The title for this anime has to be one of the most on the nose titles on any anime that I’ve ever seen. It’s the very definition of “What You See is What You Get”. It’s a story about a man who dies and gets reincarnated as a slime. When he’s reincarnated, he is a simple blue blob living an existence in some other world. How on earth could a story like that possibly be entertaining? Is it really so good that it deserves the already scheduled second season? Short answer, yes, I think it is. Long answer, read on to find out. Spoilers ahead.
I’ll spare you the details of how our protagonist dies and ends up in his new world. What’s important is, as he’s dying, he makes a lot of “I wish” statements that essentially get programmed into his next form. When he’s reincarnated, he discovers that he’s now a slime because that was a form he could assume with all the newly requested traits. Not too long after his reincarnation, he meets an imprisoned dragon named Verudora Tempest. After befriending Verudora, the dragon decides to bestow a name on the slime, because named monsters are inherently stronger. The slime is given the name Rimuru Tempest, and the weirdest isekai I have ever seen finally begins in earnest.
This show spanned a total of two seasons (24 episodes). Between the two, I would say the first half is much stronger than the second half, though the second half does finally begin to pick up in the last three to five episodes. A lot of it felt like general pacing issues. The first half of the season has a much more slow and steady build-up as Rimuru learns the ins and outs of how his new world works while also meeting and befriending other monsters; he even trains these monsters to build a sort of modern Japanese village. There’s a clear and impending doom that gets communicated through an enemy called the Orc Lord that ultimately ends in a pretty fun clash between the two sides.
We’re also introduced to the many characters that bring trade skills and other resources to the village, in addition to people like Shizue Izawa, another Japanese citizen who was transported to this world, though she was summoned rather than reincarnated. Ultimately, Rimuru is able to copy Shizue’s human form and he can then walk around in a more familiar bi-pedal state (though it’s still optional). All things condisdered, it’s an incredibly solid first half that could stand on it’s own if necessary.
The second half of the season didn’t seem to have as clear of a goal as the first half. While Rimuru was always a really powerful monster (only growing more powerful as time went on and he learned new skills), it feels like it takes away a lot of suspense and excitement during the later episodes. Battles between Rimuru and supposed unstoppable enemies begin and end in the span of a single episode. New allies are constantly being introduced without a deep or interesting background or reason. It’s a bit of a letdown as you’re coming down off of the high of the first half of the season.
As I said before, towards the end of the season, a more interesting arc begins to unfold. Rimuru learns of other children who were summoned to this world, only to be abandoned because they could not fulfill their duties. They possess a lot of power, but their lack of skill and experience will ultimately lead that power to kill them from the inside out. Rimuru discovers that they are former pupils of Shizue, and takes it upon himself to figure out a way to help them live and thrive in their new world.
Unfortunately, that arc, while fun, almost feels like a “too little too late” after thought for the rest of the second half. It’s not strong enough to redeem the mostly mediocre latter 12 episodes, but one thing it did do was spark a little hope for a more successful second season. At least personally, it was enough to make me think “OK, I won’t give up on it just yet.”
Ultimately, the majority of the season stands on the shoulders of it’s diverse cast of interesting characters. While their back stories and motivations may feel rushed at times, there are rarely any characters that are largely uninteresting to see. Had the show been able to cut back on just how many characters it needed to add, I feel like we could have seen a lot of fun personality and growth happen.
Production value also seems to be quite high for this series, especially when it comes to the animation quality. Many shows suffer from wacky animation that may or may not get cleaned up in a blu-ray release, but I never noticed anything particularly glaring about this one. There are a lot of shows that could benefit from the crisp art style that Slime brings to the table (*cough*Overlord*cough*).
Ultimately, I would still place this anime as one of the better fall 2018/winter 2019 candidates, though I can’t place it as any sort of AOTS/AOTY candidate. But as far as unique and lighthearted isekai go, it’s probably at least top 5, even with it’s inclusion of generic tropes. If you’re a fan of the genre, you probably won’t be disappointed in your choice to watch this anime. Just don’t expect the desire to binge it to last much past the first half of the season. Here’s hoping season 2 (currently scheduled for 2020) is able to rediscover that magic that made it special in the beginning.