That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime the Movie: Scarlet Bond: Review
2022 was pretty good for theatrical anime releases in the UK, so I’m optimistic that 2023 will be just as good. The first anime movie on wide release this year is the newest entry in Crunchyroll’s That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime franchise — Scarlet Bond. Unlike other recent franchise movies like Jujutsu Kaisen 0 and Demon Slayer Mugen Train, Scarlet Bond is a throwback to franchise films more like those related to One Piece or Dragonball Z — movies that feature all of your favourite characters but whose plot necessarily can’t change the status quo of the overarching story. The last movie I watched like this was Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood — The Sacred Star of Milos, which while it was a decent enough film, it was completely throwaway and added nothing to the story or characters. Will this Slime movie be the same?
Normally I avoid these kind of “filler” movies, usually because the types of franchises associated with them are generally not my thing. I’ve never watched a single episode of One Piece or Dragonball Z, nor am I ever likely to. That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is a show that I’ve followed though, for good and for bad, ever since it debuted in 2018. I found the first half of season one entertaining, the second half brain-meltingly dull, and season two was a mixed bag, with the definite low point being protagonist Rimuru’s development into a war criminal. I completely avoided the snore-inducing slice-of-life anime spinoff The Slime Diaries after I was unable to remain conscious for more than two episodes. At least season two left the story at a relative high point, and this movie appears to occur shortly afterwards.
As is typical for filler movies, we’re swiftly introduced to some new characters and a new location. Taking the main protagonist role (with Rimuru mostly filling a supporting character role in his own movie) is fiery ogre-dude Hiiro, heretofore unmentioned brother/childhood friend of the ogres in Rimuru’s employ. You know, the ones whose village was destroyed and Rimuru took them in and “named” them, causing them to evolve? Yeah? Well, Hiiro survived the rout on his village by leaving slightly beforehand to enlist in Demon Lord Clayman’s army. Not the best career choice. Of course Rimuru very satisfyingly dealt with Clayman’s threat at the end of season 2, so Hiiro doesn’t work for the enemy any more, in fact he’s already deserted, been hunted down and left for dead by Clayman’s mooks.
Rescued by Queen Towa of nearby small (wouldn’t you guess previously unmentioned) country Raja, she saves his life by “naming” him, so he also evolves. This is something that’s always confused me about Slime’s worldbuilding. If names are so powerful and convey such amazing benefits (and the act of naming poses a great strain on the name-giver), then how the hell do unnamed characters refer to one another? There’s only so far “hey you!” and “Oi — lanky! Yeah, you with the long legs!” can get you. It’s a very silly concept that doesn’t hold up to sensible scrutiny. This is also referenced later when Rimuru’s demon secretary Diablo bumps into one of his former demonic pals, who doesn’t have a name, but he calls her “Violet” because that’s her primary identifying colour. Violet is a name, though. Diablo was apparently “Noir” before Rimuru named him, which although is also a colour, is a perfectly decent identifier. Is there a veritable rainbow of poor demons who feel that they are inadequately named? I can’t wait until we meet Teal and Chartreuse.
Anyway Hiiro feels indebted to Queen Towa and wants to help her because she shoulders the burden of her entire country — apparently its longstanding gold mining has poisoned the lake and main source of their water. To save her people, she uses a cursed magical crown/hairpiece to purify the water, at great cost to herself. The fact that the country has also run out of gold and stands on the brink of financial ruin doesn’t help either. Hiiro embarks on an ambassadorial trip to the neighbouring country of Tempest (home to Rimuru and pals) to beg for assistance.
There’s very little tension in this story. Of course Rimuru is going to help, he’s a generally decent chap when he’s not mass-murdering hundreds of thousands of surrendering enemy soldiers in order to devour their souls to elevate himself to Demon-Lord-hood. We don’t talk about that around him these days, he blamed his dragon buddy Veldora for that anyway, so everything’s cool, yeah? Rimuru poses quite a problem plot-wise. He’s essentially so invincible and overpowered that the story has to find bullshit ways to contrive situations he can’t help with. Yet the plot still finds other non-Rimuru-related bullshit to solve its problems anyway. When you’ve got such a vague handwavey magic system as Slime’s there’s no point even trying to think about the plot’s logic — there is none. Stuff happens because the writer says it did.
So the plot can be boiled down to: stuff happens, there’s a cackling stereotypical bad guy who has designs on the Queen, good guys chase the bad guys, multiple flashy fights ensue, Rimuru essentially fixes most problems by merely existing, there follows some vaguely sad bits, and ultimately some infuriatingly bullshit anti-dramatic fakeouts where the story looks like it might actually develop some personal stakes for the characters, only for any hint of drama or sacrifice to be cruelly snatched away. It’s not as if those fakeouts would affect anything in the wider plot, but what drama there is is almost totally undercut by very poor story choices. I’m being deliberately vague here, but don’t go into this expecting anything remotely meaningful or emotionally affecting.
In terms of production, it looks fairly decent — certainly a step up from the TV show in terms of general presentation and occasional directorial flourishes. It’s much less staid, with more movement in general, more dynamic camera angles and the staging looks more cinematic. Character animation is fine, it’s still relatively-low frame rate and you’re never going to expect the expressiveness of a lovingly-crafted KyoAni production from something as generic as Slime. Regardless, it has its pretty moments, and tasteful use of smooth CGI during action scenes that complement the well-composited 2D animation without overwhelming or jarring with it.
Queen Towa is a noble (and cute) character but she’s pretty one note, as is temporary hero Hiiro. Rimuru smirks his way through the story as usual, and every character gets their cameo. This isn’t at all accessible to newcomers, as although the story is mostly stand-alone, attempts are made to tie it into past continuity, and none of the main cast are given any kind of introduction. They’re just there. Shion does her awful purple-miasma-tinged cooking, pink-haired Shuna simpers, old ogre Hakuro enjoys himself beating up green big-nosed punching bag goblin Gobta, lizard guy Gabiru is comedy relief with his Greek chorus trio of goons singing his continual praises… It’s all a bit much, and although it’s nice to see them, none of these ancillary characters add anything to the story.
It may sound like I’m being hard on this movie — it’s not like I didn’t enjoy it. It was fine, I suppose, and I was entertained enough while I watched it. But it left very little impression, had no business demanding a two-hour runtime, and I’ve no desire to ever watch it again. I’m quite confident that the events of this movie will never be mentioned again in the show, nor will its new characters ever reappear in any significant capacity. It’s a movie that doesn’t need to exist, it’s completely unnecessary fluff. If that’s what you’re in the mood to see — good for you, but don’t expect anything more fulfilling than that.
Now you’re read my review, why not also check out my fellow AniTAY slime-watcher Koda’s take on the film, linked below?
Review: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime the Movie: Scarlet Bond
One of the big weapons in the arsenal of any modern anime series, particularly majorly successful ones, is the…
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime the Movie: Scarlet Bond
Directed by: Yasuhito Kikuchi
Written by: Kazuyuki Fudeyasu
Music by: Hitoshi Fujima
Based on the light novels by: Fuse (Published in English by Yen Press)
Produced by: StudioEight Bit
Licensed by: Crunchyroll
Japanese theatrical release: November 25th, 2022
UK theatrical release: January 18th, 2023
Languages: Japanese audio with English subtitles (version watched), English dub
Runtime: 114 minutes
BBFC rating: 15
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