Can the writers conquer our hearts with this episode? Spoiler alert: they can’t.
A young Shizu cowers in front of the Demon Lord Leon while Koenig, a flamboyant bird-headed sorcerer, challenges him to battle. But Leon uses a spell to control Shizu, forcing her to channel Ifrit’s power and roast Koenig to a crisp. Although she was called Shizue in Japan, Leon decides that her name is Shizu now.
Wandering in the woods, Shizu comes across a girl caring for a fox monster. Shizu decides to help her, and they name the creature Pizu. The girl misguidedly brings Pizu into Leon’s castle, where Leon takes control of Shizu once again. Shizu burns both the girl and the fox to ashes.
In the present day, Shizu awakens from a nightmare. She tells Rimuru that she loves their village, but she can’t stay; she’s terrified that she’ll hurt someone again. Plus, she’s on a quest to find Leon. Eren invites Shizu to keep traveling with her group, but Shizu turns her down.
Eren and co. set off to depart, but Shizu starts convulsing. She hovers in the air, and a ball of fire explodes out from her, blasting everyone back. The adventurers realize that Shizu is actually a legendary hero. Encased in flames, she transforms into Ifrit, who spawns several smaller monsters that burn down the village. The adventurers choose to stay and fight. Although Rimuru’s water attacks are useless against Ifrit, Eren’s icicle lance is doing some damage.
When Rimuru swallows one of Eren’s lances, they’re able to recreate giant ice crystals and stab the monsters with many at once, calling the new move “icicle shotgun.” Ranga takes the heroes somewhere safe, so it’s Ifrit against Rimuru now. Ifrit multiplies into twenty copies of himself, but Rimuru destroys the clones with icicle shotgun. Ifrit encases Rimuru in a tower of flame—where, fortunately, everyone’s favorite slime remembers they’re immune to heat damage! Rimuru ties Ifrit up with some slime and devours him using predator, leaving Shizu collapsed on the ground. Inside Rimuru, Veldora challenges Ifrit to battle.
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime rules at comedy, but I don’t mean that as a compliment here. I mean that it should stick to comedy. Because when it tries to do serious drama or exciting battles? Nope. Doesn’t work. How am I ever supposed to take this slime seriously?
So the tone is a huge problem in this episode. Shizu’s childhood is unbelievably traumatic. We see her stumbling around, covered in burns, manipulated by a cruel and heartless tyrant. And then they’re fighting… this camp bird guy with an accent so ridiculous he feels straight out of Hetalia. “It’s time for you to die, pretender!” the dude shrieks, and it’s like he was summoned into the wrong scene. It’s impossible not to laugh at him, but am I really supposed to be chuckling while a child is forced to commit murder?
Plus, if we’re supposed to feel for Shizu, it would be much more effective if we knew, oh, I don’t know… anything about the girl she kills. The girl doesn’t tell us anything about her life or where she came from. We don’t even learn her name! So the Pokémon training montage is cute and all, but it’s one of the vaguest and least creative scenes I’ve ever seen. I mean, the fox is named Pizu. I get why Shizu is sobbing, but her reaction feels over-the-top and solely to move the plot along. It’s sure not bringing any tears to my eyes. Incidentally, I don’t get what the significance of Shizu’s name change is. Maybe it’s clearer in Japanese, but in the dub, it just reads like an unnecessary detail.
I could maybe forgive this rushed and generic tragic backstory if it led anywhere interesting, but we spend all this time explaining Shizu’s mental state, and then she’s absent from the rest of the episode. If you’re going to give her trauma, let me see her traumatized! Plus, I’m pretty disturbed that Rimuru just attacks Ifrit without a thought to what effect that might have on Shizu. How do they know hurting Ifrit won’t hurt Shizu, too? Nothing about the fight really makes sense. I don’t get how Rimuru is able to use what seems like telekinesis to manipulate their ice lances in the air.
Even worse, Rimuru once again steals somebody else’s idea to win a fight, an uninteresting solution that fails to utilize their own ingenuity. Even Yuuto Suoh worked harder than this. Plus, since we as viewers know that Rimuru is immune to high temperatures, the fight is far from nail-biting. Rimuru has conveniently forgotten this power so that we can watch them yelp and run around trying to avoid the flames, but at the end of the day, the battle had no stakes at all. Ifrit is literally powerless to hurt Rimuru, who was a shoo-in to win from the start. Sorry, but I’m not buying that Rimuru would just forget one of their core powers when they needed it most, or that Great Sage wouldn’t remind them sooner. And a plot where the hero is constantly fighting weaklings far beneath their own power level? It doesn’t exactly make for a very exciting show.
I’m also a little confused that we’re over halfway through the series at this point, but most of the large cast of humanoid characters who appear in the intro and ending song have yet to show up. Shouldn’t the OP and ED feature the, uh, most important characters in the series? Why build up so much hype for characters that won’t possibly have enough time to develop? And why give us spoilers and reveal Rimuru’s human form in advance if it takes them so long to get there?
So, yeah. This show started out as a quirky, enjoyable comedy, but it’s not able to sustain that momentum for a full twelve episodes, especially when it insists on force-feeding us badly written drama and boring battles. I want the jokes back, please—or I’ll set myself on fire.