An interesting twist on the fantasy trope.
If you ever wondered what it would be like to be a gelatinous creature but don’t want to actually go through the hassle then That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Vol. 1 is for you. It captures the strange change in body and mind and mixes in interesting fantasy tropes too. The manga has just enough different about it to make its brand of fantasy feel unique. As volume 1 closed it was clear the slime named Mikami had lofty goals to expand the exploration of fantasy, but does it pull that off?
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?
This isn’t just a different take on fantasy, but a commentary on it. The lead character used to be human and knows his way around RPGs. That allows writer Fuse to make observations on the genre while fully immersing the reader in a world of kings and demon mages!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The resolution of the cliffhanger drags in the first 30 pages.
This volume focuses more heavily on fantasy tropes and Mikami’s mastery of the world by leveling up. The slime element is less of a focus. A subplot involving adventurer guild members also arises which gets weaved into Mikami’s story. The guild, and more specifically, a mysterious girl named Shizu, adds an additional fantasy dimension that gives this volume a satisfying story within the story. By the end, Mikami gains new abilities but also a new perspective and direction.
There’s also an interesting emotional twist for the lead character I didn’t see coming. He bonds with Shizu in an innocent sort of way which suits the male YA audience. The usual feelings of mutual attraction and interest are toyed with well. Things get thrown for a loop later on, changing their relationship in a way I’ve not seen in storytelling. Avoiding spoilers, but Mikami toys with his identity using his powers and the girl he began to like. This scene explores loss and remembering (and the awkward-boy focus on nudity to add a bit of humor calling his penis a “little guy”) which makes for a genuine character developing moment.
The art by Taiki Kawakami in this volume continues to use a detailed look with realistic looking backgrounds (with the occasional blank background). The reveal of a demon mage is a highlight in part because he looks like David Bowie from Labyrinth. One of his spells creates a fire enemy for Mikami to take on and the fire effects are quite good. The scenes of Mikami reflecting on his identity and the female form are also tastefully done.
Looks like some sci-fi stuff going on in the bottom panel. Another surprise from this series.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The first 30 pages of this manga focus on wrapping up last volume’s cliffhanger and the drama can’t sustain the pages it’s given. An uninterested king must make a decision on a key dwarf character, a jerk defends said dwarf, and outside of quick backstory reveals on the king and jerk it’s rather boring. It’s basically a courtroom drama and drags on.
The length of this manga is padded out with 40 pages of a prose story, extra scenes, ads and translation notes. Not a deal breaker but worth noting if you’re expecting more from the main story.
Is It Good?
Overall I enjoyed the second volume of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime more than the first. The story is more self-contained and more satisfying, and the world continues to be fleshed out for the better.