KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World! Legend of Crimson opens on a picturesque field of rolling green hills as two goats leisurely munch on some grass – and then a giant toad jumps into frame and eats one of the goats with one quick flick of its tongue. The scene captures everything that makes KonoSuba what it is: seemingly innocuous scenes undercut by unexpected and intentionally jarring moments that remind us that nothing nice lasts forever; a man- and goat-eating toad could be just beyond the horizon.
KonoSuba: Legend of Crimson is the series firing on all cylinders, delivering an explosion of laughs, heart, and delightfully wobbly animation that emphasizes anime’s capacity for pure, unadulterated, delight and the power of families both given and found.
The film assumes you know the series, its world, characters, and style of humour, only offering the briefest of catchups for first-time viewers delivered through one of Kazuma’s classic insults towards his party members. Its premise is simple: Yunyun tasks Kazuma with, alongside some other requests, saving her and Megumin’s village from destruction at the hands of the Demon King and one of his generals. In typical KonoSuba fashion, nothing plays out as you expect, but the plot does progress, and our characters do grow.
It is the latter that I want to focus largely on: the characters. Legend of Crimson is, at its core, a movie exploring Kazuma and Megumin’s relationship. Aqua and Darkness play more of a supporting role compared to their statuses in the first two seasons. Not to say that neither has their moments to shine – they do. However, the film is much more content to explore the inner workings of Kazuma and Megumin as a duo, rather than in their roles as party members. It shines in these moments, where both inadvertently reveal their softer sides, hinting towards the possibility of becoming more than friends in the future. Two extended scenes involving Kazuma’s inner turmoil over finding himself trapped in a room with a sleeping Megumin are simultaneously a source of unabashed hilarity and genuine heart.
Before I go forward, there are two major aspects of Legend of Crimson that make it so wonderful: the visuals and the voice acting. J.C. Staff has taken the reigns from Studio Deen and, I must admit, I was worried. Deen’s intentionally low-budget and off-model style was a large part of what made the first two seasons of KonoSuba so special, and I am happy to report that style has both remained intact and only “improved” with the move over to a new studio. J.C. Staff clearly understands what makes the anime special and how to use the medium to its fullest. Though there is not much new to say in regards to the visuals, I can rest assured informing you that the KonoSuba style is here in full force, and that’s more than enough.
Likewise, Jun Fukushima (Kazuma), Rie Takahashi (Megumin), and the rest of the series cast return and shine in their respective roles. As a featurette conversation between the aforementioned voice actors before the film exemplified, this is a cast that undoubtedly loves their roles and the opportunity to play them. This love carries through into the film as each delivers a knockout performance, with the ranges of Fukushima and Takahashi blowing me away at points. Animated comedy lives and dies by the ability of voice actors to effectively deliver their lines and KonoSuba is quite possibly the greatest example of both the potential and realization of what makes animated comedy extraordinary. Don’t worry, this film is hilarious, and the only reason I skirted around analyzing the comedy itself is because this is a work where the jokes are best experienced fresh – watch this film.
If I were to describe KonoSuba to someone, it would be those two aforementioned terms: unabashed hilarity and genuine heart. It works because it melds top-tier humour with characters that, though they are undoubtedly and wholly idiots, nonetheless genuinely love and care for each other. Aqua and Kazuma can go from being at each other’s throats to rushing to each other’s aid, and it being believable because there is an underlying current of affection and warmth that brings and keeps them together. It is family in every sense of the word, and no group better embodies it than KonoSuba’s core four. What they lack in blood relations they make up for in relationships forged in blood, tears, and plenty of frog drool.
The film furthers the series’ exploration of family by bringing Megumin’s into the mix. Her overbearingly friendly and intimidating father, her gentle yet entirely terrifying mother, and her just plain adorable younger sister serve both as great comedic fodder for Kazuma and the rest of the cast to play off and emphasize how families are created and sustained. Assuming Kazuma is Megumin’s boyfriend, they welcome him into the family with open arms. When our pervert hero denies these claims, Megumin’s father flies into a rage – until Kazuma relays that he is on the cusp of an exorbitant amount of money and owns a castle. He and the rest of the party are welcomed into the family immediately, a bond forged not through genuine connection but a hollow promise of money.
By the end of Legend of Crimson, that hollow promise becomes something genuine; it becomes family as forged through blood and tears, the frog drool replaced with slime and too-much magic. Family extends to the entire Crimson Demon village and the larger idea of found families; the film consistently emphasizes and shows how an entire settlement of overpowered, chuunibyo mages come together, connect, and grow because they are overpowered, chuunibyo mages. For Megumin and Yunyun, the outsiders due to their off-kilter magic abilities, it takes the intervention and unique attributes of Kazuma, Aqua, and Darkness to help the larger village see what makes the young mages special.
It is our differences that bring us together and create the similarities that keep us together. It is how Kazuma, Aqua, Megumin, and Darkness live and thrive together, and it is how the Crimson Demon village comes to see what makes Megumin and Yunyun not only special but a part of the larger family.
The theatre was full of uproarious and infectious laughter for KonoSuba: Legend of Crimson. We laughed at Kazuma and the rest of the group, and we laughed with them, knowing that we could because everything would be alright in the end. It is a powerful thing, togetherness. It brings us together to watch something we love; it welcomes us into a larger collective where we are wholly original and a part of something greater than ourselves. It begets growth, whether Kazuma going from characteristically selfish to astoundingly selfless, Megumin from unsurprisingly stubborn to uncomfortably self-aware, Aqua from overwhelmingly carefree to appropriately restrained, and Darkness from concerningly sadomasochistic to, well, she really is still concerningly sadomasochistic.
Nothing nice lasts forever, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t enjoy those moments as they come – they remind us who and where we are. KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World! Legend of Crimson is not only the best part of the KonoSuba anime yet, but a hilarious and heartfelt exploration of how our differences bring us together and how those differences make us family. Just be prepared for that family to include lecherous teenagers, useless goddesses, chuuni mages, and masochistic knights. They’re what make family family, after all.
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