You know, if I’d seen this a long time ago I’d probably be totally in love with it. But as it is, I just can’t help but feeling like just making the main character a little bluer and bouncier than the standard isekai protagonist isn’t quite enough of a distinguishing point. From a plot point of view it still feels like we’re very much in an introductory phase as our protagonist still knows very little about the world, something which isn’t aided by the fact that he doesn’t ask sensible questions. When asked if he was sure he should be giving everyone a name all at once he simply said he didn’t see a problem. Why wouldn’t you ask why the other guy was concerned? It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
None of that is saying this show isn’t fun enough. My issue is it is very middle of the road. Some of the humour sticks and some of the action is kind of cool, okay the swift end to the leader of the dire wolves was very cool, but there’s a lot of very forgettable scenes as well and at the end of three episodes if I had to sum up this story it would be ‘bouncy blue slime thing eats stuff and makes friends with monsters’ which admittedly doesn’t sound too bad but also isn’t making me desperate to see what happen next.
Partially this is because there’s still no real indication that the story is going anywhere and while it is fine to focus on character exploration rather than having some urgent mission from the get go, I’d probably need to care more about the character for that kind of thing to work. As it is, I’m not overly concerned about Rimuru and now that the goblins and dire-wolves are teamed up, evolved and commanded to play nice with other species, I’m not overly concerned for their well-being either.
So while yes this will be pleasant enough viewing, unless the story takes a sudden turn after we get through the introductions I’m really not thinking that this one is going to end up in my top picks for the season. It is watchable, it isn’t doing anything overly wrong, last season I’d have been thrilled to watch it given how little there was on my watch list, but this season it is getting overshadowed quite a bit by other shows I’m more interested in.
I’m just not convinced by That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime yet. Sure the tsundere dragon was good for a few laughs but then the slime just went through one patch of cave after another that all looked much the same and more or less one shot monster after monster devouring them and getting even stronger skills and abilities. There’s no sense of struggle or effort or even care as this sequence kind of stretches on. I guess if you find the slime, now named Rimuru, super adorable as he goes about his daily wanderings, you might find this sequence endearing but mostly I just kind of wanted him to meet a nastier monster, or to fall into some sort of cavern, or literally just anything to happen to shake up the plot.
Fortunately, our slime eventually finds a door. And just as he is wondering how to open the door, three humans do it for him. I’d call plot convenience but to be perfectly frank I’d rather the story moved itself along, plus given the humans were apparently freaked out by the disappearance of the dragon it kind of makes sense someone would go to the cave to investigate so while the timing might seem very coincidental, it is hardly the worst plot contrivance I’ve come across even this week so let’s go with it and move into the outside world.
Maybe it was planned, but having spent so long during the first and second episode in that very blue cave, going into the outside world and seeing the trees and the birds and everything, it wasn’t just the slime being happy to see it. It was a veritable feast for the eyes and the moment this episode where I kind of switched on to this show a lot more than I had during the first half.
The meeting with the goblins and hearing the wolves is all pretty standard fantasy stuff, but it works and now that we’ve got characters who can potentially be at risk the stakes have gone up a bit as has my overall investment. While I’m still not jumping onto the That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime bandwagon, the second half of this episode definitely helped me want to go onto the third episode because earlier in this episode that seemed to be in doubt.
I’ve been wondering for awhile why so many trapped in another world stories have been using reincarnation as a vehicle for travelling between our world and another. The far easier option is just to throw the protagonist through a portal, summon them, cross over or whatever else is needed to get them there and then close the door behind them. Reincarnation creates a myriad of plot issues that a lot of the time just don’t need to be in the story at all and are seldom addressed in any kind of satisfying manner. So what are some of the problems I have with reincarnation as a story and are there any anime that get it right?
It Just Isn’t Necessary
Ernesti from Knight’s and Magicis a great example of a character who did not need to be reincarnated. He literally could have just been a born genius from the world he was on given the only bearing his past life had on the one we watched was that he was good at programming, and apparently designing robots. Both of these skills could easily have been acquired by a genius in the world he grew up in, and in point of fact given they offer an antagonist later on who isn’t quite at Ernesti’s level of over-powered brilliance but is still pretty good at developing mechs you have to wonder why they bothered.
Now I mentioned this in my review of the anime, but adding the reincarnation aspect does nothing for this story. All it does is eat up precious minutes of air time showing us a former life that will have no importance on the overall plot and isn’t necessary.
Ernesti brings no external knowledge of the world he is entering into the world. As he has been reborn in a new body none of his physical abilities have gone with him. He has no contact with anyone or anything from his former world where knowing who he was previously might aid the story. There is literally not reason for him to be a reincarnation and it is pretty easy to forget that this is the premise of the story.
And while I’m kind of bashing Knight’s And Magic, it isn’t the only story guilty of this.
Now if we look at something like Sailor Moon or Kyou Kara Maou, while the reincarnation is from their former life/world and into the modern one, the fact that the characters are reincarnated has an impact on every part of the plot. Neither one of these stories would be able to exist except for the fact that the main characters were reborn. Their former lives are completely intertwined with the events they are facing in their present life and the power they use is tied in with it as well.
Even In Another World With My Smartphone at least made use of his learned ability to use the phone and the fact that he chose to carry the phone with him into his next life. Then again, In Another World With My Smartphone created a whole other issue.
Have They Actually Been Reborn?
By its very nature, reincarnation requires you to be born again with the same soul in a different body. And that creates some interesting juxtapositions if you choose to reincarnate particular souls in bodies that just don’t match them, though this aspect of reincarnation is seldom explored. Nor is the influence of the body on the soul, though a light novel I’m reading at the moment, So I’m a Spider, So What seems to be getting into this issue by exploring the impact of having a male soul reborn inside a female and human souls being reborn inside of monsters so I’m kind of enjoying that aspect of it.
In Another World With My Smartphone just skips the whole rebirth thing. God just sends Touya to the other world, fully clothed and still fifteen years old, with all memories and learned knowledge in tact but with all his abilities boosted. I’m actually fine with this concept given it means we don’t have to watch the tedious growing up process or see his confusion with his soul memories and body memories colliding (assuming they bother to address that issue) but it kind of shoots the premise of being reborn or reincarnated in the foot. They might as well have just said he would be sent to or transported to the other world given there really wasn’t a reincarnation process here.
Does Entering a Game Count as Rebirth?
Now this one gets tricky because we’ve had a lot of characters transported into worlds based on game mechanics with levelling up and the like. The question is, have they really been reborn or is their soul simply trapped inside the game character. And if they can’t leave and the world operates as a world does it matter that it uses game mechanics at all?
I think starting That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime made me really think about how reincarnation works in stories. The first episode spends a lot of time in our world (comparatively) setting up a character that the episode then promptly kills and has him reborn. What I wanted to know was would any of the story later on be changed if we simply start with him waking up in his new body, realising he’s no longer human and moving on. Is seeing his self-intro as an ordinary guy going to make this any more engaging to watch?
And it isn’t just reincarnation. There are a lot of premises out there that get used to lead us into stories and then seem to serve no purpose. While I get that archetypes and cliches allow us to cut over a lot of fluffing about, I really do feel that narratives need to put more effort in sometimes and really use their premise. Otherwise, they just have me wondering, what’s the point?
However, I’d love to know what you think of reincarnation in anime. What are some of the best examples? What are some of the worst?
There’s no denying that isekai stories just keep coming out. Now stop me if you’ve heard this one before… Ordinary guy living his ordinary life gets stabbed by ordinary robber and awakens in a magical world where he has a whole bunch of power. Granted he at least doesn’t have his smart phone with him and he is no longer human but we’re still not walking into original territory. So rather than looking at the plot, because we all know this plot, the question with this becomes whether it is doing it well and is it worth the time or are should we just wait for the next isekai release?
And the answer is pretty much that I’m undecided. I was kind of liking the protagonist of this story as the 37 year old human. He was pretty generic but worked well enough. And then they killed him off and left us with a pretty poor joke as he requested that his kouhai destroy his hard drive and then we were off to the new world which gave us two problems. One I’d just bothered to get to know a character who died and second that his voice changed fairly soon after the transition and I was kind of enjoying his original voice.
The reincarnation sequence was pretty but there’s no denying that we’re very much taking the game mechanics so present in these kinds of novels and direct narrating skill acquisition which isn’t exactly thrilling viewing. Nor is his first moments waking up as a slime.
However, this episode did have a couple of undeniable hooks. The first one is that the slime meets a dragon. I’m a sucker for dragon stories and while most of them end up pretty rubbish seeing a dragon still makes me pretty happy and I sit just that little closer to the screen and hope that maybe this time the dragon isn’t actually going to spend the majority of the show masquerading as a cute girl. The second was the OP that they played at the end of the episode because some of the fight sequences and magic present in that look like it will get really interesting.
Basically, this episode is set up and gives us enough information to be ready for the story but does little else and it isn’t amazing. But, there is enough potential promise that I’ll give it a little longer to sort itself out and just keep my fingers crossed it isn’t on the same level as The Master of Ragnarok.