Review

by Theron Martin,

I've Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level

Novel 1

Synopsis:
I've Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level Novel 1
Azusa Aizawa was a self-professed corporate slave, whose job became so rigorous that she only made it to age 27 before dying from overwork. When given the option to be reincarnated into a new world, she chooses an immortal body and a life on the fringe of society where she can just take it easy. She winds up eternally 17 years old, known to the local villagers as the Witch of the Highlands. She lived peacefully this way for 300 years, killing lowly slimes for pocket money and occasionally helping the villagers out during health crises. All was well until a status check at the local Adventurer's Guild – her first in centuries – revealed that she was now level 99 due to her prolonged slime-killing regimen, and thus one of the most powerful beings in the world. Azusa's fears about her power soon came to pass, as many challengers began arriving at her doorstep to prove their might against her. But as Azusa gradually discovers, this is also a golden opportunity to gather a makeshift family.
Review:

Anime fans are probably more familiar with Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody, an isekai with a similar premise and story beats to this title. Both feature young adult protagonists who die from overwork in modern Japan and are reincarnated in a fantasy world with RPG-like rules. Both protagonists innocuously become one of the most powerful beings in their world and gradually start to collect a gaggle of girls into a family around them while attempting to lead a low-key life. The biggest difference—the gender of the protagonists—doesn't end up affecting much beyond the family vs. harem dynamic of the group, although some of the girls are hinted to be interested in Azusa sexually. At least this story has avoided any lolicon trappings so far.

Unlike Death March's Satou, Azusa only gradually builds her strength over the course of time without realizing it, but the passage of those 300 years is so thoroughly glossed over that the result is functionally the same. The game mechanics element only pops up sporadically rather than having a pervasive presence like in many other reincarnation isekai novels, but that's a minor consideration. Azusa's true power level being obvious does create some different circumstances, most notably foes showing up on her doorstep rather than being encountered on a journey, and she gathers her party more through befriending defeated foes than rescuing girls from danger, even if things still lead to similarly predictable fanservice situations. So it's not the gender differences that make this story stand out most, but rather its lack of interest in the minutiae of worldbuilding compared to Death March.

That's an important difference because the story delves deeper into philosophical aspects instead. Rather than entirely leaving the past world behind, Azusa regularly reflects on her life (or lack thereof) and circumstances in Japan, offering the opportunity for some biting commentary on the corporate environment in Japan. Every lifestyle choice she makes in the new world is a conscious refutation of what she experienced in Japan, and she insists that those who come to work with her not push themselves too hard. It's a worldview that emphasizes the careful balance of endeavor and self-care in life. Author Kisetsu Morita actively espouses a “work in moderation” philosophy during the three-page afterword and strongly implies that this book was written at least in part to promote that mindset. It's no surprise that the novel was an instant success when it was first published online in Japan.

Unfortunately, that philosophy also contributes to the novel's main weakness, since the writing may be too laid-back for its own good. Almost everything is handled casually, with little sense of real danger, details, or stakes. For example, it's never explained how the slime population remains so steady that Azusa can kill a couple dozen per day, every day, for hundreds of years without the population ever depleting or having any effect on the ecosystem. Many other mechanics in the story don't make much sense given any scrutiny, and the impact of those 300 years on Azusa's life is largely ignored. This wouldn't be so much of an issue if the story was more parodic in nature, but the philosophical angle is taken entirely seriously. Azusa's sympathetic characterization also only slightly dampens her overpowered situation. Of course, the power fantasy nature of this story is right there in the title, so what you see is what you get on that front.

This published edition comes in the standard Yen Press format: several glossy art pages at the front and a smattering of black-and-white illustrations throughout. The art and writing quality (written entirely in first-person) are competent but nothing special. The novel ends with the sense of being an entirely self-contained story, though a second volume is already scheduled for publication in English. This novel doesn't even hint at a broader story, so I have to wonder where else the story may go, since getting involved in any larger plot would be contrary to Azusa's whole life philosophy. Still, the concept could probably muddle along for a while on a string of independent story ideas. I'm just not convinced that this offers an engaging enough story or characters to read more.

Grade:
Production Info:
Overall : C+
Story : C+
Art : B-

+ Unusual emphasis on philosophy, fun vicarious power fantasy material
Woefully short on details and world-building, not much substance beyond the surface

Story: Kisetsu Morita

Full encyclopedia details about
I've Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years (light novel)

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I've Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level (Novel 1)

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