Directors: Yasuhito Kikuchi, Atsushi Nakayama (Assistant Director)
Animation Production: 8bit
Music: Elements Garden
Genres: Isekai, Fantasy
Season: Fall 2018 (Season 1)
Episodes: 25 (Series + OVA)
Final say: WALLET-WORTHY
Here’s a little lesson on Iconography: the character design for the slime Rimuru, is masterful in how it encapsulates the show’s underlying ethos; one that may well go unnoticed by the average viewer. Soft power takes centre stage in this entry to a genre usually jam-packed with power fantasies of mayhem and bloodlust (though there is still a fair amount of that here), as the de facto Japanese modern man; killed off in his world, was transported into a fantasy land, where policy and politics required some…foreign augmentation.
The devilishly simple yet bountifully expressive character model for Rimuru when he is in his slime form also means that his face is literally plastered all over the suspiciously bustling-Japanese-holiday-resort-inspired city, of which he is the benevolent master of. Rimuru the slime, is a brand in the world of which he resides in.
But what do all of this mean for this in-so-far innocent (albeit expectedly pervy) Isekai? The reason I bring these outlandish observations of mine to light here is because I believe That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime presents a very interesting look into the Japanese urban society, and how ‘Isekai’ as a genre operates as a fictional ‘escape’ from the increasingly erratic cracks in the country’s postmodern communal paradigm.
‘Soft power cultural imperialism’ may sound all evil and sinister, and the light novel author here is presenting their vision of a peaceful world through a lens that is undoubtedly coloured by it, even if it wasn’t an entirely conscious creative decision (I mean for God’s sake…Rimuru’s naming ritual meant to help monsters evolve into their superior forms, literally turn lizard and ogre monster species into humanoids…now imagine this as a metaphorical ‘whitewashing’). But it doesn’t make the experience any less entertaining, even if it was the result of endless eye rolling, since the show takes ‘convenient last-minute resolution’ to a completely new level.
Early into the show, Rimuru offered Shizue a telepathic vision of a modernised, glittering, peaceful Japan. Shizu; a person who was summoned to this fantasy world during a less peaceful, WWII-era Japan, joyfully marveled as she watched her old home flourish.
As the show progressed, Rimuru’s peaceful utopia for monsters racked in more and more allies and devoted followers at a comical rate. Veteran humans, dwarfs, warriors, kings and even a bona fide demon lord swore their friendship to a slime, either because Rimuru’s city had Japanese hot springs, or because Rimuru offered a certain someone a taste of sweet honey. Diplomacy through comforts and pleasure.
Yes, Rimuru naming and turning two ogre ladies into a busty personal assistant wearing a suit and a cute & pure Japanese shrine maiden princess is all done in the name of some good ol’ fan service, and I am at risk of reading a touch too far into an author’s possible implications with their decidedly self-indulgent story. But all of this only makes me believe that Slime may end up becoming a very valuable show to watch. Its high entertainment and even re-watch value with bouncy and expressive animation, and genuinely lovable ‘found family’ warmth are just sweet bonuses.
What I do hope for readers though, is to go into this show with a few extra thinking caps on, and attempt to appreciate how this show’s narrative operates, and why a story about escaping the awful ‘real life’ still specifically looked to ‘export’ pleasures from home into the new fantasy world (perhaps outright rejecting the real world isn’t entirely ideal for the author either, especially when that meant rejecting hot springs and manga…)
Recommendations: Alternate Titles
Perhaps a redundant listing, but Log Horizon augments Slime’s similar premise into a more organic geopolitical and economic presentation, complete with nerdy online gaming antics.
Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash
Character drama that presents less overhead worldbuilding in exchange for a more personal narrative set in a more grounded fantasy setting.