Fantasy fans will dig the unique perspective on many familiar tropes.
Sometimes it only takes a title to convince you to purchase a book. Other times the title literally grabs you by the throat and requires you find out more. That Time I got Reincarnated as a Slime has to be one of the craziest titles I’ve ever seen and, after reading it, one of the most interesting reads fantasy lovers need to read.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
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…
Why does this matter?
Based on a novel by the same name, this manga captures the weirdness of being reincarnated into something very strange. It’s also fascinating in how it reveals a fantasy world we’ve seen in books and movies, but via a perspective like our own.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This manga offers a very unique perspective.
It all centers on a character who is your average 37-year-old who isn’t great with girls (this is a “boys” manga after all). Once turned into a slime after protecting his coworkers he’s transported to a dark place and only has a mysterious voice (a sage) to guide him. Out of boredom and curiosity, he soon starts to gain powers by swallowing monsters. Quickly he sees how this is similar to leveling up in video games and proceeds to have a bit of fun with it. It’s this outside knowledge of fantasy that motivates him to gain new powers and, eventually, become a badass slime. This makes the character relatable since we’d all probably approach this new body similarly (after the hours of screams of course) though I think some of us would have a hard time eating giant spiders.
In a lot of ways, this manga is quite unique with how it portrays perspective and the title character. It opens with a lot of darkness as the character can’t see. This forces Taiki Kawakami to stretch the space and use the panels to keep your interest via white caption boxes. There’s also the matter of how to portray a spherical blob in interesting ways and the art does well to capture expressions, however subtle. The use of fantasy is also fun in that the character is well aware of dragons and perceives them as cool. This gives him an edge since most in this world would cower in fear.
Original creator Fuse also approaches the fantasy elements in fun ways with goblins, dragons, direwolves and more popping up in the manga. The protagonist reflects on all this with knowledge from our world (at one point reflecting on how the dwarves are steampunk). If you’ve played World of Warcraft you’ll appreciate the video game references as well as the broad interpretation of fantasy.
The book also goes in some surprising directions which is probably aided by the original work being a chapter based story. Much of the beginning takes place in a cave, then outside with goblins and direwolves taking up much of the page, and then dwarves. It’s not sitting in one place twiddling its thumbs which should keep readers interested.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The main character is a bit too powerful to the point where you’ll never worry for his safety. A formidable villain is hinted at near the end, but in this volume nothing can even make the slime cower in fear. That makes much of the threats more like yield signs to pass by and experience rather than ramp up any sort of drama.
The humor in the volume is rather mundane and unfunny. I didn’t laugh once, maybe because the main character is a bit childish, but some of the humor seems meant for a niche type of nerd. Later when he’s surrounded by scantily clad character he makes some jokes and again acts like a teenager (and he’s 37!). More reflecting on the fantasy world from the perspective of someone from Earth would be appreciated.
Is It Good?
This is a fun adventure that fantasy readers will relate to and enjoy. Slime might be gross, but it’s a fantastic way to tell fantasy from a unique perspective.