There are a lot of isekai anime airing during the Summer 2021 season. Unfortunately, not all of them are good. The first successful isekai anime exposed to a Western audience was Digimon Adventure, which was extremely well regarded and paved the way for future titles such as the ever-popular Sword Art Online. However, after SAO, we received a tirade of isekai adaptations. This included everything from Log Horizon, Overlord and GATE all the way to Re:Zero, No Game No Life and Konosuba. In this saturated market, an isekai adaptation needs to be unique enough to carve its own fandom. That is exactly what That Time I got Reincarnated as a Slime, henceforth referred to as Tensura, managed to do.
“Suffice to say, Satoru has more going for him than being a gelatenous blob bobbing around.”
In Tensura, we follow salaryman Satoru Mikami. He leads a mostly normal life, besides being a virgin, of course. However, while meeting with a colleague, he becomes the victim of a freak stabbing and dies. As he is dying, a mysterious AI voice speaks to him. When he awakes, he finds he has started a new life as the slime Rimuru Tempest. Unfortunately for Satoru/Rimuru, he has been reincarnated as the weakest monster.
As viewers will quickly find out, Rimuru has a few things going for him. For starters, he will eventually become the leader of the united Federation of monsters, AKA the Jura Tempest Federation. As the show progressess, Rimuru will need to adapt, evolve and learn to protect his family. Suffice to say, he has more going for him than being a gelatenous blob bobbing around.
“Satoru also suffers from his own set of challenges. It just adds a nice layer of reliability to him, despite his slimey, blobby form.”
A problem with many anime of this genre is the repetition of clichés. These include bland harem girls, irrelevant side characters and a God-like hero. Part of Tensura’s charm comes from its distinct characters. While Rimuru does have the traditional crew of attractive girls surrounding him, they are fortunately multi-faceted and each have their own unique personality. They also don’t make improbable advances towards Rimuru as it has become characteristic of many harem girls on other shows.
Additionally, each of these side characters have their own personal challenges they must face. Their unique stories add an additional dimension to the show that gives it some much needed depth. This further avoids Rimuru from becoming overpowered as he is not always the focal point of the show. It is refreshing to see a genuinely good cast of side characters in a show like this.
Similarly, Rimuru also receives the same level of detail and intricacies. Despite being the main character of a isekai anime, a genre traditionally known for its god-like protagonists, he also suffers from his own set of challenges. He must carve himself a place in this strange new world and face his own sets of problems to get him where he is. It just adds a nice layer of reliability to him, despite his slimey, blobby form.
“Tensura handles all of its motifs with subtle deft. It does so by integrating them into the plot without shoving them in the audience’s face.”
Traditionally, terrible anime is ruined by an incoherent plot. Even if the art is beautiful and the characters have potential, a show with a nonsenseical plot will falter at every step. Fortunately, the realistic and grounded plot of Tensura is its biggest asset. As a slime and eventual Federation leader, Rimuru always has to think about everything from economic development, commerce, war and politics to his people’s wellbeing as well as his own. There is a wide range of themes touched upon in Tensura, which is important as these are traditionally overlooked in other anime in this genre.
However, Tensura handles all of these motifs with subtle deft. It does so by integrating them into the plot without shoving them in the audience’s face. Furthermore, Rimuru and the other characters often learn from their mistakes. They are not infallible, but when they make a mistake, the audience can see them using their acquired wisdom to adapt in the future. This is in stark contrast to brute force and plot armour, which are the usual tools of an anime main character.
“Tensura proves that it can still maintain the same level of quality in its sophomore season that it had in its first.”
The last element of the plot that makes this a narrative worth investing in is its lighthearted and humourous tone. A lot of isekais focus heavily on war, most of Tensura focuses on the characters living their daily lives and having fun. This isn’t to say that this plot doesn’t take serious turns. There are definitely plenty of scenes focused around conflict. It’s just that the more personal exploration of the characters and their lives allow for a more relaxed tone and opens up potential for hijinks and bonding.
Tensura proves that it can still maintain the same level of quality in its sophomore season that it had in its first. The amazing character development and the grounded plot make this series extremely enjoyable. These elements allow the show to carve its own way in an overly saturated isekai market. Even if it is, on a surface level, just another isekai, it is certainly among the best ones out there. Hopefully, it will be renewed for future seasons and fans will afforded the opportunity to follow Rimuru’s story until the very end.