Along with Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Senpai, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime surprised me. I expected another run-of-the-mill isekai. Instead, I found a slow-paced, even thoughtful story with heart.
Satoku Mikami dies and finds himself reincarnated as a slime (the title says it all, right?) Well, he wakes up in a cave full of rare healing herbs and magical crystals that he eats. After all, what else is a slime to do? Well, he shares the cave with a dragon that was sealed after destroying various cities. With nothing better to do, they become friends and Rimuru Tempest, as the dragon names the slime, decides to help the dragon break from his seal. Rimuru doesn’t want to just leave the dragon alone, so he basically eats him. Apparently as a slime he has the ability to absorb creatures and gain their powers or to store them in his bottomless…stomach? In any case, Rimuru becomes ridiculously overpowered in the process.
Now that brief synopsis doesn’t do the show justice. It has a lot of charm and wit to it. Satoku is a normal guy before he dies, and his personality carries over to his slime form. He isn’t a moralist or the usual isekai brooder. Likewise, he isn’t overly sarcastic. Rather, he is just a nice guy who helps people just because he can. At the same time, he doesn’t really go out of his way to do so. In various scenes, he just leaves people to do as they will. Other isekai protogonists tend to meddle, trying to right every wrong or punish every wrongdoer. Rimuru just does his thing which leads to some genuinely funny situations.
Unlike many stories lately, Slime doesn’t fall into political metaphor or social commentary. Instead, it focuses on the human elements. For example, Rimuru stumbles across a goblin village and wants to help them live better. He doesn’t (yet) seek to upend every political institution because he can. He just wants the goblins to have good clothing, houses, food, and lives. The anime doesn’t take itself too seriously as Sword Art Online and others do.
Much of the comedy comes from visual gags and wordplay. Unlike the sometimes mean-spirited jokes you find in anime, the gags don’t beat down characters or fall into sarcasm. As much as I like satire, I found this refreshing. It’s just a fun watch.
Rimuru is also refreshing. He isn’t a meathead. Rather he is thoughtful and honest. He often falls into things without realizing the implications, such as naming goblins, but it comes from his desire to help. Unlike most anime protagonists, he isn’t shy around women and can carry a conversation with them. You won’t find a hikikomori here. Sure, he blushes as the buxom girls hug his sliminess, but that’s about it. Thankfully, the series hasn’t gone where I thought it would. I expected an ecchi series what played heavily on sliming the female body in various ways. Instead, the fan service is tolerable and not even a focus.
In one of the best scenes, Rimuru speaks with Shizu, a Japanese girl summoned into the world during the firebombing of Tokyo in World War II. She watched her mother die and her entire world burn. She came within a moment of dying herself before the summoning spell swept her up. After sharing this with Rimuru, he uses his powers to share his memories of today’s Tokyo with her. He shows her how peaceful and prosperous the city became. The gift touches Shizu and helps them grow closer. You can’t expect your average anime brickhead to show this level of understanding and compassion. They would be too busy being flustered about Shizu’s breasts. The scene shows Rimuru’s level of sensitivity and kindness. He understands her homesickness and loneliness. The brief comedic relief in the scene punctuates how average Rimuru is. He isn’t hyper sensitive; he’s just human.
This scene, among many others, gives the anime heart. Nothing in this anime has jarred me yet. The fan service is tolerable and sometimes amusing. The characters are likable, and the animation design works well. I enjoy the simplified designs of the characters. You can tell the animators had fun with Rimuru. For being a three-colored slime, his design is expression and fun. Some of the deformations in his animation cycles brought a smile to my face. They looked nice and playful. It’s not often you get to see a viscous blob animated for expression. Plopping anime-style eyes on Rimuru would’ve looked odd and detracted from his flexibility in animation. However, having the anime emotional symbols, like the angry cruciform, pop out of him provides a fun touch.
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime reminds me why I stick with anime despite watching so many lousy series. While the anime isn’t perfect, I find it entertaining. And that is the point of anime. I don’t have to worry about edginess or mishandling female characters too often when I watch it. When Slime does play with fan service, it focuses on elven escort girls who are purposefully enticing while enjoying themselves at the same time. They don’t get to hold a cuddly slime that often, as they basically say. And that’s the thing about the show so far. Everyone is having fun with it. The animators. The writer. The characters themselves. I hope the anime will hold onto this as it continues.
If you can overlook the slow pace (which I enjoy), give this one a try. It has a heart to it that you don’t find very often.