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Summer Anime 2019 Staff Viewer’s Guide

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Summer is bringing more than just sweltering temperatures and more excuses to get outside, it’s also bringing a plethora of hot new anime! This season is jam-packed sizzling shows and as always the GoombaStomp anime team is here to help give you the rundown.

(List in no particular order)


Fire Force

Studio: David Production
Director(s): Yuki Yase and Taiki Konno
Main Voice Actor(s): Gakuto Kajiwara (Shinra), Saeko Kamijou (Maki), Aoi Yuuki (Tamaki), Mao Ichimichi (Iris), Yuusuke Kobayashi (Arthur), Kazuya Nakai (Akitaru), Kenichi Suzumura (Takehisa)

One of the least represented careers in anime is undoubtedly firefighting. Atsushi Ohkubo’s unique take on the profession struck a chord with shounen manga fans everywhere, and its recent translation to anime by JoJo series vets David Productions is no less impressive. 

The plot is classic shounen with a dash of relatability. Fire Force takes place in a future where people have started spontaneously combusting and turning into flame creatures known as “Infernals.” No one knows how or why this phenomenon began, and everyone lives in fear of it happening to them or their loved ones at any time. To combat this new threat, special fire forces have been established to quell Infernals and keep the public safe.

Shinra, the main protagonist, is a third-generation pyrokinetic (a manipulator of fire) who opens the show by finally joining one of these elite firefighting teams. Shunned since he was little for grinning devilishly whenever he becomes nervous (and for other reasons I won’t spoil here), Shinra has a lot to prove to himself and anyone who used to know him. 

Fire Force moves between lighthearted firehouse shenanigans, heartfelt introspection, and beautifully-animated firefights with grace. Shinra’s tragic backstory never fully leaves the viewer’s mind, but the strong-yet-airheaded Maki and the childlike rivalry between Shinra and fellow new recruit Arthur give the show a fun comedic spin. The anime’s future might be up in the air at the moment, but what little we’ve seen has already shown great promise. (By Brent Middleton)

Rating: Recommended

Watch on Crunchyroll (subbed) and Funimation (dubbed)


Dr. Stone

Studio: TMS Entertainment
Director(s): Shinya Iino
Voice Actors: Yuusuke Kobayashi (Senku), Makoto Furukawa (Taiju), Kana Ichinose (Yuzuriha)

I was fully prepared, unreasonably so, to hate Dr. Stone. The combination of Crunchyroll’s unusually aggressive advertising push for it and the main protagonist having the most punchable face in recent anime history rubbed me the wrong way even before knowing what the show is about. While Senku still has the most punchable face, I’m glad to say that Dr. Stone does somewhat live up to the hype.

An unknown phenomenon one day instantly turns all of humanity on Earth to stone. Millenia later, high schoolers Taiju and Senku are freed from their petrified prisons and find themselves in a land reclaimed by nature. Senku, being a super-genius, and Taiju, being a musclehead, team up to rebuild society.

It’s a setup rife with possibilities and it’s unclear as to what direction the story will go in yet. That’s made all the more so with how Dr. Stone presents itself as a shounen battle series without actually being one. Every character has some over-the-top, signature trait that would make them fit right at home in something like Hunter x Hunter. That makes them endearing to watch, though, which is important since the characters you see are literally all the characters in the entire show.

Science nerds will also be pleased, particularly chemists and physicists, as the principals Senku utilizes to rebuild society are all grounded in reality. There are some creative liberties taken here and there but for the most part it’s solid science.

Dr. Stone may not be the second coming of all that is holy for anime like Crunchyroll is playing it up to be, but it’s still a greatly entertaining adventure that has me wondering what will happen next. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Recommended

Watch on Crunchyroll (subbed) and Funimation (dubbed).


How Heavy Are The Dumbbells You Lift?

Studio: Doga Kobo
Director: Mitsue Yamazuki
Voice Actors: Ai Fairouz (Sakura), Sora Amamiya (Akemi), Kaito Ishikawa (Machio)

One of my favorite jokes to come out of Japan is muscular macho manliness. Whether it’s Jojo’s ridiculously excessive depiction of the male physique or the popularity of Billy “Aniki” Herrington, Japan has a fascination with bodybuilding that straddles the line between hilarity and genuine respect. How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift? is a show built around that entire philosophy.

Hibiki Sakura, the main character of Dumbbells, has gained weight thanks to her poor diet and excessive eating habits. When confronted with the reality of her health, she reluctantly signs up at the nearby Silverman Gym. Here she meets a fellow classmate, Akemi Soryuin, who has also joined; together they work under their new trainer, Naruzo Machio. Thanks to both Akemi and Naruzo’s help, Hibiki vows to work hard and get her body in shape.

In the vein of Cells at Work! or Shokugeki no Soma, Dumbbells takes a specific topic and dives deep into the subject matter. While the show is ostensibly about “cute girls doing cute things”, Dumbbells manages to give weightlifting and exercise a good amount of respect. The characters make a point of exhibiting proper form and technique, which help both Hibiki and the viewer wrap their head around the work involved. 

Of course, as a CGDCT kind of show, Dumbbells is chock full of, well, cute girls. All of the characters are fun and bring their own little unique oddities to the gym. If you’ve spent time working out and have gone through the pains a diet change or muscle soreness, then Dumbbells will give you a good chuckle as it reminds you to hit them gains! (By Kyle Rogacion)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Watch on Funimation


A Certain Scientific Accelerator

Studio: J.C. Staff
Director: Nobuharu Kamanaka
Voice Actors: Nobuhiko Okamoto (Accelerator), Rina Hidaka (Last Order)

A testament to the importance of character, A Certain Scientific Accelerator proves how vital a decent main man is. Where A Certain Magical Index is spearheaded by Touma, a protagonist with all the likeability of Hitler’s wanking sock, Accelerator fits a more engaging anti-hero mold. Like A Certain Scientific Railgun, A Certain Scientific Accelerator works due to its utilization of (mostly) likable characters.

Accelerator’s been through the wringer, what with getting shot in the head and rescuing weird little clone girl Last Order. Enter Disciplinary Action, an antagonistic organization that threatens Accelerator and Last Order, our unlikely pairing of oddballs.

One’s mileage with A Certain Scientific Accelerator is relative to their tolerance for the ambitious but scattershot storytelling of this universe. If (like me) they find it flimsy and self-indulgent, A Certain Scientific Accelerator will come up short. But those more partial to the characteristics of this lofty series will find an abundance of enjoyment from the plight of Moody McGrumpo, the white-haired dude with a teen angst complex. (By Harry Morris)

Rating: Indifferent

Watch on Crunchyroll (subbed) and Funimation (dubbed).


Lord El-Melloi II Case Files {Rail Zeppelin} Grace Note

Studio: TROYCA
Director: Makoto Katou
Voice Actors: Daisuke Namikawa (Lord El-Melloi II), Reina Ueda (Gray), Inori Minase (Reines)

As the latest anime entry in the notorious Fate franchise, Case Files breaks tradition by being the first main timeline series to not have “Fate” in its name. It’s also the first to not center around a Holy Grail War and Servants, but instead on the inner workings of the mage society we only caught glimpses of through other series.

If that last paragraph sounded like something out of an esoteric tome then this probably isn’t a show for you. While Case Files is a clean break from the usual formula, it is still deeply rooted in Fate lore, particularly Fate/Zero, and thus doesn’t stop to explain many crucial concepts of the world such as the Root and Bounded Fields.

Those who are into Fate, for better or worse, will find Case Files a welcome departure, albeit a frenetic one. Waver turned Lord El-Melloi II now teaches Modern Magecraft lessons at the London Clocktower. While there he gets caught up in various magic-related incidents whereupon he uses his keen acumen to solve them.

Each episode so far has contained one “case” for El-Melloi to solve. The mere existence of magic making almost anything possible take the focus of the “howdunit” and shifts it onto the “whydunit” and that is what the viewer is asked to question as our instructor goes about his investigations. These episodes felt a bit rushed but hints of the overarching story beginning hopefully mean better pacing going forward.

Like any good Fate anime, the presentation is stellar with dazzling animation and mystifying music to complement its arcane nature. It’s just a shame newcomers won’t be able to fully enjoy it. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Recommended (For Fate fans)
Not Recommended (For newcomers)

Watch on Crunchyroll (subbed) and Funimation (dubbed)


Is it Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? II

Studio: J.C. Staff
Director: Hideki Tachibana
Voice Actors: Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (Bell), Inori Minase (Hestia)

Hideki Tachibana and J.C. Staff had a lot to live up to following the four-year-long hiatus of the hyper-popular Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? (more affectionately known as DanMachi). 2017’s Sword Oratoria spin-off was fun enough, but it felt paltry compared to the ambition of season one. Luckily, DanMachi’s return to the small screen truly feels like it never left. 

In fact, it’s startling just how quickly the new season hits the ground running. High off nearing Level 3 and being able to routinely traverse the middle stages of the dungeon, Bell refuses to back down when a member of a rival familia insults Hestia in a pub. Lines are crossed, a fight ensues, and before he knows it, Bell is suddenly in the sights of the spiteful (and incredibly creepy) god Apollo. 

The events of the first couple episodes set the stage for several major shakeups. How far will Apollo go to nab Bell for himself? What’ll become of Hestia and Bell’s tiny familia? And does Ais actually have more than a passing interest in our hero? Between the events that set all these questions into motion, there’s hardly any time wasted on reintroducing characters. There’s a handy “Episode 0” refresher, but you’ll definitely need to go back and re-watch season one to familiarize yourself with this vast cast once again. 

That said, the flashy battle scenes, awkward romances, and strong alliances forged from last season are all back in full force here. Any fans who’ve been waiting for years to see what happens to this colorful cast next are sure to be satisfied.  (By Brent Middleton)

Rating: Highly Recommended.

Watch on Crunchyroll.


Vinland Saga

Studio: Wit Studio
Director: Shuuhei Yabuta
Voice Actors: Shizuka Ishigama (Thorfinn), Naoya Uchida (Askeladd), Kenichiro Matsuda (Thors)

While anime and manga love to take Norse mythology and spin it on its head for various purposes, vikings have seen little such attention. That changes with Vinland Saga, which has thus far shown to be an enthralling story set do Ragnarok proud.

The first thing that immediately jumps out about the show is the fluid animation. Wit Studio’s experience animating the omnidirectional battles of Attack on Titan are put on full display in an opening battle sequence that employs numerous dynamic camera angles and long cuts. It’s easily the most stunning visual spectacle of the season so far and sets the stage for the kind of world we’re about to step foot in.

That world is one of survival, where even a semblance of peace titters on a precarious balance. The heroic warrior Thors escaped the battlefield to run away and raise his family in peace. His past eventually catches up to him, though, and he finds himself and his six year old son, Thorfinn, entangled in a war he doesn’t want to fight.

While Thorfinn is presented to be the protagonist of the series, the focus of the story is still on his father. He is the lynch pin that keeps everything from falling apart and there is a palpable sense of dread of something happening to him. These first three episodes have been an exercise in waiting for the other shoe to drop but the characters and world are already so well developed it’s difficult to not already feel pulled into the great expanse. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Watch on Amazon Prime Video


Magical Sempai

Studio: Liden Films
Director: Fumiaki Usui
Voice Actors: Kaede Hondo (Assistant), Aoi Ichikawa (Sempai)

Every season of anime inevitably has to have their cheesecake show, and Magical Sempai is this one’s. Clocking in at a little over twelve minutes, it wastes no time in getting to the real reason you’re watching this show: degeneracy.

Based on an existing gag manga, Magical Sempai follows the titular Senpai as she drags her unfortunate Assistant into joining her Magic Club at school. There’s just one thing: she absolutely sucks at it. She gets stage fright, she’s easily embarrassed, is extremely clumsy, and not terribly bright. Her antics oftentimes get her into sticky situations (figuratively and literally), much to the enjoyment of her Assistant (and the audience). This involves such predicaments as Senpai getting herself wrapped up in bondage, locking herself in a box, and losing all of her clothes in public.

There’s not much to the premise of Magical Sempai, but for a gag show there doesn’t really need to be. Much like Ueno-san of last winter’s season, Magical Sempai is a simple, straightforward show that gives you exactly what it says on the tin. The characters are fun, the jokes are cute, and the cheesecake is extremely cheesy. If you like slapstick gags and over-the-top fanservice, Magical Sempai is good for a quick laugh and some eyecandy. (By Kyle Rogacion)

Rating: Recommended (if you’re into that kinda stuff)

Watch on Crunchyroll.


Arifureta: From Common Place to World’s Strongest

Studio: Asread, White Fox
Director: Kinji yoshimoto
Voice Actors: Toshinari Fukamachi (Hajime), Yuuki Kuwahara (Yue)

One of the many isekai shows this season, Arifureta is a classic betrayal story mixed with power fantasy. Hajime and his classmates have been summoned to another world with MMO like elements. While exploring an underground labyrinth Hajime is betrayed by a jealous classmate causing him to fall down to the lower levels of the abyss where he has to fend for himself.

The story is about as by-the-books as an isekai can get with Hajime quickly growing stronger and gaining new powers by consuming the monsters he defeats. Arifureta’s one distinguishing trait is its tone which is filled with enough edge to make a razor blade blush. Hajime’s abrasive attitude is jarring and borders on unlikeable with his weapon of choice being guns adding to his excessive aesthetic.

This anime is dark, literally, with all three episodes taking place in the cavernous labyrinth; there isn’t a whole lot that’s eye-catching. Well, perhaps some of the monsters are eye-catching, but for the wrong reasons as they are made with some of the most atrocious use of CGI in recent memory.

There are worse isekai out there and at the very least I am interested to see just how overpowered Hajime becomes but if your time is limited, you can do better than Arifureta. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Indifferent

Watch on Funimation


If It’s for My Daughter, I’d Even Defeat a Demon Lord

Studio: Maho Film
Director: Takeyuki Yanase
Voice Actors: Kanon Takao (Latina), Nobuhiko Okamoto (Dale)

There are few anime that perfectly telegraph their core appeal within the first five minutes as well as If It’s for My Daughter, I’d Even Defeat a Demon Lord does. The show takes place in an otherworldly realm where those able to use magic are employed by the nobility to defend humanity against demonic attacks. One of the nation’s top adventurers, Dale, is finishing a job when he comes across a small devil child named Latina in the woods. Sensing that she’s defenseless and alone, Dale decides to bring her back to town and look after her for the time being. 

Unlike Poco’s Udon World or Sweetness and Lightening—both of which center around single father figures taking care of young children—the focus here is less on the bond between Dale and Latina and more on everyone’s infatuation with Latina herself. She’s cloyingly sweet to anyone she meets, always tries her best, and manages to delight even the most hardened adventurers. Dale quickly becomes a vessel that channels how the audience is expected to feel about the girl; he’s constantly overwhelmed by her cuteness, can’t stand to spend a moment away from her, and cries tears of joy whenever she misses him or proudly shows him what she’s accomplished for the day. 

Despite how If It’s for My Daughter is clearly pandering to a certain demographic, it’s hard to deny that it’s well-executed. Getting to see Latina develop her language and cooking skills before my eyes was some of the most lazily pleasant time I’ve spent watching an anime this year. Just know what you’re getting into first! (By Brent Middleton)

Rating: Recommended (for a very specific audience)

Watch on Crunchyroll


Do You Love You Mom and Her Two-Hit Multi-Target Attacks?

Studio: J.C. Staff
Director: Yoshiaki Iwasaki
Voice Actors: Ai Kayano (Mamako)

Tis the season for show titles that take up the majority of Twitter’s character limit on their own, with Do You Love You Mom and Her Two-Hit Multi-Target Attacks? taking the cake. 

This show is pandering to the highest degree but at the same time, it’s very upfront about what it is. If the concept of a high school boy getting sucked into a game world with his over doting mother — who is literally named Mamko — that looks like she could be 16 and is the most overpowered being in the world doesn’t appeal to you, then this show is probably going to do little to change your mind.

It’s nonsensical, it’s ludicrous, and it’s oh so ecchi. If you’re not immediately turned off by the incestuous nature of the premise, though, then you’ll find moments of decent to funny self-aware comedy. Our wayward son protagonist plays an entertaining straight man and the show doesn’t miss a moment to poke fun at the isekai genre as a whole.

The show’s audience is clear. If you’re part of that audience, have fun. If you’re not part of it, then move right along. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: You know who you are

Watch on Crunchyroll and Funimation


O Maidens in Your Savage Season

Studio: Lay-duce
Director: Masahiro Ando, Takurō Tsukada
Voice Actors: Hiyori Kono, Chika Anzai, Momo Asakura, Tomoyo Kurosawa, Sumire Uesaka

Teenagehood is awkward, thanks in large part to the fact that teenagers are boiling pots of hormones. O Maidens in Your Savage Season captures this period of adolescence from the perspective of a high school literature club and the five young girls that make it up. The central ideas behind the show are that of sex and sexuality, and it approaches them by placing them in context of main cast’s own personal dilemmas.

While the show centers around Kazusa Onodera, a meek young girl who discovers she’s in love with her childhood friend, O Maidens makes a point to establish its ensemble cast. It’s certainly a slow burn, as the first few episodes take the time to establish character personalities and future plot threads.

However, from the very beginning the show’s writing does an excellent job of helping it to stand out. Mari Okada, a prolific writer known for such works as Maquia and Anohana, grounds the cast in an utterly down-to-earth way that reminds you of what it felt like to be a teenager, unsure of yourself and your developing emotions.

O Maidens isn’t all drama, thankfully. There are some wonderful bits of comedy and clever wordplay that help to break the mood and give the show an endearing charm. The painful ignorance of the characters provides both heartfelt character drama and genuine laughter. O Maidens is a show where you want these girls to succeed, but you absolutely love seeing them flub and fluster along the way. (By Kyle Rogacion)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Watch on VRV


The Ones Within

Studio: Silver Link.
Director: Shin Oonuma
Voice Actors: Daiki Yamashita (Akatsuki), Akari Kito (Karin), Kaori Nazuka (Yuzu)

In what could be described as a strange mix of Zero Escape, Danganronpa, and The World Ends With You all rolled up into one, The Ones Within aptly suffers from a bit of identity crisis. Its concept of trapping prominent Let’s Players in another world of some sort and streaming their every action to attract viewers is reasonable enough on paper, but a number of factors prevent the show from being anything more than occasional amusement.

While the show is meant to be a showcase of Let’s Players, it does very little to push forward the fact that these people are anything but eccentric individuals. These eccentrics fall into tired archetypes that do little to encourage emotional investment into them. This is accentuated by the odd pacing of the episodes in order to fit one Let’s Play challenge each. The rushed pacing results punchlines and climaxes to fall flat, especially considering the show can’t decide on what kind of tone it wants yet.

Not even the clearly Monokuma inspired alpaca-headed instigator for the games can save this show from being unmemorable at best and boring at worst. This is an easy pass this season. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Not Recommended

Watch on Funimation

Heralding from the rustic, old town of Los Angeles, California; Matthew now resides in Boston where he diligently researches the cure for cancer. In reality, though, he just wants to play games and watch anime, and likes talking about them way too much. A Nintendo/Sony hybrid fan with a soft-spot for RPG’s, he finds little beats sinking hours into an immersive game world. You can follow more of his work at his blog and budding YouTube channel below.

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‘Weathering With You’ Isn’t Quite the Storm It Wanted to Be

Makoto Shinkai’s Weathering With You delivers a gorgeous film that doesn’t quite resonate as much as it wanted to.

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Weathering With You Hina

Climate change and global warming have been topics of concern and discussion for years now, with melting ice caps and rising ocean temperatures being some of many signs. Director Makoto Shinkai — acclaimed the world over for his 2016 work Your Name — aims to show just how at the mercy humans are to the weather with his newest animated film, Weathering With You. Although he presents a visually stunning depiction of Mother Nature in all her various moods, Weathering With You ultimately lacks the storming power it seeks to bear upon its audience.

Tokyo has been having a particularly rainy year, seeing precipitation almost every day and nary a sight of the sun or clear blue skies. It’s during this unusual time that high school boy Hodaka arrives in the metropolis seeking escape from the suffocating life he had on his island. The young teenager naturally has trouble finding his bearings on his own in the oftentimes unforgiving hustle and bustle of the city. It’s in these early scenes that Weathering With You has some of its strongest moments, depicting the uglier side of Japanese society not often seen in anime, while also highlighting Hodaka’s strength of character to make it on his own. 

Weathering With You Hodaka and Hina

As Hodaka gradually carves out his own place in the city, he eventually has an encounter with a young girl named Hina. Matching her sunny and cheerful disposition, Hina has the ability to make it stop raining and have the sunshine in very localized spots by praying to the sky. In a place where the rain never ceases, it’s easy to see why Hodaka latches onto Hina to use for the greater good (while also making a little pocket change along the way).

“The hand-drawn rain is downright mesmerizing in all its forms — fierce and calm — while the sunshine that follows seems to hang in the air caught by the leftover humidity.”

Gloomy skies and damp grounds can take their toll on one’s mood and psyche, which someone who lives in such a climate can surely relate to. Even the briefest moments of sunshine revitalize us and give a glimpse of the “light at the end of the tunnel.” Hodaka and Hina’s “100% Sunshine Girl” services to those in need of that light boldly underscore that fact, and make for a strong argument for how the weather affects us all beyond its objective physicality, along with providing some much-appreciated levity to the story. 

That power of weather is beautifully illustrated by CoMix Wave Films’ stupendous animation efforts. The hand-drawn rain is downright mesmerizing in all its forms — fierce and calm — while the sunshine that follows seems to hang in the air, caught by the leftover humidity. Tokyo itself isn’t to be outdone either, with its streets running the gamut between peaceful neighborhoods to grimy and dark back alleys with dilapidated buildings. The animation is punctuated by the return of Japanese band RADWIMPS, who create numerous memorable tracks to complement the wild swings in mood that weather can elicit.

That makes it all the more unfortunate, however, that the greater narrative is so weak.

The progression of Weathering With You is made painfully obvious right from the outset of the story — so much so that it’s hard to wonder if it’s actually the set-up for a bait-and-switch. As a result, much of the first half of the film is simply waiting for the other shoe to drop, making it difficult to really settle in and become intimate with its characters. 

Weathering With you Hodaka and Hina

This would be less of an issue if the cast had smaller interactions that were a delight to watch, but they fall short in that regard as well. All of the characters have a charm to them for sure — with Hina’s younger elementary school brother, Nagi, putting modern playboys to shame being a particular standout — but the story never quite makes a compelling case as to why they are as close as they are, especially Hina and Hodaka. They’re fun enough to watch be together, but don’t quite make that emotional attachment with the viewer that the story wants to create.

That lack of an emotional connection is distinctly felt in Weathering With You’s second act, when unnecessary confrontations and bizarre plot directions converge to create an artificial sense of stakes amidst a central conflict that would have been fine on its own. What’s meant to strengthen the impression of the characters’ bonds instead cheapens it, undermining the already faulty progress the first half did make. The result is a narrative that’s hard to care about, although its ending does leave the viewer with some potentially interesting questions to ponder.

Weathering With You is far from a bad movie, however. It has a clear direction and vision with a message to say about our climate crisis. The characters are endearing enough, and there are a handful of heartfelt scenes because of that. It also cannot be understated just how drop-dead gorgeous the animation is. The story, however, is simply too straightforward for its own good, resulting in an experience that is at times enjoyable, and at others plain boring.

And that’s only when being judged in a vacuum on the movie’s own merits. When compared to Shinkai’s recent masterpiece that is Your Name, it’s hard to see Weathering With You as anything but a disappointing follow-up. That’s perhaps the film’s greatest weakness, but fortunately, it’s one that Shinkai’s next work won’t have, and we can still look forward to it because of that fact.

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How Rimuru Tempest Changed the Game for Isekai Protagonists

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime shines within the vast sea of generic isekai thanks in no small part to protagonist Rimuru Tempest.

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that time i got reincarnated as a slime

The core premise of the isekai genre–a character being transported from their everyday life on Earth to a parallel universe–has become wildly popular for a reason: it’s an immensely appealing fantasy. Just as audiences everywhere fell in love with the seminal Spirited Away in the early 2000s, it’s still exciting to fantasize about discovering a new world and going on all manner of crazy adventures. However, the incessant flood of new isekai every season to capitalize on this trend has resulted in some of the most generic, overly-manufactured protagonists in any genre.

Though this sea of formulaic main characters is vast, it makes it all the easier to recognize when one bucks the typical conventions and actually proves that there’s room for unique takes on the genre. That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime adheres to a few cliches, but it also manages to set a new bar for what a captivating isekai protagonist can be.

Rimuru in That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime

Breaking the Mold

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is as wholesome and optimistic an anime as they come. The tone can be deceptive at first; when Satoru Mikami is suddenly stabbed when trying to protect his junior, his dying wish is for his computer’s hard drive to be destroyed. But after being reincarnated as a slime–and gaining the new name Rimuru Tempest–his true desires become clear: world peace and a simple, comfortable life with friends.

What’s immediately striking about Rimuru as the main character is that he starts off as an average 37-year-old man. He spent his life working hard and appeasing his higher-ups to climb the corporate ladder. Shady hard drive aside, he lived a respectable and long life compared to the vast majority of protagonists in the genre. This significant age difference is evident in nearly every action and major decision Rimuru makes; he looks at situations practically before jumping headfirst into conflict.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime

When Rimuru gets a drink poured on him by a noble in a bar, for instance, he quells his anger in consideration of the bar and the friends around him. When someone asks for his aid in an impending battle, he pauses to go over all the available information and reaches a consensus among everyone before agreeing. And when protecting a goblin village from a pack of wolves, he doesn’t just mindlessly slaughter all the wolves; he looks for the way of least resistance (killing the leader of the pack) before ultimately integrating them with the goblins as equals. Though his human form looks young, it’s the wisdom behind his actions that makes those around him respect his leadership.

This is especially impressive considering just how overpowered Rimuru is. His transformation into a slime came with resistances to fire, cold, electric currents, pain, paralysis, and the ability to absorb, analyze, and take the form of anything he wants. In other words, he could go down the path of the typical shounen protagonist and solve his problems with his fists, but he never lets his overwhelming power dictate his decision-making process.

Rimuru meeting with his commanders.

Leading a Nation

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is as much about Rimuru’s adventures as it is about the rise of the independent monster nation he helps establish. Instead of running off in search of adventure, the little slime decides to nurture the goblin village he protected at the outset. He helps the goblins and wolves “level up” by naming them, shows them sustainable ways to gather food and build makeshift defenses, and even brings back dwarves to introduce blacksmithing and carpentry.

Through expansion, industrialization, and conflict, Rimuru manages to orchestrate the creation of his country in a way that’s genuinely believable. His ambitions for a peaceful and integrated world play out in his willingness to accept other goblin tribes, ogres, lizardmen, and even friendly humans in his country. Being able to rationally read situations makes forging alliances and negotiating with neighboring nations possible. When a major calamity threatens all life in the forest, Rimuru wastes no time in holding a summit and allying with other forest dwellers over a common interest.

None of this would be possible without the uncanny, Luffy-like ability to inspire a sense of trust and reliability in those he comes across. Just like the members of the Straw Hat Pirates follow Luffy out of respect and loyalty, Rimuru’s commanders follow him because of his sound judgment and dedication to seeing everyone in his nation be happy. It’s satisfying seeing members of Rimuru’s guard take personal offense when others talk poorly of him because it’s clear that he’s earned the respect he’s given.

If isekai is to continue growing in popularity and thriving long-term, room must be made for different types of protagonists. Be they depraved, refreshingly honest characters like Kazuma or upstanding yet easygoing leaders like Rimuru, both demonstrate how valuable it is to shake up the formula and try new approaches to the genre. If the constant barrage of isekai has bittered your tolerance to it as a whole, That Time I got Reincarnated as a Slime is well worth giving a shot.

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Anime Ichiban 23: New Decade, Same Questionable Tastes

Hatsune Miku at Coachella? Mangadex getting targeted for legal issues? People defending OreImo? 2020 is off to a crazy start!

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Welcome to 2020, Anime Ichiban listeners!

Lots of things have happened in the past few weeks, not the least of which is Hatsune Miku making her Coachella debut. After catching up on industry news, we take a look back at some of our more questionable choices in anime and how on earth we manage to defend them.

TIMESTAMPS

0:00 – Introduction and what we’ve been playing
17:46 – Hatsune Miku to Perform at Coachella
25:29 – Crunchyroll’s “Most Watched Shows of the Decade”
30:03 – Funimation’s Popularity Awards
38:13 – Wages in the Japanese Animation Industry
45:38 – Miki Yoshikawa’s New, Fan-Picked Serialization
47:08 – Legal Trouble Brewing for Mangadex
57:02 – Highest Grossing Domestic Anime Films for Japan in 2019
59:33 – What shows surprised us and which ones do we struggle to defend?

TRACKS

Intro – “Dream X Scramble!” by Airi (Keijo!!!!!!!! OP)
Outro – “Lucky☆Orb feat. Hatsune Miku” by emon(Tes.)

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