Isekai Quartet The Movie: Another World
Japanese Premiere: 6/10/2022 English Premiere: 12/21/22 (on Crunchyroll)
Though American media has a tradition of cross-overs going back at least 40 years, they have always been quite rare in Japan, which is part of what made the two TV seasons of Isekai Quartet (aired in Spring 2019 and Winter 2020) so much fun to watch. This 2022 movie is a follow-up to those two seasons.
Having watched the TV series is not strictly necessary for following this one, provided that the viewer is familiar with the basic premise: core casts from four (later five) different Kadokawa-published isekai series have been pulled into an alternate world and forced to attend a school together, where the instructors and even principal are also characters drawn from those worlds. The conceit is that the protagonist in each case was also either transported from their original world to that setting or reborn into it after dying, effectively creating a double-isekai situation. However, for full appreciation of the movie, viewers should be familiar with all five component series: The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Overlord, KONOSUBA, Re:Zero, and The Rising of the Shield Hero. In the case of Re:Zero, being familiar with all of its second season (which has aired since Isekai Quartet 2) is expected for this movie, as the character personalities and relationships have been updated to reflect how that season ended.
By opening the movie with the whole main class randomly being pulled into a wormhole into yet another world, we effectively get a third isekai progression as well. The world they arrive in is a desolate, post-apocalyptic setting inhabited mostly by golems and a mere two humans, both of whom were also transported there from their source worlds. The gang – initially mostly together but quickly split up after a giant golem attacks – must figure out where they are, how to get back together, and how to get back to where they were. Along the way, they also get involved in the stories of the three characters already present in the world.
Some of the most interesting parts of the movie involve how those three new characters fit into the picture. Pantagruel (pictured below on left) is the chipper and sociable sentient golem girl who reminds everyone of Megumin; the reaction of those two to each other when they finally meet is one of the movie’s highlight scenes. However, she is native to this new world. Vera Mitrohina (middle below) is – as might be guessed from the uniform style – from the setting for Saga of Tanya the Evil, though I believe she is an entirely new character for that setting. Who, exactly, she is in that setting is a spoiler which provides both one of the neater plot twists and the impetus for what happens in the second half of the movie. The third newcomer (right below) is Alec Hoshin, who makes his animated debut here but is not entirely new; he’s a prominent figure in the backstory of Re:Zero and has been referred to a couple of times before in animated content. (Among other thing, he’s the namesake – though not ancestor – of current-timeline character Anastasia Hoshin.) The settings for KONOSUBA and Overlord also source guest appearances; the old man who pops up a couple of times appeared in the first season of the former, while the knightly figure seen only the in the end credits is from the backstory of the latter, but would only be recognized by deeply-dedicated novel readers.
Like the TV series, the movie has a good amount of the familiar antics, banter, and silliness, including one inspired gag where Ains needs to act out an example of “chunibyo”for Vera, who is unfamiliar with the term or concept. It also has a handful of action set pieces, including a climactic golem battle which has both battle elements and a dazzling sequence where one character must be flung in a chain to get the character to a necessary location. Also like the TV series, the greatest strength of the movie is how well it balances the involvement of its component series. It accomplishes this partly by trimming out all of the side characters (including teachers, admins, butlers, and members of other classes) who accumulated over the two TV series, but even so, keeping members of each series involved in most scenes, and keeping the protagonists from each series from outshining one another while still giving them all a chance to show off, required one hell of an intricate, detailed plan. The combo plays also continue to be great, like Aura from Overlord riding around on the back of Filo (from Shield Hero) in combat, various Saga characters flying around Naofumi and others in his Shield Prison, or Aura from KONOSUBA and Albedo from Overlord teaming up to make a door that is carried by Saga characters and used by Re:Zero characters.
However, unlike the TV series, the movie is not just an exercise in fun and frivolity, for better or worse. The plot, though not especially complicated, is hardly an afterthought, and some of the character dynamics involving the new characters are a bit more complicated and meaningful; in some cases, the movie even gets a little emotional, including one awesome late scene where the true target of Kazuma’s final Steal attempt is revealed. On the balance, it is a much more serious endeavor than any of the TV series content. Of course, there’s still a limit to how completely seriously the content can be taken when all the characters are chibi versions of the originals, but that dichotomy does not interfere as much as might be expected.
The movie fully retains the distinctive animation and visual style of the TV series while enhancing it a bit with some quality CG work on the golems. Also watch for some clever visual gags, such as how Vera makes a scooter from the bodies of two small golems. The varied musical score is at its best in more dramatic moments but is not anything special overall. However, the closer is absolutely worth watching for all of the backstory details it provides about how things came to be in the new setting.
The epilogue of the movie introduces a couple of new “transfer students” that will be familiar to Re:Zero anime followers. (One does require familiarity with that series’ second season, however.) Combined with some of the conspicuous choice of wording in the final scene, the movie certainly implies that more IQ content could be coming, though nothing has been announced officially as of this writing. Overall, the movie should be a fun view for any fan of the TV series, with its one significant flaw being that its gimmick doesn’t work quite as well in an 111 minute long movie form.