Anime NYC 2022
Reincarnated as a Slime Special Event
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is one of my favorite isekai of the past couple of years. What seemed like a rather uninspired take on the isekai formula quickly became a surprisingly uplifting story about community, family building, and geopolitics. After a few successful seasons, a movie tie-in sounds about right. This special panel at Anime NYC got me more excited for what's to come than I initially thought possible.
General manager and producer Bungo Kondō, animation producer Kōhei Eguchi, and line producer Mika Iwahashi all entered the stage with loud applause from the incredibly packed showroom. To the surprise of all of us, they introduced themselves in English and seemed very happy to be in New York. They were asked some production-related questions about the series and the upcoming film. The show's production coincided with some of the worst periods of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that affected communication between different departments. It was a difficult time, but the staff wanted to ensure that the show ran as consecutively as possible without any noticeable dips in quality.
One hurdle with animating both the series and the movie was how the scenes were staged. Since many characters don't have names (names hold a lot of power in the series), it can become difficult to lay out an action scene where you have to differentiate specific people of the same race. Another more interesting hurdle the staff had to deal with was rights issues. When we get to scenes of characters in the real world, the team wanted to show what most people would naturally be doing in their everyday lives, such as reading manga, watching anime, or playing video games. They had to go through the proper channels to ensure they had the right to refer to specific shows or franchises. Still, this was almost an issue because one of the artists on the show drew a Goku stand that looked a little too much like Goku, and he had to go back and change it within a day.
After that short Q&A, we were shown the movie's opening scene, and let me say that the tone is markedly different from what many of us have come to expect so far. While Reincarnated as a Slime never shied away from depicting dark and violent subject matters, the imagery of a bunch of ogre mercenaries getting ruthlessly cut down in a muddy forest during a thunderstorm where there is barely any color outside of gray or black was visually striking. There was hardly any dialogue during the opening scenes, and while the choreography looked slightly sloppy, you could still feel the power and weight behind every sword swing. Skipping ahead a bit, it was confirmed after the preview that the scene was directly inspired by the film Seven Samurai. A lot of attention was paid to the specific swords used, like the nagamaki, which is well known for being a long blade with a longer-than-normal hilt.
Unfortunately, only one ogre, now named Hiiro, manages to survive the attack, being saved by the same naming method that Rimuru used on his entire community. Still, it's unclear if that constitutes a blessing or a curse for Hiiro. Not only were his comrades killed, but his entire village was wiped out since they weren't there to stop an upcoming invasion. The imagery of destroyed homes overlaid with a flashback of what appeared to be a once-colorful village was heartbreaking. Still, we were shown some familiar faces: Benimaru, Shion, Shuna, and Souei—the ogres we know are working under Rimuru. It's unclear if Hiiro was directly related to them, but it's clear from the flashback that he at least had close relationships with some of them, especially Benimaru. Combined with some of the recent promotional images that came out, the relationship between Hiiro and Benimaru is likely to be the movie's driving force. After the preview, we were greeted with a special video message from Miho Okasaki, the voice of the Rimuru themselves. She confirmed that Rimaru isn't the film's main focus, but she is still excited to be a part of it and wishes she could join everybody there in New York. It was excellent being privy to all this information before anybody else, and I look forward to other characters getting a chance to shine.
After that, the stage received two more additional guests: MindaRyn, a popular singer from Thailand, and STEREO DIVE FOUNDATION. These two have already contributed to the franchise before. MindaRyn sang the second opening song for season two, and STEREO DIVE FOUNDATION sang the first ending song of the second season. Both artists contributed original songs to the film, and we had the opportunity to hear some of their thoughts. MindaRyn said she wanted to write a song that would help people keep moving forward even if they've experienced a loss. STEREO DIVE FOUNDATION explained that both of their songs generally made him feel better about everything; he also commented that MindaRyn's voice was cute and sexy. Their section was a bit shorter than the first Q&A, ending with the announcement that fans could buy the soundtrack for the film over at the Bandai Namco booth.
Next up, everyone got out their glowing wands to welcome back-to-back live performances from both musical talents. MindaRyn admitted that this was her first performance in New York, and went through about four songs, including some of her contributions to the Slime franchise. This is the first time she performed the specific song she wrote for the movie, “Make Me Feel Better.” Afterward, STEREO DIVE FOUNDATION'S equipment was brought to the stage, and he performed a similar number of songs across the different franchises he worked on. The crowd was full of energy with a lot of swinging lights and stomping feet, to the point that I was concerned that seats would fall over everywhere. That said, I wish the sound mixing was a little bit better; maybe it's because I was sitting in the front row, but it felt like the beginning of each song started so loud that I couldn't properly hear the singers' voices, though that usually evened out by the time each piece ended.
Finally, the panel ended with a trailer for the film, which was a little weak compared to everything we had gotten before. It also didn't help that the staff forgot to remove STEREO DIVE FOUNDATION's equipment after his performance, which obscured part of the center screen for people in the front row. Overall, if you're a fan of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, then we will be in good hands if this panel was anything to go by. It's nice to see the franchise is still going strong, and I look forward to seeing how much further it can go!
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