Once Upon A Slime: Everything You Need to Know Before That Time I got Reincarnated as a Slime Season 2by Theron Martin,
The Fall 2018 anime season began with the debut of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, an adaptation of the light novel series by author Fuse. It became a major hit, enough so that its 25-episode run ended with an announcement that a two-cour second series would be forthcoming. Delays due to COVID pushed the sequel's first half back to the Winter 2021 season and its second to the Summer 2021 season, with the spin-off The Slime Diaries: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime scheduled to air in between. All anime content released so far is currently streaming subtitled on Crunchyroll and the main series is available in dubbed form at Funimation.
As a primer for the upcoming second series, I am going to recap what happened in the first series and look at what has transpired in the OVAs. I will also look at what has made this series so successful.
The Story So Far
Satori Mikami was a 37-year-old man who had not accomplished much in his life before he was stabbed to death while attempting to protect two coworkers during a robbery. He found himself reincarnated into a new world, and as a result of his thoughts at the moment of his death, he came back as a lowly slime. Thanks to two broken special abilities – Great Sage (a voice in his head which appraises and provides encyclopedic information) and Predator (which allows him to assimilate the abilities of creatures he absorbs and reproduce the properties of plants and minerals) – he quickly rises to become the most powerful creature in the dungeon where he awakens. He even befriends and absorbs Veldora, an imprisoned Tempest Dragon, before venturing out into the world.
On the surface, Rimuru first encounters a goblin tribe and the direwolf pack which is attacking them. By defeating the wolves to protect the goblins, he becomes the venerated leader of both species, and learns that by naming both the goblins and the wolves, he can progress them into more advanced forms. (Naming carries much greater power and significance in this world, though it comes at the cost of expending magic.) From that point on, he gradually gathers a wide array of new allies, including dwarven smiths, ogres, orcs, lizard people, and even a seemingly young but terrifyingly powerful Demon Lord. With the help of the dryad Treyni, he unites a significant portion of the Jura Forest (first in the Jura Forest Alliance and then in the Jura Tempest Federation), builds a capital city, and starts forging alliances with other nations. Along the way he has recurring encounters with a group of human adventurers and a dwarven Hero King, temporarily runs afoul of other Demon Lords, and has some engagements with the mysterious Moderate Harlequin Alliance, though he wins more allies (or at least those who agree to truces) than enemies.
The other significant story thread involves Shizue Izawa. Decades earlier, the Demon Lord Leon Cromwell accidentally summoned her out of the firebombing of Tokyo during World War II. With little use for the child, he infused her with the superior spirit Ifrit. Shizue eventually gained control of that spirit, served for a while as a companion to the Hero, and became an adventurer known as the Conqueror of Flames. (As episode 24 showed in a flashback, during this time she got involved in an incident in the country of Filtwood, where she encountered and fought a powerful demon who called himself Kuro but was actually there to deal with another demon.) With her control of Ifrit slipping, she retired to become a teacher and eventually started to teach a class made of other Otherworlders summoned here as children. They were fated to die young without something to stabilize their magic, so she set off on a quest to look for such a means. As her control over Ifrit was beginning to fail, she encountered Rimuru, who was told by fortune-telling that Shizue was his “fated person.” Rimuru was able to contain Ifrit, but age had caught up to Shizue. As her dying request, Rimuru absorbed Shizue and vowed to take on responsibility for saving her students. This Rimuru did months later by traveling to Freedom Academy to become their teacher for a time, then guiding them towards being infused with superior spirits as well. Absorbing Shizue also allowed Rimuru to assume a human form for the first time, one quite reminiscent of Shizue.
Five OVAs have been released to date:
Episode 1 has the inelegant title of “Hey! Butts!”. It is set at some point after episode 16 and before Rimuru leaves for Freedom Academy in episode 20, most likely either early in episode 17 (some scenes used in this episode look like they may have been partly or totally copied from that one) or early in episode 20. It features a drug-induced dream Rimuru has about establishing a sumo tournament as a sport. The title comes from the way it ends up being “butt sumo” (think Keijo!!!!!!!!) instead. It is fun but skippable.
Episode 2 is titled “The Tragedy of M?”. It is set in the same time frame as OVA episode 1, most likely before Rimuru departs Rimuru City in episode 20. Here, Rimuru decides to make plushie versions of himself in the hopes of dissuading Shion and Shuna from squabbling over him, which necessitates a quest to collect ingredients at a lake and results in an encounter with a strange underwater monster. Between swimsuits and tentacles, this episode contains the most fanservice-oriented content in the franchise, but that and the way the joke about Shion's cooking is carried to the extreme are its only merits. Also easily skippable.
Episodes 3-5 form the three parts of the “Rimuru's Glamorous Life as a Teacher” arc. They are clearly set during episode 23, in the gap between when the kids get the spirits and when Rimuru leaves to return home. (It might even be the “one last struggle” referred to at 12:43 in episode 23.) These showcase how he and his students get involved in an “outdoor training” exercise for Freedom Academy, which involves the class escorting a teacher observer/grader to one location and then exploring a controlled, man-made cave. A nobleman's sick wife and a group of bandits intent on taking advantage of the test also become factors, as does Rimuru's rivalry with a fellow teacher. This part is not skippable, as it introduces characters and situations which may come into play later on, including a female teacher who looked up to Shizue but felt she could not do anything to help Shizue's students and hints of some bigger plot involving specters. The demon who called himself Kuro, who appeared in the immediate post-credits scene of episode 23 and figured prominently into Shizue's backstory in episode 24, also makes an appearance.
Why This Franchise Was A Hit
Stories about OP protagonists do have a certain amount of inherent appeal, but for them to reach broader audiences they must either have some kind of limiter on the protagonist or else entertainment value beyond just watching protagonists strut their stuff. Slime takes the latter approach much more than the former, and does it well enough that Rimuru's near-infallibility can largely be overlooked. The production team and seiyuu Miho Okasaki have done an outstanding job of making Rimuru endearing in both slime and (later) human form, but he also has a lot of help from a generally fun and entertaining supporting cast, whether it be the dragon Veldora, the blowhard lizardman Gabiru, the sneakily competent Gobta, the childish Demon Lord Milim, or Shizue. The adaptation also scores a big win with its (at times) surprisingly strong emotional appeal, especially in the resolution of Shizue's story. Perhaps most importantly, the series usually finds time amidst all of its craziness and power hijinks to have fun, such as in the way the Great Sage seems to have its own personality.
There have been some common criticisms of the first series as well. The franchise does not totally escape the problem of lack of tension caused by knowing that Rimuru can defeat any foe or solve any problem, some of his successes come too easy even given his abilities, and some of the world-building elements (especially in naming conventions) have always felt haphazard. The tepid way that the first series finished – with an underwhelming climax for its last arc, a flashback side story, and then a recap episode – also left a lot to be desired. A good start to the new season will, at least, compensate for the latter.
What Might Come Next
I have not read the manga version or source novels beyond the point where the first anime series ends, so this is all speculation based on what happened in the first series and OVAs and what's been shown in promotional material.
The first series left numerous plot threads hanging which could be explored. In episode 23, both the student Kenya and the student Chloe gained special spirits which could have impact on future events, especially in the case of Chloe. (Kenya's spirit has already factored into the 5th OVA episode in a small way.) The significant presence of Kuro in episode 24 and OVA 5, the implication that he could be a progenitor demon, and comments in episode 23 indicating that he wants to meet Rimuru all suggest that he will be a presence in the upcoming season. One figure that has been confirmed by promotional material to have a significant role is Shizue's unaccounted-for former student Hinata, who was the figure behind the tree spying on Rimuru as he returns home with Ragna in episode 23.
Other potential villains were also left hanging at the end of the TV series. The matter with Rimuru finding Leon Cromwell and asking Shizue's final questions on her behalf remains to be resolved, and Rimuru has not befriended or made peace with some of the other Demon Lords. The manipulative Moderate Harlequin Alliance also stands as a potential threat both to Rimuru personally and especially the Jura Tempest Federation in general. The plans that the specter was talking about in OVA 5 could also be in play. Hence there are a lot of potential story hooks on which to build the next season, in addition to the hints offered by this promo trailer.
Given the success of the first series, the second series will have some big shoes to fill. Hopefully the new series will remain every bit as entertaining.
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