That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 23 of
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime ?
Well, folks, this is it: the last episode of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime's main storyline. I hope you weren't expecting an earth-shaking battle, a heroic sacrifice, or a heartfelt exchange of emotions, because we don't get any of those here. The spirit summoning process is completed quickly and easily, with just the faintest whiff of ominous foreshadowing. After that, we get a brief summary of a piece of this story arc that didn't quite make the cut for the anime, followed by a recap montage and a short farewell scene between Rimuru and the kids. A couple of new characters show up long enough to wave at the camera and imply that they'll play a role in future story arcs, but that's about all there is to it.
The series had plenty of options for making the summoning ritual into a compelling or meaningful scene, and yet it unfolds with all the drama of watching someone use a crafting menu in a video game. There's no need to negotiate with the spirits before binding them to the kids, and in some cases there isn't even a conscious being to talk to; Rimuru just vacuums up a cloud of tiny lights and zaps them into whichever kid is up to bat at that particular moment. It's a process devoid of both challenge and individuality, and we learn next to nothing about the kids beyond which element their little spirit lights are attuned to. Kenya at least gets to chat with his new partner, but again there's no sense of catharsis or character development. The closest thing we get to actual narrative substance is Chloe's somewhat unruly spirit, but despite all the warnings Ramiris offers Rimuru, there are no immediate consequences to this pairing. Mission accomplished, time to go home.
In a way, this sequence is a perfect illustration of the two biggest problems with this particular storyline. The first is a tendency to over-promise and under-deliver in terms of drama. Despite the script's best efforts to convince us that these kids are in serious trouble and that Rimuru will have his hands full trying to help them, the series hasn't been able to impart a credible sense of risk or urgency. The obstacles have been trivial, there's been no need for sacrifice or compromise, and the kids have all appeared perfectly healthy from start to finish. Steering clear of excessive melodrama is all well and good, but you still need to give the audience a reason to pay attention. The second issue is a persistent failure to develop the students as individual characters; we've learned next to nothing about who they are or what kind of lives they've led, and that reduces them to a singular group identity as “the kids.” They're not so much people as they are a problem for Rimuru to solve, so we never really get that big moment of relief or emotional closure when their futures are secured. Simply put, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime hasn't found a way to get the audience fully invested in this storyline.
Then we have the recap montage in the middle of the episode, which is unnecessary to begin with and downright redundant when combined with the credit sequence. If we're going to check in on the entire cast while the credits roll, there's no point showing all of them in the montage. It's as if the series has both too much and not enough screen time to work with this week; a conflict involving Rimuru making a new golem for Ramiris is reduced to a couple sentences of narration, and yet the episode idly chews up time with recycled animation. Even stranger is the way all of this is dropped straight into the middle of the episode, a choice that completely kills any sense of connection between the summoning and Rimuru's farewell to Yuuki and the kids.
On the upside, that parting scene is presented reasonably well. Even if the students never really established themselves as characters, it's still kind of sweet to see them all say their goodbyes to Rimuru. The fact that Chloe receives Shizu's old mask is also interesting, as it carries the implication that she's fated to carry on her former mentor's work in some fashion. While it's far from a perfect end to the series as a whole, it does at least succeed in wrapping up this arc and leaving room for some of the characters to return in the future. I'm less impressed with the two cameos from potential future antagonists, as these feel more like blatant advertisements for a potential sequel. We get it, there's plenty more stuff to adapt from the light novels.
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime finds itself in an odd place at the end of this episode. There are a couple of side stories left to air after this, but this is essentially the finale for the central narrative, and in that context it's pretty underwhelming. Sure, Rimuru has partially fulfilled Shizu's wishes by helping her students, but he's hardly even begun the process of finding and confronting Leon. Veldora's existence is barely an afterthought at this point, and Rimuru's country stopped being relevant weeks ago. Instead of going out on a high note, the series feels like it's quietly fizzled out, coasting to a stop for no particular reason apart from the fact that the season's over. I can only hope these “extra” episodes are something truly special, because it's going to take some serious work to overwrite the sense of apathy left behind by this noncommittal ending.
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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