Look, I have no problem with the isekai genre existing. But if it’s going to continue to be as popular as it is, then it has no right to complain when I start complaining about it. Seriously, what the fuck is up with these gimmicks getting past the concept stage? That Time I Got Reincarnated As a Slime? So after “Discount Kirito” buying underage slave girls to suck his cock and “Discount In Another World With My Smartphone” proving to the world that it’s actually possible to make a cheap version of In Another World With My Smartphone, our next big isekai is an anime about a luckless nice working adult getting killed and reincarnating as a slime monster in a fantasy world, yet still getting all the ladies to love him? I remember a colleague of mine saying that one day, anime leads would be nothing but primordial ooze and hot girls would still bang them, and man was he right on the money. Although to be fair, in Slime’s case, everyone wants to jump on our protagonist, regardless of species, gender, or common sense.
However, since Slime is one of those “actually popular/critically acclaimed isekai anime”, Japan once again gets to flip me off for not being able to predict what’s going to become a hit. Yes, I’m fully aware that out of all of the annoying trends that have come out of the anime industry over the decades, isekai light novel adaptations are easily the most successful with so many anime from that niche getting rave positive attention from the masses and creating more cosplay cliques than a normal high school could possibly contain. Neither the harem craze, the visual novel craze, nor the Shana craze were able to achieve that much, that’s for sure.
Still, there’s no denying that it’s getting harder for isekai anime to stand out these days. Re: Zero sort of peaked the genre to a point that Rising of the Shield Hero is seen as a comedown by comparison despite its popularity, and Slime is the only successful high-profile isekai anime released in-between those two that’s not a sequel (or spinoff) to an already popular isekai adaptation. And practically all of those sequels are seen as “well it was fine, but the first season was better” from Konosuba 2 to those Overlord continuations. How the hell was making your protagonist barely one step above a piece of poo going to inject life into this genre, especially when you’ve got the team who gave us the Infinite Stratos anime creating the adaptation?
Well it turns out I was wrong, although not for the reasons I expected. Slime actually stands out from the crowd because it is such a happy go-lucky wholesome take on a genre that’s primarily centered around artificial harems and cynical video game promotions that watching it is supposed to bring a smile to your face. Although it doesn’t start out that way, because it begins with a 37-year old man who’s such a nice guy and yet never had a girlfriend in his life getting killed by Truck-kun’s retarded underling, Knife-chan, because he wanted to try his hand at the whole “send protagonist to isekai world by killing him” bit. After the man dies and reincarnates as a slime monster, he ends up befriending a very powerful storm dragon named Veldora and absorbs him to become the equivalent of an all-powerful god, renaming himself Rimuru Tempest and deciding to use his new powers to play the real-life version of Civilization.
For some reason that’s not explained in the slightest beyond his “nice guy” personality, Rimuru wants to build his own kingdom and have everyone in the world get along, and such the entirety of the show is dedicated to him confronting other races and getting them on his side. And while he does kill some creatures with his newly acquired godlike dragon powers, nobody who was related to his victims hold it against him because he provides them all with sanitized character designs and quality housing where you don’t have to pay your taxes. There’s really not much of an end goal besides that. There are some hints at a bigger story like with people realizing Veldora isn’t in his cave anymore and some conflict regarding the seven demon lords, but around 99.9% of the plot is basically centered on “I reincarnated in a strange fantasy world and I will become the leader of a kingdom where everyone gets along”.
Like most light novel adaptations, the show is less of a single story and more of a series of arcs that happen to Rimuru, loosely tied by his ambition to be loved by everyone, and ending anticlimactically with no guarantee of a second season. If you pay attention to when this review is coming out, there’s technically still two more episodes left of the show, but the main narrative just wrapped up a few days ago and the remainder of the show are just gaiden stories that might as well be broadcast OVAs. So that just leaves one big question: why exactly are we watching this anime? Most people will say it’s because it puts a smile on your face. Well why does it put a smile on your face?
For an 8-bit series, Slime does look nice at the very least. The animation is colorful and any CG that’s used is much less intrusive than the stuff that plagued the Overlord sequels, so I can see how the visual pleasure can warm people up. And Rimuru is basically an amalgamation of what most people want to be: a kind leader who is uber powerful and gets all the ladies. Gary Stu protagonists are a frequent complaint in isekai stories, but because Rimuru is a charming guy who injects humor into his conquests, people are willing to look past that to an extent. I do know people were starting to complain around the second half when the world-building got weaker.
And speaking of the world-building, I think that’s what most Slime fans consider to be the main draw of the series. Lackluster world-building is kind of a staple of light novel adaptations in general, let alone the isekai ones, so seeing one that goes into so much detail regarding the construction of Rimuru’s territory as well as who inhabits it is pretty unique. Technically, you can get that with Overlord as well, but when that’s the only other option, it’s understandable that people want more. More smithies constructed in order to craft the highest tier weapons. More goblins training at the barracks in order to ensure they’re ready for action. More cute monster girls building hot springs to bathe in.
So much more that sometimes the world-building can take up multiple episodes, often to the detriment of the plot and my attention span. If you’ve played any Japanese fantasy game, you pretty much know how this sort of situation works. I can’t think of one shop in this series that isn’t reminiscent of a Zelda game or Valkyria Chronicles or even Attack on Titan. Negotiations between other countries always come down to simple territorial exchanges with Rimuru always coming out ahead because his ideals involve a happier ending and he actually has the power to make that happen with his ability to produce an endless supply of insta-heal potions and other resources at the cost of sleeping for a bit. It’s pretty much economics for dummies, which is a nice way of saying “it’s really really dull”.
I mean at the end of the day, why exactly am I watching all this world-building? When I think of good world-building in a fantasy setting with a large cast of characters, I always go back to the Tellius saga of those Fire Emblem games. I think of how it dealt with racism and the difficulties that can come when you try to fight against history. I think of the history of each country and how warped it became over the years. I think of the main character and his growth from a naive mercenary into a headstrong general. I think about how Path of Radiance had my favorite cast of the Fire Emblem series whilst their return in Radiant Dawn had limited appeal because they had mostly gone through all of the growth they could get.
When I think of the world-building in Slime, I think to myself “what is the purpose of this?”. The complex issues are there, but they’re greatly simplified because Rimiru always resolves things cleanly, and anything he doesn’t plays out more like a tutorial of how to build something rather than give me a reason for why we’re doing the tutorial in the first place. Where exactly does Rimuru’s territory end? When he takes control of the entire world and then the planet Venus? Also, why exactly is Slime an isekai anime rather than a standard fantasy? Is it so they can shoehorn in game mechanics into the narrative? Why should I care about anything that’s happening? Is it because I’m supposed to like the characters?
That’d be nice if any of the characters were the least bit interesting, but unfortunately they might as well be soulless automatons created by Rimuru himself, and that includes Rimuru for the record. I honestly am confused as to why it was necessary to make him a luckless adult loser in Japan before turning into a slime, because aside from some arbitrary “oh there are also other people who transported here from Japan” moments that last shorter than my sex life, his human life might as well not exist. But more importantly than that, Rimuru has no character flaws. At all. He’s super powerful, everyone loves him, anyone who’s stronger than him ends up becoming his best friend, and he has incredibly flawed ideals about peace and understanding that only work because nobody can challenge him.
I’m sorry, but aren’t good main characters supposed to have arcs? Growth? Which I’m pretty sure require said leads to confront their personal demons and grow stronger as a result. Even Vash the Stampede, one of the stupidest main characters I’ve seen in anime, ended up having to break his pacifistic code in order to save his friends and suffered depression as a result. The closest Slime gets to that is when Rimuru is unable to save a Japanese girl named Shizu with a fire lord (named Ifrit, because of course) in her from dying, and she died of old age whilst somehow still looking young anyways, so he would literally have had to come out of the anime and take the writer hostage in order to avert that. Plus, he ends up gaining his human form afterwards and immediately starts playing around with it, so so much for that sad scene.
The rest of the incredibly large cast is spread so thin that we don’t get to know any of them, and those we do know stop being interesting after their backgrounds are explained and their problems are resolved. I remember that Shion (that orc with the horn and giant boobs that you see in a lot of the promos) wields a big sword. I remember Ranga (the giant wolf) being Rimuru’s loyal steed. I remember Gobuta (random goblin) being a bit of a loser. I remember Milim (the pink-haired twin tail with that outfit that basically screams “cosplay this”) having the best chemistry with Rimuru and the laughable justifications the story uses to restrict her from immediately killing everyone because she’s 100x stronger than our slime friend. I remember that the kids in the final arc existed at the expense of everyone else, and there was some foreshadowing regarding their future selves, but who knows if we’ll ever see that come to fruition?
What I’m getting at is that you can’t consider a giant cast of characters good if the only thing you remember about them are their designs and some arbitrary details you can read off of the official website. That’s one of the many reasons why Baccano doesn’t hold up anymore after all. And while there are stories that exist that can handle large casts who try to get by more on character traits than real personal growth (most of them horror tales), a tale about building a peaceful country that accepts all races is not one of them, and even something like the live-action Tokyo Tribe has to make something happen by the end that impacts the characters. By the end of Slime, all I can recall is that Rimuru’s influence is growing and I don’t give a crap regarding how far it goes because he and his people are fictional creations that deal with hardships in a way the creators of Gameshark would frown upon.
Reincarnated As a Slime is best described as a meme show, and I’m being very generous here. You’ll probably have fun fawning over Rimuru being more overpowered than Jesus Yamato or taking pictures of females actually brave enough to cosplay Milim in public, but otherwise watching this anime is as exciting as watching a Fire Emblem Let’s Play on the easiest difficulty. I don’t understand how anyone can sit through a Fire Emblem LP in general given the amount of empty gameplay that not even the fast-forward button can fix, plus the amount of stupid mistakes made because you wanted to have a certain unit gain experience stops being cute really fast. Also, when are Fire Emblem stories going to get good again? Exchanging the writing quality for all of the enrapturing gameplay may have saved the series from obscurity, but it can’t sustain it forever.
- Actually seen a fair bit of backlash over Slime’s ending, so it’s possible the show could fall in ranking and become obscure in a few months.
- To be fair, I’m enjoying Fates: Conquest way more than Birthright, but the story is still incredibly lame. And I heard Revelations wasn’t all that good either.
- Exactly how do schoolgirl uniforms exist in fantasy worlds anyways? It didn’t make sense in Zero no Tsukaima either.
- But who would win in a fight between Rimuru Tempest and Shaggy Rogers?