My latest review is here! This time I take a look at some manga for a change, with Volume 1 of Kodansha’s That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime.
- Format: Digital Manga (also available in physical form)
- Publisher: Kodansha Comics
- Synopsis: “As players of Monster Hunter and Dungeons & Dragons know, the slime is not exactly the king of the fantasy monsters. So when a 37-year-old Tokyo salaryman dies and wakes up in a world of dragons and magic, he’s a little disappointed to find he’s become a blind, boneless slime monster.
Mikami’s middle age hasn’t gone as he planned: He never found a girlfriend, he got stuck in a dead-end job, and he was abruptly stabbed to death in the street at 37. So when he wakes up in a new world straight out of a fantasy RPG, he’s disappointed but not exactly surprised to find that he’s not a knight or a wizard but a blind slime demon. But there are chances for even a slime to become a hero…”
I’m sure by now every anime and manga fan has seen more than their fair share of the isekai (“different world”) genre. Where the protagonist, usually a NEET, Hikikomori or similar, is transported to another world. In-fact the genre has become so ubiquitous that the well known Japanese publisher Kadokawa went so far as to ban isekai stories from their annual light novel contest last year. From the more serious end of the scale with series like Sword Art Online and Saga of Tanya the Evil, to out-and-out comedies like KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World!, we’ve seen it all… Or have we?
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime started as a novel series serialised online back in 2013, then it was released as a light novel in 2014, before being transformed into this manga. And beginning in October of this year an anime series is set to air on Crunchyroll, so now may just be the perfect time to begin your slimy journey. Satoru Mikami is just your average salaryman living in Tokyo, he’s 37 years old and hasn’t really done much with his life. In-particular he has no love life to speak of and begins the story having that fact rubbed in by the engagement of his junior co-worker Tamura. This doesn’t last long however, as Mikami heroically steps in to save Tamura from a would be mugger, and pays the ultimate price.
When he awakens Mikami is no longer himself, nor is he seemingly on Earth anymore - so far so isekai. However, this is where That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime diverges from the usual isekai fare. Mikami isn’t reincarnated as a powerful hero, nor even as a small evil blonde mage, but as a lowly slime. Something any fan of the JRPG genre will tell you are those annoying, but weak, monsters which tend to hang around in places like tunnels and caves. And it is in such a cave that Mikami finds himself stuck. From here much of the early story revolves around Mikami learning his way around the new body and skills that came with his reincarnation. It’s a fascinating section of the manga, especially if you’ve ever pondered questions like: do slimes need oxygen or how do they eat? The opening segment is also quite unique artistically speaking, with the artist Taiki Kawakami tasked with the seemingly impossible duty of making a blind (at least initially) small blob of goo seem visually interesting. Yet he does so with aplomb, managing to make even the slime’s limited movement and facial expressions jump out from the page.
As unique as the opening portion is, it could easily lose it’s lustre if dragged out for too long. Thankfully this isn’t the case here, as the pace picks up considerably when Mikami meets Veldora The Storm Dragon, and is christened Rimuru by the venerable beast. It’s at this point that the art also changes significantly, with much lighter and more detailed backgrounds to accompany Rimuru’s new outlook on the world after his run-in with Veldora. There is also a corresponding uptick in the stakes, as well as the comedy. With Rimuru finding himself facing serpents, bats, spiders and more even before he escapes from the cave. At which point Rimuru stumbles across, and offers to help, a band of goblins whose village is in trouble.
This is where the story settles into a grove which sustains it throughout the remaining chapters of this volume. That is one of ever increasing stakes and comic relief, with the latter often provided by the bumblings of one of the Goblins: Gobta. While Rimuru’s reflective and somewhat sarcastic self-commentary helps keep things ticking along nicely, even when there’s not much happening story wise. There’s plenty of humour to be found here, though the jokes don’t always hit the mark. And while some are a little on the tasteless side - this is especially true of the visual gags - for the most part this remains an amusing volume of manga. However, arguably the comedic highlight of the first volume isn’t to be found in the manga itself, but rather the short story at the end which recounts events from Veldora’s point of view. The mighty storm dragon has a front row seat for all of Rimuru’s actions, and has an opinion on each and every one. This is a nice little addition to this volume and feels like some added value, rather than simply being filler to pad out the page count.
All in all That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, Vol. 1 offers a surprisingly original and entertaining take on the isekai genre, with some refreshing ideas as well as taking lots of fun jabs at fantasy tropes (JRPGs in particular). Though that’s not to say there aren’t issues to be found amongst it’s pages, such as the odd tasteless gag, but thankfully there’s nothing particularly egregious.
8 - A surprisingly original and entertaining take on the isekai genre.