Mar 25, 2019
Life can be harsh and I’m sure most of us think so in some way or another. The typical everyman at adult age works an 8-5 schedule on weekdays to make a living. Satoru Mikami is a very ordinary person until he gets reincarnated as a slime after being killed in a knife attack. As tragic as that sounds, it may not be a harsh life after all. Isn’t life just full of surprises?

After being turned into a light novel, Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken (That Time I got Reincarnated as a Slime) is one of the few isekai shows that I genuinely looked forward to this year. While it subscribes to usual fantasy gimmicks, this show also does a unique job at entertaining the audience through its charismatic main lead, world fiction, and creative storytelling. I refer this show as more of a fantasy isekai, one that has a slime as the superstar.

Can the isekai genre really have potential to be more than just what's on paper? It certainly could for some franchises. This show is one of them. Satoru is reborn as a slime and his role is crucial to everything around him. Taking on the alias “Rimuru”, he makes up for his appeal through a variety of personality traits: kind, witty, laidback, sarcastic, courageous, and among others. When you look at all these character personalities together, Rimuru can be very likable. In the early portion of the show, we see Rimuru’s charisma and being able to lead supernatural creatures without fear. He even gives names to his new friends while showing his compassion. Rimuru is built to be special in the show. This is established through his immense abilities (such his Predator skill), where viewers can easily point fingers at him for being overpowered. Indeed, this isn’t an overstatement. In most of his battles, they are more like curb stomp face offs where Rimuru dominates his opponents. From isekai shows in today’s world, overpowered characters aren’t uncommon. What actually sets Rimuru apart is his unnatural charisma and human behavior. The witty conversations and small talks he engages with others often makes his fights much entertaining than they should be. Even in serious conflicts, Rimuru finds time to make jokes while being strategic enough to formulate a plan. Now, that my friends, is setting a likeable isekai protagonist by example.

Yet, this show can be a tearjerker at times too. The emotional context draws important value with a character named Shizu. After a titanic battle against a demon known as Ifrit, we learn about her past and Rimuru even inherits her will. Taking on her form, Rimuru realizes that he can’t save everyone regardless how powerful he is. It sets the path of his journey to keep promises such as being a mentor for younger kids. In the latter half of the show, Rimuru finds a group of children with magical potential and tries to lead them as a positive role model.

Even as an isekai show established with such a powerful protagonist, its character cast shouldn’t be overlooked. We meet a variety of characters with colorful personalities during Rimuru’s adventures. Some of the most noticeable ones includes his allies such as Shion, Shuna, Gobuta, Benimaru, Ranga, and later on, the Demon Lord Millim. Through Rimuru’s character interactions, it’s easy to see how his charisma inspires others. Many of Rimuru’s followers shows great respect for him and similarly, he deeply cares about them. Even Millim, a Demon Lord with overwhelming powers, takes a liking to him as the two forms an unlikely alliance. Respect of course isn’t just demanded but earned. Thanks to Rimuru’s abilities, he manages to make alliances with the most unlikely races. Under Rimuru’s leadership, he even sets forth to build a new country with his allies. The central element of storytelling relies on Rimuru’s way of showing his will. He proves this throug his actions and words. Really, by the end of the show, I felt like I understood Rimuru far more than I originally anticipated.

Despite my love for the show’s witty humor, colorful character cast, and storytelling, I should point out the anime still suffers from pitfalls. Fan service scenes with baths are common and Rimuru is still vulnerable to earthly desires in the fantasy world. In fact, I dare say the author made the monster girls as cute and sexy as possible. Millim and Shion are prime examples for their character designs. Just take a close look at them. Millim is pretty much half naked in her default outfit while Shion gives more of a mature lady vibe. Like most fantasy isekai, elves are characterized as desirable by males. This is shown early in the show when Rimuru encounters them and finds himself in brief moments of lust. While the storytelling has adequate development and carries an emotional weight, it’s hard to say that it’s great writing. In fact, many of Rimuru’s battles are extremely predictable even against the strongest of adversaries. In most of those fights, you should certainly expect Rimuru to be the winner. While the series also gives some of its supporting cast time to shine, most of the spotlight falls under our little slime-kun. Perhaps a bit too much...

Finally, 8-bit is back. After years of mediocre light novel adaptations like Infinite Stratos and Knight’s & Magic, Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken’s sets a bar for being a marvelous example of world fiction. The magical world contains fruitful amount of content such as the various nations we see. Tempest is the most prominent one ruled by Rimuru. Located in the Jura Forest, it’s a prime example of a monster country filled with larger than life characters. Meanwhile, other locations such as Brumund Kingdom and Dwargon reminds me of the high fantasy elements of the isekai genre. While the visual quality can look a bit cartoonish at times, it remains vibrant, bright, and contains a fine degree of palette. It suits for this particular show with its lighthearted humor. The character designs are of course worth mentioning in the case of Rimuru, the Demon Lords, his monster allies, and the infamous Veldora Tempest. At times, I feel like the author really put his thought into making them look as otherwordly as possible. The battle choreography also delivers a visual direction of what isekai shows should be. Nothing too groundbreaking but being able to showcase what characters’ abilities can really do. You should definitely not expect a DBZ-level style of action quality but be prepared for some jawbreaking cinematography.

Don’t you just wish life was simpler these days? Looking back at Rimuru’s adventure, I confess that I am a bit envious of his life. He is so carefree despite being an such a prominent figure in his world. Whether taking on the form of a slime, human, or Shizu, Rimuru makes everything look so easy. As such, watching this show felt like an easy way of passing time and enjoying what the author creator wanted us to experience. Now I wish life was easier.
Reviewer’s Rating: 8
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