By Keith Reid-Cleveland
Sometimes you come across exactly what you need exactly when you need it. In my case, it was a peculiar anime about a ball of slime that constantly overcame the odds and made lemons into lemonade.
I could’ve joined the wave early and watched That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime with everyone else when it first premiered back in 2018, but I avoided it because the title alone just seemed completely out of my wheelhouse.
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But then 2020 happened and most of the world came to a screeching halt due to a global pandemic. As a result, many of the anime series I had been following took a production break to figure out how to handle the new normal.
I never would’ve guessed that an anime about someone being murdered and reincarnated as a blue glob would be as therapeutic as it has been during such a tumultuous time in my life and the world!
Making the best of the hand you’re dealt
The premise of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is pretty self-explanatory. But for further context, a 37-year-old man named Satoru Mikami lives a pretty standard yet lackluster life. Then, he’s randomly stabbed on the street one day and falls victim to his wounds.
As he starts to fade out, he casually mentions how he would like to live life differently if given the chance. He finally comes to in a totally different world, one full of monsters and magic creatures—only he’s now a ball of slime with special abilities ripped straight out of an RPG.
Now, in any other anime, the protagonist’s main motivation here would be something like getting their body back or finding a way home to reunite with their life and a sense of normalcy. But that never really motivates Satoru, who is now named Rimuru Tempest after he saves a powerful dragon from captivity. It may be mentioned once or twice how he misses reality, but by no means is it his ultimate goal. He’s just making the best out of his new normal.
This is exactly what I needed to see in the spring of 2020, as I fought to hold onto everything that reminded me of my life when I could ride the train to work or meet up with friends without any major concerns.
As That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime rolls along, Rimuru goes on to live a life better than the one he left behind. The number of friends and allies he has grows exponentially with his power and influence, and he eventually learns how to transform his body so that he can enjoy things like eating and walking on two legs. There’s a good balance between him embracing this new way of life while finding subtle ways to remember his old one.
When I was watching this show, I had just been laid off from a full-time writing role due to COVID-19, and was working a new one that was honestly just a way to pay the bills. I hadn’t hugged members of my family in weeks, and I was still recovering from the loss of my dog a couple of months earlier. It’s safe to say I needed a distraction and some guidance.
This is where That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime came in.
Instead of fighting to piece my old life back together, the show helped me accept that my life had changed, and it’d be a much better idea to look forward to where I was headed instead of looking back.
Now, my life has already started to improve in ways I couldn’t have imagined, and I thank the philosophy I adopted from That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime as a key factor.
Improving what’s around you
The other takeaway that really struck me while watching That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime was the sense of community that’s consistently built throughout the show.
When Rimuru first wakes up, he’s alone in a cave and doesn’t even know which way is up. Then, he meets the Great Sage to guide him through his first steps. Then, he meets a powerful dragon named Storm Dragon Veldora—another lonely, lost soul looking for help—even though he’d never admit it. Rimuru goes on to meet more and more people who join his cause until he eventually has the support of an entire nation behind him, including goblins, dwarves, ogres and many more!
Just watching Rimuru’s ranks grow was inspiring. And seeing how everyone got to mutually benefit from the sense of community was an important message. In the series, monsters grow stronger when they’re given a name, so Rimuru went out of his way to name hundreds of them. In return, he gained more friendships and influence than he had in his entire life in Japan.
He goes on to become a teacher for five students who were also transported from his old world, but were discarded due to complications. He makes it his mission to help them get to the next chapter of their lives and start on their path toward happiness and success. He’s transitioned from being the fish out of water in a new world to taking others under his wing to teach them lessons from his own hardships.
In the real world, this was a subtle reminder that relationships are an important part of survival, especially during the hardest times. We’re social creatures and literally can’t survive in isolation past a certain point.
This allowed me to feel comfortable leaning on friends, family and colleagues as I assessed how my life could look down the road after being thrown so far off track by a global pandemic and other life hurdles. It was also a reminder that it’s equally important that I help others now that I’m fortunately in a position to do so!
The next installment of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime was originally scheduled to come out sometime this year, but has been pushed back. And while I’m sad it’ll be a bit longer until I can see Rimuru change the world some more, that won’t keep me from rewatching the series and picking up on more lessons to store away for a rainy day!
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