We time-skipped 300 years but did we miss anything about Azusa?
A long, long time ago, back in 2012, the original Sword Art Online anime came out and created a stir. It was an instant hit with many anime viewers and soon after became the anime that people just loved to hate because you could. However, one story element that was only really apparent in the Aincrad Arc did leave some viewers wondering and that was how the story would just jump chunks of time and the characters would suddenly be significantly stronger and higher up the tower than where we last left them.
For some people, this was seen as a deficit of the story and they celebrated the announcement of Progressive which apparently fills in those gaps.
That said, I wasn’t in the camp that wanted to see characters grinding day after day and level after level. Sure you could make any one of those encounters interesting but episode after episode of either going out and grinding levels before returning to a safe town and trying out different foods and flavours wasn’t something I was missing in Sword Art Online. I found the time jumps worked in the story’s favour to move us along to the significant plot moments for Kirito and Asuna’s relationship as well as beating the tower.
Which then of course brings us to I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level which took this to a new extreme entirely by just skipping all 300 years after a character got isekai’d and dropped us straight into the slice of life antics of someone who is already an unstoppable force of power.
Now as a fantasy/comedy with slice of life elements, the success of each episode more or less rests on how engaging these characters are and yet it feels like the most interesting parts of Azusa’s story were just swept under the rug. Her life in Japan prior to dying and being sent to another world is breezed through in minutes and other than seeing standard corporate worker who does too many hours of work we learn little about her as a person.
Likewise, her reaction to being sent to another world is so calm and detached it is hard to really get any kind of feeling for her. While we see her initial arrival in the fantasy world and her very first attempt at killing a slime we all too quickly jump to 300 years in the future where slime hunting is just the hum-drum every day activity.
If this were an adventure story we’d have some serious problems at this point. Our main character has zero motivation other than to lead a quiet life. If she received a call to adventure she’d happily slam the door in the caller’s face. We also haven’t seen her struggle to grow and overcome any weaknesses. Her powers are great but we didn’t see her earn them or really know how they work so she more or less just does what the plot requires her to do and we all just go, ‘cool she’s really strong’.
But as an immortal, power maxed out witch she’s more or less untouchable and while I enjoyed the most recent episodes with the dragons, it kind of made me realise there’s never going to be any kind of actual threat in this story.
But… Slime 300 never claimed to be an adventure story. Actually, if we cut off the beginning of this story and just started the story with a powerful witch living in the highlands who gets visited by various and sundry magical characters who want something from her, we’d have a slice of life story without the complications or even really caring what said magical witch’s backstory actually was.
So perhaps the greater question is, “why make this an isekai at all?”. And that’s a question I’ve had to ask a lot of anime. But, there is one reason why Azusa living a second life isn’t entirely a pointless premise. Let’s get back to her only motive. Azusa is motivated by living a slow and quiet life. Her values and decisions are built around working in moderation. This came out of her realisation that her previous life was essentially wasted working a thankless job and ultimately achieving nothing but ruining her health. And she passes this on to those around her.
Azusa being from another world and having another life of experience definitely adds to her character and one could argue is the cornerstone of everything she’s become in this second life. So we can’t do away with her being reincarnated and given a second life. Do we necessarily need the 300 year time skip?
Kind of no. The goddess who gave her the second life bestowed her with immortality and a peaceful life but the goddess could have achieved that by maxing out her power to start with and then we wouldn’t need the time-jump to exist.
The answer here is much muddier. It is difficult to tell what impact those 300 years have had on Azusa as a person because we didn’t know much about her before them so it is difficult to see the impact of events that may have occurred on her person. Would the story be the same without the time-jump? Quite possibly.
However the question at hand is whether or not seeing those 300 years would have made the audience more interested or connected with Azusa’s character?
Which is a hard question to answer because some people will already feel really happy with how Azusa is. I mean, she is a fine enough character and is certainly serving the purpose of the story.
For me though, I feel I still don’t really know Azusa or feel any real connection with her. She’s a placeholder instead of a character and because she’s stupidly overpowered and knowledgeable and surrounded by equally powerful characters there’s little to challenge her or bring about anything other than these light moments that just kind of feel like they are somewhat lacking.
It is quite possible I would find her more interesting if I’d seen her struggle a little more as she learned to kill slimes or tried to figure out her magic. Possibly if we’d seen her on days when she was bored or discouraged there’s be more sense that she was a real person rather than someone who just went happily about doing the same thing every day for 300 years.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike Azusa. She’s perfectly pleasant. However, I also probably won’t remember her after the season ends. I’ll remember that anime that had slime in the title and an overpowered witch with a cool hat, but if I even remember her name I’d be surprised.
Now we’re still early days and maybe she’ll leave a bigger impression before the end. But I would like to know if you think seeing some of the first 300 years in the fantasy world might have been interesting?
Images in this article from:
- I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level. Dir. N. Kimura. Revoroot. 2021
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