Mar 25, 2019
CodeBlazeFate (All reviews)
When was the last time a light novel adaptation or isekai tried to be straightforward? Nothing fancy, nothing repetitive or self-indulgent, just simple. With the likes of Re:Zero, Akashic Records, Overlord, and Mahouka, it’s become harder and harder to find an LN or isekai show that just wants to entertain (parodies like Konosuba don't count cuz fuck you). Even many of the “simpler”, “safer” anime like The Asterisk War and Isekai wa Smartphone fail to realize that we just want something simple and satisfying. That’s probably why Slime is as popular as it is. It just wants to entertain us with a fun, digestible isekai world for an adorable protagonist to build in and explore. Not to mention, it does so with some decent visuals, good music, and the sense of whimsey you’d expect from a show about being in a game-like world. That’s not to say the show never gets violent, that it never indulges in typical LN and isekai cliches, or even that it’s a good show. It’s just that Slime values entertainment above all else, never overindulging to the point of stupidity or alienation. Frankly, this is the first isekai in years to not suck.

Slime’s visuals are honestly strange. It doesn’t really feel like it was made in 2018 or 2019. Something about this odd and inconsistent art style doesn’t feel like something you’d see nowadays. While the art style certainly feels unorthodox, a lot of the facial expressions are priceless and adorable as a result, particularly with Rimuru’s slime form. The sheer liveliness of some of the environments trumps even the likes of No Game No Life, which is arguably the most visually stunning isekai on the market. The show often experiments with different styles, like swapping between anime and photorealistic footage when getting us acquainted with Rimuru’s slime form in episode 1, or when he fantasizes about hot elves and they’re drawn in a 90s aesthetic. Several moments in the show, along with the first ED, also add a sort of digital, VR-like filter to whatever’s happening onscreen. Speaking of the first ED, the visuals for it change 4 times, and each version looks great. Even when they’re not experimenting, some of the action scenes and sequences of Rimuru wandering around in slime form look stunning and fluid. The first OP is a wonderful example of this. Sadly, the visuals are about as inconsistent as everything else. For every moment of smooth or lively visuals, we have moments of typical static shots, and episodes where we don’t get much animation. Some of the background and foreground scrolling tends to look awkward as well, and the rampant CGI tends to be even worse. Still, the character designs are generally great, and the high points in the animation put nearly every other isekai or LN adaptation to shame. Studio 8bit is probably one of the better sources of isekai anime out there.

Even more vibrant is the music. Early on, we’re treated to some fun chiptune pieces, along with some adventurous tracks. Somehow, the amount of more lighthearted and fun tracks, and even the amount of battle themes is completely overshadowed by the sheer volume of great emotional pieces. A track that perfectly exemplifies both sides of this is actually the first ED, "Another colony" by TRUE. The guitars and drums give this energetic vibe that’s both invigorating and a tad emotional, and the violins more than add to the more emotional aspect of the song. Along with the decent vocals, these elements turn this into one of the better EDs of 2018, and a great way to cap off each episode. I don’t care as much for the second ED despite its more sentimental tone. Takuma Terashima does the 2 OPs of this season, and they are both fantastic. The first, “Nameless Story”, is a striking tune, especially with that bombastic usage of the special guitar which gives a more rustic, perhaps 2000s vibe. The visuals accentuate that vibe, as both aspects of the OP meld to create both this sense of adventure and danger. The second OP, “Meguru Mono” is a far calmer, more emotional piece that shows just how far Rimuru and his civilization have come, and how wondrous things will remain in the future.

As expected from an isekai, the writing is a bit of a mess. The show’s pacing is often strange, and it has a ton of pointless and bewildering time skips. Emotional moments often feel rushed or conjured out of thin air, and the show often forgets about its characters until they randomly appear later. Examples of the latter include the time when Gobta’s just left alone in a cell halfway into episode 5 and forgotten about, or when the goblins and wolves are told to wait outside at the beginning of episode 4 and are forgotten about until episode 6, where we see them and a whole new batch of goblins working. The show also tends to resort to time skips, glossing over the progression of the central village Rimuru builds, and making the town’s progression and some of Rimuru’s absences feel utterly ridiculous.

Another problem is that the world-building is sometimes inconsistent and unexplained, like how Rimuru could only name like 50 or so goblins and one wolf before passing out in episode 3 and then 500 goblins in episode 6. The worst case of the latter is in episode 19 where the wolf Ranga suddenly has a strong partnership with Shion and pulls a flying ability out of nowhere, since the characters ask how and when he learned that and became that close with her, and we never get an answer. Granted, the world-building is never indigestible and rarely broken like it is in Mahouka or Smartphone. It’s just that these issues become especially distracting when the narratives are already rather unremarkable and badly paced. It’s even worse when most of the arc conclusions are drawn-out, anticlimactic, or cheesy, with the 4th arc’s finale being the worst example. That said, some of the storylines in this show are genuinely good. The best example of this is the 3-part storyline with Shizue at the end of arc 1, with its intense backstory and a sentimental payoff for Shizue and her ultimately tragic tale. If only more of this show’s arcs and mini-stories were as good as this or even the majority of the second arc, but inconsistency really is Slime’s middle name.

A majority of the characters in this show are actual yes men, often with one defining character trait and only some level of chemistry to make them salvageable. Barring Rimuru (the little asshole), his internal sage assistant, and perhaps the utter dolt that is Gabiru, it seems like the best characters in this show are ones that appear for a short time, like Shizue, Veldora, or the trio of guild adventurers at the end of the first arc. They along with the characters I’ve named often have the most entertaining personalities and chemistry, and the most we get from them are a few gags at Gobta’s, Shion’s, and Rimuru’s expense. Almost none of them have any exceptional personalities or amazing chemistry to rival the GOATs in anime casts, nor do any of them necessarily wring any hype out of me aside from a character introduced in the penultimate episode. However, none of them are insufferable or horribly written. Still, this is probably Slime’s weakest and least entertaining aspect.

The experience of watching this anime at its best is a lot like that of playing a Kirby game. It has an adorable, round, expressive protagonist who absorbs his enemies’ powers while exploring new lands, and a sense of whimsy crafted by the bouncy slime animation and wonderfully varied OST. The experience of watching this anime at its best is a lot like that of playing a Kirby game. It has an adorable, round, expressive protagonist who absorbs his enemies’ powers while exploring new lands, and a sense of whimsy crafted by the bouncy slime animation and wonderfully varied OST. It’s not necessarily well-written, visually stunning, or even consistently entertaining, but it sets a benchmark for isekai that frankly hasn’t been met in half a decade. All it needed to do in order to not suck was just be straightforward and willing to entertain.

With that said, can we finally have a good isekai again, please? I don’t want another isekai ending with a recap episode, as amusing as this one was. (Yes, the recap is listed as its own anime now, but it was still advertised as the final episode by the show itself, and MAL did not list it as its own entry when this review was made. Fuck you, it's my bullies.)

Written and Edited by: CodeBlazeFate
Proofread by: Peregrine