she’s the only sane, reasonable
person there, and along with Kazuma, yunyun gets a lot of hilarious opportunities to play
the straight man against the wacky villagers. Megumin is more at home here, and we get to
see her actual home. The first member of her family that we meet is also the cutest; Kommeko,
a precocious mini-megumin, dressed in her older sister’s patchwork hand-me-downs,
who steals basically every scene she’s in with adorably expressive animations and a
lot of blunt “uh, aren’t you a bit young to be talking like that” commentary.
Megumin’s parents are dirt poor, which clearly puts a lot of strain on them and gives their
tiny house a slightly… tense atmosphere. Her parents do cheer up when they learn that
Kazuma owns a mansion and is about to come into 300 million Eris, though. The way her
mom reacts to that in particular leads to a lot of great comedy, and a little bit of
genuine character development as well. As with every Konosuba adventure, the combative
but steadfast friendship between our four leads really drives this story forward, and
imbues it with some much-needed heart to offset the raw cynicism. But while Darkness and Aqua
do get plenty of screen time, this is a Kazuma and Megumin story. Which I think is a good
choice, from a stortelling perspective, because it’s a lot easier to take them seriously
when the narrative need arises. And the other two do great as comedy relief.
Aqua’s definitely at her best when she doesn’t have to carry any real narrative weight and
she’s free to just be a stupid, whiny idiot for laughs; and while Darkness is fully capable
of taking heroic actions that move a plot forward, it’s a lot funnier when she decides
to, you know, not… do that. I won’t say that the film uses them to their
FULL comedic potential – I still think that the axis cult arc that caps off season 2 is
the funniest the series has aver been – but their antics nonetheless had me rolling, and
I think that most Konosuba fans will walk away feeling more than satisfied with the
laughs this movie offers. It’s also nice to see an anime movie that actually feels
integral to the overall plot of a series for once – a result of this film being adapted
from a light novel, instead of being anime original.
The trade-off for that is that this does just feel like more of the tv-show, which might
be disappointing if you go in looking for something more cinematic. The movie does take
advantage of its more lavish production values by making the already vibrant characters even
more animated and layering sight-gags into the background of almost every scene… but,
yknow, even if it didn’t, it’s been so long since we last HAD “more konosuba”
that I’d honestly have been happy if the movie was JUST that.
The konosuba fanboy in me felt almost 100% satisfied with this movie for its brilliant
riff on the series’ long-running “Kazuma desu” gag alone.
As I said, though, it’s got some really beautiful and hilarious character animation
on top of that, and there is also a big cool action climax that’s packed full of sakuga,
but… I’ll leave you to discover for yourself how the movie gets there.
If you only see one anime film this year… uh, it should probably be Promare, honestly.
But if, like me, you love Konosuba, then I wholeheartedly recommend giving Legend of
Crimson a watch as well. It’s not a perfect movie, or even a perfect konosuba story, but
it delivers on almost everything that made me love the show in the first place, and there’s
no other franchise in anime that makes me laugh quite like this one does. The film’s
best moments are more than enough to make up for its shortcomings.
Or at least, they were for me. Konosuba the Movie: Legend of Crimson hits
theatres across the US on November 12th and 14th. Click the link in the dooblydoo to see
when and where it will be showing near you, and to get your tickets today.
Now, I’m back on vacation until November 16th, but there are two more great guest videos
coming in the mean time, so please look forward to those.