Slimes Are Taking Over Manga & Anime… But Where Did They Come From?

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime was a huge success. Viewers were amused and delighted by the light-hearted, high-quality isekai with great worldbuilding and a cute, nondescript slime protagonist. However, slimes are quite sticky, and it seems they aren’t removing themselves from anime and manga anytime soon.

A look through the upcoming anime catalogue will find That Time Only Akari Got Reincarnated as a Slime, By the Grace of the Gods and a bunch of other slime-centric anime, mostly in the isekai format. What’s behind this peculiar slime trend? Are these series just piggybacking off That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, or is there something particularly appetizing about slimes themselves?

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The obvious beginning of the slime trend was the anime adaptation of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, which kicked off in October 2018. The anime is an isekai, which means a character is transferred from earth to another world. That’s what happens to Satoru Mikami, a nondescript salaryman who, following his death, pops up in a video game-esque fantasy world filled with with magic and monsters. In a fun twist, he’s reincarnated as an innocuous blue slime, called Rimuru Tempest. The anime has some fantastic worldbuilding, vibrant action and a high production value bucking genre trends. It isn’t your typical isekai anime, and fans found this very refreshing.

In roleplaying games and fantasy stories, the slime is usually the lowest-level monster. It’s small, mindless and unavoidably simplistic. That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime presents an enjoyable contrast between the simple slime protagonist and the absurdly powerful, dynamic being Rimuru Tempest actually is. Thanks to these slimy advantages and the anime’s overall quality, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime was one of the most popular anime of Fall 2018, giving birth to an oddly-specific reincarnation isekai trend and the current slime craze.

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There’s a whole bunch of upcoming slime-centric anime and manga. That Time Only Akari Got Reincarnated as a Slime is shameless about its origin — Namori’s Yuru Yuri manga will receive a comedic spin-off in which the character Akari is reincarnated as a Rimuru-esque slime, in an obvious parody of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime. Another slime manga, Slime Life, began serializing in 2017.

On the anime side of things, there’s By the Grace of the Gods, based on a light novel series of the same name. Set to stream on Funimation, the anime will follow the story of Takebayashi Ryoma. After dying of blood loss, he is reincarnated in a fantasy world and lives in a magical forest. In this case, Ryoma is not reincarnated as a slime, but instead as an 8-year-old boy surrounded by slimes.

The contrast between the low-level RPG monster and a character with complexity is very easy to replicate. It’s part of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime’s success, so its contemporaries obviously profit off this slimy bonus. However, the appeal of slimes is more complex.

Slimes tick a lot of boxes. They are recognisable and cute, which means they make great mascots for merchandise. While their look is simple, their anatomy is flexible — they can morph and shapeshift to endless exciting outcomes. Their regular presence in video game RPGs makes them well-suited for isekai, a genre often inspired by roleplaying games. The iconic mascot of the Dragon Quest video game franchise is a blue slime, almost identical to Rimuru and others. The fact that it unintentionally became the franchise’s mascot says a lot about the power of slimes.

The recent slime craze is mostly due to the success of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, but has taken on legs beyond it. With the anime’s second season and its ever-growing list of successors, it’s safe to say that slime-centric anime and manga will be sticking around.

KEEP READING: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Has Birthed Its Own Anime Genre

Ever since That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime hit big, slimes are everywhere in anime and manga. Why?

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