That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 10 of
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime ?
This must be the most ambitious story arc That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime has tackled so far, because it apparently takes two whole weeks just to set the stage. Rimuru offers to let the surviving Ogres join his group, which leaves their young leader with a difficult decision to make. Should he accept the offer and become Rimuru's subordinate, or should he preserve his tribe's independence knowing that they may not be able to exact their revenge on the Orcs alone? He ultimately settles for a short-term alliance that will only last until the Orcs are defeated, and Rimuru does his usual naming routine for his newest companions. Meanwhile, the rampaging Orc army continues to grow in size and strength under the leadership of their Orc Lord. The threat they pose is so serious that the leader of a group of Lizardmen sends his son, Gabiru, to recruit allies from neighboring villages. At this rate, the Forest of Jura is on course for one heck of a battle.
While I doubt it's intentional, this episode offers a great example of how much better That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is when it's in the middle of a story arc compared to when it's starting up a new one. We open up with a continuation of Rimuru's initial encounter with the Ogres, and this is easily the best part of the episode. Thanks to all the exposition laid down last week, the show is able to focus on the emotional heart of the situation. The Ogre leader, who Rimuru later names Benimaru, takes central stage here as he struggles to choose between his pride and the interests of his tribe. This sort of decision is normally an afterthought in this genre, as new characters are usually pretty quick to join up with the protagonist, so it's nice to see Benimaru's dilemma presented with some genuine dramatic weight. As we've seen in previous story arcs, this series is unusually good at acknowledging the mixed emotions behind an otherwise familiar plot point, whether it's Gazel firing Vesta or Shizu passing her final mission on to Rimuru. In this case, we get to see Benimaru work his way up to accepting the fact that he needs help, and his eventual decision to sign on with Rimuru is more emotionally satisfying as a result.
After that, the episode switches back into exposition mode, and you can almost feel the pacing drop down a gear or two. It starts with the now-obligatory process of Rimuru naming the Ogres and discovering what they look like in their evolved Kijin forms. This sequence is at least quick and clean, since there's not an abundance of new lore to sort through. Unfortunately, it only gets slower from there as we're told all the reasons the Orc army is dangerous. This is largely superfluous information, since the audience already knows about Gelmud's involvement and can infer the fact that the Orcs are formidable from their victory over the obviously tough Ogres. Just in case we weren't already juggling enough monster species, the episode then introduces a nation of Lizardmen for good measure. I'm all for building a detailed fantasy world, but That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime has a bad habit of relaying its exposition in huge, unwieldy chunks instead of spacing things out naturally over time. If you have to call the narrative equivalent of a time-out in order to explain everything, you're probably trying to tell the audience too much at once.
As all of this plays out, a fair number of characters either make their initial appearances or get their first chance to talk outside of a battle scene. Benimaru makes the biggest impression thanks to his prominent role in the episode's first half, and I like what I'm seeing so far. The weight of leadership hangs more heavily on his shoulders than it does for some other members of Rimuru's inner circle, but he manages to handle it without seeming whiny or indecisive. The result is a nice balance between relatable weakness and likable determination, which should make Benimaru a worthwhile addition to the cast. The rest of the Kijin don't get much of a chance to break out of their basic roles, but the balance of personalities within their group looks like it should work well as long as Shuna and Shion don't get relegated to fighting over Rimuru's affections. Lizardman prince Gabiru is somewhat less impressive in his debut; the series appears to be uncertain of whether he's going to be a legitimate character or just a source of comic relief. At the moment, he's a little too much of a goofball to be taken seriously, but not quite entertaining enough to play the fool. Out of all the new folks, Gabiru will need the most work in terms of character development over the next week or two.
When all of these pieces are put together, we end up with a very uneven episode. The early scenes offer an example of this show's ability to consistently perform above genre standards by paying extra attention to its characters' mindsets and emotional states. That leads into a slow but steady middle section full of exposition, which in turn gives way to a pretty underwhelming character introduction. I like the big-picture decisions That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is making in terms of introducing the Ogre tribe and setting up a confrontation with the Orcs, but the addition of the Lizardmen is more of a question mark at the moment. A three-sided conflict could be a great test of Rimuru's leadership skills, but it'll only work if each faction has a compelling part to play.
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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