As a growing adult, I can’t help but feel like the world is slowly moving against unironic positivity and towards dark cynicism. Happiness is often associated with naivety, memes should be self-deprecating, and being pessimistic is the new meta. This is without doubt reflected in media today, where people gravitate towards dark humor or exploration into the depths of human mentality. Even comedy is full of people making fun of themselves or others, and it is hard to find something that is wholesome and not offensive to some. Anime is no exception, as dark shows like Promised Neverland, Devilman Crybaby, and Psycho Pass dominate the charts. Even genres that are known to be happy and positive in the past have started to favor counter-genre entries such as Madoka Magica and Re: Zero. Sure, we do get comedies like KonoSuba and No Game No Life, but even the humor we get from these shows is often at the detriment of the characters featured in them. At first, my edgy self thought this was very “cool” and believed that humans should explore the darker side of things, as the shock and crude awakening we get might teach us more than believing that everything is A-OK.
That is, until I saw That Time I got Reincarnated as a Slime.
A lot of people categorize Slime as another counter-genre entry to the isekai trope due to the fact that it is a story of a slime, usually considered a low-level mob in RPGs, making its way up in the world. But if I were to have a say, I would consider Slime to be the purest form of isekai there is. The whole concept of isekai is that it allows the viewers to escape the boring and unforgiving reality of our world into a fantasy universe, where the viewers can immerse themselves in a character who starts a new fun and adventurous life. Slime nails both of these down arguably better than any other show that I have seen.
In my definition of an isekai, the first half is the boring and unforgiving reality of our world. Most of the other isekai shows that I’ve seen rely on the viewers’ previous knowledge of the faults of real life, and try to move onto the fantasy aspect as fast as the pacing allows. Slime unapologetically dedicates much more time to this part of the isekai, making the second part much more fruitful. Readers who have watched the show might be thinking, what is this guy talking about? The protagonist goes into the fantasy world at around the halfway point in episode one, which is pretty standard. Well, no: this show actually has another part dedicated to “isekai’ing”, and that is the introduction of Shizu. A good part of episode six is dedicated to Shizu’s backstory, where we learn that she was isekai’ed during a World War II air raid on Japan. The last thing she saw before she was transported to another world was her mother being crushed by flaming debris and her home being torn apart by bombs falling from above. As soon as she is transported, she is forced to take in the power of flames, the very element that tore her world apart. If that wasn’t bad enough, Shizu was only a child when it all happened. The show pulls no punches in its delivery and execution, making what is usually a goofy and fun isekai transportation one of the bleakest and heartbreaking scenes of the show. If anything, this is representative of modern isekai shows where characters are put through suffering soon after arriving in their fantasy world. However, Slime turns this gloomy situation around by having Rimuru show Shizu the reconstruction and regrowth of Japan after the war, relieving Shizu of her worries for her homeland. This whole sequence was extremely touching and uplifting, showing Shizu and the viewers that humanity could rise up from the ashes of the past. This deep connection between Rimuru and Shizu makes her legacy even more impactful after Rimuru absorbs her, and her presence continues to exist throughout the show even after her passing. Episode six is my favorite episode of the show by far, and that moment is something I will remember for a long time.
The second half of an isekai is the fun and adventurous fantasy world, and Slime gets this part right as well. The worldbuilding is done in a similar style to Log Horizon, where the mechanics and systems of the world are established in great detail. But unlike Log Horizon, this is not done through expositional dialogue, but rather through Rimuru experiencing these first-hand and often with goofy outcomes. Politics and ethics are explored as well, but not in a way as to burden the audience with too much information. After the worldbuilding comes the characters, and Slime has a wide variety of fun and adorable characters. There are the usual humans, dwarves, and elves, but the show also focuses on monsters and beasts such as goblins (not in the Goblin Slayer way), wolves, and ogres. The diverse and unusual cast allows the show to have some unexplored and unique moments, which range from a fight for power between different creatures to the creation of a federation for monsters. All characters have their fair share of goals, ambitions, and faults which keeps it interesting. Instead of opting to throw the characters out after introducing other new characters, the characters still influence the story even after their arc ends. It does not seem like Slime will run out of new themes to explore anytime soon, and it can only get better as the world expands more and more.
Of course, at the center of this strong cast is our favorite slime, Rimuru. As an isekai protagonist, Rimuru checks all of the typical boxes. Cheeky, overpowered, and ambitious, Rimuru fits right in with the main characters of the fantasy genre such as Kirito, Sora, and Naofumi. However, a lot of these protagonists fall short as their stories try to create artificial roadblocks, only to be solved by finding new powers or figuring out a loophole to game the system. Slime does not mess around with that, as the early episodes establish the fact that Rimuru is one of the most powerful beings in the world. Instead, the show gravitates towards how and when Rimuru will solve a problem. There is no doubt that Rimuru will succeed in what he wants to do; thus the focus in the story comes from the achievements and friends that he meets along his journey. Although this is one of the biggest complaints about the show, I would argue that it is one of its strongest points. The show knows this too, and the unapologetic straightforwardness is a refreshing new take for the genre. Rimuru has a lot of fun in his new world, and I feel like this is an important aspect of the isekai genre that a lot of other shows have lost sight of in recent years. It was an incredibly peaceful and relaxing watch, and I had a lot more fun than what I had imagined.
That being said, the show is not without faults. Most of the examples that I praise in the show is in the first cour, as the second cour had a lot of pacing issues. Milim didn’t have much of an impact on the story after her introduction, and arguably made it worse by single-handedly defeating the much hyped-up fight against Charybdis. Shizu’s Student arc felt like it was supposed to set up characters for a future arc, but it was rushed and didn’t exactly accomplish that goal. The whole theme of this arc felt very different from the rest of the second cour, and I feel like it would have been done more justice had it been in another season of its own. We can only hope for season two to fix things up.
That Time I got Reincarnated as a Slime is not trying to win any awards for being the edgiest isekai or turning the genre on its head. Instead, it sticks true to the concept of isekai while being different enough to make it fun and entertaining. And that is one thing I learned about myself while watching this show: even though I love to search for the next big show that will blow my mind and teach me the meaning of life or whatnot, sometimes it’s alright to be normal and just enjoy an adventure where everything goes right. If you are still on the hunt for the next thriller where characters suffer or die to make things interesting, this is not the show for you. At the end of the day, I watch anime to have fun and Slime reminded me of that.