That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 18 of
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime ?
It's taken evil clowns and shark monsters to get us here, but That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is mostly back on track. Demon Lord Clayman has tasked two of his clown-masked henchmen, Tear and Footman, with reviving Charybdis, but they'll need a body for the monster to inhabit. Luckily for them, they've got a promising candidate in Phobio, one of Carrion's minions who's out for revenge after his embarrassing loss to Milim. The plan works better than even Tear and Footman had expected, and soon Charybdis is on the march with an army of flying sharks in tow. Word of the new threat soon reaches Rimuru, who is less than thrilled to learn that the monsters are headed straight for his town. He assumes Charybdis is after him because of his connection to Veldora, but there might be more going on than Rimuru realizes.
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime sneaks a quick little character arc into this episode with Phobio's descent from Demon Lord lieutenant to the physical vessel for reviving Charybdis. The show does some decent work in a short amount of time, starting with a sober moment of reflection from Phobio in the aftermath of getting his butt kicked by Milim. He's torn between the realization that he's made a huge mistake and his unwillingness to go back to Carrion empty-handed, which is a reasonably compelling internal conflict. The process of Phobio gradually succumbing to his desire for revenge also matches up well with his literal transformation into a monster, which is a neat thematic touch.
The problem here is that Phobio's journey into darkness is hard to take seriously with Tear and Footman in the picture. While their role as evil influences is necessary, their presentation is so far over the top that it borders on comical, and this creates a major tonal mismatch with Phobio's state of mind. It also brings back an issue the series encountered with Laplace's temptation of Gabiru: these secret agent clowns are so blatantly untrustworthy that they demand too much suspension of disbelief from the audience. I just can't bring myself to believe anyone would fall for their cartoonish sales pitch, and that creates a needless distraction from an otherwise competent storyline.
On the upside, this episode makes some much-needed progress in narrowing down the major players for the next big conflict. The various neighboring kingdoms have been sidelined for the time being, Youm's fake hero mission has taken him out of the picture, and we're essentially back down to Rimuru and his immediate circle of allies as far as the home team goes. On the villainous side of things, Charybdis has emerged as the clear and immediate threat by absorbing Phobio, and Clayman seems content to sit back and let his monster do its own thing. This takes us from “Rimuru might have to deal with some kind of problem eventually” to “Rimuru has to defend his town from Charybdis,” and that narrowed focus gives the plot a much clearer path forward. It's just a shame that this new story arc feels like a horizontal step on the villain pyramid instead of a vertical one. Charybdis may be bigger and more airborne than the Orc Lord, but Rimuru is still just dealing with a Demon Lord's evil scheme instead of confronting Clayman directly. If the big-picture narrative is going to retain any momentum, we need Rimuru to start working his way up the demonic hierarchy. As much as he talks about carrying on Shizu's will, he doesn't seem to be any closer to finding Leon, let alone actually fighting the guy.
Still, if we're going to be sitting through another monster hunt, at least it's off to an intriguing start. One of Rimuru's greatest strengths has normally been his ability to accurately size up a situation, yet this episode suggests that he has the wrong idea about what Charybdis is after. The story about Charybdis being Veldora's offspring leads Rimuru to the plausible conclusion that the monster is after him, but both Phobio and the clowns seem to be after Milim above all else. This opens the door for some major miscalculations on Rimuru's part, especially if he bases his strategy around using himself as bait to lure Charybdis into a trap. As satisfying as it may be to watch a perfect plan come together, nothing spices up a big battle scene like forcing the protagonist to react and adjust on the fly. By leading Rimuru in the wrong direction, the series can give itself a good opportunity to crank up the dramatic tension.
By giving the audience a clearer picture of the conflict to come, this episode successfully snaps That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime out of the repetitive pattern it got stuck in over the last couple of weeks. Unfortunately, a few missteps keep this from being a full return to form for the series. Tear and Footman simply don't fit with the tone Phobio's character arc, and their evil clown routine will need to be dialed back a notch if the show expects us to take them seriously as antagonists. I'm also concerned that by letting Clayman hang out in his headquarters while Charybdis takes center stage, this story arc is limiting the amount of meaningful progress Rimuru can make in his quest to carry out Shizu's wishes. There's still some heavy lifting to be done to make this arc into a journey worth taking.
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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